Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Stuff

After watching this, I'll bet you're so glad that the Clintons "aren't going anywhere," right?

...and here's a "Real News" report on the collapse of the Wilkins ice shelf in Antarctica and what the IPCC regards as the accelerated pace of climate change...

...Kelvin Lovely names Pat Buchanan "Media Moron Of The Week" (and in addition to a bunch of other reasons, let's not forget Pat's role in the 2000 presidential election as well as that of Nader, particularly in Florida)...

...and as a two-for-one tribute, here's a scene from "Judgment At Nuremberg" (written by Abby Mann, who died yesterday) in which prosecutor Richard Widmark (who left us also earlier this week) interrogates a German judge who decided to "say no" to National Socialism prior to World War II, though the judge accuses Burt Lancaster of caving in (Lancaster remains silent for much of the movie, though he gives an inspired if wrongheaded defense of his actions near the end - the judge on the stand is also questioned by Spencer Tracy, and when he's questioned, just substitute "war on terror" for "crimes against the state," Dubya's secret tribunals for "people's and special courts," and Muslims and Arabs for Jews and Poles, and you're pretty much caught up to where we are now, especially concerning the DOJ - we could still make movies like that back in 1961 without the rest of the world laughing at us.)

Friday Mashup (3/28/08)

  • What a great “two-fer”: the newly named “Washington’s Crossing VA Cemetery” is finally a done deal (congratulations to all on both sides of the aisle who finally sealed it once and for all) and former Alabama governor Don Siegelman (pictured) is a free man pending the appeal of his bogus conviction (h/t The Daily Kos).

  • Also, Sen. Bob Casey did a good deed today in bucking much of the state PA party brass (including Gov. Rendell) by supporting Barack Obama (here – another h/t The Daily Kos). Now, Mr. Casey Jr., prove House Minority Leader John Boehner (pronounced bo-ner) and his toady Kevin Smith wrong for believing you will “cave” on FISA (here).

  • This tells us that “Straight Talk” McCain released his first general election TV ad (and by the way, I don’t think it’s necessarily “news” when a candidate of any political stripe releases a TV ad).

    However, this tells us that McCain chose not to publicize his Vietnam War experience in the 2000 election; much of it was in captivity of course (it also notes the ad that aired at that time where he juxtaposed his imprisonment with Hillary Clinton’s advocacy for funding a museum to commemorate the Woodstock concert in 1969 – gotta hand it to “Senator Honor and Virtue”; he sure has figured out how to toss red meat to “the base”). And by the way, McCain criticized John Kerry for publicizing his own wartime service in the 2004 presidential election, saying it was “clearly a tactical or strategic move.”

    And of course, as noted here, McCain has accepted financial help from the Swift Boat liars for this election cycle even though he denounced them in 2004, which is typical for a campaign finance criminal in my view, which McCain clearly is.

  • Update 4/8/08: Here's a related "blast from the past."

  • The quarterly donation cycle is coming to an end, so if you are able and/or willing, please donate to the candidate of your choice; your humble narrator did so on behalf of Patrick Murphy at the Black Sheep Tavern in Philadelphia last night – a splendid time was had by all for a great cause.

    And if somehow John Edwards happens to be reading this, might I put forward the notion of an endorsement for Barack Obama over the next day or so? I’m sure that would give a last-minute spike to the cash flow. Thanks.

  • Update 3/29/08: Well, this would explain a thing or two (h/t HuffPo - as I've said, Hillary is the best candidate, but her campaign has been another story).

  • Finally, screenwriter Abby Mann (who wrote the 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg” for which he won an Oscar, among other film and TV efforts) has died at the age of 80. As this BBC remembrance tells us…

    After receiving the Oscar in 1962 he said: "I believe that a writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives, not only to comment, but maybe have a shot at reshaping the world."
    Would that we all should be so successful.
  • The Turning Point?

    I think this post by Chris Bowers of Open Left here spoke volumes about what is truly taking place in the Democratic presidential primary (as does this), particularly this excerpt…

    While publicly elected officials and primary voters are virtually split between the two candidates, the Democratic Party leadership heavily favors Clinton and the highly engaged activists who keep the party's electoral engine running heavily favor Obama. This divide between the party leadership and the rising, activist base points strongly toward an ongoing battle in the party that online we have deemed "the silent revolution." While the other demographic divides listed above have longstanding cultural legacies that go well beyond a single election or political party, it is truly shocking to see such a huge gap between a party's leadership and that party's most dedicated activists. At least in theory, these are two groups of people who should be on the same page.
    As you can read, Bowers notes that Obama has claimed 64 percent of the national caucus delegate totals, while Hillary has claimed 36 percent.

    I know I and others have noted often of the basic disconnect between the netroots and the Democratic national party organizations; I know I even once said for anyone inclined to donate to do so only through Act Blue and ignore the pleas of the national organizations (here, concerning the FISA sellout last August).

    And I believe that the success of the Obama candidacy, while due first and foremost to the candidate himself, is also due to the commitment of the netroots and netroots-supported candidates.

    To say that this has caught the Clinton campaign off guard is an understatement. The rules of the game have changed, and apparently, they never got the memo.

    Instead, they have returned over and over to the only strategy that they apparently understand, and that is to go negative (yes, Obama has criticized Clinton on her recent statement about entering Bosnia under fire in the ‘90s, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a fair shot, particularly when the TV footage is available of the former First Lady receiving flowers instead of scurrying and ducking from gunfire).

    And The Big Dog himself confirms what Bowers says here…

    "Right now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary's only 16 votes behind in pledged delegates," said Bill Clinton, "and she's gonna wind up with the lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She's gonna wind up with the lead in the delegates [from primary states]."

    "It's the caucuses that have been killing us," he added.
    Funny, though - as at least one commenter has noted, I don't recall hearing that this was a problem either time that Clinton himself ran for president.

    Now, for the harsh reality (from the same link)…

    Bill Clinton's decision to flatly predict that his wife will finish ahead of Obama in the pledged delegates and popular vote which come strictly from primary states comes as his wife's advisers concede that the former first lady will not be able to catch Obama in the total number of pledged delegates.
    And my God, if there is one thing I am SO TIRED OF, it is reading about stuff like this from the Clinton campaign…

    At a stop in rural Pennsylvania, over winding roads and through rolling hills in small Lewistown, PA, where people lined the streets to watch his motorcade approach, former President Bill Clinton had high praise for the man who has clinched the nomination for the other party.

    Mr. Clinton said all three major candidates remaining in the race are talented and special people.

    He did not go into detail on Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Senator still locked in political combat with Sen. Clinton's wife for the Democratic nomination. Their next battle takes place next month in Pennsylvania.

    But McCain, who Mr. Clinton said is a "moderate", "has given about all you can give for this country without dyin' for it."

    He said McCain was on the right side of issues like being against torture of enemy combatants and global warming, which "just about crosses the bridge for them (Republicans)."
    (Well, at least Clinton knew not to exclude Obama this time.)

    All this does is separate “Senator Honor And Virtue” from Dubya, which is the LAST THING ANY DEMOCRAT SHOULD BE DOING!! The two of them should be tethered together and anchored every way possible at every opportunity!

    In the general election, would any Repug ever say, “Well, Senator Clinton and/or Senator Obama want to do what’s right for our country, but we happen to have philosophical disagreements”?

    HELL, NO!! The Repugs are going to describe one or the other as terrorist-loving liberals who want to destroy the spirit of American entrepreneurship and the comfy, cozy way of life for the investor class, to say nothing of partnering with those elitist, latte-sipping Hollywood degenerates who want to “advance the homosexual agenda” and let al Qaeda infiltrate every area of our lives!

    And why Bill Clinton, the man who was hounded and victimized at every turn during his entire term of office (some of it deserved) would not get that is a truly inexplicable mystery to me.

    The netroots gets that, Mr. President, even if you and the national party organizations don’t by fueling and perpetuating the “Insult-40-States Express.”

    And we intend to win back the White House in November. And we would like to do it with your help and that of the Beltway party poobahs who apparently think that the nomination should be awarded to Hillary in much the same way as one recognizes years of service for a well-heeled corporate loyalist.

    The organization is what wins (and we can respectfully thank Dr. Dean for teaching that lesson). And while Obama continues to build his pretty much away from the headlines, yours generates bad news just about every day.

    And we’re going to use ours to win even if we have to drag you kicking and screaming with us.

    A Friday Payday Post

    Not much to say here, but I only want to recommend three good articles…

  • In today’s Bucks County Courier Times, Guest Opinion writer Joseph M. Kraher discusses three American Prospect articles by former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich here, including this excerpt…

    Reich notes IRS data showing the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined are earning just 12.8 percent of all income. The richest 1 percent earn more than 21 percent of all income. He faults Democrats and Republicans alike for their political unwillingness to raise taxes on those making over $500,000 a year, as the leading factor resulting in this increasing inequality seen since the late 1970s.

    He notes that under Eisenhower, Republican, in the 1950s, the top tax rate was 91 percent for the richest, and the middle class didn't complain. People who lived through the Depression were seeing their take-home incomes rise, even with these high taxes for the rich. A one-worker family could afford the middle class American dream.

    Reich simplifies the two economic theories in America as Trickle-Down (Friedman) and Bottom-Up (Keynes). Everyone should remember Reagan's “Trickle-Down,” which Republicans have been fooling us with since. This assumes the rich get richer with lower taxes and use their extra income to invest in America. Investments don't trickle down to the middle class; they trickle out to wherever on the planet the rich can get the highest return. If trickle down worked, inequality wouldn't be rising so fast.
    Kraher also refers to Adam Smith as “America’s first conservative president,” which is incorrect by a mile, though Smith, an economist, is possibly the most influential one of all concerning this country’s economic policy.

  • Paul Krugman weighs in on what McBush, Hillary and Obama have proposed concerning the mortgage crisis (here), telling us…

    Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

    Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

    Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.
    Good stuff, as always.

  • Finally, the Inquirer had no trouble yesterday trashing trial lawyers Melvyn I. Weiss, “Dickie” Scruggs and William Lerach here for convictions related to bribe and kickback schemes, which was justified I know, but here is an example of trial lawyer Cliff Rieders writing about income inequality also (though the war is the number one issue, it’s good that the economy is getting the proper focus also, though it’s a tragedy that it took the slow disintegration of our financial underpinnings to make that happen).

    And yes, for anyone inclined to comment accordingly, Lerach made a donation to the John Edwards for President campaign, but it was donated to charity upon Lerach’s conviction (as noted here).
  • Too Much Trouble To Give Obama Credit, Huh?

    While John W. McBush insists to anyone giving him the time of day that “the surge is working,” this Daily Kos post yesterday from diarist clammmyc paints a starkly different picture. And even Joe Klein and the New York Times tell us here that air strikes on Basra could lead to Mahdi Army retaliations ensnaring us into further involvement in a Shi’ite civil war.

    Just clap louder, everybody.

    Update 3/30/08: Speaking of Iraq, this post by smintheus at The Daily Kos is required reading, particularly concerning Basra.

    But while this is going on, Democracy Arsenal’s Michael Cohen tells us here from the Washington Post that…

    The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan's new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.
    But wait…

    Didn’t John W. McBush berate Barack Obama in February for suggesting the same thing, as Cohen notes? And Cohen also wonders why McCain has not blamed Bush either for “bombing our ally Pakistan.”

    I’m sure Cohen knows the answer, but please allow me point out here that Dubya also blamed Obama for suggesting the very thing that he is engaged in as well.

    And while I’m not averse to acting on reliable data in order to take out Osama bin Forgotten, the Washington Post story from the Democracy Arsenal link tells us…

    Thomas H. Johnson, a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., said: "People inside the Beltway are aware that (Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf's days are numbered, and so they recognize they may only have a few months to do this. Musharraf has . . . very few friends in the world -- he probably has more inside the Beltway than in his own country."

    U.S. strategy could backfire if missiles take innocent lives. "The [tribal] Pashtuns have a saying: 'Kill one person, make 10 enemies,' " Johnson said. "You might take out a bad guy in one of these strikes, but you might also be creating more foot soldiers. This is a war in which the more people you kill, the faster you lose."
    And I haven’t been able to determine whether or not Congress was consulted on the Pakistan bombing, by the way; knowing this regime, I’m inclined to think they weren’t.

    The attacks in Pakistan were referred to as the “shake the tree” strategy by “a senior U.S. official.” But rightly or wrongly in the end, it will never be acknowledged by Bushco of course that the “seeds” for that “tree” were planted by a Democrat.

    Update: By the way, this is a great analysis of how Bushco is "in the outs" with the new leadership of Pakistan and how that was made as plain as possible to John Negroponte, who was even called out over Honduras by Farrukh Saleem, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies.

    This excerpt was noteworthy, I thought...

    Then (Aitzaz Ahsan, chairman of the Supreme Court Bar Association), a graduate of Cambridge and one of Pakistan’s most talented orators, gave Mr. Negroponte a 10- to 15-minute discourse on why an independent judiciary was important to fight terrorism.

    “I told him that the most effective weapon on the war against terror is a people who have enforceable rights — then they have a stake in the system,” Mr. Ahsan said of his conversation with Mr. Negroponte.

    Mr. Ahsan said he argued that an independent judiciary was “a middle ground” between the military and religious fanatics.

    When Mr. Negroponte countered that the new Parliament had pledged to deal with the question of the restoration of the judges within 30 days, Mr. Ahsan said he retorted: “I said you can’t build a Parliament on the debris of the judiciary.”

    In contrast to Mr. Negroponte, a delegation of legislators, led by Rep. John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, visited (Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad) Chaudhry at his home on Thursday. They were the first foreigners to see the judge since police barricades were removed Tuesday after four months of house arrest.

    “He believes the Parliament has a vote in the next 30 days and the judges will go back to work,” Mr. Tierney said after talking to Mr. Chaudhry. “That’s his position, and they’re sticking with it.”
    More power to them (and it's clear that the air strikes may be one of the last ones we ever get in that country; though I think getting bin Laden is a priority, respecting the rule of law - what a concept for Bushco! - and international sovereignty are also).

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Cowardly Cause Meets Deadly Effect

    I have a news bulletin for the Democratic congressional leadership in Washington; we are the party of gun control, like it or not, and it’s about time you grew a spine over this issue once and for all.

    This story tells us that the proliferation of assault weapons, the AK-47 in particular, has led to the point where police must rearm themselves to compensate for that fact …

    "This is a national problem. Police agencies all over the U.S. are going to bigger weapons," said (Miami Police Commissioner John) Timoney, whose agency now has about 50 AR-15s and expects to get 150 more. He blames the 2004 expiration of the federal ban on assault weapons for the escalation of heavily armed violence.
    And funny, but I haven’t heard a Dem speak out on this since that French-loving, Botox-injecting John Kerry did so in the 2004 presidential campaign here (tongue-in-cheek with that remark, I assure you); I and many others criticized him for reacting too late to the smears and not realizing soon enough what the campaign was truly about, but he was dead on to protest the expiration of the assault weapons ban (also, Mike Castle and Christopher Shays, two House Repugs who have since entered “full mooner” territory, said the right things also).

    And just like the prior post, we have a situation where we can encourage Dem-sponsored congressional legislation on this issue, and that would be the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007 by House Rep Carolyn McCarthy of New York here (I don’t understand the point in regulating the barrel shroud either; the clip size is what matters the most - a certain conservative, bow-tie-wearing TV personality who just lost his show called out McCarthy on that...also, please note what happened with similar legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses).

    Also, this gives me a chance to blow up some popular fiction that I’ve picked up from various print and electronic sources, and that is the notion that the Dems lost Congress in 1994 over the assault weapons ban. I don’t know how this got started, but it seemed to “go viral” pretty quick.

    The reason the Dems lost Congress was because the Clinton Administration was still trying to recover from the “don’t ask, don’t tell” flap along with the demonization of Hillary Clinton’s health care initiative, to say nothing of the (wise, in retrospect) tax increases in Clinton’s budget (The Big Dog should send a remembrance to former Dem Montco House Rep Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky every year since her vote approved Clinton’s budget in ‘93, and she was subsequently voted out of office for it). I can also remember the frenzied caterwauling from “Dr. McLaughlin’s Gong Show” among others at that time over Clinton’s crime prevention ideas such as midnight basketball and other attempts to keep kids busy who otherwise would be shooting up (guns or drugs actually) or jacking somebody’s car.

    And the loudest critic of all was a certain Newton Leroy Gingrich, whose face was seemingly on every TV station and in every newspaper or magazine anywhere you looked.

    So, while the assault weapons ban represented part of the dissatisfaction against Clinton by some out there who would never support him anyway, I think it’s ridiculous to assign the ’94 loss entirely over that issue.

    "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" If Our Food Is Safe

    The following is an excerpt from Dana Perino’s misinformation on Tuesday (here)..

    Q Just had a question on food safety. A House subcommittee has held six hearings now looking at food safety. There are about 5,000 deaths a year and 325,000 hospitalizations due to food -- outbreaks of toxic foods, contaminated foods. The subcommittee feels that this is increasing at an alarming rate as more of our food comes in that's imported. And I was wondering, is the President aware of this problem, and does he feel the nation's food is safe, or does he feel more needs to be done?

    MS. PERINO: A couple of things. One, yes, the President is fully aware of the situation. And last summer, he asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt to lead a task force to review these issues. And the food safety aspect of import -- all of our imports is critically important and something that we are working on in terms of how do you deal with this issue.

    And one of the things Secretary Leavitt suggested was to try to deal with it more at the source, to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place, before any problems arrive in the United States. In addition to that, we've asked for an increase in food safety inspection budgets. So I am not familiar with all of the hearings Capitol Hill has had, but we are working in a cooperative way with Congress to try to reach an agreement.
    I wonder if Secretary Leavitt is aware of the following (from here)…

    Under pressure from the food industry, the Agriculture Department is considering a proposal not to identify retailers where tainted meat went for sale except in cases of serious health risk, The Associated Press has learned.

    Had that been the rule in place last month, consumers would not have been told if their supermarkets sold meat from a Southern California slaughterhouse that triggered the biggest beef recall in U.S. history.

    The plan is being considered as the USDA puts the final touches on a proposed disclosure rule. It had lingered in draft form for two years until February, when 143 million pounds of beef were recalled by Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif., after undercover video by an animal-rights activist showed workers abusing crippled cows.
    (And by the way, food prices are currently on the rise worldwide, as noted here.)

    I posted earlier on the Westland/Hallmark meat recall here, and suffice it to say that, in today’s story, it is clear once more how much the meat industry places a premium on profit over our lives (as follows)…

    Partly for competitive reasons, industry groups support the way recalls are currently done, where a description of the recalled product is released by the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service along with some other information including where it was produced.

    Retailers must remove recalled meat from their shelves but there's no requirement that they notify their customers about meat already sold, though some take voluntary steps to do so.
    There is also no requirement for notifying consumers about genetically modified foods, as noted by author Stephen Lendman here

    Genetically engineered foods saturate our diet today. In the US alone, over 80% of all processed foods contain them. Others include grains like rice, corn and wheat; legumes like soybeans and soy products; vegetable oils, soft drinks; salad dressings; vegetables and fruits; dairy products including eggs; meat, chicken, pork and other animal products; and even infant formula plus a vast array of hidden additives and ingredients in processed foods (like in tomato sauce, ice cream, margarine and peanut butter). Consumers don't know what they're eating because labeling is prohibited, yet the danger is clear. Independently conducted studies show the more of these foods we eat, the greater the potential harm to our health.

    Today, consumers are kept in the dark and are part of an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which are unknown. Yet, the risks are enormous, it will take years to learn them, and when we finally know it'll be too late to reverse the damage if it's proved conclusively that genetically engineered foods harm human health as growing numbers of independent experts believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out of the bottle for keeps. There is nothing known to science today to reverse the contamination already spread over two-thirds of arable US farmland and heading everywhere unless checked.

    Today, the (genetically modified food) industry is unregulated, and when companies say their foods are safe, their views are unquestioned. Further, (Jeffrey) Smith (author of “Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods”) noted that policy makers in other countries trust FDA and wrongly assume their assessments are valid. They're disproved when independent studies are matched against industry-run ones. The differences are startling. The former report adverse affects while the latter claim the opposite. It's no secret why. Agribusiness giants allow nothing to interfere with profits, safety is off the table, and all negative information is quashed.

    As a result, their studies are substandard, adverse findings are hidden, and they typically "fail to investigate the impacts of GM food on gut function, liver function, kidney function, the immune system, endocrine system, blood composition, allergic response, effects on the unborn, the potential to cause cancer, or impacts on gut bacteria." In addition, industry-funded studies creatively avoid finding problems or conceal any uncovered. They cook the books by using older instead of younger more sensitive animals, keep sample sizes too low for statistical significance, dilute the GM component of feeds used, limit the duration of feeding trials, ignore animal deaths and sickness, and engage in other unscientific practices. It's to assure people never learn of the potential harm from these foods, and Smith says they can do it because "They've got 'bad science' down to a science."
    And by the way, there is something we can do about all of this as it turns out; this bill by Dem Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the Safe Food Act of 2007, has already been introduced of course. This is the purpose of the bill…

    To establish the Food Safety Administration to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.
    So let’s contact our U.S. House reps and tell them to support DeLauro’s bill (from here).

    And in the meantime, maybe Dana Perino and Mike Leavitt can each go get a hot dog for lunch (genetically modified, of course).

    The 4,000th Identified

    This from the DoD; it could be any one of these four brave men…

  • Pvt. George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, Calif.

  • Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Hake, 26, of Enid, Okla.

  • Pfc. Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Mo.

  • Spc. Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas.
  • May God rest them and everyone who has given his or her life for this epochal tragedy, as well as bless those who have suffered physical or mental injury.

    (I know these words and a blog post don’t really “cut it” here, but I can’t think of anything else to do at the moment; donations to a worthy cause currently aren’t an option and neither is marching for now – as always, I’m open to ideas.)

    Dear God, Santorum Is Right For Once

    Little Ricky’s “Elephant Poop In The Room” column in the Inquirer today has some suppositions about the Democratic presidential primary that I think are incorrect, but on balance, I (aaarrrgghhh!!!!) have…to…agree…with…him.

    (Man, that was difficult. I’m going to need therapy if I have to keep doing that.)

    Here is what he said (sorry about the plug for Prager)…

    Last week, when I was on the Dennis Prager radio show, a call came in from a Philadelphia-area Republican. At least he had been a Republican. He called in to announce proudly that he had switched parties to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. He was going to vote for the candidate who opinion polls say would be the weakest Democrat in the November election. That's a foul!

    After the interview, I wanted to find this man and yell: "Don't vote!"

    Having devoted almost all of my adult life to encouraging people to vote, it truly pains me to write that phrase. Every fiber of my political being recoils at the idea of discouraging any American, any Pennsylvanian, from voting. I've always believed that when it comes to civic participation, the higher the voter turnout the better on Election Day. It doesn't matter if it's higher Republican turnout, Democratic turnout, or Green Cheese Party turnout. It didn't even matter to me if increased turnout hurt my own election prospects. Representative democracy isn't a spectator sport, and participating means voting.

    However, Republicans and independents voting in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary is a terrible idea. Republicans and Democrats, people who actually believe what their party stands for, should have the right to choose their own nominees.
    Now again, we’re talking about PA and its closed primary system. Michigan, for example, has an open primary where Democrats and Republicans can vote for each other’s candidates (you can argue that that violates the intent of the primary, though, which is a good point - a related post on this topic is here).

    I’ve given Santorum "the business" plenty of times in the past for good reason and will do so again in the future I’m sure, but for now, he deserves credit for trying to get some of his brethren to act like adults.

    How dare he do the right thing when I was all ready to dump on him again!

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    Gosh, looks like I owe Hillary an apology - my bad, huh (Daily Kos h/t #1)...

    ...and I think Jane Hamsher is a great American, and I'm only too happy to oblige here (Daily Kos h/t #2)...

    ...meanwhile, "the miracle of our global economy" strikes again (more here)...

    ...and "The Pap Attack" weighs in with the sickening details of the Bear Stearns bailout.

    Too Good To Be True...Probably

    This article tells us that election officials in Ohio are considering investigating the possibility of real, live, honest-to-goodness voter fraud in that state over the campaign of Flush Limbore and his right-wing brethren to encourage Republicans to switch their party allegiance to Democratic in order to vote for Hillary Clinton in their recent primary, fully aware that they will eventually change it back to Republican (though they would not need to do that for the general election when they vote for McCain, of course…I don’t believe so, anyway – I’ve never voted in Ohio).

    Because, as it turns out…

    ...What Limbaugh encouraged Republican voters to do in Ohio was a fifth-degree felony in that state, punishable with a $2,500 fine and six to 12 months in jail. That is because in order to change party affiliation in Ohio, voters have to fill out a form swearing allegiance to that party's principles "under penalty of election falsification."

    On Thursday, March 20, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the "Cuyahoga County Board of Election has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against voters who maliciously switched parties for the March 4 presidential primary." According to the report, "One voter scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: "For one day only."

    "Such an admission amounts to voter fraud," the report continued, attributing that conclusion to BOE member Sandy McNair, a Democrat. The report said the four-member board - two Democrats and two Republicans - had yet to vote on whether it would issue subpoenas, although Ohio's secretary of state, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, is empowered to cast tie-breaking votes when the BOE is deadlocked.

    In 2008, 2.22 million Ohioans voted in the Democratic primary, compared to 1.27 million in 2000, according to unofficial results released by Brunner's office. In contrast, 1.01 million Ohioans voted in the 2008 Republican primary, compared to nearly 918,000 people in 2004.

    Both Ohio's secretary of state and attorney general, both Democrats, were reluctant to embrace the prospect of voter fraud prosecutions.

    "Secretary of State Brunner has not been contacted by anyone regarding the prosecution of alleged improper crossover voting," Brunner spokesman Jeff Ortega said. "Prosecution of such activities is the exclusive domain of the county prosecutor or the Ohio attorney general."

    "We will not make a blanket statement that we would never pursue a case such as that, but it would be our position that a case such as that would be very hard to prosecute," said Ted Hart, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who added that a senior attorney in his office said it would be difficult to ascertain voters' motives on particular days. "The county prosecutor would have the first right of refusal."
    This ties into an earlier post about the efforts of Limbore acolyte Dom Giordano to do the same thing for the April 22nd PA primary, with last Sunday at midnight being the deadline for registration (and again, it would not be necessary for a Repug-turned-Dem voter in PA to switch back in order to vote for McCain in November, though that person may try to do that, and it would create a real headache for voting officials in this state if that many people did that).

    I have a feeling that the PA Attorney General should know about these voting shenanigans if he doesn’t already; I don’t know how similar election law is in Ohio versus Pennsylvania.

    I’ll contact the PA AG Tom Corbett just to engage in the exercise and let you know if I get a response. However, since Corbett is a Republican, I’m not expecting anything (though if I were in Corbett's shoes, I would want to have a nice, long "heart to heart" with Emily Person of West Chester, PA, who apparently switched her registration from Republican to Democratic noted in this story, followed soon afterwards by Giordano himself).

    OK People, Enough Is Enough

    (At this moment, I’m recalling visions of the R3 regional train from Media to West Trenton approaching while your humble narrator is bound and gagged on the track.)

    When right-wing shills like Jay Ambrose, Charles Krauthammer and Kathleen Parker beat the “divided Democrats” story line into submission, it is merely “white noise” as far as I’m concerned.

    When Timothy Egan refers to “Donner Party Democrats” in the New York Times here (see, the Convention is in Denver this year, and the “Donner Party” refers to settlers trapped by a snowstorm in the Colorado mountains who resorted to cannibalism, for the benefit of those who don’t get that), I just chalk it up to another annoying attempt by the punditocracy to be clever.

    When Bill Clinton (God, of all people) indirectly impugns Barack Obama’s patriotism here (and yes, I agree with Gen. McPeak, though I think the “McCarthyism” reference in reply was a bit strong) and also (again, indirectly) blames Howard Dean and the DNC for (rightly, I think) punishing Florida and Michigan for moving up their primaries, calling it “a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise voters,” I find myself wondering when this man is going to shut his mouth upon realizing that all he’s doing is hurting the party he led pretty skillfully in the ‘90s…but I don’t give it much more thought.

    But when I see polling like this from Zogby (and sorry, but I guessed I missed the obligatory “Zogby is full of crap” post from Markos that inevitably seems to follow their latest results) and see data like this from Gallup, that is something else altogether that immediately commands my attention. The Zogby poll shows McCain leading Clinton or Obama at this moment, and the Gallup poll shows enough of a Democratic split to greatly hinder the chances of either Democratic candidate.

    I’m not going to link to an individual post or video demonstrating that John McCain is an utterly delusional and dangerously uninformed, hot-tempered egomaniac who would instigate all manner of conflagration in the name of advancing the Repug neocon agenda into remote posterity. I won’t do it because that stuff is all over the place at this site – you can pick and choose anywhere you want (and here's more from today's New York Times).

    The thought that any individual who calls him or herself a Democrat would actually vote for this man to assume what is still the most powerful world leadership position on earth is truly chilling (and yes, I’ve heard such notions from people who have decided that they will not vote for an African American or a woman, and I almost bit a hole through my tongue trying not to scream at them when they said so).

    The Gallup post notes that some of those Democrats who claim to support McCain now will likely vote for their party in the general election after a period of “cooling off” when the Democratic primary ends. That’s a comfort, but I think those numbers (19 percent of Obama supporters voting for McCain and 28 percent of Clinton supporters doing the same thing) are waaay too high as they stand right now.

    (Also, those numbers provide more than a little bit of an opening for that insect Ralph Nader, who would siphon off anywhere from 5 to 6 percent according to Zogby; Nader didn’t get that much in 2000 – and do I need to say another word about that?)

    Filthy, unkempt liberal blogger that I am, I’m actually starting to believe that a disaster is in the making. But I won’t admit that the pundits are right, and here’s why; the disaster is not the competition itself, but our response to it.

    I know this isn’t an original observation, but our glorious corporate media wouldn’t know what to do with itself in this election unless it were a “horse race,” either between a Dem and Repug presumptive nominee or (in this case, even better for them actually) between two Dems and a Repug. It gives them every opportunity to tear down each side and fluff St. McCain in the process (or, in the case of Jack Cafferty, to propose this absurd scenario).

    But at the end of the day, people, we’re all Democrats (well, most of us, I would guess).

    And I might as well lay my cards on the table for real, since our primary is coming up in about a month; at this moment, I cannot possibly see how I won’t vote for Barack Obama. All of this “Donner Party Democrat” garbage is being reinforced overwhelmingly by the actions of the Clinton campaign, which has a much harder road in front of it than the Obama campaign, thus the motivation behind acting like this.

    However, if by some utter, unbelievable turn of fate Hillary Clinton turns out to be the nominee, then she will get my vote, even though she has run perhaps the most odious campaign for a Democratic candidate that I have ever seen.

    The party has to come first, people. There is too much stuff that we have to try to fix to let McCain get in and carry out, to our utter horror, a third term of Bushco (it is plain that that would happen).

    In as much as I have a voice in this stuff (small, I know, compared to my “betters”), I feel like I’d better speak up now.

    Or else, that train won’t just run over me. It will do so to the whole country as well.

    Update: Another day, another Clinton attack - booor-ing!!

    Sarko Takes Out China On Tibet

    And speaking of foreign policy, how about that Nicolas Sarkozy, the first leader of a nation to dare suggest boycotting the China Summer Olympics this year (here – I know it’s only the opening ceremony, but at least it’s something; of course, Dubya will just show up and do what he does best, which is act like nothing’s wrong and behave like a dunce.)

    So where are all the neocon simpatico chattering idiots and “keyboard kommandos” now, by the way? Why aren’t they calling for President George W. Milhous Bush to pass on the Games to protest China’s crackdown in Tibet (to say nothing of Darfur also) the way they clamored for the Iraq war over five years ago?

    Oh, right – a boycott doesn’t involve blowing things up and sending in our military to try and remake a country the way we want, does it? Silly me…

    And another thing: I guess we’re also not going to witness such spectacles as renaming certain high-calorie foods as “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” then, are we (since, after all, France, a county to which we owe a debt for helping us out after the Revolutionary War about 220 years ago…and yes, I know we paid it back in good measure during two World Wars…insulted our “friend” China, a country we established diplomatic relations with only about 36 years ago – of all the impudence!).

    Well, then, I think it would serve us right if, for example, France took one of its native animals and renamed it accordingly (the only one that comes to mind immediately is the poisonous adder snake, which of course will now be referred to as Jonah Goldberg).

    More Foreign Policy “Straight Talk” From McCain

    This CNN story tells us that…

    John McCain, outlining his foreign policy positions on the heels of an overseas trip, is renewing his call for the United States to work more collegially with democratic nations and live up to its duties as a world leader.

    "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed," the Republican said in prepared remarks a few days after returning from the Middle East and Europe. "We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies."
    Gosh, how decent of McCain to act like a protocol observed by almost every other country on earth is somehow a revolutionary concept to us.

    However, Der Spiegel observed the following about “Senator Honor And Virtue” only two months ago (from here)…

    John McCain made a rather terrible joke while campaigning in South Carolina in April last year. When asked about Iran, the Arizona senator laughed, and broke into his Beach Boys impression. Changing the words of "Barbara Ann" slightly, he began softly singing, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran,” to general laughter. Force, to state the obvious, is clearly an option for McCain when dealing with Iran.

    Senator McCain would make most Europeans wince in more conventional ways as well. Seeing Russia and China as impediments to an Iranian settlement, McCain calls for bypassing the UN, urging a global league of democracies to impose sanctions on the mullahs instead. Such an alienation of Russia and especially China would likely result in the two upping their investments in oil and gas-rich Iran just as quickly as Europeans were preparing to leave. Without a more comprehensive set of sanctions, such an effort would fail, economically harming America’s allies in the process, while enriching those who oppose the US over Iran. This half-hearted effort at diplomacy seems to be a non-starter, in policy terms.

    McCain, though, is not prepared to go very far down the diplomatic road. He would not speak to the Iranians until they change their position on their nuclear program, at which point speaking to them would be unnecessary. He follows in the dubious Bush tradition of seeing diplomatic contact with Washington as a reward rather than as a real-world necessity. McCain has been clear that the only thing worse than military action against Iran is an Iran with nuclear weapons. Given his threadbare efforts at diplomacy, this is likely where a McCain presidency would lead.
    Also, here’s a news flash to the presumptive Repug presidential nominee; in terms of accomplishing its goals stated to us by Bushco before it began, the surge has failed.

    And when it comes to domestic issues such as the most pivotal one discussed here by SusanG of The Daily Kos, McCain is no better.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Monday PM Stuff

    Another killer Obama vid, from Twisted Sister (h/t The Daily Kos - glub, glub, Hillary; h/t Atrios for this)...

    ...and hey, the Onion News Network tells of another milestone for China in its quest for world dominance (the "Acid Rain Dance" of the little girls was particularly enthralling, I must say).

    A New Goon Heads Up "Freedom's Crock"

    Carl Forti, a senior advisor to Willard Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and former head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, said the following in October 2006…

    “With candidates who don’t pay taxes, raise taxes, charge taxpayers for calls to strip clubs and vote to allow kids to be Tased, Democrats have given Republicans too many easy targets to be successful,” Mr. Forti said.
    Ahem, Carl…

    Update 3/29/08: More here...

    The Winter Soldier Of Our Discontent

    Last Friday’s commercial for the Iraq war in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Kevin Ferris (here) was actually somewhat tame and moderate for him; it noted the Winter Soldiers II Conference last Saturday in Washington and also a dinner at the New York Stock Exchange honoring all those awarded the Medal of Honor.

    Oh, but don’t worry; Ferris heaped his typical derision on the war protestors…

    Among the goals of this year's gathering is this: "Once and for all, we must show that soldiers are not criminals; this war is criminal." But if the war is criminal, what does that say of those who fight?

    Winter Soldiers includes both Iraq and Afghanistan when it talks about "this war." But the group's concern about misconduct is reserved for one side only. The aims and atrocities of al-Qaeda don't merit mention.
    Yes, Ferris, perhaps they don’t at this time. But hard as it may be for you to imagine, this country and, by association, its armed forces also, are supposed to act more honorably than our enemy. After all, if we didn’t, how would be distinguish one from the other?

    Also, Ferris quoted a article about the new Winter Soldier movement as follows…, no friend of the Bush administration, interviewed several of the participants before the gathering and reported: "The soldiers were unable to provide . . . any conclusive evidence of war crimes."
    That’s actually pretty accurate quoting – the entire quote appears below…

    In interviews with Salon, several veterans from the group described incidents in Iraq that they believed constituted wrongdoing by the U.S. military, including disproportionate use of air power resulting in civilian deaths. The soldiers were unable to provide Salon with any conclusive evidence of war crimes. But as the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaches, the allegations they and other Winter Soldier members will publicize in Washington this week add to a long-term set of questions about the damage and destruction wrought by U.S. military operations over years of war.
    And what follows is a video testimonial from Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of the Florida National Guard, who served six months in Iraq, refused to go back, was court martialed and spent a year in prison; he heads up the Winter Soldier II campaign...

    And by the way, please understand that I am not trying to diminish the sacrifices of the veterans honored at the Stock Exchange dinner. They deserve our thanks and respect also of course.

    But anyone who continues to nurse the illusion that the Iraq war still enjoys overwhelming popular support by our military or anyone else should take a look at this.

    Update 3/26/08: Regarding those who have served, this is wonderful news; all that remains to complete the Dolington, PA cemetery deal is for Toll Brothers to sign over the land tomorrow to the VA. Kudos to Patrick Murphy and all of those who have worked to make this happen (even Mike Fitzpatrick; fair is fair).

    That Upstart Patrick Murphy's At It Again!

    (Tongue in cheek, I assure you…)

    I think the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times must require another case of Geritol or something, because they’ve been particularly crotchety lately.

    This morning, they chided Patrick Murphy for “keeping quiet” about earmark requests, as follows (from here)…

    Talk of earmark reform (as long as it involves other congressional districts) plays well with the voters, which is why both Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-8, and Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-13, Democratic colleagues, support the idea. But there's a big difference: Schwartz says she will release the list of organizations for which she has requested funding. Murphy, on the other hand, does not plan to announce his 2009 earmark requests until after he knows which ones pass muster in the congressional review process. His spokesman said the congressman does not want to cast a negative reflection on a local organization or company by publicizing a funding request only to have it denied later.

    Even if we give that explanation some credence, it still contributes to the secrecy of the whole earmark process, and it's that secrecy as much as anything else that prompts so much criticism and the feeling that earmarks are a way that lawmakers buy votes.
    OK, then, let me run this by you; suppose Patrick attempts to procure $30 million in earmarks for the Bucks County Free Library and he makes that announcement before the money has been approved. Subsequent to that, let’s say that only $15 million is approved or the request is denied altogether.

    Congratulations! You’ve just given Tom Manion and the Repugs all they need to run an attack ad months later after everyone has forgotten the details about this (I can just hear the hushed, worrisome-sounding narration now: “The Bucks County Free Library was counting on Patrick Murphy to fund their new program to keep predators from invading the chat rooms where our kids go online to communicate to each other…and he failed. Why does Patrick Murphy hate our kids??!!).

    Besides, the last time the issue of earmarks came up, I would say Patrick did pretty well by his district (here – the editorial alludes to this below).

    Murphy is in a particularly dicey position here. He has publicly staked out his position as a deficit hawk and told our editorial board in a more intimate gathering that the federal government has to reduce its spending. Yet, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog group, Murphy secured $30 million in earmarks for the 8th District last year, the fourth highest among Pennsylvania's 19 members of Congress. And now he plans to keep quiet about the next round of earmark requests. In addition, the way lawmakers determine where the money goes is more than a little cloudy. Nobody knows how much influence lobbyists have, and what kind of quid pro quo is involved.
    I think a bit of perspective is in order here; this notes that “there were 15,832 earmarks totaling $71 billion in 2006. (In 1994, there were 4,155 earmarks totaling $29 billion.),” and this notes that “the 2007 spending bills contained about 25 percent fewer earmarks than the 2006 appropriations.”

    So what does the Courier Times suggest instead?

    ...Move the whole system of earmarks out from under Congressional whim. Those needing public funding should apply for it not though people in Congress but through the federal Office of Management and Budget where such requests would face merit-based evaluation and competitive allocation.

    Only then will this tawdry record of congressional favoritism end.
    Click this link and tell me the reason why this is a bad idea.

    Does the Courier Times seriously mean to suggest that the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Milhous Bush could do a better job of funding district appropriations than Patrick and the Democratic Congress? Especially when OMB is run by Jim Nussle, about whom the following was written (here)…

    Half the time he was Budget Committee chairman, Nussle couldn’t even pass a budget -and he played a key role in approving the president’s policies that ran up the debt, mostly to pay for tax cuts for the very wealthy. With Nussle at the helm of OMB, Bush’s fiscal policy loses even more credibility.
    And it should also be noted that fellow Senate Repug Charles Grassley (as stated here) has asked Nussle to close a loophole “quietly slipped last year into a proposed Bush administration rule, (that) would allow companies performing government work overseas to avoid having to report contract abuse. Contract fraud has cost the government $14 million (€9.2 million) in bribes alone out of at least $102 billion (€67.25 billion) spent in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.” No word on whether or not Nussle or his boss intends to comply with Grassley’s request.

    Oh yes, Courier Times editorial board, I definitely trust Bushco to look out for our interests as opposed to Patrick.

    On second thought, I think you guys need something more than a case of Geritol. Maybe one of you could stop by Staples before you get to the grocery store and pick up a calculator also.

    A Legitimacy They Don't Deserve

    This just in: three events have just been added to this summer’s Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China this year (as announced by China’s State News service)…

  • 1-Meter Tiananmen Square Protester Tank Chase – Athletes will be dressed in the typical garb of pro-Democracy students and allowed a 10-second running start to outpace a ZTZ29 battle tank approaching at a top speed of 28km/h. This competition commemorates what would have been the certain conquest of highly-trained and equipped soldiers against the threat of courageous but barely nourished, disorganized and unarmed teenagers had not the government intervened with a skillful and premeditated massacre.

  • Journalist Roundup Men’s Quarterfinal – Participants will be provided will all equipment necessary to invade the dwellings of foreign correspondents and forcibly remove and transport them to a holding pen inside the Olympic compound, fortified with 20-foot-high concrete columns and an electrical chain link fence. As the journalists arrive, they will be blindfolded, gagged, and tied about the hands and feet with piano wire. The participant who abducts the most journalists will win the competition.

  • Dalai Lama Hatchet Toss – The one regarded by the Western media as the head of the Tibetan government will be allowed to remove himself from protective custody (in the event that he is captured greeted by our government) in order to participate, restrained positioned in front of a game board showing strategic point totals (10 points for an appendage, 20 points for a limb, 30 for the midsection, and 40 for the head, heart or lungs). But not to worry – participants will be awarded 50 points for a miss; after all, we’re a civilized nation! And in the event that the real Dalai Lama is unable to participate, we will substitute a foreign journalist instead.
  • All brought to you by The Peacock Network; they see the dollar signs above all else as well.

    The Time When It Mattered The Most

    To me, it all comes back to 2004.

    I know you remember; Martha Stewart went to the slam, the tsunami hit Southeast Asia, “The Scream” was stolen from the Munch Museum in Norway (was it ever found?), and The Sainted Ronnie R shed his mortal coil and immediately ascended into an afterlife that (as some believe) likely represented the back lot of the Warner Brothers film studio (with our corporate media waxing ad nauseum about his “optimism”).

    And oh yeah, we had that presidential election in November (and that’s a whole other flood of recollections that you remember as well as I do, including the idiot in the picture making fun of John Kerry's Purple Heart citation).

    This is real “department of the obvious” stuff I know, but I’m recalling this as a pretext for this letter that appeared in the New York Times last Friday which was actually written in response to an editorial on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war (though it could easily be written in response to an editorial about our 4,000th casualty, any new revelations about “extraordinary rendition” as well as the “surge” – you name it)…

    In my conversations with a number of people outside the United States, what seemed most appalling to them was not the killings, torture or illegal detentions nor was it the complete callousness of the current administration.

    Indeed, what appalled them most was the fact the country re-elected this president in 2004 and that neither the press nor the electorate is willing to hold anyone culpable for what has to be the most egregious human rights violations by any democratic government in history.

    What has tarnished our image more is not what we did in Iraq but that we appear to care so little about it. I am sorry to say that editorials and letters to the editor won’t help in changing that perception.

    Sukumar Vijayaraghavan
    Denver, March 20, 2008
    To get a better idea of how the results of that election have tarnished our image abroad, I want to present this excerpt from a column in The New Yorker by Hendrik Hertzberg; this was actually written last December, but I didn’t feel like I had a good opportunity to work it into a post until now (Hertzberg starts off by discussing Australia after John Howard was ousted from his PM post by Kevin Rudd)…

    They don’t much like our President in the land Down Under. In the most recent poll by Australia’s Lowry Institute, huge majorities disapproved of American foreign policy in general (sixty-three percent) and George W. Bush in particular (sixty-nine percent). But similar majorities take a positive view of America (sixty percent) and Americans (seventy-six percent). The rest of the world, alas, is not so discriminating. According to Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes’s “America Against The World” (2006), based on the Pew Global Attitudes Project, there was a time, not so long ago, when foreigners “found it easy to say their problem with America was really President Bush, not a considered judgment of the American people. But the results of the 2004 U.S. presidential election made that rationalization untenable.” An avalanche of new international polls – from Pew, the German Marshall Fund, the BBC, and others – show that anti-Americanism has reached astronomical levels almost everywhere and has solidified even in the Northern European belt from Britain to Poland. “Countries that would once have supported American foreign policy on principle, simply out of solidarity or friendship, will now have to be cajoled, or paid, to join us,” Anne Applebaum, a conservative commentator not given to sentimentality about “World opinion,” wrote recently in the Washington Post. “Count that – along with the lives of soldiers and civilians, the dollars and equipment – as another cost of the war.”
    I’ll cut Hertzberg some slack for quoting Applebaum, though she is definitely not a credible source of much of anything else; an example of her literary antics appears here (and Hertzberg recalls the so-called “Annapolis Summit” of late last year below).

    Last week’s gathering of Israeli and (Sunni) Arab leaders at Annapolis was a sign that it has finally dawned on the Bush Administration that its six-year policy of ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian morass has aggravated American’s troubles in the Middle East. The President may at least have realized that while the issue is not the sole cause of Islamist extremism, it cannot continue to fester – for the sake not only of Israeli survival and justice for the Palestinians but also of beginning to restore some of the global influence and esteem this administration has squandered. But in suddenly capping six years of obtuse neglect with a one-year timeline, President Bush has probably dithered too long to have any hope of solving the world’s most complicated and persistent rebus. His late awakening is yet another cost of the Iraq war. Those costs keep mounting, and they’re not likely to abate until there’s regime change a little closer to home.
    And as if to emphasize that, the New York Times tells us here today that Dubya intends to keep our Iraq troop levels intact; the war will of course be left as one of many messes to be cleaned up by his successor (seriously, though, did we doubt that?).

    I want to end with this note about a friend of mine who told me of a Mediterranean cruise she took with her husband about a year ago with individuals of mixed nationalities. When the cruise line (don’t recall which one, and I wouldn’t want to mention them anyway) asked her if she had a preference for dinner seating with Americans only or other foreign nationals, she and her husband asked to be seated with foreigners. When the ship stopped at ports of call, they interacted pretty seamlessly with the foreigners, but when they were seated for dinner on the ship, they discovered that they were sitting only with Americans.

    They asked the cruise director if there had been a mix up in their dinner seating arrangement, and the cruise director said no. It turns out that the individuals of other nationalities didn’t want to be seated with the Americans.

    All because of 2004, people.

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    This was produced by aljazeera, which I think is a pretty pathetic commentary on the Iraq war coverage by our corporate media (oh, but it's time to laugh, 'cos "America's Funniest Home Videos" was expanded to a full hour for Easter; get ready for a festival of men bashing their crotches for the cameras - more "family fare" from The Mickey Mouse Network)...

    ...and yeah, I know I've beaten this dead horse pretty badly, but I'll let K.O. give it one more shot (i.e., John McCain, Iran, al Qaeda - you know it, you love it, you can't have it enough).

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Happy Easter 2008

    May you all have a happy and blessed Easter (if you don't observe anything, may you have a happy and blessed long weekend).