Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday PM Stuff

After watching this, I feel sooo much better about the Dems and Barack Obama, though perhaps I may need an intervention; fortunately, we're nowhere near last call, so I'm OK (h/t Atrios and Matthew Yglesias - the comments at The Atlantic here are hysterical)...

...and Bill Maher tees off on McCain; I was ultra-PO'ed at him for allowing Jonah Goldberg to take up space on his panel last week, but I'll give him some kudos for this.

Saturday Stuff

Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble pour Mounsieur "Straight Talk" (have to find the French translation for "meathead" - h/t The Daily Kos)...

...and I can't find a link yet, but Deborah Solomon in the Sunday New York Times Magazine let "Pastor" John Hagee skate in her fluff interview for publication on 3/23; here's a reminder of what she omitted (Update 3/25 - here's the link).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Stuff

I dedicate this to the gay-bashing idiots described in this story (tongue-in-cheek as always by The Onion, though)...

...and here's another instructive history lesson from "The Pap Attack."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Stuff

"Deadeye Dick" Cheney and his "So?" moment with Martha Raddatz is thus captured for posterity (most of it is Dana Perino blowing smoke, but no tales of al Qaeda taking over Iraq's oil, apparently)...

...and on a much better note, here's Al Franken talking to David Letterman ("he's good enough, he's smart enough..." - OK, I'll stop).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (3/20/08)

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.

Torture ban, spy budget veto. In a 225-188 vote, the House failed to reach a two-thirds majority for overriding President Bush's veto of a fiscal 2008 intelligence budget (HR 2082) that requires CIA personnel to obey the Army Field Manual's ban on waterboarding and other forms of torture of prisoners.

A yes vote was to override the veto.

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.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.) and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).
But not to worry; CIA head Gen. Michael Hayden (and those two titles combined will never sound right or sit right with me, by the way) said he only did it three times. Fortunately for us, though, he apparently didn’t destroy any record of that activity (did he?) as he did here.

And it’s easy to chastise the typical gaggle of Republican idiots for voting against this, but instead, I want to compliment Chris Smith on what was truly a gutsy vote.

Government surveillance. In a 213-197 vote, the House passed a bill (HR 3773) extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until Dec. 31, 2009.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
As mcjoan of The Daily Kos says here, one of the benefits of the bill is that it "puts the decision on whether the cases go forward where it belongs: in the hands of a judge instead of the administration or the Congress."

(And by the way, I mean no offense to Patrick Murphy when I say that I can’t understand how he can continue to include himself in a group of people that would tolerate someone like Jim Cooper.)

Ethics and rules dispute. The House voted, 207-206, to advance a measure (H Res 1031) establishing an outside panel, the Office of Congressional Ethics, to help police the conduct of its membership.

A yes vote was to advance the measure.

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

Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, and Smith.
Nice to know that Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith are so above-board at all times. May they remain that way or face hell’s fury from the voters instead.

2009-2013 federal budget. In a 212-207 vote, the House approved a five-year Democratic budget (H Con Res 312) that for 2009 projects $3.06 trillion in spending, a $340.4 billion deficit, and $216.8 billion in interest payments on the national debt.

A yes vote backed the Democrats' budget.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
Not enough corporate tax cuts for the Repugs, I suppose; at least the Dems didn’t leave this on the table as the Repugs did with 9 of 11 appropriations bills after they lost Congress in November 2006.

Update 3/25/08: The Inquirer noted the change related to Patrick Murphy's vote in a "Clearing The Record" column today.


Ban on earmarks. Senators refused, in a 29-71 vote, to ban earmarks from the fiscal 2009 budget resolution (S Con Res 70).

A yes vote backed the moratorium.

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Wow, a shocking display of uniformity, I must say (and once again, earmarks are fine as far as I’m concerned…if they’re fully disclosed).

2009-2013 federal budget. In a 51-44 vote, the Senate approved a fiscal 2009-2013 budget (S Con Res 70) that will be reconciled with a similar House measure.

A yes vote was to approve the Democratic budget.

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

Voting no: Specter.
As always, screw you, Arlen (and I’m still waiting to hear more details on that book of yours, by the way).

Tax-change obstacle. In a 58-40 vote, the Senate failed to get 60 votes needed to apply the pay-as-you-go rule to tax-code changes as well as spending increases. This was an attempt by Republicans to block the Democrats' plan to allow Bush administration tax cuts for the well off to expire after 2010. Under the "pay-go" rule, 60 Senate votes would be required to allow those tax cuts to expire.

A yes vote opposed applying pay-go to tax changes.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Casey, Menendez and Lautenberg.
Kudos to the Inky for a change for fully explaining what this little maneuver was all about (as always with Our Man Arlen, it’s one step forward and at least one step back).

Ignore This Crucial Matter, And You're All Wet

Just to let you know, this Saturday is World Water Day (noted at the Global Water Challenge web site here).

Why does this matter? Well, as noted in this Common Dreams article last month…

Water is becoming as important a strategic issue as energy in Washington. In an August 2004 briefing note for the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think tank that focuses on the link between energy and security, Dr. Allan R. Hoffman, a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy, declared that the energy security of the United States actually depends on the state of its water resources and warns of a growing water-security crisis worldwide. “Just as energy security became a national priority in the period following the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74, water security is destined to become a national and global priority in the decades ahead,” says Hoffman. He notes that central to addressing water security issues is finding the energy to extract water from underground aquifers, transport water through pipelines and canals, manage and treat water for reuse and desalinate brackish and sea water - all technologies now being promoted by U.S. government partnerships with American companies. He also points out that the U.S. energy interests in the Middle East could be threatened by water conflicts in the region: “Water conflicts add to the instability of a region on which the U.S. depends heavily for oil.

Continuation or inflammation of these conflicts could subject U.S. energy supplies to blackmail again, as occurred in the 1970s.” Water shortages and global warning pose a “serious threat” to America’s national security, top retired military leaders told the president in an April 2007 report published by the national security think tank CNA Corporation. Six retired admirals and five retired generals warned of a future of rampant water wars into which the United States will be dragged.
Yes, I know this is serious, but there’s no way I’m going to add that bad Kevin Costner movie to our Netflix queue now (OK, I’ll stop)…

Erik Peterson, director of the Global Strategy Institute of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research organization in Washington that calls itself a “strategic planning partner for the government,” says that the United States must make water a top priority in foreign policy. “There is a very, very critical dimension to all these global water problems here at home,” he told Voice of America News. “The first is that it’s in our national interest to see stability and security and economic development in key areas of the world, and water is a big factor with that whole set of challenges.”

His center has joined forces with ITT Industries, the giant water technology company; Proctor & Gamble, which has created a home water purifier called pur and is working with the UN in a joint public/private venture in developing countries; Coca-Cola; and Sandia National Laboratories to launch a joint-research institute called Global Water Futures (gwf). Sandia, whose motto is “securing a peaceful and free world through technology” and that works to “maintain U.S. military and nuclear superiority,” is contracted out to weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin by the U.S. government, to operate, thus linking water security to military security in a direct way.
And part of what the Global Water Challenge is trying to remedy are issues involving water sanitation; as noted here (with an earlier related post here)…

GENEVA (AFP) - It is a subject that polite society might prefer to avoid, but in the developing world, lack of access to toilets is a serious issue that puts lives at stake, two UN agencies said Thursday.

About two in every five people still have no access to a proper toilet, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), warning that the lack of sanitation is putting 2.6 billion people at risk of disease.

"In the world today, there are 15 million deaths caused by infectious diseases," said David Heyman, WHO's assistant director general for health security and environment.

"If we had good sanitation today, and good water supplies, we could decrease that immediately by two million -- those children who are dying unnecessarily from diarrhea diseases."

WHO estimates that, on average, one US dollar spent on sanitation will wind up 9.10 dollars later.

In Peru, it cost 800 million dollars to respond to a cholera outbreak in 1991 -- far more than the amount needed to improve sanitation and thus prevent such an outbreak from occurring.
And this Dot.Earth post from New York Times reporter Andrew C. Revkin (with its intentionally messed up title from a grammatical point of view) explains a lot of the ways that we are dependent on our water supplies in particular to maintain life on this planet, with a global population expected to hit 9 billion at some point in the future.

More Chum For The Sharks

(Posting will be sporadic to nonexistent after today into next Tuesday, by the way - it got kind of screwed up today also, for reasons beyond my control.)

I’m sure many of us know by now that, upon receipt of the over-17,000 pages of scheduling details concerning Hillary Clinton during her days as first lady, the item our corporate media zeroed in on immediately (in the person of Brian Ross, often a respectable journalist who was positive execrable here) was this (Atrios linked here to the Ross post along with appropriate commentary from CNN’s Jack Cafferty)…

Hillary Clinton spent the night in the White House on the day her husband had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, and may have actually been in the White House when it happened, according to records of her schedule released today by the National Archives.

The public schedule for Sen. Clinton on Feb. 28, 1997, the day on which Lewinsky's infamous blue dress would become stained by the president, shows the first lady spent the morning and the night in the White House.
ABC, the network that also brought us “The Path To 9/11,” is thus now entitled to a great big “Bronx cheer” and a free lifetime subscription to The National Review.

And as for the “who” and “how” of the release of the documents, the New York Times tells us here…

The documents’ release on Wednesday came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in January 2006 by two reporters for The New York Times, Don Van Natta Jr., and Jeff Gerth, who has since left the paper. They researched and wrote a 2007 biography of Mrs. Clinton. Officials of Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group, followed up with a lawsuit last year.
(The Gerth and Van Natta, Jr. book was widely panned, by the way.)

As far as Judicial Watch is concerned, this tells you that they have been rated as “poor” among comparable charitable organizations by Charity Navigator, meaning that they “fail to meet industry standards and (perform) well below most charities in its cause.”

There’s a lot more to be said about how Charity Navigator rates organizations, I’ll admit, but the revenue growth figures for Judicial Watch are both negative numbers, which is probably an indicator of how much money they spend making headlines versus how much they actually “advocate (for) high(er) standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life.”

Interesting, then, given the group’s supposed emphasis on ethics and morality, that they would falsely allege that Barack Obama is affiliated with FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that was the subject of a raid by Colombia into Ecuador last month and which has received a designation as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department (a lie dutifully repeated here by Flush Limbore, of course).

And as if that isn’t absurd enough, they sued Freedom’s Watch for trademark infringement last year (I just love it when one group of right-wing hatemongering zealots dukes it out with another).

All of this really illustrates how our corporate media integrates itself seamlessly with the basest elements of wingnuttia in this country. And of course, given their recent “reporting,” I’m sure ABC will continue to scan this archived information (which, in fact, is pretty dry stuff) to give us more “breaking news” of Hillary’s other coincidental appearances during more alleged infidelities of her husband.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

Happy 80th birthday to actor and director Patrick McGoohan, whose '60s-era pic I include at this site as a tribute (a montage of clips from "The Prisoner" - the actual show footage was apparently purged from YouTube)...

...and believe it or not, the office cubicle is 40 years old today (Who knew? And in as much as that calls for a tribute - sort of, taking off on that great song by James Blunt)...

...back to politics, and my God, could Kyra Phillips of CNN do a better job of handing The Almighty Petraeus the ultimate softball question here? And it is typically scurrilous for her to try to legitimize the lie of McCain that Iran is helping al Qaeda (Paul Rieckhoff noted that war coverage is just about at an all-time low in this country, and here's a way to do something about that - frightening how truly zombified too many people are in this country from the idiot box, but no shortage of propaganda, of course)...

...and if you can stomach it, I would ask that you take a minute or two to watch President Numbskull from here (and I don't care what anybody says; that man is drunk) and then read the wonderful letter from Gene Kelly's widow in response to MoDo and her latest nonsense (and aside from the number in "An American In Paris," this is probably Kelly's signature movie moment - Culver City just about ran out of water while it was being filmed).

Thus The Circle Remains Unbroken

It seems that Frank Quattrone will receive a “happy landing” after all, based on this New York Times story…

The news came about seven months after a federal judge approved a request by prosecutors to dismiss all remaining charges against Mr. Quattrone, formally clearing the way for his return to Wall Street.

“The opera is over,” he said at the time, referring to the travails of his conviction — later reversed — on charges of hindering a government investigation into initial public offerings at Credit Suisse.
Quattrone will be the chief executive for The Qatalyst Group, a technology-focused merchant banking group based in San Francisco, according to the story in the Times. He “will offer merger and acquisitions advice through its investment banking arm, and would make principal investments alongside venture capital and private equity firms though (Qatalyst’s) investment arm.”

And as the story also tells us, everything is just peachy with Frank and his pals…

Silicon Valley seems to be welcoming him back into business with open arms. The Qatalyst press release featured quotes from prominent Silicon Valley executives, including Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google, and Jim Breyer of the venture firm Accel Partners, discussing expectations of becoming clients of the new firm.

“I look forward to working with him again and am very enthusiastic about Qatalyst’s prospects for success,” Mr. Schmidt said. (Mr. Quattrone was one of the first bankers to ever meet with Google.)
And Frank has even managed to work his golf handicap down to an “8.4 index” (sorry, but I really don’t “chase the little white ball” much - made it to a driving range, but that's about it - so I can’t tell you what that means), though rest assured that he’s hitting the books in preparation for tests he must take to renew his securities industry licenses since he hasn’t worked in the business for more than two years (oh, and he also worked on the Innocence Project, which “helps appeal unjust convictions”).

That’s commendable, but is there anyone else out there besides me who needs a bit of a refresher as to how Quattrone ended up outside of the securities industry for “more than two years” (and of course, it would have been impolite of the Times to remind everyone of this, I realize)?

Well then, please allow me to link back to this post, which notes that the man who seeded a whole host of ‘90s “dot.coms” through Credit Suisse was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney General’s office for obstruction of justice based on an Email he sent to colleagues telling them to “clean up files” concerning allegations that he gave some clients privileged access to technology shares in return for getting other business (and Quattrone's conviction was thrown out over instructions given to the jury).

And as I said in August of ’06, while it’s very likely that Quattrone essentially performed a “pump and dump” of some of his hot IPOs, this artificially inflated the tech “bubble,” and when it burst, many in the industry lost their jobs. So, though perhaps his illegality is now officially unproven (innocent by default, I guess), his actions weren't in accordance with what you would call “best practice” under any stretch of the imagination.

So cheer Frank Quattrone if you want and nurse the likely illusion that he somehow was redeemed by his legal ordeal over obstruction of justice charges. However, don’t be surprised if you hand over to him so much as a dime of your money and end up never seeing it again.

Some History-Making Help For McCain?

(And boy, I’m sure the “his Venus to her Mars” columns from MoDo in the New York Times would practically write themselves until November…never mind any grounding in reality, since that doesn’t really exist for Dowd when she writes that stuff anyway concerning HRC and Obama.)

Both Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker and U.S. News and World Report here have floated the notion of “Senator Honor And Virtue” naming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as VP on the Repug presidential ticket.

It’s certainly an interesting thought, but I really can’t see how the “values voters” would go along with it, though Lord knows McCain has been sucking up to enough bogus preachers lately to qualify as a full-blown moonbat himself, making such considerations unnecessary.

Some of what Hertzberg said in last week’s issue appears below; I’d link to it, but the New Yorker site is a mess, I constantly receive a “stack flow” error when I access it and I get thrown out of my browser (and yes, I’m still using IE6, but that’s no excuse)…

By choosing Rice, McCain would shackle himself anew to Bush’s Iraq war. But it’s hard to see how those chains could get much tighter than he has already made them. Rice would fit nicely into McCain’s view of the war as worth fighting but, until Donald Rumsfeld’s exit from the Pentagon, fought clumsily. And it would be fairly easy to establish a story line that would cast Rice as having been less Bush’s enabler than a loyal subordinate who nevertheless pushed gently from within for a more reasonable, more diplomatic approach.
And oh yes, wasn’t Condi so “diplomatic” here in which she proclaimed to have no interest in it, though she had, in fact proposed “an ambitious plan with up to two international military forces that would help the Lebanese government stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon,” according to Lebanese sources to both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (don't know about you, but that sounds suspiciously "diplomatic" to me...but not the lying about it, I mean).

Rice is already fourth in line for the Presidency, and getting bumped up three places would be a shorter leap than any of the three Presidential candidates propose to make. It’s true that her record in office has been one of failure, from downgrading terrorism as a priority before 9/11 to ignoring the Israel-Palestine problem until (almost certainly) too late. But this does not seem to have done much damage to her popularity. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken when opposition to the Iraq war was approaching its height, she enjoyed a “favorable-unfavorable” ratio of nearly two to one. The conservative rank and file likes her. Though she once described herself as “mildly pro-choice,” she is agile enough to complete the journey to mildly pro-life. And she is a preacher’s daughter.
Sad, then, that someone with an understanding of spirituality (at least, you would hope so) would not also grasp that the struggle for human rights shows a desire to act in accordance with the wishes of what you might refer to as “a higher calling.” I’m saying that based on this post from yesterday in which Rice and Defense Secretary Bob Gates met with Russian democratic reformers, but not the most visible ones: former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Union of Right Forces leader Nikita Belykh, and (most glaringly) former chess champion Garry Kasparov.

But of course, we’re talking about Condi Rice, who, when asked about the Iraq war by Congress, told them here that “it’s not appropriate to answer that question.” And I’m still waiting to find out about her connection to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC, as noted here (and I’m sure I’ll keep waiting too).

Maybe I can see the logic behind selecting Rice after all, though, when you consider this episode (a recurring one, apparently); not only could Rice correct McCain when the senator messes up on Iran again, but unlike Lieberman, she could actually speak for McCain and probably command more authority than he does.

Update 3/28/08: Sounds like Condi needs a refresher on the history of Ireland's Potato Famine, among other things (based on this - the "Moonie Times" strikes again!).

Mending Michigan and Fixing Florida

I really hope this whole episode of how the Democratic delegates will be apportioned for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in Michigan and Florida teaches the state party organizations a lesson; yes, it’s absurd for Iowa and New Hampshire to carry so much weight in the primary season, but moving up your own state primaries in response is not the answer.

And another ridiculous consequence of this is demonstrated here; Hillary Clinton (who needs this to be resolved more than Obama does to add to her delegate count - here) provides more “aid and comfort to the enemy” below…

Michigan had 156 Democratic delegates at stake and Florida had 210.

Florida has nixed the idea of a revote, but a proposal for a June 3 election in Michigan is under consideration.

Looking ahead to the general election, Clinton said ignoring the votes in Michigan and Florida would be a "grave mistake."

"The road to a Democratic White House goes through Michigan and Florida, and if Democrats send the message that we don't care about your votes, I'm sure John McCain and the Republicans would be happy to have them," she said.
If I hear Hillary say something to the effect of “vote for me or John McCain wins” one more time, I’m going to spit at my computer (a silly gesture, but no more silly than HRC’s fear mongering).

And I hope very, very much that the Florida/Michigan mess makes each party decide to sit down and figure out how to mend this broken presidential party selection process. This takes you to four proposals for fixing it, including selecting the smallest states first (referred to as “the Delaware Plan”), a national primary day in which all states would vote, and a regional lottery process (with the states in the groupings shown in the screen shot).

The thought of a national primary day appeals to me, but it could still lead to a situation where the voting results of states that report early could carry more weight than later-reporting states. Also, I just have a feeling that going from our present process to a national day for everyone creates too many logistical headaches; after all, we never seem to get through a national election in November without glitches somewhere, primarily in Florida or Ohio, and I don’t see how we could reconcile all primary voting on a single day (open and closed, depending on the state) given similar issues.

For those reasons, I’m more inclined to support some sort of rotating regional primary system, which was actually discussed in 2000 by Bill Brock of the Republican National Committee (as noted in the Center for Politics story), but both sides were unwilling to move much for different reasons: the Dems because the current system had seen Bill Clinton win two consecutive presidential elections to that point, and the Repugs because Bushco didn’t want to say or do anything that looked like the façade of 100 percent party unity behind his campaign was cracking in any way.

So, given the fact that the Repugs have seen states move up their primaries also (including South Carolina and Wyoming, as noted here), I think it's time for each of the national parties to revisit this and fix the problem once and for all.

Update 4/23/08: I'm glad the NASS agrees with me here (h/t to Bill in Portland, Maine at The Daily Kos).

Dubya’s Final “FU” To The CPB

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America tells us a few things in this post; one is that President George W. Milhous Bush just presented, in his last budget, the largest cut ever proposed to public broadcasting (timed, coincidentally, before the presentation of “Bush’s War” on “Frontline” to coincide with today’s fifth anniversary), and Boehlert also tells us that Dubya received a little help in the anti-PBS propaganda department recently from Charles McGrath of the New York Times here (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is in charge of PBS, by the way).

I thought that Boehlert might have been a little harsh, so I went back and read McGrath’s original Times commentary called “Is PBS Still Necessary.” And after doing so, I still think Boehlert erred slightly, but only because he may have been too kind.

As Boehlert states, McGrath argues that public television may be obsolete (an opinion I contest greatly), though McGrath curiously defends public radio. And in attacking public TV, McGrath argues that cable provides comparable or better programming alternatives.

However, my old standby argument still holds up, and it is that public TV provides better programming for kids, for example, over cable satellite and premium channels by leaps and bounds (something McGrath doesn’t bother to mention). Also in his critique, McGrath laments that public TV has “settled into an all-Jane Austen format” regarding its dramas (and even if that were true, and it isn’t, how exactly is that bad?). McGrath also snidely states that the main character in the “Brit-com” called “Keeping Up Appearances,” Hyacinth (a middle-aged lady who pretends to be more affluent than she is) “is practically a parody of a certain strain in public broadcasting: the one that puts on airs and wants to pretend to singularity.”

And on top of that, we have McGrath’s snarky remark that Jim Lehrer, the host of the “News Hour” formerly with co-host Robert MacNeil, has been with the show “so long that some of his early viewers are now in assisted living” (would that all TV journalists possessed Lehrer’s diligence, talent and integrity), and McGrath calls public TV pledge drives, “the fundraising equivalent of water-boarding” (I don’t like them either to say the least, but I think that comparison is in bad taste).

And contrary to any typically delusional right-wing propaganda, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been run by various individuals across the ideological spectrum, including Richard Carlson (Tucker’s father) and Sonia Landau under The Sainted Ronnie R, former head of “Women For Reagan-Bush” (noted here). And as noted here (correcting “Falafel Boy” yet again)…

In addition, the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 formally ensures that no one political party dominates. The law requires that "[n]o more than 5 members of the [nine-member] Board appointed by the President may be members of the same political party." The board elects its own chairperson. The law has recently ensured the appointment of Republicans by President Clinton, including (Kenneth) Tomlinson, whom Clinton appointed in 2000; and Katherine Milner Anderson, whom Clinton appointed in 1997. She had previously served as the associate director of the White House's Office of the Cabinet in 1983 and 1984 under Reagan.
I would argue instead that, aside from the almost continual effort to put public TV out of business by the Repugs, the biggest problems faced by PBS are ideological (such as here, where Pittsburgh’s public station was forced to return a $5,000 underwriting donation from Planned Parenthood because the station’s license holder, Duquesne University – a Catholic college – objected), and managerial (here, where the infamous Bill Marrazzo of WHYY in Philadelphia pulls down the highest salary of anyone in public broadcasting – a related post is here).

Music For The Anniversary

Black Sabbath ("War Pigs")...

...Richard Thompson ("Dad's Gonna Kill Me")...

...Jackson Browne ("Lives In The Balance")...

...and John Flynn ("Dover").

Update 3/20/08: "So," indeed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

No, we sure as hell don't...

...oh, and by the way, it would be nice if our totally-bought-and-paid-for corporate media spent a mere fraction of the time it has spent anguishing over whatever the hell The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said or didn't say and how much Obama believes or doesn't believe it and used it instead to take a look at the relationship between "Senator Honor And Virtue" and a gay-bashing demagogue like Rod Parsley (to say nothing of John Hagee, of course, which is what Hagee would deserve were this not an election year)...

...and I might as well let him just keep digging, right? (oh, but wait...Wolf Blitzer is here to tell us that he's read some tea leaves and consulted a Ouija Board that says that - OMIGOD! Barack Obama is REALLY A MUSLIM AFTER ALL!! AND THE REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT IS HIS HENCHMAN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! And that, of course, gives the perfect excuse to ignore what McCain says here; to me, my most shocked reaction didn't come from his constant repetition of the phrase "Judeo-Christian values," but to the moment where he tells us the founding fathers basically said "the separation of church and state" shouldn't exist.

Read this, McCain; Thomas Jefferson, a far better man than you or I, said that "that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

Now what exactly do you think he meant by that?)

...oh, and last but not least, John McBush is wrong on the economy also, just to let you know.

Condi And Gates Get “Check Mated” On Russian Reforms

This Moscow Times story tells us that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met recently with some of the Kremlin’s political opposition, but did not meet with its most vocal opponents, notably chess legend Garry Kasparov.

Kind of makes you wonder how serious they truly are about encouraging democracy, doesn’t it? But then again, why should we be surpised?

As noted here…

"The opposition - from the left and the right - can never really challenge the regime through elections," Kasparov said in the interview seen by AFP (Kasparov called the March 2nd election in which Dmitry Medvedev replaced Vladimir Putin “meaningless”).

"Putin is putting the nails in the coffin of democracy," he added.

"If we don't stop them we can have a funeral for Russian democracy. They have been killing it for seven years, slowly poisoning it."

Kasparov said Bush has helped Putin, a former Soviet KGB officer, run roughshod over human rights and democracy by failing to step forward with criticism of his Russian counterpart.

"Putin is immune (from criticism) unless he hears a firm reaction from the top man," Kasparov said.

"He doesn't care about clerks, even (US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice. Only a message from the top counts."

But the US president "says nothing about most of the assaults on democracy in Russia," lamented Kasparov, who himself contemplated a run for the Russian presidency before abandoning it December in the face of harassment and ostracism.

"He says nothing to Putin and continues to do business with him."

The former chess champion, who entered politics in 2005, recalled a 2001 encounter in which Bush said he looked Putin "in the eyes" and saw someone he could rely on.

"Putin looked into Bush's eyes as well. He saw he could push Bush's limits. .... He pushes, and Bush does nothing," Kasparov concluded.
And regarding Putin being named “Person Of The Year” by Time Magazine last December (here)…

I understand that this award is not intended to be a beauty contest. But for all of Putin’s attacks on the West, this will be promoted widely within Russia and around the world as a victory and an endorsement by the West of Putin’s policies and practices of dictatorship. It’s an early Christmas present to the Kremlin when what they really deserved was a lump of coal.

I will add a brief response to Putin’s jibe in the TIME article about my speaking English to reporters after my arrest last month. First, I also spoke in Russian, which oddly enough never makes the Kremlin-controlled newscasts. Second, since opposition statements are almost completely banned in the Russian media the foreign press usually makes up 90% of attending media at opposition events. Lastly, I would be delighted to show Mr. Putin which of us speaks and writes better Russian. Perhaps he will accept my challenge to a debate on national television or allow an editorial of mine to appear in a major newspaper.
Looks like Kasparov and those who had the best chance of effecting reform got “rooked” by Bushco, sadly. Sorry to say that they’re not the first, and probably won’t be the last.

Pro Versus Con At The Five-Year Mark

(And I don’t have to answer the question “Of what?,” do I?).

Max Follmer of HuffPo interviews John Walcott, the Washington bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers (formerly Knight Ridder), one of the group of reporters from that organization who actually practiced serious journalism prior to the beginning of the war (here).

Of all of the good questions from Follmer and better answers from Wolcott and the team, this may be tops as far as I’m concerned…

And what was it about the way that you and the Knight Ridder team were approaching the story from a tradecraft point of view that make it different from what the public was seeing in the Times and the Post and the Wall Street Journal?

I think we approached this by asking the question every time the administration made an allegation "is this true?" "Is this true" is the basic question any journalist must ask any time a government, any government, makes an assertion. Governments do things for their own reasons depending on what the administration is. There could be altruistic reasons. But particularly a government that is politicized as the Bush Administration, one has to ask that question even more intensely. So we were doing that. We were also listening to people who were coming to us and saying "we don't think this is right. We don't believe that the intelligence is as strong as the administration is making it out to be." And indeed you saw that in open source reports. I'm referring to the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction which everyone had available to it, including members of congress.

First you had on September 3, 2002 the famous New York Times "aluminum tubes" piece by Judy Miller and Michael Gordon. That same day you had Vice President Cheney and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appear conveniently on the Sunday talk shows to talk about what had been extremely classified information that had appeared that day, in the New York Times. And then on September 10 you had the same allegations made to the world by the President of the United States from the podium of the United Nations. And then the following week the President made the same assertion that these aluminum tubes were for a nuclear weapons program that Iraq had hidden from UN weapons inspectors in an address to the nation. Then you had the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, which said there is division within the intelligence community on exactly what these tubes are all about.

I raise this point because this was one data point in what we had seen was a trend by this administration of exaggerating the intelligence it had on Iraq. We began tracing It back to right after 9/11 when Warren [Strobel] did the first story quoting analysts as saying it was unlikely that Iraq was involved in the World Trade Center attack. Then he went on to disclose that the former director of the CIA [James] Woolsey had made official visits to Britain on behalf of the Pentagon to check out a cockamamie tale that Ramzi Yousef, who we have in jail for the first World Trade Center attack, was not actually Ramzi Yousef but an Iraqi agent. And then right after the US went into Afghanistan, he and John [Walcott] did a story on how the administration had made a decision to oust Saddam Hussein. And we kept asking the question "why do they keep talking about Iraq when the problem is Al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Why do they keep talking about Iraq?" And we were already in that thinking mode when we started working on the stories in the lead up to the war. We were just doing the journalism that our journalism was pushing at.
And now, for the completely opposite side, we have Deadeye Dick Cheney here saying “it’s good to be back in Iraq” here.

Yeah, Dick – I think I speak for many people when I say that it’s good that you’re there also. And here’s more…

Cheney, who was in Iraq 10 months ago, said the Iraqis have made legislative advances that would be vital to the country's future. He also said there was no question but there had been a dramatic improvement in security.

(Iraq Prime Minister Nouri) Al-Maliki, speaking through an interpreter, also cited security improvements and said he and the vice president had talked about negotiations under way to spell out the legal basis for the presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi territory and to establish the legal rights and obligations of the troops, the so-called “status of forces agreement.”
And by the way, just to note here, the Status of Forces Agreement is something that was originally discussed in 2005, and three years later we still have no idea whether or not it is even remotely close to completion (and that’s also putting aside the fact that, without it, our personnel still have no legal basis for remaining in Iraq).

And here’s something else on the status of forces agreement from Defense Secretary Robert Gates (from about a month ago here)…

"The status-of-forces agreement that is being discussed will not contain a commitment to defend Iraq and neither will any strategic framework agreement," Gates told a U.S. Senate panel.

"We do not want, nor will we seek, permanent bases in Iraq," he later told a U.S. House of Representatives committee.
Gee, I'm sure that’s news to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which has identified 13 such bases here.

And for more information on how to try and bring this nightmare to an end, here once more is the video with Darcy Burner and other Democrats and related experts with their plan and what we can do to help (here).

Another Blown Bushco Opportunity?

This story tells us that, in response to increased grumbling from his countrymen (and women, I’m sure), Cuban leader Raul Castro is loosening the restrictions on computers, DVD and other video players and other appliances entering his country (of course, they then become the property of the government and are marked up as much as 240 percent, as noted in the story).

However, if we had serious, adult leadership in the White House, the person in charge would recognize this as an opportunity to reach out in a reciprocal fashion in an effort to slowly lower (and eventually abolish) our trade embargo with that country in the hope of eventual Democratic reforms. Fortunately, though, there are groups in this country such as USA Engage (which counts former Dem House Rep Lee Hamilton and Repug Senator Richard Lugar and former Senator Jim Kolbe as members, hardly people I would call partisans, though Kolbe has issues I know) that are trying to help this process along however they can.

And as long as we’re discussing Cuba, this takes you to an issues fact sheet for all of the still-running presidential candidates, noting the following…

Hillary Clinton: Consider responding positively to "some action that demonstrates they are willing to change" in Cuba. Not willing to meet new Cuban leader Raul Castro before Cuban policy changes.

Barack Obama: Ease trade embargo if Havana "begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change." Ease restrictions on family-related travel and on money Cuban-Americans want to send to their families in Cuba. Open to meeting new Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions.

John McCain: Ease restrictions on Cuba once U.S. is "confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made."
And another thing as long as we’re talking about Cuba: I seriously wish that our next president (God willing, not McCain) pushes as hard as he or she can to abolish once and for all the disgraceful Helms-Burton Act, a product borne of spite due to the fact that two planes hired by an anti-Castro Cuban organization called Brothers To The Rescue were shot down by Cuban fighter jets shortly before the bill was introduced and passed (signing it into law was definitely not a shining moment for The Big Dog). Helms-Burton has become (rightfully) an object of international scorn and ridicule, and putting a match to it would be a signal to the rest of the world that we are prepared to enter a civilized community of nations once more.

More Housing Lowlights With Dana Perino

(By the way, before I get to the substance here, I want to point out that I care less than nothing about hearing politicians talk about religion regardless of their affiliation. I give Barack Obama credit for trying to reach out to people if this apparently is what it takes to make them understand and support his candidacy better, but I care about politicians who are going to craft legislation and support policy that actually helps me and my family on a day-in, day-out basis…you know, silly stuff like authoring spending bills that balance our budgets, advocating policy that supports our environment and passing legislation that properly funds our schools. And I know Obama supports all of this too as well as HRC, but I would only waste calories over what they think of religion if they were running for Pope, which they obviously aren’t.)

Update: And yes, I realize that Obama gave his speech in Philadelphia, but nonsense like this is why I don't care; I was tempted to compliment Smerky on an earlier Obama column - good thing I didn't (and I might as well forget about comparable media coverage for the nutball utterances from Baptist minister Mike Huckabee).

Update 3/19/08: Well, I guess this is why I'm nothing but a filthy, unkempt liberal glad the folks in Ohio and Missouri who oppose Obama here aren't just a bunch of utterly clueless lemmings who absorb anything fed to them by those pretending to present the news to them on their televisions (the folks with the initials for names, of course)...right?

(Also, regarding the campaign silliness between the two Democratic contenders – and again, people, this is politics; let’s all get a grip, OK? – I happened to come across a Daily Kos blog post linked from HuffPo where a diarist said they weren’t going to post on The Daily Kos because they said the site supported Hillary Obama (my bad) and they thought kos was being unfair to her Hillary…but the post appeared on The Daily Kos written by someone saying they weren’t going to post there any more even though kos allowed the post – aaaaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh!!!!! ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE!)

OK, thanks for indulging me on that (update: I was more or less referring to this). Now…

This takes you to yesterday’s White House press briefing with the following disinformation from Dana Perino…

Q …people who are facing, say, foreclosure, the individuals, the little guys who are facing a foreclosure are looking at the big guys getting government, if not brokered, certainly they're overseeing deals that are engineered to sort of keep the big picture financial community afloat, and they're saying, well, where's my boost of liquidity (re: the J.P. Morgan/Bear Stearns deal)?

MS. PERINO: They're going to get that boost of liquidity in the form of a stimulus package and a tax rebate that's coming to them the second week of May.

Q But that's not going to save their houses.

MS. PERINO: The other way to help work on the housing issues is to take advantage of some of the programs that we have in place, to talk with HOPE NOW or Project Lifeline, for those who are in more serious dire straits, and also to work -- for us to continue from the administration to call on Congress to finally take action on Federal Housing Administration reforms, which we think are necessary to help homeowners across-the-board.
From here…

NEW YORK ( -- By early April, both chambers of Congress are likely to tie the bow on a bill that would expand the reach of the Federal Housing Administration, which aims to provide safe loan alternatives to subprime mortgages and make homeownership more accessible.

Different versions of the FHA modernization bill passed in the House and the Senate last year, and both Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said last week that the differences between the chambers could be resolved in short order.

"I think we are fairly close to having an FHA reform bill that we will be able to adopt very quickly," Dodd said on the Senate floor.
I realize that so-called FHA “modernization” is one tool to help subprime mortgage holders in default, but I’m skeptical to say the least about this though I know it’s necessary. We started out “going FHA” by putting 3 percent down, and loosening even an already loose requirement like that is risky (but, again, necessary I know). That’s why I for one want to see the House and Senate work out the details carefully as they blend their matching bills into a single piece of legislation for President Brainless to (dare I hope?) sign into law.

And as far as Hope Now or Project Lifeline are concerned (from here)…

The Bush Administration's latest initiative, Project Lifeline, exemplifies its hands-off approach to the workings of the market. In fact, it's not a government program at all. It's a statement of intent by six major lenders—Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Countrywide Financial (CFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Washington Mutual (WM), and Wells Fargo (WFC)—that they will stop the clock on foreclosure for 30 days for borrowers who are identified by the lenders as good candidates for a home-saving workout. The banks, in the words of a Bank of America press release, "will target severely delinquent borrowers to encourage them to respond to their mortgage servicer and pursue loan modification options."

Predictably, Project Lifeline was quickly attacked by critics as too little, too late. Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) issued a statement saying: "Homeowners at risk of foreclosure are floating 50 feet from shore while Project Lifeline throws them a 30-foot rope."

Project Lifeline appears even less substantial than Hope Now, an earlier Bush Administration initiative aimed at more credit-worthy borrowers. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has refused to say how many people benefited from loan workouts arranged through Hope Now. Only about 10,000 delinquent borrowers have even been advised to seek workouts in the past two months via a hotline (888 995-HOPE), The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, which operates the hotline.

The foundation, which pre-dates the Hope Now initiative, told the Journal that hotline counselors recommended a workout for 9,975 borrowers, told 4,410 people to "seriously consider selling their home," and referred 12,113 borrowers for in-person counseling and services such as job-placement help. That's a tiny fraction of the millions of people who are struggling to make payments or have become delinquent on their home mortgages.
So now that we know what the Dems are trying to accomplish versus yet another ridiculous Bushco shell game, let’s go back to Our Gal Dana, shall we?

Q The President, in his radio address Saturday, said that the housing crisis was the root of a lot of the troubles. Mr. Frank and Mr. Dodd have the legislation on the Hill that will call for a write-down on some of the principal, and then have FHA come in and guarantee the rest of those mortgages. The market is looking for a floor. Wouldn't that kind of legislation give the market a floor?

MS. PERINO: I'm not that detailed into it, Roger, that I could provide that. But I'll refer you to Treasury.

Q The administration opposes that legislation; is that correct?

MS. PERINO: I think we've said that we would not support -- I can't remember exactly what that legislation says, so let me go back and either get back to you or refer you to somebody who can.
307 days and counting, people (sigh)…

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Stuff

There goes The Onion almost but not quite intruding on reality again...

Army Holds Annual 'Bring Your Daughter To War' Day

...and more on this great video featuring Darcy Burner is here, with congressional Dems and other experts coming together with a plan to end the war (for real)...

...and kudos to Cliff Schecter and Jeralyn Merritt for handling the whole "OMIGOD, those divisive Democrats are at it again! How can they be expected to govern" nonsense from this corporate media hairdo; I didn't catch her name and I don't care...but ooohh, that makes me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger I guess for saying that, though - sue me...

...finally, I've been feeling sorry for him all day since he officially got fleeced today by that psycho Heather Mills (here) - we're with you, Sir Paul; I think this song is apropos.

Snarlin' Arlen "Scribes" On Our Dime

This tells us that Sen. Arlen Specter has written a book about his struggle with cancer and the chemo- therapy treatments that he endured to fight it.

I give him credit for sharing his story (his treatments took place in 2005), particularly for the benefit of anyone fighting cancer or any other life-threatening illness. And I can only imagine how difficult his struggle was given his high-profile job (though the confirmation of Hangin’ Judge J.R. took a lot of his time I realize, I don’t see how that was more stressful than anything else he did; I mean, was there ever a doubt Roberts would get the nod?).

And I’m completely serious about everything I just said, by the way – no snark whatsoever. Good for him, and I hope he stays well.

All of that having been said, though, I do have some concerns (based on what you might call the “Patrick Murphy rules” for book publication if you’re a member of Congress based on the recent outcry concerning Patrick’s tome written about serving in Iraq and on Capitol Hill).

One of them concerns any royalties Specter may receive; as noted here, members of Congress can receive a book deal while in office only if they agree to forego a cash advance in favor of collecting royalties from book sales. Has anyone bothered to report on whether or not Specter accepted the cash advance or will collect royalties instead?

Also, Mike Walsh, spokesman for Tom Manion (Patrick’s Repug opponent for the 8th District U.S. House Seat in the November election) had this to say about Patrick’s book deal (and I made the appropriate update from this post)…

...the book is a glaring example of the freshman congressman's veteran senator's “misplaced priorities.”

“Here we have the lowest rated Congress in history and [Murphy's] [Specter's] priorities are writing a book and, now, publicizing it,” Walsh said. “The people in Bucks County Pennsylvania didn't send him to Washington to write a book.”
And as Donald Petrille, Jr., past president of the Bucks County Federation of Young Republicans, noted here…

Mr. Murphy and I have daughters born about a month apart, yet I do not have the benefit of a $165,000 salary, along with a $100,000 advance on a book deal, with which to pay these onerous taxes (re: Petrille’s largely fictitious numbers concerning tax increases brought to us by the “Democrat” Party in Congress), as he does.
Well, since Petrille disclosed Patrick’s salary, I think disclosing Specter’s salary against any projected monies the senator is expected to receive from his book is nothing more than “turnabout, fair play.”

Otherwise, I think we have the makings of a genuine ethics issue here (but as usual, don’t hold your breath waiting for our dear corporate media cousins to report on any of this…because, as we know, all of this is “OK if you’re a Republican”).

How To Railroad A Democrat

Lest we forget, the trial of former Allegheny County, PA coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht is still going on (here)…

…(Wecht) faces 41 counts, mostly mail and wire fraud, alleging that he had his county employees send correspondence relating to his private practice from the coroner's office on county time.

(Wecht Defense Attorney Jerry) McDevitt accused prosecutors of trying to bulldoze the jury into convicting Wecht with an avalanche of documents. He noted that 24 of the 41 counts involve faxes that cost the county a total of $3.96.
And as Paul Kiel of TPM Muckracker notes here, Wecht’s indictment originally contained 84 counts (no word on why the count was reduced to 41), and “Wecht's lawyers have calculated that the cumulative cost for the 37 charges in the indictment that involve improperly charging the county for gasoline and mileage costs add up to $1,778.55” (today’s CNN story, though, tells us that Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wilson alleges that Wecht profited by about $790,000 – that’s an enormous discrepancy; I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to smell a great big Bushco-leftover-from-the-Alberto-G-DOJ rat here).

The TPM story from last October (which has a lot of great stuff, by the way) also notes that…

The most colorful of the charges, of course, involve(d) (an) elaborate body snatching scheme: prosecutors allege that Wecht gave a local Catholic university unclaimed bodies in exchange for laboratory space.
No word of that in today’s CNN story, though.

Also, as noted here, former PA governor and longtime Repug honcho Dick Thornburgh tells us that this whole case was brought against Wecht by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan ostensibly because he was a high-profile Democrat (Buchanan also milked the whole fandango of “Operation Pipe Dreams” for some nice PR, netting a conviction against Tommy Chong – and we all know what an irredeemable character and threat to society he is…snark).

That may be oddly appropriate, though; don’t be surprised to find one day that the case against Wecht will go “up in smoke” also, along with all of our tax dollars spent on its prosecution.

Stop Planning For Defeat Already!

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s campaign for president in 2000, wrote this column that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday, including the following…

As a neutral superdelegate who is becoming increasingly frustrated at the campaign's divisive attitude and growing animosity between the Clinton and Obama camps, I don't have a clue what the outcome will be. Nor do I have the power with my one vote to change the trajectory of this race. What I do know is that the tone of this campaign must change or the party will be torn apart — and President McCain will be sending thank-you notes to the Democratic Party.
So upon what does Brazile base this dire claim that all of this back-and-forth is so terrible to our party’s chances in November?

The Geraldine Ferraro mess. And that’s it.

Now, if Brazile had a case to be made about anything untoward from the Obama side, she didn’t make it. And I’ll admit that I’m pretty fed up with this soap opera also. However, I see Hillary continuing to be led by people who either have no clue about how to win the primary campaign, or are purposely leading her to electoral oblivion for reasons of their own.

Obama, on the other hand, accepted the resignation from senior advisor Samantha Power soon after she called Hillary “a monster,” which is laughably tame by comparison.

But I think Brazile has a questionable pedigree when it comes to analysis of her own party anyway; I tend to believe much of what is said here in this kos post since it seems to fit into what I’ve heard and read about recent Democratic national campaigns, and almost as if to emphasize that, here is an NPR article with Brazile telling anyone who cares to listen that she’ll quit her position at the DNC “if her superdelegate colleagues decide the party's nomination.”

Uh…is that supposed to be some kind of a threat? And isn’t this a bit presumptuous anyway? And why exactly should I care again?

I suppose there are a bunch of well-heeled and appropriately connected insiders like Brazile who find themselves growing anxious over the continued competition between Hillary and Barack Obama for the nomination (which is – and this is really important to remember for the benefit of anyone who never studied civics – after all, a good thing), and I don’t know whether or not this is causing them to “lose it.”

However, these people really do a disservice by assuming some position of authority within the Democratic Party and trying to tell both sides to play nice (especially when evidence indicates that the “mud,” as opposed to the legitimate questions about qualifications, appeared to be coming primarily from one side). It’s not as if they’re going to listen anyway (and besides, our dear media cousins will present it as “more good news for Republicans” regardless).

Update 1: No sooner did I press the ENTER button on this post then I got an Email from Jim Dean from Democracy For America asking me to sign a letter to be sent to the Clinton and Obama campaigns telling them to “fight McCain, not each other.”

This is absolutely surreal; all of the corporate, Repug-friendly media must be laughing their asses off over this.

This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of! Let both sides go at it and back off! It’s called “fighting to win the nomination” (and as someone else once said, “this ain’t beanbag”).

And call me naïve, but somehow I think most of this country will see that, even with the “below-the-belt” stuff from Ferraro and possibly the odd Obama mailer or two, this does not mean that the Dems won’t come together in some fashion when all is said and done for the general election (this ain’t Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980; the senator deserves plaudits now, but he was a tyrannical little baby back then).

Besides, as John Edwards once said (can’t recall the exact quote), what Clinton and Obama are doing are exchanging love taps compared to what the Repugs will do to the nominee of our party after the convention, regardless of who it is.

Update 2: This is kind of related; looks like the man who once sang "I thank the Lord for the people I have found" is taking sides, which is fine by me. He's been a friend to Philly, and I think he's a good dude - I wish I could point out how he can't possibly be right about what he says, but I can't.

Broder Bombs Big Time On The Budget

David Broder of the WaPo communicated the following yesterday (in a column about outgoing comptroller general David Walker; he was the head of the GAO who frequently warned our federal government to get its fiscal act together under Bushco)…

The last time the broad public grasped the danger of budget deficits was in 1992, when Ross Perot paid for half-hour television infomercials, complete with dramatic charts and graphs, as part of his presidential campaign. That seeded the ground for Bill Clinton's 1993 effort that succeeded briefly in wiping out those deficits.
I honestly don’t know what that means (the effort to balance the budget did begin in '93, though), but this tells you that Clinton, after tax increases and cuts in services, delivered a balanced budget in February 1998, with projected savings to go into Social Security (sounds like ancient history now, which it is, sadly).

(Also, some have questioned the accounting used by the Clinton administration to arrive at their totals, but I think this provides additional clarification that tells us that the numbers are still sound.)

I don’t know what role Ross Perot supposedly played in this (though his “giant sucking sound” remark turned out to be prescient, unfortunately), and it took five years for Clinton and his people to straighten things out, but they got it done.

Legitimizing The Lie

I embedded this great new Robert Greenwald video a few days ago about how Faux News “spreads the virus” against Barack Obama to the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, and other media outlets.

Well, I came across an example here of “spreading another virus,” and that is the notion that, somehow, a White House win for the Democrats would provide aid and comfort to the terrorists, or something.

Here is how Libby Quaid of the AP reported the story…

Republican John McCain said he worries that terrorists might try to influence the November general election with increased attacks in Iraq.

"Yes, I worry about it," he said Friday, responding to a question at a town hall-style forum. "And I know they pay attention, because of the intercepts we have of their communications."

The questioner asked if McCain feared al-Qaida in Iraq or another group might attack in an effort to aid the Democratic nominee, because Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama both favor a withdrawal of U.S. forces.
So we have reporting on a question posed to McCain about the presidential election (a stupid question I think, but a question all the same).

And without any additional context provided, namely the fact that there’s no reliable way to determine how those attacking our military would be inclined to view the election.

And if you don’t want to believe me, fine. Believe that noted political sage and impartial observer Flush Limbore here…

Which way will they go? Which way will the terrorists vote? More attacks or a timeout? More threats or fake piece overtures? So, we have two questions: Who are they rooting for and what will they do about it? Sadly, I haven't seen the latest Zogby poll that has polled the terrorists or the jihadists or Al Qaeda on their preference. There is no Ali Abdullah Morris; there is no Yasser Pew, and there is no Ali Zogby or Hakim Rasmussen that I have seen.
But of course, the lack of any kind of measurable data that is somewhat reliable never stopped Flush from issuing his prognostications which I would guess (I myself don’t have data on this either) are usually wrong.

And so he tells us (from October 2006, just before the mid-term elections, conveniently enough)…

The insurgents have made up their minds and they are voting. They are trying to create as much havoc as possible, raise the level of violence in order to affect the midterm elections. Sounds to me like they're voting Democrat. Sounds like the terrorists around the world, and particularly, those in Iraq, are voting Democrat today, because they think an increased level of violence and death will cause you -- I'm not talking about you cut-and-run conservatives because you're not voting, but those of you who are going to vote -- you're going to vote against the Republicans because you're going to blame the Republicans for the increased insurgency and death and destruction in Iraq.

So, it's obvious now what they want and we no longer have to guess -- drive-by media has told us: Terrorists have voted Democrat. The early voting's begun; they're voting Democrat plain as day.
Here we have an example of how the notion that voting for a Democrat means that somehow you’re aiding the terrorists becomes “conventional wisdom”; you have Limbore broadcasting it nearly a year and a half ago with many knowledgeable people (including yours truly) laughing at him (using the “Democrat” slur as much as he can), then it is repeated over time in one form or another, and now, we have a questioner parroting it back to McCain who is only too happy to take this “softball” and “hit it out of the park,” with no context provided by the reporter.

Well, the good news is that, in 2006, the majority of voters did not take Flush seriously and elected the Democrats take over Congress. However, the “vote for Dems and the terrorists win” lie hadn’t seeped far enough into what passes for journalism by our media, still waay too obsessed with “the horserace” to call this stuff for what it is.

So let’s keep it that way by calling it out for the guttural garbage that it is every chance we get.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Videos

I know I'm not really doing the music videos any more, but this is such a great tune that I have to embed it ("So Happy," by Theory Of A Deadman - the new CD will arrive next month; we should all be screaming this at the top of our lungs on 1/21/09, and I'm sure someone out there will do a Dubya montage to this that will instantly go viral)..., time to do a "180"; I probably won't have much to say about St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, though I know already that I'll be dealing with a good bit o'blarney, so here's Nanci Griffith with The Chieftains performing "Red Is The Rose" from 1991 (have to turn the volume up slightly, but it's worth it).

Take The "Senator Hothead" Quiz

The following appeared in the most recent issue of The New Yorker (so don't blame me for the bad words, OK?)...

Senator Hothead: The McCain Quiz by Paul Slansky

1. What did Richard Kimball, John McCain’s opponent in his 1986 Senate race, do during a debate that got McCain so upset that, according to his aide Jay Smith, he “wanted to kill” Kimball?

(a) He pointed out that McCain had referred to the retirement community Leisure World as “Seizure World.”

(b) He revealed that McCain was standing on a riser behind his podium.

(c) He said, “I’m not the one who left his disabled first wife so he could marry a rich young beer heiress.”
2. Who is Harry Jaffe?

(a) The writer who first called McCain “Senator Hothead.”

(b) The journalist who helped break the 1994 story of Cindy McCain’s addiction to Percocet and Vicodin, which led her to steal pills from a relief organization she’d founded.

(c) The reporter whose question prompted McCain to respond that he was “fine” with a hundred-year U.S. military presence in Iraq.

(d) The politician who said of McCain, “His volatility borders in the area of being unstable. Before I let this guy put his finger on the button, I would have to give considerable pause.”
3. What prompted Jon Stewart, on “The Daily Show,” to ask, “Has John McCain’s Straight Talk Express been rerouted through Bullshit Town?”?

(a) McCain decided to speak at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University six years after calling Falwell and Pat Robertson “agents of intolerance.”

(b) McCain claimed that the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina capitol symbolized “heritage,” although he was on record as having called it “a symbol of racism and slavery.”

(c) McCain said of George W. Bush, “I support him. I am grateful to him. And I am proud of him.”
4. Which of these statements about McCain is true?

(a) He used to be against Bush’s tax cuts and for overturning Roe v. Wade, but now he’s for extending the tax cuts and against overturning Roe v. Wade.

(b) He used to be against allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship, but now he’s for it.

(c) He used to be against Bush’s tax cuts and overturning Roe v. Wade and for allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship, but now he’s for extending the tax cuts and overturning Roe v. Wade and avoids talking about illegal immigrants earning citizenship.
5. McCain told workers at a gun factory, “I will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell and I will shoot him with one of your products.” How did he later clarify this declaration?

(a) “Of course, I didn’t mean the literal gates of Hell. I don’t even know where they are.”

(b) “I shouldn’t limit myself to your products, because, when I find him, I may not be carrying a gun made by you.”

(c) “I certainly didn’t mean I would actually shoot him. I am certainly angry at him, but...I would not shoot him myself.”
6. Two of these statements refer to Bush. Which refers to McCain?

(a) At thirteen, he yelled “Fuck this” when he played golf poorly, prompting his mother to make him go sit in the car.

(b) As a toddler, if he didn’t get his way he’d hold his breath until he fainted.

(c) When he was a boy, he liked to blow up frogs with firecrackers.
(Note: One of the selections in the print version was removed.)

7. True or false: When Chelsea Clinton was eighteen, McCain told this joke: “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father.”

8. What did McCain say to Edward Kennedy?

(a) “Shut up.”

(b) “Fucking jerk.”

(c) “Fuck you.”
9. What did McCain say to John Cornyn?

(a) “Shut up.”

(b) “Fucking jerk.”

(c) “Fuck you.”
10. What did McCain say to Charles Grassley?

(a) “Shut up.”

(b) “Fucking jerk.”

(c) “Fuck you.”
11. What was McCain referring to when he told reporters, “It’s up to you to find that out, kids”?

(a) The extent of the Bush campaign’s involvement in rumors that McCain had fathered a half-black child.

(b) The financial connections between Cindy McCain and Charles Keating, the man behind the nation’s biggest savings-and-loan collapse.

(c) Why he condemned the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans ads smearing John Kerry, then hired the agency behind them.
12. Who said, “I like McCain a lot...There’s something about matching the character with the script”?

(a) Pat Buchanan.

(b) Sylvester Stallone.

(c) Senator Thad Cochran.
13. Who said that McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi”?

(a) Pat Buchanan.

(b) Sylvester Stallone.

(c) Senator Thad Cochran.
14. Who said of McCain, “The thought of his being President sends a cold chill down my spine”?

(a) Pat Buchanan.

(b) Sylvester Stallone.

(c) Senator Thad Cochran.
15. Last year, McCain said, “When I voted to support this war, I knew it was probably going to be long and hard and tough, and those that voted for it and thought that somehow it was going to be some kind of an easy task, then I’m sorry they were mistaken.” What did McCain say before the war started?

(a) He told Larry King that “success will be fairly easy.”

(b) He told Wolf Blitzer, “I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time.”

(c) “It’s a safe assumption that Iraqis will be grateful to whoever is responsible for securing their freedom.”

(d) All of the above.
Answers...(1)b, (2)a, (3)a, (4)c, (5)c, (6)b and c, (7)True, (8)a, (9)c, (10)b, (11)b, (12)b, (13)a, (14)c, (15)d.