Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Damn Saturday Stuff

Congratulations (I think) on the apparent settlement reached concerning the unseated Michigan and Florida Democratic delegates (and here's some early footage of Senator Clinton - snark)...

Update 6/1/08: I think this is a fine post that should be read by some "hard working white people" out there, in particular this crowd; if somehow Obama loses in November in part because of these people, I will hate the Clintons forever, and you cannot imagine how difficult it is for me to say that.

...and I have to link to this item from Think Progress; it seems that ol' Huckleberry Graham is purposely tethering himself to Dubya in his reelection bid (does the man have a political death wish?), and he mentioned President Clueless at a GOP convention in South Carolina - South Carolina, people! - and no one applauded.

Here's one reminder why from Bill Maher, though there are sooo many others (yeah, Huck, I think history will lend a different judgment too, only it will be worse).

Saturday Stuff

Two "Star Trek" alums "beamed outta here" recently: one was Joseph Pevney, who directed many episodes of the original series - here is a brief excerpt from one of them, "The Trouble With Tribbles"...

...and Philly-born composer Alexander Courage; he wrote many themes for movies and musicals, but he will be remembered for this above all the others.

A Word For One Of Our Own

Please allow me to add my support to Tammy Booth in her pursuit of a scholarship to attend Netroots Nation this summer. She is a serial blogger and progressive troublemaker (saying so with respect) lending her voice on behalf of the cause of good government and MUCH BETTER leaders, based in the state of Missouri. Blogging and progressive activism consumes much of her waking moments (I can relate to that a bit), and a trip to Austin this summer would be a tremendous reward for her efforts.

Good luck, Tammy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Stuff

The DNC brings us the McClellan/Cheney/McCain Iraq war axis...

...also, though I don't agree 100 percent with this analysis of what happened with the Gore campaign in 2000, this gentleman makes some good points concerning Obama-rama and HRC (it would be nice if this guy took note - can all individuals who are spiritual in some leadership capacity in this country please just STFU about this election?)...

...and Kagro X of The Daily Kos brings us "The Falafel Boy Dance Mix" (geez, such a potty mouth, Bill; sounds like it's time for another blogger ethics panel)...' yo-yo-yo, I gots ta' get mah stimulus package too, homes (no, seriously, we haven't seen anything - maybe it's because Dubya knows I do this)...

...this doesn't even come close to the tribute I had in mind to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of comedy genius Phil Hartman a couple of days ago, but it will have to do (for the Atari Activision game system from waaay back - thanks, Lorne Michaels, for being such a prick about this stuff and getting anything pulled from YouTube having to do with SNL)...

...and I had to commemorate the passing of Harvey Korman this week also (the video of Tim Conway accidentally numbing himself as the dentist while Korman cracked up is followed by some still photos and "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong - nice).

Keeping LMT Green

(The pic is of the Delaware Canal, which may actually be in Yardley Borough as opposed to Lower Makefield Township - oh well...).

I simply had to take a minute or two and take note of this “Thumbs Down” entry from the Bucks County Courier Times from last Saturday (took awhile, I know)…

To Lower Makefield supervisors for only getting behind a smoking ban until it hurts the township's bottom line.

This week the township supervisors moved forward on prohibiting smoking at township parks and other properties by authorizing the solicitor to draft the ordinance. However, one likely exception will be the township-owned Makefield Highlands Golf Club.

“When you choose to go up there and golf,” said board Chairman Greg Caiola, “I think you make a conscious decision to be among people who are smoking.”

Really? We would have thought that folks who go to the golf course have only made the conscious decision to ... play golf.

We think Supervisor Pete Stainthorpe was a bit more forthcoming when he said, “Guys smoke cigars while they golf and they're even sold in the prop shop. It would put a dent in the revenue up there to prohibit smoking.” Which of course makes you wonder how committed the supervisors really are to protecting the health of residents.
I’ve been going back and forth on this for a little while now, and I suppose it would be hypocritical for me to say I favor smoking at Makefield Highlands after favoring all the other “do gooder” stuff that I do, such as motorcycle helmets, carpooling and mass transit initiatives, etc.

However, I should add the caveat that I think that if you’re going to allow smoking somewhere, a golf course would be a place where that could be allowed; it’s outdoors, my guess is that the participants will overwhelmingly be older than 18, many of whom probably smoke anyway, and you would probably have a minor rebellion on your hands if you told the paying customers that they wouldn’t be allowed to light up.

Leaving all of this aside for a moment, though, I would like to take some time and do something the Courier Times didn’t do (I haven’t been able to find it, anyway), and that is to list the environmental initiatives of Lower Makefield Township that, at the very least, offset the Makefield Highlands smoking issue as far as I’m concerned (this list was provided by Greg Caiola)…

  • LMT became first community in Bucks to sign up for this Sierra Club Cool Cities program. This program establishes an action plan to lower LMT’s carbon footprint. Further, it proved to be the impetus for Bucks County to become the first county in the state to adopt the Cool Cities Program.

  • Energy Audit – LMT contracted with Sun Technics, a firm with alternative energy expertise, to perform a comprehensive energy audit of all major Township facilities. This audit was presented to the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of LMT.

  • Alternative Energy – LMT became the first community in Bucks County to sign on to the Smart Power initiative, which committed LMT to using 20% alternative energy by the year 2010.

  • Smart Power Award – As part of Smart Power commitment, LMT, with 20+ other communities, was challenged to sign up an additional 200 customers in order to receive a small stand-alone solar system or a $10,000 grant towards a larger system. LMT became first community in Bucks to reach this goal and the 350 new signups was the highest of any of the municipalities in the program.

  • Farmers Market – The saying “Get Fresh on Thursdays” became a household word when an outdoor Farmers Market opened for business in the Edgewood Pocket Park. Since only locally produced items may be sold at the market, the lower transportation costs result in a lower carbon footprint for LMT.

  • LID Ordinance – LMT’s comprehensive and progressive Low Impact Development Stormwater Management Ordinance requires natural aquifer recharging before any constructed stormwater management devices may be used. It also allows clustering which results in more open space. The result is less infrastructure and construction activity, which decreases the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere. This ordinance, it should be noted, won a National Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Solar in LMT – In addition to the small system won in the Smart Power Program, LMT is currently having prepared for its evaluation, several solar proposals by the Sun Technics Group.

  • A Green Building Code for LMT – LMT’s Environmental Advisory council is currently writing up a draft “Green Building Code” for LMT that would apply to all new construction and any substantial renovation of Township facilities.
  • An individual who has perhaps been the most important driver of these initiatives is Board Vice Chairman Steve Santarsiero (from here), who is running for the PA State House of Representatives; to help Steve, click here.

    Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/30/08)

    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.


    Suits against OPEC. The House passed, 324-84, a bill (HR 6074) authorizing the U.S. attorney general to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries under U.S. antitrust laws for monopolistic practices. The 13 OPEC members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The bill is now before the Senate.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

    Voting yes: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

    Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

    Not voting: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.).
    (See what I mean about Andrews missing a lot of votes, as I noted here?).

    And OMG, Joe Pitts is just too freaking funny – he’s on the Energy and Commerce Committee, for God’s sake; what is he afraid of? Getting some our Saudi “friends” mad at him so he won’t get an invite to chill out at Dubai (and yes, I know Mukasey will never enforce this, but still...).

    I just came across this snapshot of Pitts from The Daily Kos, and I love the way they put “representing” in quotes (and by the way, to help Bruce Slater, click here).

    Energy, business, personal tax breaks. Voting 263-160, the House passed a bill (HR 6049) providing $55.5 billion in tax breaks for purposes such as spurring the production of non-fossil fuels, promoting energy conservation, stimulating business activity, and helping homeowners and the working poor.

    A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

    Voting no: Pitts and Saxton.
    Wow, all it took were two votes for Pancake Joe to have a really awful week (and Saxton is becoming more and more forgettable as his time draws shorter), even more ridiculous because they both affected what is supposed to be one of Joe's “specialties,” along with heterosexual human rights as noted here (and once more, to help Bruce Slater, click here).

    Farm bill veto. Voting 316-108, the House overrode President Bush's veto of a five-year, $289 billion farm bill (HR 2419) that extends the existing system of payments and subsidies for growers of major crops such as cotton, corn, rice, wheat and soybeans; expands nutrition programs such as food stamps and school lunches; promotes land conservation and rural development; provides funding for fruit and vegetable growers, and spurs development of renewable fuels such as cellulose-based ethanol. This vote overrode his veto of 14 of the bill's 15 sections.

    A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.

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

    Voting no: Castle, Dent, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
    Now I know Dubya is toast; Gerlach voted to override his veto.


    Farm bill veto. By a tally of 82-13, the Senate joined the House (HR 2419, above) in voting to override President Bush's veto of a $289 billion farm bill that renews subsidies for growers of major crops while also funding conservation and nutrition programs and taxpayer support for fruit and vegetable growers, among other programs.

    A yes vote was to enact HR 2419.

    Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
    This week, Congress began its Memorial Day recess until the week of June 2, when both chambers will take up the fiscal 2009 budget resolution and possibly bills to head off mortgage foreclosures and reform agencies related to the housing market.

    One "Bad" Speech And 4,083 Casualties Later...

    Via HuffPo, it seems that James Poniewozik of Time Magazine has a problem with Keith Olbermann’s latest takedown, that of Hillary Clinton for her incredibly ill-advised remark about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy taking place in the same month during 1968 that husband Bill wrapped up the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1992, which would be June (and while that’s factually correct as noted here, we’re talking about two completely different contexts between Bill and Hil).

    Here is Poniewozik…

    The substance (or lack thereof) of the controversy notwithstanding…Olbermann is edging ever-closer to self-parody, or, worse, predictability. (As soon as the Clinton gaffe broke, blog commenters were wondering how ballistic he would go, and he obliged, and how.) Even if we concede his argument—that Clinton was at best callously and at worst intentionally suggesting she should stay in the race because Obama might be killed—every time he turns up the volume to 11 like this lately, he sounds like just another of the cable gasbags he used to be a corrective to.
    What strikes me as I read Poniewozik here is that he doesn’t comment on a single word of what Keith said, in which he shares what I would consider to be K.O.’s utter disgust and revulsion at the barking mad farce that the Hillary Clinton campaign eventually became (the relentless moving of the goalposts – “No, it’s the delegate count! No, it’s the popular vote count!”…is there a more annoying individual worthy of revulsion from her campaign at this point in time than Lanny Davis?…the perpetually mind-numbing, foot-in-mouth gaffes by Hillary and her sycophants dutifully captured on YouTube for consumption and parody for all time – at this point, Geraldine Ferraro should be disavowed by the entire party, though I know that won’t happen – the continual ‘back of the hand’ treatment given to Barack Obama who, this being politics, isn’t completely innocent either, etc., etc., etc.). Poniewozik also apparently doesn’t feel it’s important to note that the topic of shooting the soon-to-be nominee of the Democratic Party for president has already been mentioned, so Olbermann could possibly be excused for having a case of frayed nerves.

    No, Poniewozik apparently feels that he, as a mainstream corporate media journo, has the right to lecture Olbermann for showing something that I would call genuine populist rage as opposed to something more polite, like the airy condescension Poniewozik appears to have perfected.

    Well, just to refresh our memories, I should note that Poniewozik has displayed this attitude at least once before, and it was here in the wake of Michael Moore’s speech at the Academy Awards in 2003. Here is some of what Poniewozik had to say…

    If Moore really wants to end the war? — and not just boost the spirits of his Upper West Side neighbors — then mightn't he also want to win over people who oppose the war and yet don't believe that Bush is an illegimate (sic) president swept into office by skullduggery? Is he so insulated that he doesn't realize people like that exist? Or are people like that simply not simon-pure enough for him to want them in his antiwar movement?

    That's the really annoying thing about Moore's speech. Moore often casts himself as a populist, and sometimes he's even convincing. He often makes a strong case against other progressives who (are) out of touch with the hoi polloi — who can't lower themselves to listen to talk radio, can't identify a NASCAR driver or country singer, can't in any sense understand how the mass of America lives and thinks. This kind of liberal attitude, he has rightly argued, has kept the Left from building broad-based movements. But Moore's own clubby, we-all-know-Bush-is-a-liar attitude suggests that he's not interested in a broad-based antiwar movement.

    I'm going to get a lot of e-mail from people who believe Bush stole the election in Florida, but before you press "send," at least consider this. A lot of smart people agree with you. But if someone disagrees with you, are they not worth allying with against the war? Would you rather have a war in Iraq than pass up a chance to bring up Florida again?
    Now, let’s flash forward to the present day from March 24, 2003, a few days after the war started (another reason why Moore’s outrage was fresh and unrestrained, as well as that of a few people who grew in number over time as it turned out).

    Doesn’t it look kind of pathetic to criticize Moore’s opposition to the war because he conflated it with the results of the 2000 presidential election? Isn’t it worse than infantile that Poniewozik and far too many others thought that Moore should not have been taken seriously because he and other liberals/progressives “(couldn’t) lower (our)selves to listen to talk radio, (or) identify a NASCAR driver or country singer, (or) understand how the mass of America lives and thinks” (like this numbskull, for instance)?

    Yet, as many of us recall all too well, this is the demonizing rhetoric that ran rampant everywhere in this country, particularly when the war began. As Atrios and many others have noted, though, we can forget about Poniewozik and his brethren ever acknowledging the fact that Moore and those who shared his view (including your humble narrator) turned out to be 100 percent right; instead, any “serious” discussions of the war should be left to “experts” like Tom Friedman here and here as opposed to people who actually knew what they were talking about.

    So let’s let Poniewozik lecture K.O. again now as he did with Michael Moore for being sooo impolite, sooo shrill and bad-tempered for actually caring about the damage inflicted on our political dialogue and our institutions of government by demagogues of any political stripe whatsoever (though I would hardly lump Hillary’s escapades with the nightmare of the foul, fetid Bushco reign).

    And let Poniewozik be wrong once more now as he was then.

    The PR Flunky Who Cried Wolf

    I really don’t want to waste anyone’s precious time by opining on the revelations from Little Scottie McClellan in his new book, but I want to share some brief observations (I also more or less said something when I embedded that “Countdown” video Tuesday from last November where K.O. and David Shuster report on the “teaser” for McClellan’s book here).

    First, I think it’s appropriate to link to the one post I have that best captures what he was all about, and here it is (the outright lies, obfuscations, baiting of Helen Thomas, the whole foul “course” – also, the post from January ’06 was actually kind of sloppy on my part with some misspellings and missing links; I could find two a few minutes ago that were close to what I was commenting on, but that was it…my bad there).

    Second, why should we care that McClellan is restating what has long been obvious to anyone in this country with a pulse (“ooh, Cheney is arrogant, the Iraq war was a mistake, the president is out of touch”; at this point, I defer to profmarcus again here). Unless anyone under the Capitol Hill dome besides Robert Wexler is willing to talk impeachment, then don’t waste my time.

    Third, I want to know how much money McClellan is going to donate from his book sales on behalf of our brave men and women who served in Iraq and were maimed or killed in part because of his contemptible practice. He can appear on “Real Time With Bill Maher” and elsewhere and yuk it up as much as he wants, but blaming “a culture of deception” won’t rebuild a fractured nation, solve the world’s worst refugee crisis, bring anyone who has died back to life (including innocent Iraqis) or purge his soul of the moral rot willingly inflicted upon it by his handlers.

    Update 6/1/08: Fair enough, Scotty.

    Update 6/3/08: In this detailed critique by Dan Froomkin of WaPo (h/t Atrios), this excerpt stood out for me concerning whether or not McClellan should have any sympathy at all...

    "When words I uttered, believing them to be true, were exposed as false, I was constrained by my duties and loyalty to the president and unable to comment."
    Game, set, and match, Scotty.

    A Token Of Intolerance...Or More?

    (Note: I know the videos have been MIA lately, and that is because of a technical difficulty that I hope to have resolved soon.)

    I happened to come across this Daily Kos diary which has to do with the story reported here by Reuters and elsewhere of our latest PR blunder in Iraq; namely, the handing out of coins with Bible verses on them to Iraqis in Falluja by one of our marines (and I’m not blaming the marine, I hasten to add; as far as I’m concerned, our military is trying to do its best in a hopeless situation, made so because of what passes for Iraq’s “political leadership” as well as our own)…

    "(Our military has) initiated an investigation into that and there is some evidence of an individual that was doing that," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

    The Marine has been accused of distributing the coins to Iraqis as they passed through a check point in Falluja, U.S. officials said.

    "Where will you spend eternity?" was written on one side of the coins, according to a report from McClatchy News Service.

    On the other was a Bible verse written in Arabic referring to Jesus: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

    If true, the Marine would have violated U.S. military rules that prohibit the promotion of any religion, faith or practice.

    "This has our full attention," Col. James Welsh, the U.S. commander in western Iraq, said in a statement. "We deeply value our relationship with the local citizens and share their concerns over this serious incident."
    I have a really crazy thought about this, and being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, I’m going to unleash it here.

    This MSNBC story from January of last year tells us that our friends up in the Great White North came up with an interesting little scheme that goes a little further than anything we’ve talked about so far…

    In a U.S. government warning high on the creepiness scale, the Defense Department cautioned its American contractors over what it described as a new espionage threat: Canadian coins with tiny radio frequency transmitters hidden inside.

    The government said the mysterious coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.

    Intelligence and technology experts said such transmitters, if they exist, could be used to surreptitiously track the movements of people carrying the spy coins.
    Now are you going to tell me that it’s beyond the realm of possibility that we could be trying to do that in Iraq to track actual or suspected insurgents? And are you going to tell me that there is no way we could be carrying out such an activity because of the cost (the budget for No Such Agency is always “off the books,” let’s not forget).

    I’m with Daily Kos diarist testvvet6778 on this story in that I cannot imagine how this was an isolated incident of a marine acting on his own. The crooked Bushco cabal his done everything it can to destroy the precious separation of church and state in this country envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, among many others. Who’s to say that it wouldn't concoct a “red herring” like this in the name of the battle against Terra! Terra! Terra!?

    (On a personal note to provide further evidence, I should tell you that a first cousin once removed recently enlisted in the Army, and he was told that he needed to join a religious organization of one type or another, whether it was a Catholic church, other denomination, synagogue, mosque, whatever; while I applaud someone on a spiritual journey of sorts, I don’t think it’s the place of our government to make that a requirement of service.)

    (By the way, I just noticed that profmarcus weighed in on this here with some typically insightful observations.)

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Securing The Vote, Bushco Style

    Let us return to the Inky once more for some serious editorial harrumphing (from here)…

    The Senate needs to work on reviving the dormant Federal Election Commission, which hasn't met all year.

    That's because the FEC - which is responsible for enforcing federal election laws - has four vacancies out of six seats. While Senate Republicans and Democrats play partisan games over President Bush's nominees, the FEC can't make a quorum.
    If you read this editorial in its entirety, by the way, I have a feeling that you’ll be amazed at how the Inquirer finds a way to blame Congress on the effective neutering of the FEC while offering nothing more than a love tap to President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

    The Inquirer is quite correct to identify this as an issue, though, but please allow me to try and fill in some of the gaping holes of what passes for their analysis, particularly concerning this…

    The withdrawal of nominee Hans von Spakovsky, whom the GOP had insisted be voted on in a package with other appointees, could clear the way for the Senate to fill the vacancies. But the White House is insisting that the Senate vote on a long list of other nominees, including those for the FEC.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) is right to insist that the FEC matter be settled first. It shouldn't have taken this long.
    OMG, they’re giving credit to Harry Reid for something; I may faint!

    And there was a reason, by the way, that the GOP (and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in particular) insisted on a vote for von Spakovsky “in a package,” and that was because he would not have been able to survive an up-or-down vote on his own (and by the way, Mitchy, how’s that re-election bid going? Not so well? Too bad).

    Why? Well, as this SourceWatch article tells us…

    "(Sen. Ted) Kennedy said von Spakovsky, a Justice Department lawyer who was Republican Party chairman in Fulton County, Ga. (before going to Washington), worked toward requiring Georgia voters to have a photo identification - a requirement critics said would harm black voters. Kennedy also contended that von Spakovsky was involved in a decision that rejected a recommendation of career Justice Department lawyers in a Texas redistricting case (re: Tom DeLay’s scheme). Those lawyers had concluded that the redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it eliminated several districts where minorities had substantial voting power and illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power."


    "In 1997, von Spakovsky wrote an article for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative research group, that called for an aggressive campaign to 'purge' the election rolls of felons. Within months of that article’s publication, the (Voting Integrity Project, a conservative “voting rights” advocacy group) helped put von Spakovsky’s idea into action. (Former conservative activist Kevin, I believe...can't confirm) Phillips met with the company that designed the process for the removal of alleged felons from the voting rolls in Florida, a process that led, notoriously, to the mistaken disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, most of them Democratic, before the 2000 election," (Jeffrey) Toobin wrote.

    "During the thirty-six-day recount in Florida, von Spakovsky worked there as a volunteer for the Bush campaign. After the Inauguration, he was hired as an attorney in the Voting Section and was soon promoted to be counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, in what is known as the 'front office' of the Civil Rights Division.
    So von Spakovsky is a pro at voter disenfranchisement, which, in Bushco’s typically twisted view, made him a perfect choice for the FEC.

    So how did he get onto the FEC? Why, by a recess appointment, of course, in December 2005 (SourceWatch has it as January 2006, though). And to get an idea of just how dirty this guy is and how strenuously he has been opposed, click here.

    And it is important to note that one reason why it took the FEC three years to act was because it did not have a quorum of four members, with only two currently sitting – Ellen Weintraub and chairman David Mason, a Dem and Repug respectively (three must sit from either party; another Dem and former commissioner, former FEC Chairman Bob Lenhard, withdrew his name from consideration because of the delays in the confirmation process).

    Bushco has also nominated Repugs Donald McGahn (a former lawyer fro Tom DeLay – nice) and Caroline Hunter to fill the vacancies on the commission. However, in the process, Chairman Mason was dumped by Dubya, presumably because he opposed “Senator Honor And Virtue” and his campaign finance flim-flam, as the Inky noted (McSame claimed that he used public money as collateral only, apparently, while he went out and raised private dough – no end to the Repugs and their gimmicks). Mason was also a friend to the netroots, which put him square in the bullseye of the Repugs as well.

    Also, as noted in the “truthaboutfraud” link above, one of the earliest opponents to the von Spakofsky nomination was a certain senator from Illinois, who knows a thing or two about mobilizing voters in mass numbers (as noted here) and the importance of their right, and ours, to exercise their franchise without the cynical games conceived of and executed by von Spakovsky and others of his foul ilk.

    Live From Bucks County, It’s John W. McBush!

    Yes, the presumptive Repug nominee for president is actually coming to this area tomorrow to speak at Worth and Company in Bedminster, a contractor who “installs and services heating, cooling and plumbing systems in public and commercial buildings and residences,” according to this Courier Times article (more info is here).

    And by the way, I have to note this hilarious sentence from the Inquirer’s coverage (here)…

    “Tomorrow's town-hall meeting is not open to the general public.”
    Will we then read a sentence one day that tells us “this election is not open to voters” (gotta hand it to “Senator Honor and Virtue”; he sure is learning how to copy Bushco’s tricks in a hurry – would have been nice if the Inky had bothered to call him on that, though, but how silly am I to think that they ever would? And actually, the Courier Times says the exact opposite, and I’d be inclined to believe them over the Inky).

    (OK, AfterDowningStreet also says what the Inky says about a "closed town hall meeting," though it's still an oxymoron of sorts.)

    And aside from the fact that owner Stephen Worth is a high roller of a Repug donor (the RNC, McCain, Tom Manion, etc.), the “straight-talk express” will pull into this location so Senator McSame can immerse himself in the battle Worth and company faces with the state of PA over approximately $142,000 in wages that company employees allege have yet to be paid on government projects (including Quakertown, PA Middle School) in violation of PA’s prevailing wage law.

    In the process, McSame will show his fealty to the Association of Builders and Contractors, which, as noted here, is “a virulently anti-union organization of mostly small companies.”

    The trade group was the first national association to back McCain back in February, (ABC Southeastern PA president Geoffrey) Zeh said. ABC opposes project labor agreements, which are deals that usually limit a large-scale construction project to union workers.
    Interesting interpretation – wonder where Ms. Portnoy got that?

    “McCain certainly is in line with ABC on all our issues, particularly on project labor agreements,” Zeh said. “That’s why we endorsed him.”

    The issue has garnered attention in Bucks County because the county has not ruled out a project labor agreement for the proposed justice center in Doylestown. Republican commissioners have said they may at some point ask consultants Joseph Jingoli and Son Inc. to study the feasibility of such a deal.

    Although labor supporters say in the long run hiring unions is cheaper than hiring nonunion shops, Zeh said union-only projects generally cost more than projects open to all contractors.

    “The less companies that bid on a public job, the higher the costs seem to go,” he said. “Competition keeps prices down. That’s Economics 101.”
    Well, that’s about what you would expect, I realize. However, as noted from here…

    PLAs are project-specific agreements, negotiated at the outset of a construction project, setting out the terms and conditions of employment for the duration of the project. Such agreements can help reduce costs while increasing efficiency and quality.


    The PLA also ensures that workers…are paid a livable wage, receive health and retirement benefits and have safe working conditions and rules.


    When implemented, PLAs serve as a risk management tool to manage the uncertainties associated with such projects. PLAs have been used as a project management tool on several large local projects, including Safeco Field, Qwest Field, the Port of Seattle’s Pier 66 and South Airport Terminal, Seattle Public Utilities’ Tolt Treatment Facility, the new downtown Seattle Public Library and Harborview Medical Center.
    So there you have it; McSame will roll on in, preach his “free market” mantra for the happy few in attendance and the TV cameras, and then depart.

    All in a day’s work for a passionate opponent of workers rights who, among other things, opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act (though he didn’t even bother to show up to vote against it, as noted here).

    Update 5/30/08: Too bad...

    Update 6/28/08: But not to worry - he's coming on Monday the 30th!!

    The Fat Lady's Tuning Up, Hil

    This Daily Kos link tells us that a resolution for the matter of Florida and Michigan’s Democratic Party delegates may be in sight…

    The two states must lose at least half of their 368 total delegates for holding their primaries before party rules allowed, the lawyers say in a memo sent late Tuesday to the 30 members of the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which plans to meet Saturday in Washington.

    The committee can either allow half the number of delegates from each state into the national convention or allow the full delegations to attend, but give them each half a vote, but seating half the delegates is "as far as it legally can" go, the lawyers say, according to the AP.
    And this Wikipedia article tells us the following (I’ll bet you didn’t know this)…

    Under Republican National Committee rules, no state may hold its primary before February 5. Five states - Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida - moved their primaries ahead and were subsequently stripped of one-half of their apportioned delegates by the RNC.
    Of course, as noted by kos, it has to be “all or nothing” for Hillary at this point, which isn’t going to happen.

    I’m sure “no one could have predicted” that the Repugs would actually set a decent precedent on something for a change. If it’s good enough for them…

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    Be Prepared...To Hate Teh Gay In Phila., PA

    (By the way, I’ll be entering another dry posting spell shortly, probably into early next week again.)

    On Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published this editorial from PA State Senate Repug “Gib” Armstrong concerning the fact that the Philadelphia chapter of the Boy Scouts of America is about to be evicted from its headquarters at Logan Square.

    Here come the bloviation – put on your hip waders fast…

    For many Pennsylvanians, it is hard to believe that the City of Brotherly Love is about to become the City That Booted the Boy Scouts.

    Evict the Boy Scouts?

    Evict them from a building they have paid substantial sums to renovate and maintain over the years? Jeopardize the future of an organization that instills kids with character-building concepts such as honor and service?

    The choice given the scouts was an impossible one: accept a local policy they cannot abide by, or pay an escalated rent they cannot afford. This unfortunate and unnecessary confrontation has already had repercussions, cutting into contributions, which in turn leads to cuts in staffing and programming and puts the participation rate at risk.

    This is a clear case of a political agenda being put ahead of the interests of tens of thousands of inner-city kids.

    What lesson is being taught?

    Any organization, no matter how long its tradition, no matter how strong its record of commitment, no matter how many youths it serves, may fall victim to an outburst of political correctness.
    Ok, that’s about all I can take on this for now – everybody OK out there? I hope you all had time to drape yourselves ahead of the onslaught of BS.

    (And “political correctness”…heh, heh – I know Smerky is proud of that one. And by the way, this was a cause of our former PA House Rep. also from “back in the day,” as noted here.)

    This post from last December told of how Philadelphia City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. contacted the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America and told the group to either renounce its policy of banning gays from the organization in order for it to remain in its headquarters near Logan Square or pay up more for its rent at market value.

    The post also told us…

    Diaz has said that if the scouts did not respond by his Dec. 3 (2007) deadline - by either relenting on the policy or paying a $200,000-a-year "fair-market rent" - he would actively begin looking for a new tenant for the 79-year-old building at 22d and Winter Streets near Logan Square.

    The Cradle of Liberty Council built the Beaux Arts structure in 1928 on Fairmount Park land that the city agreed to lease to it in perpetuity for a dollar a year.

    Perpetuity, however, could not outlast recent U.S. Supreme Court cases holding that taxpayer money cannot be used to support private groups that knowingly discriminate.
    So “Gib” (I wonder if he has other family members named “hoist” and “sail” – OK, too much snark…and yes, I know it’s spelled with a “j”), this isn’t a case of the Scouts “accept(ing) a local policy they cannot abide by,” it was a matter of compliance with the law. It also doesn’t have a damn thing to do with “a political agenda” or “political correctness.”

    I’m not surprised, though, to see Armstrong engaging in a hissy fit here (with the Inquirer anxious to oblige him, I’m sure), seeing as how he also worked in concert with higher-education-freeper-for-hire David Horowitz here to try and ban free speech at PA’s publicly funded colleges while waxing nonsensical about the dread “liberal bias” charged by one Temple student (well moneyed to help pursue this pointless legal exercise, no doubt).

    (Oh, and by the way, to take this nonsense to a new level, the Inquirer and Daily News reported that the Boy Scouts actually sued the city over this today – here’s the Daily News story. And here is a Letter To The Editor in opposition.)

    And Armstrong also railed about what appears to be the sad demise of Philadelphia’s “Safe and Sound” after-school program (here’s a link). But, as noted here in an October 2007 interview with California Senator Barbara Boxer…

    Where do things stand in terms of funding for after-school programs in the final agreement for fiscal year 2007 and the president's proposed funding levels for the next fiscal year?

    The after-school portion of the No Child Left Behind Act, which I wrote with Senator John Ensign, a Republican from Nevada, authorized $1.25 billion in funding for after-school programs for fiscal year 2002 and an increase of $250 million in funding each year for the next five years, for a total of $2.5 billion next fiscal year.

    Unfortunately, President Bush has failed to fully fund after-school programs and again proposed flat funding after-school programs at $981 million next fiscal year. This shortfall leaves over 1.5 million children out of after-school programs, including more than 271,500 children in California alone.

    It saddens me greatly to realize President Bush is breaking his promise to our children by consistently underfunding a program that is proven to work.
    And Armstrong ends his pointless rant with the following…

    Philadelphia, which has run a lot of expensive tourism ads in recent months, once again comes across as a city where common sense is too often on vacation.
    The man obviously knows from whence he speaks.

    A Victory From Defeat?

    I tell you, I really have to hand it to Jay Newton-Small of Time Magazine (here).

    I mean, she takes a few quotes from some individuals who you can safely assume would like to see the Democratic Party fall collectively on its face (Thomas Mann of The Brookings Institution, Larry Sabato of the University of West Virginia – some interesting stuff on ol’ Larry later – and Senator Bob Bennett), some interestingly-parsed quotes from a former and present Democrat (Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd, respectively), plenty of literary fertilizer and – ta daaah! You have a “story” from our corporate media.

    And the headline is “Can Hillary readjust to the Senate,” which may be the stupidest story line yet to emerge from this campaign (and there have been plenty of stupid story lines).

    And just to make sure, you have this bit of snark from Bennett (in a minute)…

    "It was very important to me to come right back to work (after losing in 2000), I think it was my nature, but I think it was a lot of people's nature," (Joe) Lieberman said, standing just off the Senate floor last week as his Republican colleague Bob Bennett happened to pass by.
    As much as I’d like to, I won’t take a shot at “The Last Honest Man” for now – life is short (though I can take note of this).

    Update 5/29/08: Paging "Holy Joe"...

    "He's (Lieberman) one who made the adjustment in about 30 seconds. There're some who had a little bit more difficulty coming back," said Bennett, a Republican who represents Utah. Looking archly at Hillary Clinton, just steps away, he added: "There're some still walking around like President in exile."
    Oh ha, ha, Bob; at least HRC, for all her faults, isn’t a race-baiting Repug “in exile” (here).

    Hillary Clinton is a pro. If she has been a member of the U.S. House while running for president, she would have returned to that body after the primary ends. If she had been governor of New York, she would have returned to Albany. Btu since she is a member of the U.S. Senate, she will return there; indeed, based on this post about her questions for Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno last week, she already has.

    And Small also tells us…

    First, though, Clinton has some fence mending to do with her colleagues…
    Why on earth should that be the case? As somebody said (John Edwards?), “politics ain’t beanbag.” Her peers will get over it.

    …And, ultimately, she may decide it's not worth it, Sabato said. "Clinton may be restless in the Senate," he said. "She came tantalizingly close to being the most powerful person in the world. Being one of 100 in a body that is half the Congress is a poor substitute. Losing presidential candidates have a hard time readjusting, as John Kerry can attest." Though as Clinton is proving in this Presidential race, she is likely to stick around the Senate a lot longer than most people expect.
    People like Sabato represent everything that’s wrong with our media/political/industrial complex as far as I’m concerned; their view is that they are failures unless they’re not being talked about within the Beltway inner sanctum.

    As proof, I present this column where he tells us that Hillary’s husband would be a good senator (he may be right, but help me out here; it’s OK for a former president to serve in the Senate, but it may not be OK for a present senator who ran for president to do that - ???).

    Also, Sabato tells us here that the Swift Boat liars were telling the truth, he tells us here that it would be “a national disgrace” to continue “the Clinton/Bush dynasty” (another idiotic construct as far as I’m concerned; things were a hell of a lot better for me and everyone I know under Bill than under either of the Bushes), and he tells us here that the Democrats are the “mommy” party while the Repugs are the “daddy” party (given all of this, I think Sabato should be automatically disqualified from commenting any further on any matter of concern to the Democratic Party).

    Returning to Hillary for a minute (and referencing the post title), I think one reason that her return to the Senate is a positive outcome is because the Senate Dems will need all of the brave, intelligent voices it can get on behalf of families, children, and working men and women of all races, ethnicities and sexual preferences (and Hillary is certainly that).

    This is because I cannot possibly see how Ted Kennedy will be able to continue serving in that body; a miracle would be wonderful, but I cannot see how he can overcome his affliction. And should Hillary’s career end up paralleling his, I believe she will find (like Kennedy did) that she made a hell of a lot more difference in her current job as long as she kept it than she ever could for eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (and in that event, Newton-Small would actually be right).

    More Nuke Double Talk From John W. McBush

    Jon Wolfsthal at Democracy Arsenal has posted what I think is a pretty good analysis of the speech given by “Senator Honor and Virtue” yesterday at the University of Colorado; Wolfsthal summarizes as follows…

    John McCain’s speech on nuclear weapons seems to adopt the narrowest of lenses in dealing with nuclear weapons. Moreover, his proposals – many of which might sound good – don’t match up with other things he has said on nuclear weapons, on Russia, on Iran and suggests he doesn’t really get the complexity of these issues. Lastly, the tone may be better, but many of the proposals—not to mention his language choices—are right out of George W. Bush’s play book. This may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but it is still a wolf.
    As Wolfsthal notes, McCain is trying to reposition the Repug “brand” as one that encourages talks and disarmament with other nations while still reserving the right to wage pre-emptive war whenever it damn well pleases.

    In particular, though, I remain concerned about the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as far as McCain is concerned. With that in mind, I checked out what he has to say on his web site (from here)…

    Strengthen The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): As President, John McCain will work to strengthen and enhance the non-proliferation regime. We need to strengthen enforcement of the so-called “atoms for peace” bargain by insisting that countries that receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation must return or dismantle what they receive if they violate or withdraw from the NPT.
    To begin with (as Wikipedia tells us here), “Atoms for Peace” is the title of a speech given by former president Dwight D. Eisenhower that he delivered before the U.N. General Assembly on December 8, 1953. The speech reflected the professed spirit of cooperation by the United States concerning the sharing of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes throughout the world (the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still quite fresh in everyone’s minds).

    As part of that, the “Atoms for Peace” award was set up through a million-dollar grant from the Ford Motor Company in 1955 (telling to me that no one has received the award since 1969).

    But getting back to the speech, I think McCain’s statement that “countries that receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation must return or dismantle what they receive if they violate or withdraw from the NPT” is disingenuous to say the least. This is because McCain doesn’t specify who would supervise the “returning” or “dismantling” of nuclear technology (The U.S.? The U.N.? And who’s to say the affected countries wouldn’t develop their own capabilities independent of “returning” or “dismantling” what they have?).

    Also, the issue isn’t one of countries withdrawing from the NPT; the issue is one where countries flirting with a non-peaceful use of nuclear technology have not signed the NPT (namely, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea). And as I and others have noted, we sold technology to India in spite of that.

    And as far as violating the NPT, well, I think this states pretty clearly what Bushco and our Israeli “friends” think of the treaty (and McCain doesn’t say he'd strengthen the treaty, but the “non-proliferation regime” - ??).

    Given all of this obfuscation about his true intentions on the NPT as well as other issues of threat response to actual or potentially hostile states, I think what Barack Obama has said is at least as true now as it has ever been; if you like George W. Bush, you’ll love John McCain.

    (And speaking of nukes, this is an interesting anniversary which makes the NPT issue all the more urgent, IMHO.)

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    As Scout Finch says here, do the Repugs really want to "go there" concerning Obama's minor slip-up over his great uncle serving as part of the force that liberated Buchenwald, not Auschwitz? jazeera reports on PTSD suffered by our returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan because our corporate media won't (there was a great recent article in The New Yorker about a "Virtual Iraq" simulation that has been developed by a guy named Skip Rizzo, and this has been helpful for our returning heroes - I'll try to say more about it later)...

    ...and here's more on Little Scotty's book, though I hate to give a plug to that toad Mike Allen (what follows is the book "teaser" from last November, so thoroughly dissected by K.O. and David Shuster on "Countdown")...

    ...and as a tribute to Earle Hagen, composer of the theme from "The Andy Griffith Show," here's a version by YouTuber guitarlancer.

    Patrick "Walks The Walk"

    The following Guest Opinion recently appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times...

    On the campaign trail, Congressman Patrick Murphy talked about how a good officer always lets his troops eat first. This means a commitment to taking care of the men and women who serve under you. I am proud to say that Congressman Murphy has remained true to his word by becoming one of Congress' most dedicated and effective advocates for our troops and veterans.

    A couple months ago, this paper printed a Thumbs Up editorial commending Murphy for his bipartisan work with Bucks County Veterans Affairs Director Dan Fraley. Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of Murphy and Fraley, a new generation of veterans will now be informed of the range of benefits available to them. Murphy showed the bureaucrats at the VA how they could implement a simple, low-cost solution that will have a real-life effect on veterans all across the country. That's exactly the kind of bipartisanship and common-sense thinking we need to fix what's wrong with Washington.

    Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs closed a deal to purchase 200 acres in Upper Makefield to build Southeastern Pennsylvania's National Veterans Cemetery. Again Murphy put partisanship aside and worked with local supervisors and school board members to resolve the issues that stood in the way of hundreds of thousands of veterans getting the appropriate final resting place they have earned.

    Murphy also had a central role in getting our troops a pay raise. When President Bush threatened to reject the National Defense Authorization Act because he thought a 3.5 percent pay increase was too generous for our troops, Murphy stood up and passed legislation giving the troops their raise. Thanks to his action, our troops should soon be seeing a bump in their pay checks.

    Murphy has also worked hard to honor the sacrifices of our veterans. He arranged a beautiful Veterans Day ceremony at Washington Crossing and he passed a bill to name the Morrisville Post Office after Guardsman Nate DeTample, one of Bucks County's fallen sons. Murphy also passed legislation to improve the care for homeless veterans. He's introduced a bill to improve housing, small business, and educational opportunities for veterans, another bill to protect the rights of deployed troops, and a third to help veterans find jobs. In fact, he recently sponsored a Veterans Jobs and Small Business forum right here in Bristol to connect veterans looking for jobs with small businesses looking for employees.

    In terms of helping our veterans and our troops, Murphy has accomplished more in his first year in office than many members of Congress do in their entire careers. So when the partisan attacks start flying later this year, as they surely will, remember that when it comes to supporting the troops, Murphy walks the walk. When he was in the military, he always made sure his men and women ate before he did, and his record shows that he has brought that same attitude to his job as our representative. Even if you're not a veteran, you can appreciate that.

    Anthony DiNardi is a proud veteran of 8 years and has lived in Levittown, PA for 32 years.
    To help Patrick, click here.

    Time For The "Duce/Dubya Duet"

    I recently came across a copy of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People issue from earlier this month, and of course, the magazine is obliged to include President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History in the list.

    For anyone unfamiliar with the concept (maybe one or two people), a peer, fan, or someone highly familiar with that individual writes a brief tribute in the magazine (I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this issue of the magazine, since there are a couple of other inclusions worthy of commentary).

    And the author of Dubya’s little paean was none other than Italy’s third-time PM, Silvio Berlusconi; his writeup appears next to a photo of Incurious George in which he, quite appropriately, is largely in the dark.

    Uh oh, Silvio tells us…

    George W. Bush, 61, will be remembered as Commander in Chief, but not only for that. He was above all a President who felt the moral obligation that the leading nation of the free world must carry. My thoughts return again to that G-8 summit (in early 2001), where Italy had brought to the top of the agenda the fate of the world's poorest nations. And Bush was an early and enthusiastic supporter of our initiative to establish a fund for combating endemic illnesses.
    I assume Il Duce II is referring to the Global Fund, which, as Wikipedia tells us here, was established in January 2002 to…

    …dramatically increase global financing for interventions against the two pandemics (of AIDS and Tuberculosis). (Malaria is actually Endemic.)

    The United States is contributing $700 million to the fund, but has decided to divert the bulk of its AIDS funding to the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, PEPFAR, in order to more closely control the allocation of funds. The Bush Administration has been criticized by the Democrats for allocating funding for abstinence-only prevention programs that are not proven to effectively reduce infection rates, and for refusing to purchase cheaper generic drugs that would allow for more treatments than more expensive brand-name drugs[4].
    And this post from last February (featuring a truly unfortunate choice of women’s apparel) tells us about the abstinence-only nonsense that is part and parcel of PEPFAR (and here is what was, for me, a rare highlight of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, in which she called out Dubya over it).

    Nice for Berlusconi to take a break from trying to demonize gypsies and putting the army to work picking up trash (here) to fluff our outgoing preznit, isn’t it (and even nicer for Time to allow this writeup which highlights a supposed success from years ago in this blighted era as opposed to something within a more recent timeframe).

    And as noted here, Dubya’s goombah is such a man of faith along with President Clueless, isn’t he (re: comparing himself to you-know-who)?

    No Easy Way For Dems To Fix FLA

    (Until Obama wins it, I mean - and I shouldn't forget Michigan either.)

    Paul Krugman (pictured) reminded me in the New York Times yesterday that the issue of Florida and Michigan’s Democratic electors still has not been resolved, as follows…

    …mainly it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised — starting with his own party.

    One thing to do would be to make a gesture of respect for Democrats who voted in good faith by recognizing Florida’s primary votes — which at this point wouldn’t change the outcome of the nomination fight.

    The only reason I can see for Obama supporters to oppose seating Florida is that it might let Mrs. Clinton claim that she received a majority of the popular vote. But which is more important — denying Mrs. Clinton bragging rights, or possibly forfeiting the general election?

    What about offering Mrs. Clinton the vice presidency? If I were Mr. Obama, I’d do it. Adding Mrs. Clinton to the ticket — or at least making the offer — might help heal the wounds of an ugly primary fight.
    I have yet to read any statement from the Obama campaign that he opposes seating Florida’s electors (shocking that I have to point this out to Paul Krugman, of all people). What I have read are words to the following effect…

    The Obama campaign has proposed a 50-50 split of both states' delegations, an option Clinton advisers have resisted.

    Obama spokesman Bill Burton dismissed Clinton's latest call to recognize Florida and Michigan's results.

    "Senator Clinton herself said these contests 'didn't count for anything.' But now that it serves her own political self-interest, she's trying to change the rules and count the results of contests where she and every other candidate pledged not to campaign," Burton said. "In Michigan, Senator Obama wasn't even on the ballot. Our focus should now be on seating the Michigan and Florida delegations in a fair manner."
    I think a 50-50 split is more than favorable, especially since Clinton ran effectively unopposed in both primaries (going against the wishes of the DNC, with Dr. Dean seeking to punish MI and FLA for moving up their primary dates, which I think is fair) and she can’t statistically catch Obama anyway in the delegate total, which has been the case for some time actually (Obama needs less than 100 delegates to wrap up the primary at long last).

    And as far as offering Hillary the VP spot, I don’t see why the Obama camp is obliged to do that, especially since he already presented an “olive branch” of sorts here (unfortunate that Krugman has cast his lost with fellow Times pundit MoDo, who apparently believes that that team is “set in stone” - HRC doesn't give Obama as much as others do in that position IMHO, particularly this guy). Unless of course it is because Krugman and others believe that that is the best way to reel in those wayward, “hard-working white votes” upon whom the very future of civilization depends, apparently (snark).

    I don’t know if Krugman read this column by fellow Times correspondent John Harwood yesterday, but Harwood interviewed Democratic analyst and author Ruy Teixeira, who has written extensively about white Democratic voters, and Teixeira answered the following question…

    …how much blue-collar support would Mr. Obama need? Not a majority, said Mr. Teixeira. Though blue-collar Democrats once represented a centerpiece of the New Deal coalition, they have shrunk as a proportion of the information age-economy and as a proportion of the Democratic base.

    Al Gore lost working-class white voters by 17 percentage points in 2000, even while winning the national popular vote. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts lost them by 23 points in 2004, while running within three points of President Bush over all. Mr. Teixeira suggests that Mr. Obama can win the presidency if he comes within 10 to 12 percentage points of Mr. McCain with these voters, as Democratic candidates for the House did in the 2006 midterm election.

    In recent national polls, that is exactly what Mr. Obama is doing. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed Mr. Obama trailing by 12 percentage points with working-class whites; a poll by Quinnipiac University, showed him trailing by seven points. In each survey, Mr. Obama led over all by seven points.
    It feels strange to criticize Paul Krugman (MoDo is beyond hope), but I would like to see him tone down the “doom and gloom” rhetoric on this; caution is one thing, but pessimism is another (and to help the Obama campaign, click here).

    Update: Sad also that Krugman would have a common cause with someone like Lanny Davis, as noted here (h/t Daily Kos).

    The Stinky Inky’s Senatorial Garden State Gaffe

    So the august Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board believes that Rob Andrews would be a better Democratic alternative in the U.S. Senate than incumbent Frank Lautenberg, do they?

    As noted here…

    In 24 years in the Senate, Lautenberg has been a reliably progressive vote on issues ranging from the environment to children's health insurance. However, Andrews has built a solid record in the House as a thoughtful legislator, and he would bring a fresh approach to the challenges facing New Jersey. For the Democratic nomination for Senate, The Inquirer endorses ROBERT E. ANDREWS.

    In 20 years in the House, Andrews has proved himself to be an independent voice for South Jersey. He has been a deficit hawk in a Congress that allowed the national debt to increase more than 60 percent, to $9.4 trillion, under President Bush. He led the fight to stop the Army from dumping remnants of VX nerve gas in the Delaware River.

    Lautenberg has criticized Andrews for his role in support of the Iraq war resolution in 2002. Not only did Andrews vote to authorize military force, he even co-wrote the measure and lobbied fellow Democrats.

    But Lautenberg also supported the vote for war in 2002. He wasn't serving in the Senate at the time, but was campaigning again - after a brief retirement - because incumbent Bob Torricelli had self-destructed.
    To your humble narrator, there’s a big difference between being hoodwinked on the AUMF Senate vote and trying to line up your peers in support of Dubya’s catastrophe in Mesopotamia.

    And as noted here, Andrews voted for the Military Commissions Act and the idiotic Secure Fence Act (number one, it won’t keep out those trying to get in illegally since they’ll keep finding places to break through it, and besides, there are plenty of “good corporate citizens” who don’t want to turn off that “tap” of cheap human labor; and number two, it’s creating dangers to the surrounding ecosystem).

    I also did some digging into Andrews’ votes over the last two years, and while I found a good, solid record of voting on behalf of typically Democratic issues (workers rights, children’s health, environmental issues, etc.), I also found the following…

  • He voted against improving mine safety regulations (admittedly something that's not a big deal in NJ, but his was the only “No” vote here).

  • He voted with the Repugs to give Dubya the line-item veto here.

  • He voted to sell nuclear supplies to India despite their rejection of the non-proliferation treaty here (and I know other Dems did as well, and I'll remind them also if the occasion warrants it).
  • I also discovered a lot of missed votes by Andrews, more so than any other House member from this area. At the very least, he should provide an explanation for that and tell us why that would not hold true were he in the Senate.

    The Inquirer isn’t happy with Lautenberg because he apparently has not agreed to debate Andrews. Why should he when, according to this poll, he has a 35-point lead (maybe not good government, but practical politics - and here's something else in Lautenberg's favor that I'm sure the Inky will ignore).

    Also, as noted from this kos link, Andrews recently unveiled a T.V. ad taking Lautenberg to task over his age, since Lautenberg did the same thing years ago when he ran for his Senate seat the first time against Millicent Fenwick in 1982. To be fair, though, Fenwick was a Republican, and it was the general election; we’re not talking about a primary. Also, I somehow think there are weightier issues to consider at this moment.

    As I said previously, I believe Lautenberg is a better man for the job at any age than Andrews. The latter should try to reclaim his House seat if he can at this point, since that’s where he can do the most good.

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Monday PM Stuff

    Here is what the New York Times wrote today, and here is the pitiable Bushco response (h/t Atrios); I don't even know what "create new authorities to appoint qualified spouses into civil service jobs" means, and what the #@!! does "transferring benefits to spouses or children" have to do with our military trying to enroll in college after the war?...

    238 days and counting, people - meanwhile, here's another VoteVets reminder (and more here)...

    ...and as a tribute to film director and actor Sydney Pollack, here's the memorable clip from "Tootsie" where he confronts Dustin Hoffman (he also gave a standout performance as a hospital worker in a final-season episode of "The Sopranos" where "Johnny Sack" died).

    Memorial Day '08 Stuff

    "I'm 24 years old, and I'm scared of people"...

    ...and I think this is a fine meditation on heroes in the spirit of this day from Tiffany Jo Allen.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Sunday Stuff

    Barack Obama speaks in defense of the Webb-Hagel G.I. Bill...

    ...and yeah, Liz Trotta says we should knock off "both Osama and Obama" - ha, ha...sick (and of course, CNN quota hire Alex Castellanos won't call her anything, even he if could at this point)...

    (and by the way, Trotta is wrong here also.)

    Update 5/27/08: Trotta apologized.

    ...and here's a tribute to jazz keyboard legend Jimmy McGriff, who left us yesterday - no obit yet ("The Worm")...

    ...and a tribute to Dick Martin also (with another "Dick" included - easy now).