Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Stuff

The "change" that, hopefully, no one deserves (a nicer, and possibly less funny, version of this)...

...and here's "lots of bad ads" for political campaigns (from here).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Stuff

I think "The Pap Attack" is a bit too harsh on Obama here, but Pap's point is well taken; Obama has responded pretty quickly to the garbage thrown at him - and as much as he's seen so far, he'll see more before this is decided - and we just have to keep throwing it back at them (and at the same time, we have to keep hammering McCain when he mixes up the Sunnis and the Shiites, tells John Kerry not to talk about Kerry's service but trumpets his own, or does something like he did today, where he provided a "document dump" of his medical information but did not allow for copying and only made the records available for three hours the day before a holiday weekend - right out of Turd Blossom's playbook indeed, as noted here)...

...and gee, it took that "straight-talking maverick" long enough to turn away the endorsement of both Hagee and this cretin, didn't it...

...and K.O. takes Hillary Clinton "to the woodshed" over invoking Robert F. Kennedy's assassination (having to endure the spectacle of her candidacy, aside from the entire nightmare of Dubya's presidency, may finally rank at long last as one of the most tortuous exercises of my life - never in a million years did I imagine it would be so)...

Update 5/24/08: Kudos to kos for this (and regarding his last sentence, I am too).

...but I'm sure she'll be forgiven by these knuckle draggers (sure, you're no "racist" dear; not much - and I'm sorry, but I don't think that journalist knows what she's talking about...and once again, it takes al jazeera to report this since no media outlet in this country would touch this).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/23/08)

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


Farm bill. Members passed, 318-106, the conference report on a five-year, $289 billion farm bill renewing subsidies for major crops while funding nutrition, conservation programs.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2419.

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

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.).
Is there too much fat in the farm bill? Probably (I'm not an expert in that area), but as noted here (echoing the Inky a bit)…

About two-thirds of the bill would pay for domestic nutrition programs such as food stamps and emergency food aid for the needy. An additional $40 billion is for farm subsidies, while almost $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.
And as far as Bushco crying about how much it costs (and what’s the latest tab on the Iraq war, by the way?)…

Congressional negotiators met for weeks in an effort to come closer to the White House on the amount of money to be paid to wealthy farmers -- one of the chief sticking points with the administration. But drastic cuts to subsidies were not possible, lawmakers said, because of the clout of Southern lawmakers who represent rice and cotton farms that are more expensive to run.

"This bill has reform in it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Could we have done more? Perhaps. But if we'd done more we wouldn't have gotten a bill."

The legislation would make small cuts to direct payments that are distributed to some farmers no matter how much they grow. The farm bill also would eliminate some federal payments to individuals with more than $750,000 in annual farm income - or married farmers who make more than $1.5 million.

Individuals who make more than $500,000 or couples who make more than $1 million jointly in nonfarm income also would not be eligible for subsidies.
And as the CNNMoney story notes, this is only the second bill to survive a veto from President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (a water projects bill was the other).

And apparently, there was a minor snafu related to the House override vote, as noted in this Kagro X post that is positively dripping with snark (Captain Suntan – love it!).

Strategic oil reserve. Members voted, 385-25, to require the administration to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the rest of the year or until the price of crude oil drops below $75 a barrel.

A yes vote was to pass HR 6022.

Voting yes: Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.

Not voting: Andrews and Gerlach.
Not much to think about here.

New GI Bill. Members established, 256-166, a GI Bill to pay post-9/11 veterans' college costs and use tax hikes on individual incomes over $500,000 and joint incomes over $1 million to pay for the program.

A yes vote was to also approve new domestic spending measures (HR 2642).

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

Voting no: Pitts, Saxton.

Not voting: Gerlach
This is the House companion bill introduced by Dem Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia to S22 introduced by Jim Webb, as noted here (which Dubya and John W. McBush refuse to support, of course).

And apparently, Pancake Joe Pitts also believes that those who have devoted 3-6 years of their lives to serving our country deserve nothing beyond the insufficient status quo, as noted here (and to help Bruce Slater, click here).

War funding. Members defeated, 141-149, an amendment to HR 2642 that sought to appropriate $162.5 billion for additional war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many GOP members sat out the vote to protest being frozen out of deliberations.

A yes vote was to approve the war funding.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Holden, LoBiondo, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, and Murphy.

Voting present: Pitts, Saxton, and Smith.

Not voting: Gerlach.
Yep, this was the little parliamentary game that the Repugs played in the wake of their congressional loss in Mississippi, deciding to sink the war funding bill without having the intestinal fortitude to oppose it, as noted here from last week.


Farm bill. The Senate voted, 81-15, to join the House in passing a five-year farm bill renewing subsidies for growers of major crops.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 2419).

Voting yes: 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.).
Again, this was hardly perfect legislation, but our elected men and women in Congress are keenly aware of their fate if they oppose it (including Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, as noted here).

Strategic oil reserve. Senators voted, 97-1, to join the House in requiring the administration to suspend its filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the end of the year or when crude oil drops below $75 a barrel for 90 days.

A yes vote backed the requirement (S 2284).

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Menendez, Lautenberg, and Specter.
By the way, as noted here, the departing Colorado wingnut Wayne Allard was the only “No” vote (just out of curiosity).

This week, the House was scheduled to take up the 2009 defense budget.

A "Calvinball" Campaign For The Repugs?

(For those unfamiliar with “Calvin and Hobbes,” I mean that the Repugs want to make up the rules as they go along, in their favor of course.)

It didn’t take long for “Senator Honor And Virtue” to wave his military record at Barack Obama, did it (as noted here)…

WASHINGTON - Republican John McCain, a Vietnam War hero, blasted likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama for never having served in uniform as the two took aim at each other in yet another sign that the presidential race is rapidly moving toward their general election matchup.
Of course, MSNBC doesn’t even bother to provide context here or refute the sheer idiocy of McCain’s attack; the presumptive Repug nominee takes personal offense of course to Obama’s principled disagreement over McCain’s refusal to support the Webb-Hagel G.I. Bill.

And it’s a funny thing, but, as noted here by the ever-reliable Media Matters, McCain told his friend John Kerry not to play up his military service when running for president four years ago (if anything, Kerry may have overplayed that hand, but not responding immediately to the Swift Boat liars and other attack groups is what did him in first and foremost, a lesson Obama seems to have learned).

So…it’s not OK for Kerry to do that when running against an incumbent who certainly didn’t see combat duty, but when the roles are reversed, that’s “in play” once more?


And we have a local example of that in the contest for the PA 8th District U.S. House seat held by Patrick Murphy against Repug challenger Tom Manion (who apparently is still out talking to residents or something, since he has been strangely quiet and in what I would call a reactive mode at this point).

See, when Patrick was running against the beloved incumbent Mikey Fitzpatrick (now solicitor for the Morrisville, PA school board, as noted here), Patrick’s Bucks County residency was determined to be an issue since he wasn’t a “lifelong resident,” even though that seems to be OK for Manion now based on this.

Hillary Gets Schoen Up Again

To me, this is a case study in how screwed up the Hillary Clinton campaign truly is.

First, we have this post (h/t The Daily Kos) telling us that, of the $22 million currently owed by her campaign for president, $3 million went back to Penn, Schoen and Berland, a marketing /PR /advertising firm working in some capacity for HRC (the “Penn” is Mark, of course, and the “Schoen” is Doug).

(Note: I was able to access the Balloon Juice post yesterday noting this, but today, I continually receive a WordPress error – just an FYI.)

So, you would think that for that kind of dough, Penn, Schoen and Berland would be exhausting every opportunity on behalf of their client candidate, especially with Obama less than 100 delegates away from putting this whole primary season “to bed,” when it comes to publicizing how much better she would be for the White House than the senator from Illinois.

Well, if you believed that, you would be wrong; apparently (in the best DLC/insider/Beltway tradition), Penn, Schoen and Berland have already hedged their bets for the fall

I say that because Schoen (pictured) somehow found the time to offer some supposed advice for John W. McBush yesterday in the form of this HuffPo column in which he beats the “divided Democrats” drum over and over and basically tells McBush that “selecting Joe Lieberman (as McBush’s running mate) is not only a smart electoral strategy…but a strategy that could potentially transform American politics.

The sheer idiocy of that claim is astonishing enough, especially considering Lieberman’s recent loony Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal so thoroughly eviscerated by Hunter here. But to make it while you’re still collecting dough from the opposition is rank thievery as well (unless somehow this leads to a spot on McCain’s ticket for Clinton, in which case Schoen’s piece would somehow be a work of brilliance – hardly likely, though).

Such are the jackals upon whom Hillary has entrusted her run for the presidency. And it is truly sad.

Dying For The Nod

This Editor and Publisher story tells us that Murray Sabrin, running for the Republican nomination to oppose (hopefully) Frank Lautenberg in this fall’s U.S. Senate contest, believes that he has the endorsement of Frank Gannett, the founder of the Gannett Newspaper chain, since “Maverick Murray” (pardon me while I gag) says that he shares Gannett’s philosophy.

Yes, the “silly season” is indeed here.

(Two things: 1) I say “hopefully” above because it will mean that Lautenberg has defeated the primary challenge of Rob Andrews, who is nothing less than New Jersey’s answer to Tom Carper, and 2) Sabrin believes that Gannett would have endorsed him, but we will never know for certain since Gannett died in 1957….and no, I’m not making this up.)

As the story tells us…

"(Gannett) would whole-heartedly endorse my campaign to Legalize Freedom," Sabrin said in a statement. "Frank was one of the Founders of 'The National Committee to Uphold Constitutional Government' and ran for President on the same platform as The Sabrin Solution."

This, apparently, is the latest swipe from Sabin at the Gannett chain, as noted in the story…

At a recent candidates' debate, Sabrin took issue with a poll in the Gannett-owned Asbury Park Press that showed him trailing Dick Zimmer by 20 percentage points.

Sabrin maintained the poll was flawed, and Thursday his campaign released an e-mail from Press Managing Editor Gary Schoening defending the soundness of the survey.

"Sabrin was 20 points behind Zimmer in the poll, and even if we were at the edges of that margin, that makes the claim that he is the front-runner (which to any reasonable person's interpretation means he's winning the race) specious," Schoening wrote.
And take a guess at how Sabrin responded (so maturely, I should note…do I need to point out that Sabrin is a conservative, by the way?)…

"Anyone reading this email would expect more from a first-year journalism student," Sabrin said. "Any high school student studying statistics could clearly see the poll Mr. Schoening was trying to defend was incomplete and irrelevant towards the Republican Primary on June 3rd."
This actually got me to thinking a bit about the potential endorsements that could be provided by deceased individuals to candidates currently running for office, and I came up with a few possibilities.

I believe that Hillary Clinton could claim the endorsement of John Jacob Astor, since he maintained close ties to corporations, particularly the legendary hotels he founded in New York, and she has also through her campaign contributions (Obama has received his also, to be sure, though). And Astor perished on the Titanic in 1912, which I’ll admit turned out to be more of a lost cause than Hillary’s campaign for president, but not by much (she could probably also claim the endorsement of George Armstrong Custer, who went down as a result of that unfortunate encounter with the Cheyenne and the Lakota Sioux at the Little Big Horn in 1876; though “he died with his boots on,” he was victimized by poor planning also).

And what of “Senator Honor And Virtue,” you may ask? Well, I think former U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick would have swung with McCain, since her legendary quote about “San Francisco Democrats” could have rolled trippingly from his tongue as well as hers. I also think McCain would have claimed the support of former pro wrestler Freddie Blassie, whose legendary meltdowns are reminiscent of McCain’s temper tantrums (if we ever hear McCain use the phrase “pencil-neck geek,” then I’ll know I’m onto something).

McCain could also say that he’s carrying on in a manner that would have been endorsed by Jesse Helms, since both of them (here and here – as you can see, Broder used to have an actual spine) opposed the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday (oops, sorry…Helms isn’t dead yet).

Finally, concerning Obama, is it too much of a stretch to believe that this man would have offered him his support, especially since he already has the endorsement of his brother?

(Cue the obligatory Clinton campaign umbrage over the fact that Bill actually shook his hand all those years ago...)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another Miss For McCain

This Democracy Arsenal link tells us that “Senator Honor And Virtue” missed the hearings today with MNF Commander Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno before the Senate Armed Services Committee (interesting testimony I think, basically showing the slow separation taking place between the generals and the preznit/John W. McBush).

This is not an unusual occurrence for McCain at all, by the way. As this link tells us, he has missed 255 of 450 votes cast in the Senate since January including every vote this year (by comparison, Barack Obama has missed about 40 percent, or 170 votes during that period, and Hillary Clinton has missed 24 percent, or 108 votes, according to a tally by the Democratic National Committee – and HRC apparently asked some good questions today in the hearing; despite how I feel about her campaign, no one should ever question her smarts, toughness and dedication).

And to provide a historical perspective, McCain has missed 672 of 4038 votes (17%) since Feb 4, 1993, as noted here by GovTrack (rated "exceedingly poor" relative to peers). To be fair, though, 31 of the 537 bills he sponsored since ’93 were enacted, which is rated as “exceedingly good” by GovTrack. Also, this HuffPo link tells us that John Kerry also missed a ton of votes when he was running for president, and McCain hasn’t yet come close to Kerry’s mark.

However, as Ilan Goldenberg noted previously, McCain is the ranking minority party member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and seeing as how our people are fighting and dying in his precious Iraq war, don’t you think it would behoove him to get his ass back to Washington to meet with the guy who is the next nominated commander of US CENTCOM and ask him what’s going on?

But then again, I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger who never served, so what do I know?

(By the way, McCain apparently is going to release his medical records tomorrow, and they should contain a psychological evaluation by an impartial and qualified third party - though I'm sure they won't - because as far as I'm concerned based on this post, this guy is flippin' nuts!).

Update 6/2/08: As noted here, "Senator Honor And Virtue" is a real sweetheart, isn't he? The records were available to view for only three hours and no photocopying was allowed (yes, I know about HIPA regs, but the guy is running for president, for God's sake.)

Time For Turd Blossom To Sing

Kudos to John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee for this, pertaining to the U.S. Attorneys scandal, though if Rove shows up, the committee could ask him about the Don Siegelman case and give him a chance to lie about that also.

It just hasn’t been the same without him, has it (actually, it’s been much better).

Patrick Watches Our Money - Again

The following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today...

A recent opinion questioned Congressman Patrick Murphy on fiscal responsibility. Obviously, we have hit the political season because the congressman's record on fiscal issues was misrepresented.

If you look at how Murphy has voted on fiscal issues, he has actually bucked the Democratic Party on several occasions, most notably voting twice against the Democratic budget because it did not go far enough to curb government spending. Murphy also voted to make sure that Congress uses a pay-as-you-go system, so that politicians don't simply add programs by increasing the national debt. Instead, if you want a piece of legislation passed, you have to explain how you'll pay for it.

The number of earmarks has been cut dramatically by Murphy and members of this Congress. And so what if Murphy brought more money back to his district than many other representatives. Isn't that what we want him to do?

You can't distort Murphy's record to make him out to be something he's not. Any honest look at his record on fiscal issues will show he has been responsible and careful with taxpayers' money.

Ersula Cosby
Levittown, PA
To help Patrick, click here.

It's Little Ricky And "Hating Teh Gay" Thursday!

Yes, our favorite “Elephant Poop In The Room” pundit is back to spread more misinformation, and today, he predictably goes after California’s recent decision on same sex marriages…

The latest distressing news came last week in California. The state Supreme Court there ruled, 4-3, that same-sex couples can marry.

In doing so, four judges rejected a statute that passed in a referendum with 61 percent of the vote that defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

It's merely the latest in a string of court decisions that have overturned the overwhelming will of the people.
By the way, if you detected an uncanny similarity between this language and that used by neocon quota hire pundit Bill Kristol of the New York Times and The Weekly Standard earlier this week, you’re not alone (and fortunately, this response from Shakesville to Kristol Mess applies to Little Ricky also, in particular)…

If Mr. Kristol had bothered to read the history of the case or the ruling itself rather than launch his typical right-wing volley of "activist judges" missiles, he would have known that the court ruling was not making social policy from the bench at all, but doing exactly what the court was created to do in the first place: interpret the laws and the constitution of the state. The California Assembly had twice tried to pass laws legalizing same-sex marriage, only to have them vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wanted the State Supreme Court to first decide whether or not such laws would pass constitutional muster. The court so ruled on Thursday, citing only the state constitution and pointedly avoiding the social policy aspect of the case.
But of course, a phrase like “activist judges” is something Little Ricky’s minions are more prepared to froth themselves over than something like “activist state legislatures” (too many syllables, I guess).

To continue with Little Ricky’s screed…

Look at Norway. It began allowing same-sex marriage in the 1990s. In just the last decade, its heterosexual-marriage rates have nose-dived and its out-of-wedlock birthrate skyrocketed to 80 percent for firstborn children. Too bad for those kids who probably won't have a dad around, but we can't let the welfare of children stand in the way of social affirmation, can we?
Oh, brother…

I have news for Little Ricky; a whole lot of other countries besides Norway apparently believe in “social affirmation” also, because, according to this link from Encyclopedia Britannica Online…

In 1989 Denmark became the first country to establish registered partnerships – an attenuated version of marriage – for same-sex couples. Soon thereafter Norway (1993), Sweden (1994), Greenland (1995), Iceland (1996), The Netherlands (1997), and Finland (2001) established similar laws, generally using specific vocabulary (e.g., civil union, civil partnership, domestic partnership, registered partnership) to differentiate same-sex unions from heterosexual marriages. By the early 21st century other European countries with such legislation included Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Switzerland.

Interestingly – and perhaps a reflection of tensions between the marriage-for-procreation and marriage-for-community-good positions discussed (previously) – many European countries initially prevented same-sex couples from adoption and artificial insemination; by 2007, however, most of those restrictions had been removed.

Outside Europe, some jurisdictions also adopted some form of same-sex partnership rights; Israel recognized common-law same-sex-marriage in the mid 1990s (the Israeli Supreme Court further ruled in 2006 that same-sex marriages performed abroad should be recognized), while same-sex civil unions were legalized in New Zealand in 2004, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in 2004, and in Mexico City in 2006. In 2007, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex civil unions; the legislation became effective in 2008.
The Britannica article then goes on to note that, as civil unions have been recognized in more and more countries, those populations have tended to accept same-sex marriage with greater frequency (basically, the only other countries I can find who are as harsh on this subject as were are would be China and Iran, and probably a few others I can’t identify at the moment – nice).

And as far as this “straw man” concerning the alleged decrease of heterosexual marriages and increase in out-of-wedlock birth rates, this Media Matters link concerning Falafel Boy’s similar assertions about Sweden (with the help of Hoover Institute hack Stanley Kurtz) tells us…

Kurtz wrote in February 2004: "A majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of first-born children in Denmark have unmarried parents. Not coincidentally, these countries have had something close to full gay marriage for a decade or more."

Here, Kurtz conflates correlation with causation. The data show that high cohabitation and out-of-wedlock birth rates are not even correlated, but Kurtz assumes that such correlation exists, then concludes causation from it. In fact, the data show that cohabitation and out-of-wedlock birth rates began rising in Scandinavia long before the enactment of homosexual partnership laws. This trend is apparently partially a result of laws governing heterosexual unmarried couples. In many Scandinavian countries, cohabitating heterosexual couples have most of the same rights as married couples, which obviously reduces incentives for a cohabitating couple to marry.
I realize that, now, I’ve given Little Ricky a chance to rail in his next column about “the evils of unmarried cohabitation” leading to an increase in tolerance of same-sex unions…or something.

This is also making me seriously rethink my opposition to same-sex marriage, by the way (never opposed to same-sex partnerships with all attendant legal rights, however), if for no other reason than the fact that it is increasingly more abhorrent to me to share any position whatsoever with Rick Santorum.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

For reasons that I cannot truly enumerate even if I had from now until next Tuesday, I must tell you that Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times today is one of the most wretched attempts at political commentary that I have ever seen. She managed to recycle every tired, stale, insulting Democratic narrative you can imagine as an attempt at parody, when it fact, practically her entire, insipid body of work can be easily categorized as such.

And I truly wonder at this point if she knows the difference between reality and fantasy; in this clip with Timmeh Russert about Caroline Kennedy endorsing Obama, she actually makes the inference that JFK is equivalent in some measure to...Dan Quayle (what, is she trying to refute Lloyd Bentsen somehow)?

As far as I'm concerned, when she gets paid, she is stealing from the New York Times. Here's a link; if you are a subscriber and you wish to punish yourself, have at it (and speaking of pretend journalism)...

...and even though she won Kentucky (no doubt with the help of some voters who count with their toes), I hope Hillary survives her "flesh wound"...

...and I don't know much about Missouri politics, but boy, is Sam Graves a cretin (from here)...

...and good for his opponent Kay Barnes for throwing it back in his face (last three videos courtesy of The Daily Kos).

Dismantling A McCarthyite Relic

I just wanted to give a plug here to the case of Wendy Gonaver (pictured), who was hired to teach two courses at Cal State Fullerton, “but was fired because she refused to sign a ‘loyalty oath’ without being able to add a note explaining that her religious views as a Quaker and pacifist would prevent her from taking up arms,” according to People for the American Way.

As PFAW tells us…

Ms. Gonaver was perfectly willing to sign the oath to uphold the Constitution as long as she could clarify that she wasn't committing herself to military action and that she had free speech concerns with a compelled "loyalty oath."

People For the American Way Foundation has sent a letter to Cal State on Ms. Gonaver's behalf urging the school to change its policy and allow employees who have religious or other objections to signing the "loyalty oath" to append an explanation of their views that would then allow them to sign the oath. The University of California already has such a policy in place in order to protect its employees' religious freedom and free speech rights.
(And the U of C exemption exists because of a lawsuit by a former faculty member - more on that shortly.)

To sign the petition asking Cal State Fullerton to implement a policy that doesn’t violate religious liberty and free speech, please click here.

I have to admit that this story piqued my curiosity a bit to the point where I wondered how on earth someone who, by all accounts, was perfectly qualified and capable to do the job could be denied employment for this, so I did a bit of digging and found that this particular variation of the “loyalty oath” issue in this country is particular to California, or, as noted from here…

Under Executive Order 9835 (March 1947), President Truman created the Federal Employee Loyalty Program. More than three million government workers were investigated and cleared, 2,000 resigned, and just over 200 were dismissed from their jobs. The small number of dismissals is surprising considering that an employee could be suspected of subversion merely by being perceived as “potentially disloyal” or considered a security risk. People viewed as security risks included homosexuals, alcoholics, and those who were in debt and needed money. States and municipalities followed the administration's example and required many of their workers to take a loyalty oath as a condition of employment. The oaths typically stated that a person was not and had never been a member of the Communist party or any organization that advocated the overthrow of the government of the United States. Teachers were often targets of suspicion. When the Supreme Court ruled in Tolman v. Underhill (1953) that professors at the University of California could not be singled out, the state required all of its employees to take loyalty oaths.
(The circumstances of Edward Chace Tollman, the psychology professor who sued over the U of C oath, are somewhat similar to that of Wendy Gonaver, by the way).

Though this was a bit of overzealousness in light of the ever-more-ominous Cold War, this definitely was not a shining moment for “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry.”

And wow, just a bit of an overreaction from the state of California in response to the Supreme Court ruling, huh? “Can’t single out who we want? Fine – we’ll just go ahead and nail everybody!”

And outside of the world of academia, here (Kansas) and here (Virginia) are instances of a political party attempt to obtain loyalty oaths from its members (and I’m sure you’ll never guess who would stoop so low, would you; I’ll give you a hint – they’re going to lose big in November).

In the case of California, it would appear that it is up to the state legislature to pass a bill making the oaths illegal; either that, or Governor Ahh-nold could issue an executive order to that effect. Personally, I would like to see that statewide in this country; I don’t know the legality of (God willing) an incoming Democratic president trying to do that on the federal level.

But remembering the person in question here who has the courage to stand up to this idiocy, I would ask again that you sign the PFAW petition on behalf of Wendy Gonaver here (and the entire text of the PFAW letter appears here).

Resurrecting The Ruined Repug "Brand"

Apparently it has finally dawned on the national Republican Party that they face a rout in November; one indicator is their anemic fundraising numbers (resulting in this) compared to the Dems from “straight talk” McCain here (Hillary raised more, and from an electoral point of view, she’s a “dead man – person? – walking”), so in a frantic attempt to escape their legacy of utter failure, they’re doing what they do best, which is to blow smoke and create the appearance of actual governance, as noted in this New York Times story yesterday…

The party leadership in the House has already begun to roll out its own agenda under the rubric “The Change You Deserve,” but some lawmakers have said the party needs to be more aggressive. Others are skeptical about overreacting to the elections or embracing too strong a conservative theme.
I’m sure now that this story will usher in a whole “divided Republicans” narrative that will generate a bountiful harvest, if you will, of stories depicting their division and chaos…and if you believe that, then I’m sure you’ll believe that 75,000 people showed up in Oregon recently only to see the rock group The Decemberists (here - h/t Eschaton).

A draft of the conservative agenda calls for the endorsement of a constitutional amendment to prohibit federal spending from growing faster than the economy except in times of war or national emergency.
What a joke. Gee, could you qualify that any more so that it applies to some vague, distant point in the future as opposed to right freaking now? Besides, the Dems have already implemented the PAYGO rules in the House, so the Repugs are “a day late and a dollar short” again.

And when it comes to limiting federal spending particularly concerning earmarks, this Think Progress post from last January tells us…

The conservatives’ political posturing over earmarks seems purely an effort to get headlines without actually bringing about change. When Rep. David Obey (D-WI) just last month proposed whacking “an estimated 9,500 earmarks worth about $9.5 billion” from an omnibus spending plan, he ran into deep opposition from conservatives. Conservative bloggers even criticized their party for not supporting the plan.
Back to the Times story…

The plan seeks support for an income tax overhaul that would provide a simplified flat tax and allow people to choose between it and the current system.
Can you imagine the IRS having to process returns with taxpayers using two different tax formulas? There’s the issue of verifying whether or not they’re using the correct formula, and then there’s the issue of verifying that the numbers computed with that formula are correct.

In the immortal words of Poppy Bush, “Na. Ga. Ha. Pen.”

And when it comes to the so-called “flat tax” embraced by Mike Huckabee when he isn’t trying to make jokes about shooting Barack Obama, this first came up in the 1996 presidential campaign of Steve Forbes, and as noted in this Time article from that year…

…the spareness of Forbes' flat tax is deceptive. Yes, taxpayers would pay a single rate on their income above a certain threshold: for example, above $36,000 for a family of four. (And families below that threshold would pay no income tax.) But it is almost impossible to sort out fully the economic burdens that would result from the system's new rules. This much seems clear: the scheme Forbes is pushing in his television ads looks as if it would either swell the federal deficit or raise taxes on middle Americans while bestowing extra riches on the rich.
Back to the Times story again…

The conservative proposal seeks tax credits for buying health insurance, more domestic energy production and a streamlined terrorist surveillance program. The draft also said that House Republicans should extend existing welfare work requirements to food stamps and housing assistance “so that those who are not old, young or disabled are either working in the private sector or serving in their community.”
And do you know how exactly the Repugs want to “increase domestic energy production”? As noted here, by “moving $17 billion in financial incentives from major oil companies to alternative and renewable energy programs,” as well as investigating price gouging and overseas price fixing (yeah, let me know how that works out, Repugs; I’m sure our “friends” the Saudis would be happy to see that, probably squeezing supply even more in response).

Sound nice (a bit)? Well, the Dems are prepared to actually accomplish something by…

…(imposing) a 25% windfall profits tax on oil companies that do not invest in increased capacity or renewable energy sources. (The Dems’ measure) would suspend federal purchases of crude for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through December unless the 90-day average price fell to $75/bbl or less. And it would attempt to limit oil futures market speculation by keeping traders from routing transactions through offshore exchanges to avoid disclosure, and by substantially increasing margin requirements for oil futures purchases.
Now there’s a thought – trying to prevent anyone from gaming the futures market and thus make a killing through high energy prices (can you say “Enron”?).

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Repug plan unless it included a nod towards “Terra! Terra! Terra!” and persecution of the poorest in our society, would it (the whole “streamlining terrorist surveillance” bit and “extend(ing) work requirements to food stamps and housing assistance,” with the geniuses who concocted this nonsense apparently unaware of the fact that we’re in a recession).

I also cannot understand why the Repugs have not embraced the vision of their one-time leader, a certain Newton Leroy Gingrich, who wants to re-define his party with such bold moves as continuing to underfund the upcoming census, declaring English the official language of government, and building a space-based GPS system to route our air traffic (here).

The Times story also notes the following…

(Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the group of 100 Repug lawmakers trying to concoct this scheme) said his group was emphasizing fiscal policy because polls and recent electoral experience showed that voters viewed Republicans as having strayed too far from the party’s tradition on spending restraint.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

Lord knows I have issues with Baker, but I'd like to see McCain call him out over this (somehow I think Baker would hand him his lunch - from here)...

...and it's pretty gutsy to take on a member of one's own party like this, as this T.V. ad does over Bush Dog Chris Carney, but it is, sadly, necessary (Eschaton hat tip #1)...

...also sadly necessary to call out "Senator Honor And Virtue" as follows on the Webb-Hagel G.I. Bill (Eschaton hat tip #2)...

...and "The Pap Attack" discusses John W. McBush and his "immigration tightrope" (sorry about the commercial; I know Air America has bills to pay also).

Ring A Ding Ding!

A little late, but better than never on this (and here's one of my favorite clips of Ol' Blue Eyes, from the Columbia "crooner" days).

(I should have noted earlier that this starts with "If You Are But A Dream" and ends with "The House I Live In" after Sinatra talks to the kids.)

Words For This Sad Day

What follows is the conclusion of the eulogy Ted Kennedy gave for his brother Robert on June 8, 1968, which features much of a speech RFK gave in South Africa in 1966; Ted was speaking about Bobby with these words, but given his 46-year career in the U.S. Senate, he might as well have been speaking about himself as well (a truly strange circumstance that the 40th anniversary of Bobby's assassination will be observed soon in the wake of this tragic news - the most memorable excerpt of this wonderful reflection occurs at about 6:20 when Ted's voice starts to give a bit).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Stuff

So...according to Dallas Lawrence of the Pentagon, the matter of the military analysts acting as propaganda conduits is "a matter for the Defense Department" (re: here), and even though he can't confirm the existence of the program, he can confirm that the program is over...WHAAAA????!!!

And by the way, Mr. Lawrence, I never lied about a war and got someone killed as a result (re: his "liberal blog" comment)...

...and by the way, here is the face of white rural American prejudice in West Virginia - perhaps the most ridiculous comment was the woman who said she votes "straight Democrat" but will support McCain (just get out of the way and don't bitch while we try to make this a better country, OK?).

No "Pork" For Patrick

(Once more, posting is questionable; I got a bit lucky today, but I don't think that will be the case tomorrow - sorry for being repetitive about this.)

This Guest Opinion appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today (here)...

Richard Staedtler's May 1 Guest Opinion takes Congressman Patrick Murphy to task for accepting advanced royalties on his upcoming autobiography. He quotes the rules: “No member of Congress can receive royalties while a member of Congress.” No matter that Staedtler himself (along with the House Ethics Committee and the good government lobbying firm Common Cause) absolves Murphy of any wrongdoing when he states Murphy accepted the advance “a few days before he was sworn in as a congressman.” Murphy is being criticized for “NOT” breaking the rules.

Elsewhere in his opinion, Staedtler takes Murphy to task for “writing his autobiography on our time.” Hmmm. I guess Murphy will next want to go to the bathroom “on our time,” or, heaven forbid, get a drink of water “on our time.” Are those in Congress “on our time” 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Do they campaign “on our time”? I wonder if George Bush takes all those vacations “on our time.”

Staedtler continues: “Murphy was the sole sponsor of more than $11.8 million in earmarks (per USA Today), the fourth most of any freshman in Congress.” Staedtler may have gotten this from the Dec. 11, 2007, USA Today. What Staedtler omitted from the article were the words “for local projects and businesses.” Maybe Staedtler or others might offer suggestions on what “local projects and businesses” they begrudge?

Also omitted was this: “Murphy pointed to new rules requiring earmark sponsors to be disclosed for the first time. The House also requires members to disclose each earmark recipient. Murphy said he makes "no apologies for fighting hard for my district.' ” This transparency on earmarks, which Murphy voted for, is a product of the Democratic Congress.

Anyone concerned with earmarks should go to the conservative Heritage Foundation/Citizens Against Government Waste Web site. Here they will find that the number of earmarks under the Republican Congress grew from 1,318 in 1994, to 13,997 in 2005. The last five of these pork-laden budgets were signed by Bush.

For 2008 the total is 11,610 earmarks. The three leading porkers in the Senate are Republicans; No. 1, Thad Cochran; No. 2, Ted Stevens; and No. 3, Richard Shelby. For Pennsylvania, Republican Arlen Specter was No. 31 and Democrat Bob Casey was No. 38. The two leading House members are also Republicans; No. 1, Roger Wicker (now an appointed senator) and No. 2, Bill Young. Patrick Murphy is No. 138 on the list.

It's an election year. Republicans are crying crocodile tears over earmarks while feeding at the government trough by the boatload.

John Wible
Bensalem, PA
Indeed (to help Patrick, click here).

Update 5/20/08: More good stuff...

More Monday War Love From “Clap” Hanson

I had to laugh at the fact that the Philadelphia Inquirer gave column space to noted “classicist” V.D. Hanson today, who James Wolcott once described as “full of the ripest fertilizer” (on display also here in – where else? – The Wall Street Journal).

And it takes a particularly galling sense of entitlement, I would argue, to criticize others for writing books in which the authors attempt to escape blame for their actions in the Iraq war, when in fact Dubya’s foreign policy catastrophe, to quote that pop culture icon Chico Esquela, has been veddy veddy good to one V.D. Hanson in particular (I don’t think I appropriated that from anyone – sorry if I did).

I’ll ignore for a moment Hanson’s utterly preposterous attempt to propose a similarity between a work of scholarship such as Richard Clarke’s “Against All Enemies” and some “through the looking glass” Bushco-simpatico yarn as Douglas Feith’s “War And Decision” (which looks strangely like “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward here; Feith can’t conceive of anything original, including the jacket design). I'll also ignore Hanson's equally laughable characterization of Clarke's work as a story of "how someone else did (him) in."

Instead, I’ll just take you to what is perhaps the definitive Hanson takedown written by Gary Brecher here (shocking that this was published on a conservative site), which is actually a review of Hanson’s tome “A War Like No Other,” including the following excerpt (the book is yet another attempt to parallel Iraq with clashes of ancient cultures)…

This book is just a point on the graph of Hanson’s decline. It shows him in the late stages of a wild ego trip, getting more and more thoughtless as he starts believing his own press. The whole book stinks of vanity, from the idea of thinking you could improve on Thucydides to the careless writing, the sleazy connections between alien cultures, and the big blind spot at the center of it all. Hanson has become so sure that the ancient Greeks are with him and the neocons that he can’t see how Thucydides’ story silently condemns our Iraq adventure. If only we could resurrect the real Thucydides and commission him to do a history of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Now that would be worth reading. But I don’t think Victor Davis Hanson would enjoy it.
Hanson once declared the Iraqi city of Ramadi as undergoing a rebirth of sorts under our occupation, though a Marine intelligence report from September 2006 declared it to be “beyond repair” here.

I think that is a perfectly apt description of Hanson’s literary career also.

Dubya Moves The Goalposts Again

Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported the following in the New York Times yesterday (from here)…

…when Mr. Bush arrived in this Red Sea resort city on Saturday, he seemed cozy with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas; the two ended a quick photo opportunity by strolling down a stone walkway, holding hands. And the president was also back to making predictions. Previewing a speech planned for Sunday, he said, “I’ll make it clear that I believe we can get a state” — as in, a Palestinian state — “defined by the end of my presidency.”
“Defined by the end of my presidency”?? Gee, that sounds a lot less strident than “a Mideast deal by the end of my term,” doesn’t it (as noted here)?

OK, so what exactly is involved in “defining a Palestinian state,” Dubya (to be fair, though, he does use the “defined” language in the MSNBC story as well as Stolberg’s account). Since our corporate media cousins aren’t going to ask you, then I guess it’s up to me to do so.

Does it include the right of return for Palestinians to what they consider to be their homeland? Does it involve any negotiation on control of the city of Jerusalem? What about Israeli occupation of the West Bank? Returning to the 1967 boundaries? Anything on this from Olmert and Abbas?

Anything at all? Hello??

And I don’t care about Incurious George telling us that that’s what he wants. We all know by now that he can say anything his aides feed him with a straight face, no matter how preposterous it may be. How are we supposed to know any of this will actually materialize?

In an accidental way, Little Tommy Friedman actually highlighted the issue I’m getting at here, which of course is that President George W. Milhous Bush doesn’t intend to take any of this seriously or add what precious little intellectual capital he has in an effort to move the process along (this is all “water wet, sky blue” stuff I know, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call him on this).

Besides, why should Dubya do any “heavy lifting” when he has Condi around to present the façade that something is actually being accomplished here (hardly the first time this has occurred and probably won't be the last).

Today’s “Kristol Mess” Fluffery For St. McCain

(Pushing it with that pic, I know…).

The New York Times’ conservative quota hire columnist tried to spin a scenario whereby, even if congressional Repugs get trounced in the fall, that “straight-talking maverick” could still win the presidential election (here).

There is probably much more right-wing mythology that could be exploded in this drivel, but here are three obvious points…

The crucial swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania (whose primaries Obama also lost to Hillary Clinton) have a fair number of West Virginia-type working-class, culturally conservative voters. The Obama campaign can’t be confident about his prospects there in the fall.
Yeah, I know Kristol and his ilk are going to be perpetually spinning this tale of how Obama supposedly can’t win white, working-class voters (I would argue that, yes, that’s true for a small percentage, but overwhelmingly not as a group), but funny thing; this Quinnipiac University poll taken on May 1st shows Obama losing by a single percentage point to McCain in Ohio (which, as far as I’m concerned, amounts to a statistical tie), and Obama leading McCain in PA (47 percent to 38 percent). And that is with Hillary Clinton’s campaign still alive; Obama will get a boost nationwide when he eventually defeats her.

Another thing: I know Kristol and company want to completely ignore the influence of Ron Paul, but he and his people are going to end up siphoning some votes away from McCain to Obama, which may prove to be the most enduring legacy of Paul’s candidacy.

Also, concerning the recent decision of the California Supreme Court to allow gay marriage…

In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court redefined marriage in that state, helping to highlight the issues of same-sex marriage and judicial activism for the 2004 presidential campaign. Now the California court has conveniently stepped up to the plate.

Since the next president will almost certainly have one Supreme Court appointment, and could have two or three, this difference on judicial philosophy could well matter to voters — and in a way that should help McCain.
And as you can read here (h/t Atrios), the 2003 decision by the Massachusetts court swung that state decisively to Dubya in ’04 – not!

(In that infamous speech Dubya gave at the Knesset last week) Obama took Bush to be alluding to Obama’s willingness to meet, without preconditions, with Iran and North Korea, and attacked Bush. The conventional view in Washington is that Obama was smart to pick a fight with the unpopular Bush. And when McCain intervened, Obama was able to attack Bush and McCain in the same breath. But over the longer term, it can’t be in Obama’s interest to divert voters from a focus on gas prices or health care to the question of what he hopes to achieve by negotiating with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
First of all, Obama and others attacked Dubya because President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History referred to Obama as an appeaser, comparing him to former British PM Neville Chamberlain circa 1938 (Kristol actually does mention that word in quoting Dubya, though of course Kristol has nothing to say about the context).

But as far as meeting with our enemies goes, it’s a funny thing in a way, but as noted here by Media Matters…

Bush's (Knesset speech attacking Obama)… came just hours after The Washington Post reported that Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, said that the United States needs to "sit down and talk with" Iran. Not only that, Gates added, "We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander."


Naturally, then, a media firestorm erupted, with the Bush administration and its political allies questioned all day about whether Bush has any idea what he is talking about, whether he has lost control over the Pentagon, whether Gates will be fired, what Gates thinks about Bush's comparison of those (like Gates) who advocate dialogue between the United States and Iran to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, and whether the fiasco will remind voters that the Bush administration's foreign policy has been marked by incompetence and dishonesty, thus doing irreparable electoral damage to John McCain and other Republican candidates.

Sorry -- what was I thinking? That didn't happen.

Instead, much of the news media got busy pretending the Post article didn't exist and that Gates had not undermined Bush's political attack on Obama. Instead, many news outlets simply rushed to repeat Bush's assault over and over again, as though it had merit.
Kristol and his fellow travelers can preoccupy themselves all they want with how Obama is campaigning in opposition (as they see it) to the mindless “Defense of Marriage Act” and other “value voter” trivialities. However, those precious “independent” voters for whom the Repugs concocted such hot-button nonsense as trying to deny same-sex couples the right to adopt and qualify for medical benefits have woken up in light of real issues, such as our economic collapse, failure to provide something approximating universal health coverage and war without end in Iraq, to say nothing of the environment. And the result of that “wakeup” has been highly beneficial to the Democrats.

So much so that Survey USA tells us this (let’s keep working and doing what we can to make sure they’re right).

Update 1 5/19/08: Good point here about the California Supreme Court merely being asked whether or not the same-sex marriage bill would "pass constitutional muster," as opposed to acting like the dreaded "activist judges" (h/t Eschaton).

Update 2 5/19/08: I had a feeling that 41 percent number was wrong (Kristol Mess said no presumptive party nominee had lost by that much in a primary), but kudos to Think Progress for exploding that lie; every week is a new adventure in pundit stupidity for the "stalwart" of The Weekly Standard (and the Times, of course).

Update 5/21/08: Welcome to the Times' neocon pundit errata party, BoBo!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Stuff

Posting is going to be a question mark this week, probably off and on, but we'll see.

In the meantime, here's "The Real McCain 2" from Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films (McCain may actually be worse than Dubya when it comes to evasions and half-truths, and I didn't think that was possible)...

Update 5/19/08: Excellent question here (h/t Thers at Eschaton).

...and in that vein, we have this convenient memory lapse from "Senator Honor and Virtue" concerning The Sainted Ronnie R...

...meanwhile, John Edwards defends Obama with The Beard on the subject of meeting with our enemies (kudos)...

...and best wishes to Senator Kennedy for a full and speedy recovery (this video concerns the vote on SCHIP, of course, from last September).

(Oh, and by the way, Dubya, it's about 10:40 PM EST...take a little longer to decide whether or not you want to show a speck of class and announce a public message of support, you creep - at least McCain did the decent and honorable thing for real on this occasion.)

Update 5/22/08: To be fair, I should note that Dubya and Laura issued a statement of support dated on May 20th; I had to search the site to find it, but it's there.