Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Dem/Repug Double Standard

I thought this was a particularly good "Media Matters" column today from Jamison Foser (h/t Atrios) about our beloved corporate voice and the one set of rules they employ for Dems (John Edwards in this case) vs. Repugs (McBush) - I hope you find it thought-provoking also.

And speaking of the Repug nominee, he'e going to come to Bucks on Monday to make up for the visit he cancelled here, and he'll be scheduled to visit the Worth location once more.

And speaking of McCain, I absolutely had to take note of the unbelievable wankery by Richard Cohen (surprised?) last week when he said, in essence, that Barack Obama didn't have any values because he wasn't a prisoner of war in Vietnam like John W. McBush (who, of course, is nothing but honorable for that - sorry, but he's gotten so much mileage out of that that it's becoming nothing but background noise at this point - and he and Obama both have played games on the campaign financing issue).

And what's really ridiculous is that Brian Williams of NBC News said that Cohen showed "courage" in writing a column like that here - his "post" should be titled "The Wank Of Others" instead.

Update: And I can see this and this getting subsequently ignored also.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Stuff

Somehow I cannot imagine that the following was authorized or approved by the Obama campaign, but wouldn't it be funny if it were?

...and even though Conyers should have prefaced this question better with some quotes or factual information (hell, he could have picked from here), I'd still pay money to see Addington's sorry ass get sent to Iraq.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (6/27/08)

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.


2009 space budget. The House passed, 409-15, a bill (HR 6063) authorizing a $20.2 billion budget for NASA in fiscal 2009, up from $17.3 billion in 2008. In part, the bill funds U.S. support of the International Space Station, climate research, Mars exploration, space-shuttle missions through 2010, and the development of a new manned space vehicle scheduled for launch in 2015. The bill is now before the Senate.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), 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.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., 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: Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.).
I haven’t been able to determine why LoBiondo voted No, but he was only one of the 15 Repugs who opposed it (as noted here).

Government spy powers. Voting 293-129, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 6304) to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2012 and grant conditional immunity to certain telecommunications firms that helped the government spy on Americans after 9/11 outside the limits of FISA.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
As a sad reminder of this travesty, here is last Friday’s post from Glenn Greenwald with updates.

And aside from complimenting Rob Andrews (even he knew to vote against this, Patrick!), Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz for casting no-brainer No votes, I have a message for Tim Holden.

I started doing these congressional vote summary posts in May 2006 (for better or worse), and since then, I have watched you cast some truly awful votes on a range of issues affecting core Democratic Party constituencies.

As I’ve said, I have a big disagreement with Patrick Murphy over this, but it is the first truly bad vote, I believe, that he has ever cast. You, however, have cast so many that I don’t even bother to count anymore.

Do us a favor; click on this link and make it official, OK?

(And P.S., Inky and everybody else - the telcos were trying to do their spying before 9/11, OK?)

War funding. The House approved, 268-155, an amendment to HR 2642 that would appropriate $162.5 billion to pay Iraq-Afghanistan war costs well into 2009. Now before the Senate, the bill prohibits the construction of permanent U.S. bases in Iraq and requires the Iraqi government to match U.S.-taxpayer funding of Iraq reconstruction projects.

A yes vote backed the war funding.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah and Murphy.
As far as I’m concerned, between this and the FISA vote, Admiral Joe completely fell off my radar (and it sounds like Allyson Schwartz just loves “Commander Codpiece” and his war without end; what a pity).

And Patrick redeems himself somewhat here, remaining steadfast on the most important issue of them all.

Farm bill veto. The House voted, 317-109, to override President Bush's veto of a $289 billion, five-year farm bill (HR 6124) that renews subsidies for growers of major crops while also funding conservation and nutrition programs and taxpayer support for fruit and vegetable growers, among hundreds of other programs. This vote followed a House vote last month that overrode a presidential veto of essentially the same bill.

A yes vote was to override the veto.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
I know there are problems with this bill, but I love how the opponents blame farmers for “propping up” commodity prices when they have nothing to say about futures traders who are the real culprits as far as I’m concerned have more of a hand in this (trying to be a little more precise here). And there is more good in this bill that outweighs the bad.

Yes, prices will remain high because of the food shortage, but I love how Incurious George complains about “fiscally imprudent” provisions here.

And speaking of “fiscally imprudent,” how much is that Iraq war costing us again?


Farm bill veto. The Senate joined the House (above) in overriding, 80-14, Bush's veto of a five-year farm bill (HR 6124).

A yes vote was to enact the bill.

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.)

Mortgage program. Voting 21-69, the Senate refused to kill a proposed new program in which mortgage holders would refinance hundreds of thousands of at-risk home loans in return for Federal Housing Administration backing of the reworked loans. The vote retained the program as part of a pending bill (HR 3221) to help homeowners, lenders and communities recover from the U.S. housing collapse.

A yes vote was to kill the program.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Casey, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.
This brainless amendment was sponsored by Repug Kit Bond of Missouri – case closed.

This week, the House took up bills to tighten rules for energy speculators, subsidize mass-transit commuter fares, and require oil firms to use or lose leases for drilling on federal land. The Senate debated war funding, government surveillance, and the U.S. housing collapse.

Hasta La Vista, You Crook!

(For the benefit of the ten people on earth who don’t know this, I should point out that Vista is the name of the latest Windows PC operating system.)

This Wired article is a somewhat detailed hosanna to a certain William Henry Gates III, who is working his last day as an employee of Microsoft, the company he co-founded with Paul Allen in 1975, today (a Wired article on the Microsoft antitrust trial is here - I'll try to get through it shortly).

As we look back on the legacy of “the great man,” I would also ask that we recall how he flip-flopped on a gay rights bill significantly affecting his employees here (I wonder if paying Ralph Reed $20K a month had something to do with it?), and I also recall here how he ended up hosing a loyal Microsoft customer by releasing a product to market which, for my money (literally) is one of the most vicious pieces of malware I’ve ever seen.

And Gates has also pushed hard to lift the number of H1B visas for software professionals primarily from Asia while thousands of US-based IT professionals continue to lose their jobs (as noted here, and in a related vein, I recommend this great editorial by Thomas Frank, author of “What’s The Matter With Kansas?,” that, shockingly, appeared on the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page today).

Update: And here's a little tribute...

Dubya Fizzles In The Heat

New York Times reporter Steven Lee Myers tells us in this story today that…

…North Korea’s declaration of its nuclear activities is a triumph of the sort of diplomacy — complicated, plodding, often frustrating — that President Bush and his aides once eschewed as American weakness.

In more than two years of negotiations, the man who once declared North Korea part of an “axis of evil” with Iran and Iraq, angrily vowing to confront, not negotiate with, its despotic leader, in fact demonstrated a flexibility that his critics at home and abroad once considered impossible.
And as a follow up, Christiane Amanpour tells us here that Pyongyang blew up part of its Yongbyon nuclear plant Friday.

OK, I’ll admit that I don’t know all the “hows” and “whys” about this yet, so I will grudgingly give Bushco credit for now until I learn more about this (and the “other shoe” is bound to drop at some point).

However, a bit later in the story, Myers (in a column charitably called “News Analysis”) tells us…

…after years of international isolation on the issue of global warming, his administration is now offering to negotiate an agreement on cutting emissions with the world’s major developed and developing nations, a plan that received a surprisingly warm response during his visit to Europe this month.
Oh, no you don’t.

Don’t imagine that you’re going to give this regime credit for anything on the issue of global warming or the environment in general (after over seven years of denial and scientific antagonism, you’re going to give Clueless George credit for “offering…a plan that received a surprisingly warm response from Europe”)?

What a joke.

Meanwhile, in the land of reality, this tells us how Bushco has spent years fighting the scientific fact of global warming as part of the climate crisis, and this tells us how EPA stooge Stephen L. Johnson forced out the agency’s top regulator Mary Gade because of a little snit with Dow Chemical.

And what exactly has brought about this supposed spurt of activity by one of the most morally and intellectually bankrupt individuals I have ever seen beyond merely the U.S. presidency?

The problem for Mr. Bush is that time is running out.
Not just for him, but life generally on this planet as well (and thanks for speeding up the timetable, President 23 Percent Mandate).

Update 6/30/08: Bushco "Working For You" on the environment again (here).

A Sneak Attack On Obama-Rama

This New York Times story from yesterday by Sheryl Gay Stolberg tells us of a fundraiser conducted for John W. McBush in which Dubya headlined and attacked Democrats as usual; not much more to say than, “Terra! Terra! Terra! The Democrat Party loves terrists…Terra! Terra! Terra! for McCain….Terra! Terra! Terra!”

The reason I’m taking note of this story, though, is because I detected some particularly curious language used by the Repugs here…

Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. McCain’s Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, by name. The only speaker to do so was Michigan’s attorney general, Mike Cox, who warmed up the crowd with a joke about news reports that “Barack Obama was born in a manger” — an apparent reference to what Republicans view as Mr. Obama’s favorable treatment in the news media.
Uh, no , Ms. Stolberg, that’s actually incorrect. As you can read here…

"So we have a New York Senator running for president who was born in Illinois, and an Illinois Senator running for president who was born in a manger."

The joke produced lots of laughs, but like a viral infection stirring out in the ether, the "concerns" that Obama is becoming a dangerously cultlike figure are becoming more prominent the more clearly he emerges as the front runner.

The most widely cited reference is from Time Magazine's Joe Klein who last week wrote, "There was someting (sic) just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism" developing around Obama.

Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein described "the Cult of Obama" and fretted about the "Yes We Can" video by that's attracted more than 5 million hits, and even a spoof on presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Hardball host Chris Matthews has been chided for admitting that he felt "a thrill going up my leg" during Obama's victory speech after the Potomac Primary. Neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer complained in the Washington Post about "the national swoon," and the "Obama spell."
Of course, no one ever complained of a “cult-like following” for The Sainted Ronnie R, did they (just another example of our media doing a pivot on the narrative to favor the Repugs - and by the way, as a Roman Catholic, I object to trivializing the person who, according to our faith, was the most important who ever lived by describing Him as a leader of a "cult").

And complaining about “a cult of personality” for a Democratic political candidate is pretty damn funny when you consider that the Repugs gave us the video that immediately follows (interested to see the response, if any, from Rick Noriega - let's see how many voters in Texas who count with their toes decide to vote for Cornyn based on this accoutability-free nonsense)…

...though, admittedly, the reality-based perspective is harder to jingoize (update: the bill passed the Senate, even though Cornyn voted against it).

Update: GREAT response from Noriega (h/t Atrios)...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday PM Stuff

A K.O. double shot (and a double shot of his Murdoch riff also...aaarrgghhh); first, despite a minor screwup on the Newsweek story, he calls out Gretchen Carlson of Faux News and Kelvin MacKenzie, running for British M.P...

...and Scalia once more for his opinion on overturning D.C.'s gun ban.

“Flush With Pride” For George W. Milhous Bush

(I was going to use the headline, “Our ‘Leader’ Will Be De-Turd With This Honor,” but even I draw the line sometimes – hat tip to one of my senior field correspondents)

Nothing much to add, only to let out a huzzah for the residents of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s city for this idea (the conservative fits of umbrage and character assassination will begin momentarily)…

A renegade voter movement to rename a San Francisco sewage plant after President Bush is flush with support in the liberal West Coast city.

A group called the Presidential Memorial Commission has reportedly picked up more than enough signatures to put the ballot initiative to the San Francisco public in the November election.

If the measure passes, it would rename the city’s Oceanside Treatment Plant as the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

That’s not exactly a presidential library, but sponsors of the ballot measure say it’s a fitting tribute to a president who made a big mess.

…the Chronicle reported this week that the commission, which apparently hatched the idea one night over beers, has collected 8,500 signatures — 1,300 more than the 7,168 needed to get a measure on the November ballot. If officials verify that those signatures are from registered city voters, proposition rename-the-sewage-plant is a go.

According to the San Francisco elections department, it only takes a simple majority of 50 percent-plus-one to adopt such a measure.

Virginia-born activist and ordained minister John Rinaldi, a co-sponsor of the petition and unsuccessful mayoral candidate who ran last year under his nickname "Chicken John," said the initiative would turn "every toilet in San Francisco into basically a shrine for George W. Bush and all his great achievements in his eight years as our commander in chief."
We always knew that Dubya was a “little tin god.” Now, perhaps he’ll be a porcelain one as well.

U.S. Supreme Court To Cities: Drop Dead

I spoke too soon - I may be able to sneak in a couple after all; I touched in this with the Onion video earlier, but I’m doing it again here)…

The New York Times reports that The Supremes, as expected, overturned the Washington, D.C. gun ban, tossing aside volumes of existing case law in the process…

The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: ''A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.''

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit ''the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.''

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority ''would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.''

He said such evidence ''is nowhere to be found.''
Of course it isn’t. Because, as noted here…

In a series of 5-to-4 decisions, conservative justices have overturned federal laws that they said did not substantially affect interstate commerce, like laws regulating guns in schools or violence against women.
What Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas said at their confirmation hearings may have been one thing, but as far as I’m concerned, the concept of “settled law” doesn’t exist with these people on any non-ideological issue (aren’t many of them; at least Alito was a little more forthright in his disdain).

And the results will be predictable, sadly; this was written by Shirley Franklin, mayor of Atlanta (contributing to this column were: Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee; Manuel A. Diaz, mayor of Miami; Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco; Greg Nickels, mayor of Seattle; and Douglas H. Palmer, mayor of Trenton, N.J.)…

Different gun laws make sense in different areas. Community leaders are plainly in the best position to determine the policies needed to curb the crime, fear and disorder that gun violence creates in each city —- not a special interest lobby and gun industry more concerned about dollars than lives.

It's the nation's mayors who get the call from police when a shooting occurs. It's the local leaders who comfort the families of gunshot victims, who walk with police and residents on the neighborhood beat, who meet with block watch groups and who grapple with the demanding budget ramifications of violent crime. For those very reasons, policies affecting guns and community safety historically have been —- and should be —- made at the local level.

And when communities have the authority to enact regulations that respond to local needs, they're often aggressive and successful. New York City has experienced a dramatic decline in crimes involving firearms after tailoring creative local regulation to curb gun violence. The city of Oakland, Calif., prohibits firearms dealers from selling ultra-compact (and easily concealable) handguns. Washington, D.C.'s handgun restrictions have led to one of the lowest suicide rates in the nation. And Chicago, like the District, bans the possession of handguns.
And all of these bans and restrictions will now face court challenges as a result of the Supremes’ ruling.

More crime (particularly suicides), more danger for our police…more ruined lives.

And this is Judge Scalia’s message in response…

Update 6/27/08: Kudos to Jill Porter of the Philadelphia Daily News for this.

Update 7/30/08: Cause, meet effect.

Thursday AM Stuff

The Onion News Network informs us of a little-known verdict by the Supremes as their session winds down ("like, whoa, dude!")...

Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Is 'Totally Badass'

Update: I should have noted that I was going for "cynicism cubed" here in light of this.

...and here they are again with helpful hints on how to handle those oh so annoying, do gooder friends asking you whether or not you've voted in this election year (the Sprint ad is actually pretty funny too).

Today Now!: How To Pretend You Give A Shit About The Election

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

So let's see now; first Norm Coleman attacks Al Franken for a SNL skit involving rape that never even aired (although Coleman voted against funding the Violence Against Women Act - here), and then he actually produces an ad like this (which apparently is only available on the web; actually, I'd like to see him buy air time for it to show the world what a nitwit he truly is - h/t The Daily Kos)...

...Go Dennis!

The Docs Can’t “Waite” On This One

This New York Times story tells us that the House is trying to block a cut in Medicare reim- bursements to doctors set to take effect on July 1st, with increases scheduled to be paid to private Medicare providers instead, “insurers like Humana, UnitedHealth and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies,” as the Times tells us…

Besides blocking the cut in doctors’ fees scheduled to occur next week, the bill would increase Medicare payments to doctors by 1.1 percent next year. Under current law, doctors face another cut of about 10 percent in January, because of a complex formula that reduces payments when spending would otherwise exceed certain goals.
And as you might expect, it faces the inevitable veto threat from President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (and now at a 23 percent favorability rating here; still waiting for that “Broder bounce”).

Mr. Bush cited these cuts (to the providers) as a major reason for his veto threat. He said the bill would “reduce access, benefits and choices” for older Americans.
Based on this about the Medicare drug card fiasco, I think Dubya only cares about “access, benefits and choices” for his buds in the health insurance racket in this country (with Humana, United Health Care and many others making the list).

And here’s even more of a reason to stop funding these characters and help out the doctors instead…

More than 10 million of the 44 million Medicare beneficiaries are in private Medicare Advantage plans. Many of these plans offer extra benefits not available in traditional Medicare. But many studies have found that the private plans cost the government more per person than the traditional program.
The Times continues…

Representative Lois Capps, Democrat of California, said: “The alternative to this bill is a 10 percent pay cut for doctors who serve seniors and those with disabilities. Our doctors are desperate for this. It’s emergency care.”

But Republicans from Florida, Tennessee and Texas said their constituents supported the Medicare Advantage program. “It’s a good program that helps many low-income seniors,” said Representative Ginny Brown-Waite, Republican of Florida. “Why does the Democrat Party want to do away with it? Shame, shame, shame.”
Gee, Ms. Brown-Waite, why then does the Republic Party want to keep forking over money to its corporate benefactors who don’t need it while doctors continue to go under? Between a cut in reimbursements and increases in liability insurance, how many more ways are we going to screw over our physicians?

And this led me to do a little checking on Ms.Brown-Waite, and as Wikipedia tells us here, during the course of her victorious campaign against Dem Karen Thurman in 2002, Brown-Waite’s husband was caught stealing Thurman campaign lawn signs (nice). She also referred to Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” (I’ll cut her a break, though, and note that she helped to break the Mark Foley scandal).

However, as St. Petersburg Times writer John Frank tells us here, she called residents of Puerto Rico and Guam “foreign citizens” (residents of Puerto Rico were granted U.S. citizenship in 1971 and Guam 1950, as Frank notes).

Frank continues…

It's not the first time Brown-Waite has broadly miscast a group. In 2003, she angered French officials and some constituents when she proposed a bill to allow families to bring home to "patriotic soil" the remains of fallen soldiers buried in France and Belgium. The move came amid the height of the anti-French sentiment for that country's stance against the Iraq war.

And in 2006, Brown-Waite refused to condemn the comments of a prominent constituent who called Islam a "hateful, frightening religion."
Shame, shame, shame…

John W. McBush’s Battery Boondoggle

Aren’t you just all excited over the latest proposal from the all-but-named Repug presidential candidate to “award $300 million for the next generation car battery” (here)?

Given this, I wondered what it would have been like in this country if our great inventors had been a bit more, shall we say, preoccupied with financial concerns as opposed to the betterment of mankind.

Would Ben Franklin have said, “Nah, I’m not going out in that thunderstorm to fly a kite with a key on it and risk my life for anything less than 200 pounds,” or Thomas Edison had said “What? Develop the incandescent lamp just for the joy of scientific discovery? Not for at least 5 grand, baby!”

Now granted, I know those guys were capitalists in their own right, but my point is that anyone who comes up with an invention like McBush’s battery could acquire a patent from it and collect royalties from the automakers. There’s no need to pay anybody $300 million for that type of a discovery (unless the person who comes up with this invention is expected to waive all royalties..??).

And more to the point, who is supposed to pay that $300 million. Do I even need to ask?

Besides, this story from February 2007 tells us that President Brainless had a little party with people trying to do exactly what McBush is encouraging today; the groundwork for his battery has already been done – why encourage something that doesn’t need encouragement (and it’s not like his record on alternative energy is so hot anyway).

Now if he were instead to offer $300 million for development through a windfall tax on oil profits...

Patrick And Our Favorite Subject

I'm still mad as hell over his spineless FISA vote, but here's the Guest Opinion Patrick Murphy wrote in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday...

Families and businesses in Bucks County are struggling with record gas prices. In order to stem this crisis we need short- and long-term solutions to lower the price of gas. In the short term, we can put more oil on the market and provide important tax saving measures. In the long term, we must wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable energy and by requiring oil companies to drill on 68 million acres of land they are currently sitting on.

It is clear that the typical partisan approach in Washington will not solve this problem. We need to act with a sense of urgency because too many are hurting.

In the short term, I have moved to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The SPR is an emergency petroleum storage facility and is currently 97 percent full — its highest level ever. It has more than enough oil to meet our emergency national security needs. This approach has been successful in the past and would put another 70,000 barrels of oil back on the market every day. Estimates show this move could save consumers up to 24 cents per gallon of gas within a very short period of time.

I have also advocated a paid-for federal gas tax holiday which could save an additional 18 cents per gallon and does not borrow from the Highway Trust Fund. To counter big oil companies from pocketing these savings, I have also backed legislation that stops price gouging and artificial increases.

Additionally, I have cosponsored the Small Business Investment and Promotion Act which will cut taxes for small business fuel purchases, and increase the tax deduction on fuel for small business owners and independent contractors who use their own vehicles for work.

While we are investing in renewable energy for the long term, we must also increase domestic oil production. While no one wants to see an oil rig on the Jersey Shore or in one of our national parks, we can force oil companies to start drilling on land they already lease and force existing refineries to increase domestic oil production.

While gas and oil prices are too high, many people don't know that the United States is the world's third largest producer of oil, behind only Saudi Arabia and Russia. Domestic drilling permits for oil companies have increased 361 percent since 1999 — yet gas prices keep skyrocketing. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies already have access to vast quantities of federal land — including parts of the Outer Continental Shelf — but so far have not begun to drill on 68 million acres of that land.

The oil and gas companies won't drill because their inaction keeps prices — and profits — high.

Families are hurting — it is time for the oil companies to start responsibly drilling on the land to which they already have access.

To spark production, I cosponsored the Responsible Ownership of Public Lands Act, which would force oil companies to use the land they already have but are not drilling. This “use it or lose it” policy charges oil companies an escalating fee for not using these federal lands. In addition to putting more oil on the market, revenue raised from this effort will be invested in renewable energy. Estimates show that those 68 million acres could produce millions of barrels of oil and billions of cubic feet of natural gas each day.

But, forcing oil companies to increase production through drilling must be matched by a national commitment to increase energy production through innovation.

I am proud that right here in Bucks County, we are building the fourth largest solar field in America and a green energy hub at the old U.S. Steel site in Fairless Hills. Here, Pennsylvanians are building components for wind energy, solar power and alternative fuels. These companies are leaders in their field. They have already put nearly 1,000 people to work with more “green collar” manufacturing jobs on the way.

Public and private investment in green energy is critical. I proudly supported the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act which would provide $20 billion in tax incentives for investment, development and use of renewable energy. I have also introduced and passed a measure that will allow technical schools to modernize and prepare students to become the green energy workforce of the future. Conservation is also important, that's why I pushed to increase automobile efficiency to 35 miles per gallon — the first increase in a generation.

In addition to these short-term and long-term measures, we need to look to the future. The truth is that we cannot simply drill our way to lower gas prices but we cannot allow oil companies to sit on their hands while families are struggling. Most importantly, Democrats and Republicans must work together to harness more efficient technology, break our dependence on foreign oil, and secure our energy future by turning Lower Bucks County into an alternative energy hub.
To learn more, click here.

Update: And by the way, speaking of selling out...

Today's Word About Mesopotamia

I don’t have much to add to this Atrios post about Little Tommy (“Suck. On. This.”) Friedman and his latest blather on Iraq in the New York Times today (really now, why on earth is he still allowed to write about this topic considering that he has created a rather lengthy trail of delusional rose-colored observances and failed prognostications?), but I would like to point out these two choice excerpts.

What seems to have happened in Iraq in the last few months is that the Iraqi mainstream has finally done some liberating of itself. With the help of the troop surge ordered by President Bush, the mainstream Sunni tribes have liberated themselves from the grip of Al Qaeda in their provinces. And the Shiite mainstream — represented by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi Army — liberated Basra, Amara and Sadr City in Baghdad from both Mahdi Army militiamen and pro-Iranian death squads.

We may one day look back on this as Iraq’s real war of liberation. The one we led five years ago didn’t count.
If anyone had any doubt that our pundit class resides in an utter black hole of amorality (plying their dark arts on behalf of the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd who ultimately do their bidding), then that sentence should reinforce that fact better than I ever could.

I’m really glad that, to my knowledge, none of these cretins like Friedman ever lived in this country during, say, the late 1940s into the 1950s, or else one of them would be tempted to opine that, “well, World War II didn’t count when it comes to trying to counter ‘the Soviet menace’ since all FDR did was play into Stalin’s hands” while we were trying to conquer one of the darkest military threats the world has ever seen (re: Uncle Adolf and that little goose-stepping bunch of the Wehrmacht, as well as the imperial forces of Japan).

I honestly don’t believe that anyone back then would have been callous or cynical enough to state that our troop losses “didn’t count” because one “hot” war against oppression led to another “cold” one which flared up from time to time and presented deadly challenges to this country. Maybe I’m naïve, but I honestly don’t believe that would ever have happened.

Also, Little Tommy imparts the following piece of “wisdom”…

I’ve always believed that there is only one good thing about extremists: They don’t know when to stop.
On that score, I think he may actually be right (here); Bushco is just itching to take on Iran, and this “status of forces” agreement in its current form would help them to do it (and particularly considering the current state of our military, if that isn’t extremism, I don’t know what is).

Update: "Restive" is as "restive" does (here).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

In response to Coleman's "No, No, No," I say, "Vote For Al, "Vote For Al,, "Vote For Al," (yes, I know I'm so clever - uh huh; talk to me if and when this generates any money one day)...

...and K.O. "double dips" Bill-O (calls out Carlin on the "F" word and the man isn't even cold in the ground yet - par for the course).

LOST In Freeper Propaganda

(Posting might be spotty for a bit; we’ll see….by the way, the cartoon is more applicable to global warming, I realize, but I still thought it was good; ties in somewhat to the topic.)

Yesterday in the New York Times, John Bellinger, the legal adviser to Secretary of State Our Gal Condi Rice, wrote that we “didn’t need a new treaty for the Arctic” in response to an incident where two Russian explorers planted a symbolic flag (here).

I was all set to take off on another rant about how this lawless administration doesn’t give a fig about treaties, until I read this (a refreshing bit of good sense)…

So what should the United States do about the Arctic? For starters, it should do nothing to advance a new comprehensive treaty for the region. Instead, it should take full advantage of the existing rules by joining the Law of the Sea Convention. The convention, now before the Senate, would codify and maximize international recognition of United States rights to one of the largest and most resource-rich continental shelves in the world — extending at least 600 miles off Alaska.
Yes, well, the problem is that the treaty is universally scorned by the conservative punditry (this is a typical sampling).

…the administration's declared support for the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) caused it to be approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — even though this accord would constitute the most egregious transfer of American sovereignty, wealth, and power to the U.N. since the founding of that "world body." In fact, never before in the history of the world has any nation voluntarily engaged in such a sweeping transfer to anyone.
(Don’t you just love the way the wingers come up with these annoying little acronyms? It actually is referred to as UNCLOS, just for the record.)

And before he said Dubya should be impeached because of the recent salmonella outbreak here (don’t do us any favors, OK?) Lou Dobbs opined as follows…

The Law of the Sea Treaty would undermine our national sovereignty and act as a back door for global environmental activists to direct U.S. policy.

It would hold the United States to yet another unaccountable international bureaucracy and constrain our national prerogatives. Aside from that, the treaty is wholly unnecessary. The U.S. Navy already enjoys international navigation rights by customary practice.
Fortunately, the New York Times provided the reality perspective; more info is available from last October’s post…

…unless the United States joins up, it could very well lose out in what is shaping up as a mad scramble to lay claim to what are believed to be immense deposits of oil, gas and other resources under the Arctic ice — deposits that are becoming more and more accessible as the earth warms and the ice melts.
And Bellinger concludes as follows…

Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia are parties to the convention and they are already acting to protect and maximize their rights. The United States should do the same. Signing on would do much more to protect American security and interests in the Arctic than pursuing the possibility of a treaty that we really don’t need.
You’re preaching to the choir, Mr. Bellinger. Try communicating this to Dubya’s “base” (what’s left of it, anyway) and let us know if you have any luck, OK?

Appeasement For Oil

Fresh from his fiction maligning the memory of John Lennon, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal concocts more delusions today (you can always count on the WSJ for totally “through-the-looking-glass” editorial commentary).

Stephens spends most of his column listing all of the ways that Congress has actually had to lead Dubya on the issue of the genocide in Darfur after rightly praising Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe for standing up to Robert Mugabe’s thuggery. Unbelievably, Stephens then tells us that this goal of “embrac(ing) the responsibility to protect, wherever necessary and feasible”…”come(s) oddly close to The Bush Doctrine” (lumping both the Zimbabwe and Sudan crises together; he even throws in Burma later for good measure.)

(Putting aside his wingnuttery, I must tell you that Stephens is a truly bad editorial writer. It seems as if he is trying to hit too many targets at once – in this case, Congress and Barack Obama for entirely separate reasons – to the point that it destroys the threads of coherent thought in his argument that actually exist.)

To say that Stephens misrepresents the Bush Doctrine here is an understatement. As Wikipedia tells us here…

The Bush Doctrine is a phrase used to describe various related foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush, created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The phrase initially described the policy that the United States had the right to treat countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups as terrorists themselves, which was used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan.[1] Later it came to include additional elements, including the controversial policy of preventive war, which held that the United States should depose foreign regimes that represented a threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat was not immediate (used to justify the invasion of Iraq), a policy of supporting democracy around the world, especially in the Middle East, as a strategy for combating the spread of terrorism, and a willingness to pursue U.S. military interests in a unilateral way.[2][3][4] Some of these policies were codified in a National Security Council text entitled the National Security Strategy of the United States published on September 20, 2002.[5]
Or, with fewer words, here is what the Bush Doctrine represents as stated by Wikipedia: shoot first, ask questions later, and then after you’ve made an utter mess, ask someone else to engage in diplomacy for you to try and fix it.

And Stephens, after actually listing all the ways Congress has stepped up on Darfur absent actual presidential leadership (and believe it or not, I’m going back to the 109th a bit on this too), unbelievably states that a “rubric (called) ‘Responsibility To Protect’” justified by Obama adviser Susan Rice reflects an “inherent paternalism (that) has hitherto inhibited many liberals from endorsing the kinds of interventions toward which they are now tip-toeing, thousands of deaths too late.”

OK, now for the reality-based perspective.

This BBC story from last February shows Commander Codpiece crowing as follows…

US President George W Bush has defended his decision not to send troops to the Sudanese region of Darfur, despite what he calls a genocide taking place there.

He called it a "seminal decision" not to intervene with force, taken partly out of the desire not to send US troops into another Muslim country.
I actually agree with that decision, if for no other reason because our military is hopelessly overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan, primarily. However, there’s just a bit more going on in what passes for Dubya’s decision making here.

This post featuring a story by author David Morse from 2006 (the post states that, at that time, he was writing a book about Darfur) tells us that the latest misery in the Sudan actually began back in 1989 when the National Islamist Front (NIF) seized control in a military coup and installed Lt. Gen. Omar al-Bashir. Subsequently, that country became “an incubator for international terrorists” in the 1990s, including bin Laden of course.

As Morse tells us…

Here, in short, is a totalitarian regime with significant parallels to Nazi Germany, even if hardly on the same economic or military scale. It is also a regime arguably more murderous than that of Saddam Hussein, with a more expansionist agenda; a rogue state that has sponsored terrorism in the past and threatens to launch a jihad if the UN intervenes in Darfur. Earlier this year, Osama bin Laden issued a world-wide call for terrorists to go to the aid of Khartoum. Sudan has bona fide -- not fabricated -- ties to al-Qaeda. Khartoum is, in other words, everything Mr. Bush could wish for in an "Islamo-fascist" enemy.
So let’s move up to 2004; Dubya gives a speech to the UN, stating that the crimes in the Darfur region of the Sudan are “genocide.” However, after the 2004 election, Bushco “fell silent” on Darfur, as Morse states, while the genocide continued and Khartoum stopped granting visas to keep the carnage out of the public eye.

And as a result…

Without leadership from the Oval Office, Congress spent most of 2005 dickering over the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. In its original version, the bipartisan bill had formidable teeth. It provided a broad new set of sanctions, in addition to the existing Clinton-era ones which had been limited to trade. The new sanctions would have put the U.S. government on record as seeking a UN resolution embargoing arms sales to Sudan, establishing a no-fly zone over Darfur, seeking unspecified measures affecting "the petroleum sector in Sudan," and guaranteeing humanitarian aid workers' access to those suffering in Darfur. Even more to the point, additional sanctions would target individuals in the Khartoum government who were responsible for the genocide, freezing their assets abroad and imposing travel restrictions on them -- exactly the sort of hamstringing that (men such as al-Bashir) fear, especially if they are likely to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

Taken together, these powerful sanctions, if approved by Congress and then adopted by the UN Security Council might conceivably have stopped the genocide in its tracks. Whether it all could have gotten past the Security Council is questionable. Russia and China are selling weapons to Sudan; China, Britain, and France are heavily involved in exploiting its oil resources. Indeed, considering that U.S. firms were already prevented from trading with Sudan under the 1997 sanctions, such a resolution from the U.S. might have appeared self-serving.

But the relevant question is this: Did President Bush support the bill?

The answer is: Quite the opposite. Under pressure from the White House, virtually all the sanctions were seriously weakened or eliminated in Congressional committee. The reference to a possible embargo aimed at the petroleum sector was deleted. The provisions for targeting individuals were replaced by a single provision giving the President discretion to refer individual war criminals to the International Criminal Court, a highly unlikely prospect considering the administration's hostility to the ICC. In its final form, the bill was toothless. It offered modest funding -- guilt money -- to the under-funded African Union mission in Darfur, and little else.
Ah, but guess what ends up changing the whole dynamic of our relationship with Khartoum? You probably already know…

Until April 2005, it was said that whatever oil deposits existed in Darfur were confined to its southeastern corner. However, new seismographic studies brought a surprise. On April 19, 2005, Mohamed Siddig, a spokesman for the Sudan Energy Ministry, announced that a new high-yield well had been drilled in North Darfur -- several hundred kilometers northwest of the existing fields. Seismographic studies indicated that a huge basin of oil, expected to yield up to 500,000 barrels of crude per day, lay in the area. This Darfur discovery effectively doubled Sudan's oil reserves.

The Bush administration had already been developing a closer relationship with Khartoum, based (it was claimed) on the sharing of intelligence about potential operations in the President's Global War on Terror. The announcement of the new find in April 2005 seemed to accelerate these efforts, and may explain why, a month later, the Central Intelligence Agency sent a jet to Khartoum to ferry Sudan's chief of intelligence, Major General Salah Abdallah Gosh, to a clandestine meeting at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The Morse story also tells us that the Langley meeting provoked “a political tempest,” and as a result, Our Gal Condi Rice had to issue a statement saying that we sought “closer ties” with Khartoum because of its cooperation in the “war on terrorism.”

So, Bushco’s “policy” on the Darfur crisis, if you could call it that, ranged from ignorance of the catastrophe altogether despite public outcry from Colin Powell, among others, to making a speech rightly calling it genocide in 2004 prior to the election (though, in “meaning of the word ‘is’” fashion, they backpedaled in 2005, with lackey Robert Zoellick referring to “crimes against humanity” instead to tie the hands of the U.N.), to ignoring it after the election, and finally, to seeking conciliation with the regime responsible for the suffering because additional oil reserves were discovered.

And short of pre-emptive war, I believe the preceding paragraph, finally, in all of its caveats and admittedly confusing construction, provides the best (updated) description of the “Bush Doctrine” that you could ever hope to find.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Stuff

This "Pap Attack" should be required viewing for anyone blaming the Democrats for the price of gas (you can blame the Dems for a lot, but not this)...

...and hey, check this out (wow, between Charlie Black saying another terrorist attack will help "Senator Honor And Virtue" here and this, John W. McBush is having one hell of a day - so, what exactly is it that Michelle Obama is supposed to apologize for again?)...

...K.O. brings us Monica Crowley, the "Worst Person In The World" (OMG! Obama's a SCARY MUSLIM!!)...

...and once more paying tribute to George Carlin, the AP put together this nice little video.

The Supremes Go For A Swim

This is an update to a story I previously posted about here; Bushco and the Navy have been fighting environmental groups off the southern California coast for awhile now over the issue of conducting military exercises involving sonar because of the harmful effects on marine life.

In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the environmental groups. Well, today, it turns out that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court...

The court is also in the habit of overturning the 9th Circuit. The Supreme Court has reversed the 9th Circuit in seven cases and upheld it only once this year, according to statistics compiled by

"Today's decision was anticipated, and we have already begun to prepare for Supreme Court review," said Joel Reynolds, Natural Resources Defense Counsel senior attorney.
Oh, goody.

I can just see it now; Dubya and the Supremes have the mammals declared “enemy combatants,” and since the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to marine life, they’ll be captured and relocated to specially-built tanks at Guantanamo and water boarded with impunity until they admit by cued noise response that they’re actually terrorist sympathizers. And then the sonar testing can proceed as planned, and if any of them end up “beached”…well, it’ll just be another victory in the Global War On Terra Terra Terra, You FISA-Hatin’, Nancy Pelosi Headscarf Wearin’, al Qaeda-Lovin’, President Not Supportin’ Liburuuls!

I guess, since we don’t have enough enemies, now we have to attack fish too?

What country am I living in again?

The John W. McBush P.R. Agency Strikes Again!

I’m still trying to figure out exactly why anyone would care about any possible association between John W. McBush and BobDole BobDole BobDole, since this is the second week in a row that Adam Nagourney has written a column about the two, alternately trying to compare them and also show how they are different (here).

Maybe it’s because George W. Milhous Bush has done such a thorough job of destroying the Republican “brand” that the Times wants to create some kind of a linkage between the present day and a time before the life form from Crawford, TX and his fellow crooks took over the White House and anything dealing with the executive branch of our government.

Maybe Nagourney thinks that we’ll just consider Dubya to be nothing but an aberration who has “governed” in a manner atypical for Repugs, though in reality, his horrific term in office has been the manifestation of everything they sought during our last period of prosperity in the ‘90s, when the “government is bad” crowd could do nothing but complain from the sidelines (not so easy to do that when you’re responsible and all that surrounds you is misery, is it?).

So this is some of the “ripe stuff” Nagourney has come up with…

Mr. Dole was not just a creature of the Senate but the very face of the Washington legislative establishment. Mr. McCain has promoted an image as a renegade in the body, scolding it, for example, for its pork barrel spending.

Mr. McCain is, to a considerable degree, sprinting away from his own party and looking to distance himself from an unpopular incumbent president.
A “renegade” whose votes just happened to coincide with Bushco 100 percent of the time (here – I’d be looking to “distance myself” from something like that too).


Mr. Dole could be funny, although his jokes had a bit of stiletto in them; indeed, friends of both suggested that their humor was as much an asset as a potential liability. “Dole was a master of political humor,” said former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming. “McCain has a very wry sense of humor. Sometimes it’s the kind of humor that drifts over the heads of people who have no sense of humor.”
Oh, I don’t know. I thought it was pretty uproarious when Dole said to Poppy Bush “Stop lying about my record” in 1988 when they were both running for the Repug presidential nomination. And when McBush made that joke about Chelsea Clinton? What a “laff riot”!

And the fact that Dole was the only politician who ran for both President and Vice President and attained neither office?


OK, I’ll stop (yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about the proverbial “conventional wisdom” worshipped so dearly by the Beltway Villagers and rampant in Nagourney’s column; you can tell it’s full of “CW” because Bob Kerrey and Charles Schumer are interviewed also).

I know some of this is “water wet, sky blue” stuff, but when our corporate media concocts this nonsense, we have to call them on it.

And in a related post, Chris Bowers at Open Left shows us how any good news for Obama must really be bad news for Obama (seriously)…

Really. John (McCain) is really "driving the daily political debate?" Really? Well, unless McCain’s goal with the debate was to use it to drive down his own poll numbers, then I am not sure how it can be argued that McBush is driving the debate. Clearly, the only scientific measurements of public opinion on the campaign--aka, polls-indicate that Obama is gaining due to recent campaign events.
And as long as I’m dealing with the dreaded “CW,” I might as well get to this also which tells us that McBush’s May fundraising numbers “went up” while Obama’s “dipped.”

Get a load of this (obligatory note that I shouldn’t be covering “the horserace”; sorry that I am)…

For Mr. McCain, of Arizona, it was one of his best fund-raising months, with $21.8 million coming in from individual donors and from three joint Republican fund-raising dinners. For Mr. Obama, of Illinois, it was one of his weaker months, drawing $21.9 million.
Uh…call me crazy (and I’ll admit I’m not a math genius), but doesn’t this show that Obama still out raised McBush in May?

The article then tells us of Hillary’s campaign numbers, including her debt…

…of the millions Mrs. Clinton owes vendors, some $4.6 million is owed to Mark Penn, a controversial pollster, who is not popular in many Democratic circles, making debt-retirement an even harder sell.
Runs her candidacy aground and still cleans up; pardon me while I open a few windows to let out the stench.

Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, ended her campaign with nearly $27 million on hand. But $23 million of it was raised for the general election and must now be returned to donors. Overall, Mrs. Clinton raised $238 million since entering the race.
And Times reporter Leslie Wayne tells us that Obama has raised $296 million total (these are ungodly numbers, but until this country decides to get serious about campaign finance reform...).

So how much has McBush raised total? Oh, about $122 million, a little more than half of what Hillary Clinton raised, and she isn’t even in the race any more.

But May was “one of McCain’s best fund raising months.”

And don’t you forget it!

Update: Yep, looking beter and better for McBush here (h/t The Daily Kos).

A Word For Harris Martin

Local PA political stuff; maybe I’ll concentrate on non-FISA-capitulating Dems for awhile…

The 18th State House District has been in Republican hands ever since the district was moved entirely into Bucks County.

On this past Primary Election Day, April 22, 2008, I received 7,439 votes to become the Democratic nominee for State Representative. The incumbent Republican candidate, Gene DiGirolamo, received only 3,439 votes. Although these numbers do not translate into a guaranteed victory in November, they do show that this race will be closer than those in the past.

Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the 18th House District by 3,014-19,401 Democrats to 16,387 Republicans. This is the biggest margin between Democrats and Republicans since the late 1970s. In addition, out of 29 voting precincts in the 18th District, 22 are now majority Democratic and only 7 are majority Republican (LE5, LM2, LM3, U1, U10, U11, W7).

Two years ago, when Gene DiGirolamo was elected to his 7th term, the Democratic edge over Republicans in the 18th district was only 85. When you add all of this up, clearly, we are in a strong position to elect a Democratic State Representative in 2008.

To make a make a secure on-line donation to my campaign with a credit card or debit card, go

If you prefer not to make internet transactions, you can make a check out to Friends of Harris Martin and mail it to:

Joe Cummons, Treasurer
Friends of Harris Martin
5070 Winfield Court
Bensalem, PA 19020

Please pass this email on to anyone you know who lives in Bensalem, Trevose, or Feasterville, PA or anyone who might want to help us. Thanks.

Have a great day.
Harris Martin
To learn more, click here.

If Lies Were Fuel, Our Vehicles Would Run Forever

(It gets a little tiresome trying to come up with plays on words having to do with the number one topic on everyone’s minds, so I just came out and said it – oh, and by the way, while we’re all bitching about the price of gas, myself included, anybody remember the war?).

So President George W. Milhous Bush thus spoke the following here…

"If congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act."
I’ll bet that’s sure to get all of the congressional “Bush Dogs” to howling; I mean, gee, they just handed FISA to him on a silver platter – why not just let him gut the Rocky Mountain West while they’re at it to mine for oil in shale so that 35 percent approval rating can shoot all the way up to 36 (as noted here)?

And how sad is it that Little Tommy (“Suck. On. This.”) Friedman is actually the voice of reason here (re: his New York Times column yesterday)…

This from a president who for six years resisted any pressure on Detroit to seriously improve mileage standards on its gas guzzlers; this from a president who’s done nothing to encourage conservation; this from a president who has so neutered the Environmental Protection Agency that the head of the E.P.A. today seems to be in a witness-protection program. I bet there aren’t 12 readers of this newspaper who could tell you his name or identify him in a police lineup.
Just to let you know, he is Stephen L. Johnson, though I'm sure Friedman is right (and the Wikipedia article states that Johnson is currently "attempting to block the efforts of 17 states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy").

But, most of all, this deadline is from a president who hasn’t lifted a finger to broker passage of legislation that has been stuck in Congress for a year, which could actually impact America’s energy profile right now — unlike offshore oil that would take years to flow — and create good tech jobs to boot.

That bill is H.R. 6049 — “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008,” which extends for another eight years the investment tax credit for installing solar energy and extends for one year the production tax credit for producing wind power and for three years the credits for geothermal, wave energy and other renewables.

These critical tax credits for renewables are set to expire at the end of this fiscal year and, if they do, it will mean thousands of jobs lost and billions of dollars of investments not made. “Already clean energy projects in the U.S. are being put on hold,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

People forget, wind and solar power are here, they work, they can go on your roof tomorrow. What they need now is a big U.S. market where lots of manufacturers have an incentive to install solar panels and wind turbines — because the more they do, the more these technologies would move down the learning curve, become cheaper and be able to compete directly with coal, oil and nuclear, without subsidies.

That seems to be exactly what the Republican Party is trying to block, since the Senate Republicans — sorry to say, with the help of John McCain — have now managed to defeat the renewal of these tax credits six different times.
And by the way, Down With Tyranny! brings us some important information here as to why the price of gas is so high (love the pic, by the way)…

Unregulated speculation in oil futures is driving up gas prices and keeping them high.

The Gramm-Enron legislation of 2000 exempted electronic trading of energy commodities from regulation. "The Enron loophole," as it is called, was the product of former Texas senator Phil Gramm. It exempted energy futures trading from the Commodities Futures Modernization Act just in time for his wife Wendy, who was on the Enron board of directors, to benefit from the artificially created energy shortages in California that brought Enron down.

These "dark markets" traders, exempt from Commodity Futures Trading Commission rules, make huge amounts of money at the expense of the nation's economy and our family budgets. President Bush knows this. Sen. John McCain knows it, too. He opposed the recent $307 billion farm bill because it contained legislation that would end deregulated speculation. Gramm is his economic adviser.
And Obama is trying to close the “Enron loophole” as noted here (and to learn more about the campaign, click here – he’d better not cave on FISA also, though…waay too funny to hear McBush complain, by the way).

And by the way, I meant to link to this earlier (sounds like the war was a bit of payback for these people who were given the boot by Saddam Hussein, but we knew that all along of course).

“Supporting The Troops” On Kristol Mess Monday

The New York Times conservative quota hire columnist attacks the “Not Alex” MoveOn ad below (from here)…

The ad is simple. A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:

“Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”

Take that, warmonger!

The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve — and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.
If that were true about MoveOn, then I would hardly think they’d enjoy the popularity that they do among currently serving members of our military and those who served previously also, as noted in this post where veterans defended the group after they “slandered a distinguished general officer” according to Kristol Mess.

However, the last time our corporate media lambasted the group so ferociously, Moveon raised about half a million dollars, as noted here. So keep firing away, Bill – you may be the best “rainmaker” the group could ever have!

A Voice For Our Times Departs

R.I.P. George Carlin; I obviously don't agree with some of his sentiments about voting and politicians, even concerning THIS Congress, and there are a few "F" words along with some suggestive stuff here, but still funny and thought provoking as always.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Non-FISA Sunday Stuff

Don't blame the people working at the Quickie Mart for the high price of gas, OK? Blame the Repugs who have fought funding for alternative energy (through H.R. 6049) and repeal of tax breaks for the Chevrons and ExxonMobils of the world, OK?...

Update 6/23/08: I should have noted that I learned about H.R. 6049 from Tom Friedman's column today in the NYT.

...and The Onion catalogues another "failure of big government."

Sunday Stuff

I'm replaying K.O.'s Special Comment on FISA from last February just to remind those in the Senate who are hesitant about the stakes concerning the issue of telco immunity (the House has already done its worst - and by the way, I'm thinking of having T-shirts like the ones Keith describes made for Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak and every other "Democrat" who voted to sell us out last Friday; sorry the audio is a little off).

(And by the way, for anyone wondering why we care so much about this, Hunter at The Daily Kos sums it up pretty well here.)

And I should have embedded this Keith Olbermann interview with Jonathan Turley last Friday before now, but there you are (I was so mad about FISA I forgot that they chose to fund the war without timelines for troop withdrawal again).

How A Real Democrat Stands Up On FISA

I received the following correspondence from NY State U.S. House Rep John Hall last Friday evening...

Dear Friends,

Today the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

I have consistently supported modernizing the existing FISA law to give our intelligence community the tools it needs to identify and defeat terrorists in today's high-tech world, while at the same time preserving the freedoms and rights that define America. Three times I voted to pass legislation that would strengthen and modernize FISA and reaffirm the rule of law. Although today's bill made some improvements over previous attempts to update FISA, H.R. 6304 regrettably fell short of achieving that critical balance. The rule of law lies at the core of America's founding principles, and the language in this bill was too weak to ensure that any breach of our laws that may have occurred under the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program will be fully addressed. It is wrong to deny Americans the right to pursue these matters in court, or to short-circuit the judicial review that lies at the heart of our system of checks and balances, the bedrock of our Constitution. Accordingly, I voted against this bill.

I will continue to support real protection of our country from terrorist threats, while at the same time fighting for robust oversight by the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government.

Your Representative,
John Hall
I disagreed with Patrick Murphy once on his support for Mike Fitzpatrick's "Delete Online Predators" Act which purported to keep our kids safe by banning access to social networking sites at libraries and schools (which, to me, sounded more like the Act was trying to shield schools and libraries from legal liability), but I thought, "well, maybe the polling on this shows that most of the 8th District residents support it despite how I feel, so maybe THAT is why Patrick went along with it."

However, someone is going to have to present evidence to me that the 8th District majority of voters approve of granting liability to the telcos, since that is what this latest "compromise" boils down to (and if you don't want to believe me, fine; read Glenn Greenwald - I won't be offended). I believe it was Dana Milbank who told Keith Olbermann on "Countdown" Friday night something to the effect that some Dem U.S. House reps in conservative districts were saying "Hey, Pelosi and Hoyer, you've got to get me a FISA bill because I'm endangered" or something, so they came up with this mess. Either way, the "compromise" is nothing but a cheap sellout.

Also, please take note of some wording I've inserted into the right column of my home page on this, if you would. Thanks.

And as Darcy says again here, "more and better Democrats" (maybe in PA-08 and 07?) - for what it's worth, I'm going to be royally pissed off about this for a long time.