Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Saturday Deep Thought

I subjected myself to about 10 minutes of John King, Dan Balz and Dana Bash on CNN about an hour ago, and I have a question.

How come, when John W. McBush talks about offshore oil drilling (often in front of a rig these days; how original), what he proposes wouldn't yield anything for years and probably wreak untold environmental havoc in the process, but he's considered to be "ahead of the curve" on the issue, whereas Barack Obama talks about a $1,000 rebate to every American for energy costs paid for by a windfall oil profits tax (opposed by Repugs for years), yet he's considered to be "playing catch-up" and "engaging in populist politics" when he does so, even though we'll see that money a lot sooner than we'll ever see any crude under what McBush proposes?

Just wondering...

Update 8/4/08: Yep, I guess this would be a good reason for McBush to be "ahead of the curve" (h/t Atrios).

Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday Stuff

Geez, and all of this in the video below was BEFORE the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton business, to say nothing of this.

You're a pathetic old fool, McBush. But please, whatever you do, keep up this campaigning and destroy whatever shreds of credibility you actually have left. Even your lapdog media friends realize how bad your campaign smells at this point, and if you can't count on them any more, then you're pretty much toast for November.

...and by the way, Senator McBush, your home state is anything but a "lock" at this point (h/t The Daily Kos)...

...and K.O. brings us the "Worst Persons In The World," with Billo messing up the ratings numbers again, the ludicrous Michele Bachmann criticizing the Dems on energy, and hillbilly heroin addict Flush Limbore getting birthday greetings from fellow substance abuser Dubya and his dad (yeah, Poppy, I'm sure "our man Ailes" sends hugs and kisses too)...

...and returning to something more important, like interesting music, here's The Airborne Toxic Event ("Does This Mean You're Moving On").

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (8/1/08)

Here are the recent Area Votes in Congress from our Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware legislators as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I’m going to try and do a two-fer here, since I’m at least a week behind; here is the week ending 7/20.


"Use it or lose it." Voting 244-173, the House failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill (HR 6515) giving oil companies a "use it or lose it" mandate to either drill on federal land they have leased or give up the right to do so. The bill was directed at dormant leases covering 68 million acres, including 33 million offshore acres. The bill also required expanded drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and called upon President Bush to gradually put on the market 10 percent of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's 700 million barrels.

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

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.)
Nice to see Joe Pitts still in form, and Saxton can’t depart soon enough either; this bill is largely symbolic, though, since, truth be told, no politician can really tell any of our energy industry geniuses what to do (nice try, though).

And by the way, to help Bruce Slater, click here (remember, even the RNC has admitted that no Repug seat is safe in this election).

Intelligence budget, energy. Voting 200-225, the House refused to send the 2009 intelligence budget (HR 5959) back to committee, where it would be changed to require a National Intelligence Estimate of the impact of global energy conditions on U.S. security. The budget for the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies was then passed on a non-record vote. The classified sum is unofficially reported at $50 billion or higher.

A yes vote backed the GOP motion.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak.
My guess is that this vote transpired the way it did because the Dems wanted to wrap it up before the break, and they didn’t want to get a PR black eye from the Repugs screaming about how this congress supposedly can’t do anything (that’s not true, of course; they’ve done a great job of caving to Dubya on impeachment, FISA and the Iraq war – snark mode off).

Bush Medicare veto. Voting 383-41, the House overrode President Bush's veto of a bill (HR 6331) that would cancel the administration's 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors. The bill's projected cost of $19.8 billion over six years would be offset mainly by cuts in the privately run, federally subsidized Medicare Advantage program.

A yes vote was to override the veto.

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


Bush Medicare veto. Voting 70-26, the Senate joined the House (above) in overriding President Bush's veto of a bill (HR 6331) to continue Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors at their current level this year and raise them by 1.1 percent in January. The bill then became law.

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.).

Global aids funds. Voting 80-16, the Senate passed a bill (HR 5501) authorizing $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of global programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.
Not much else to say about that; now here’s the summary for the week ending 7/27.


Housing rescue. Voting 272-152, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 3221) that authorizes a standby taxpayer bailout of the private firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, allows up to 400,000 mortgages to be reworked into government-backed loans, allows $7,500 tax credits to certain first-time home buyers, and grants $4 billion to help communities and nonprofits acquire and market vacant properties.

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.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
Atrios, among others, is of the mind that we shouldn’t worry so much about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even to the point where they could go under but be reformed as new public entities (he’s the economist, not me, so I’ll defer to him on the details). I tend to agree, particularly since people like Chris Dodd of the Senate Banking Committee continue to insist that these institutions are solvent (in rare, albeit slight, disagreement with Paul Krugman on this).

However, we know why this was almost a party-line vote (though kudos once again to Chris Smith for doing the right thing, and, surprisingly, Mike Castle also). And that is because the Repugs, generally, don’t want to do a damn thing to help homeowners stuck with ARMs ticking ever upward or first-time home buyers (if those opposing this truly had any sense, though, they’d realize that a stimulus where it’s needed to help people buy homes is a good start to help dig us out of this mess).

Global AIDS funding. Voting 303-115, the House passed a bill (HR 5501) authorizing $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of international programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: LoBiondo and Pitts.

Not voting: Saxton.
Gosh, I’m shocked over this, since Pancake Joe is supposedly such a champion of heterosexual human rights, as noted here (and once again, to help Bruce Slater, click here).

Bridge-safety inspections. Voting 367-55, the House passed a bill (HR 3999) to upgrade bridge inspections at a cost of $2 billion between 2008-2012. The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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


Housing rescue. Voting 72-13, the Senate approved a House-passed bill (HR 3221) that would potentially bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and provide mortgage relief for homeowners. President Bush has said he will sign the measure.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Not voting: Thomas Carper (D., Del.).
Interesting vote for Carper to miss, I must say.

Oil-market speculation. Voting 50-43, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to end GOP blockage of a bill (S 3268) directing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb "excessive speculation" in the oil-futures market, in part by setting higher margin requirements, requiring more public disclosure and working more closely with other countries' regulators.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

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

Voting no: Specter.
One of these posts simply would not be complete without the obligatory “screw you, Arlen” citation, so please allow me to provide one.

Screw you, Arlen.

This week, the House took up energy measures and a bill concerning pay discrimination, while the Senate debated the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.

Friday Mashup (8/1/08)

  • As noted in this Reuters story, it looks like that smiley-faced company that hawks cheap trinkets from our “friends” in China has been using the candidacy of Barack Obama for president as an excuse for anti-union intimidation…

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Friday it has warned U.S. store managers in recent weeks about the possible consequences of a labor-friendly bill backed by Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama that would make it easier for workers to form unions.

    But the retailer, which has kept its U.S. stores free of unions, stressed it was not telling employees how to vote.
    Oh yeah? Well, according to this account from the Murdoch Street Journal…

    The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the (mandatory) meetings (warning workers of what supposedly will happen if Wal-Mart stores are unionized) don't specifically tell attendees how to vote in November's election, but make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in, according to Wal-Mart employees who attended gatherings in Maryland, Missouri and other states.

    "The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.

    Wal-Mart may be walking a fine legal line by holding meetings with its store department heads that link politics with a strong antiunion message. Federal election rules permit companies to advocate for specific political candidates to its executives, stockholders and salaried managers, but not to hourly employees. While store managers are on salary, department supervisors are hourly workers.

    However, employers have fairly broad leeway to disseminate information about candidates' voting records and positions on issues, according to Jan Baran, a Washington attorney and expert on election law.
    And as noted here, Obama has stood up for workers’ rights to unionize, particularly those at Wal-Mart. Also, though Jason Furman, a recently added member of the Obama economic team, has been sympathetic to Wal-Mart in the past, I believe he is a net-plus for the Obama campaign (as Andrew Leonard of Salon explains here).

    All of this is good reason to support Obama as far as I’m concerned, and to do so, click here.

  • Update: ThinkProgress has more here.

  • And just when you thought the anti-Obama bile could not get any stupider, along comes Jack Cafferty of CNN (echoing still more Murdoch Street Journal nonsense) stating his concerns here that Obama may be “too thin.”

    Gee, it seemed like we were treated to stories of how “fit” Incurious George was forever, participating in recreational activities for the cameras every chance he got (as Obama does with basketball and jogging, among other stuff). However, Dubya also fell off a Segway, cracked up his bicycle, and choked on a pretzel. In spite of that, I never heard anyone wonder whether or not he was “too clumsy.”


  • Finally, please allow me to sneak in a plug for the new Keystone Progress site here (more progressive, grass-roots organizing for PA – always a good thing).
  • More Friday Crackpot History From BoBo

    In today’s New York Times, David Brooks laments the fact here that this country apparently can no longer lead the world on the most critical issues faced by this planet (as he sees it, of course), and in the process, finds himself longing for government leaders such as Harry Truman, George Marshall and Dean Acheson…

    “…people have looked at the way (these three men) and others created forward-looking global institutions after World War II, and they’ve asked: Why can’t we rally that kind of international cooperation to confront terrorism, global warming, nuclear proliferation and the rest of today’s problems?

    The answer is that, in the late 1940s, global power was concentrated. The victory over fascism meant the mantle of global leadership rested firmly on the Atlantic alliance. The United States accounted for roughly half of world economic output. Within the U.S., power was wielded by a small, bipartisan, permanent governing class — men like Acheson, W. Averell Harriman, John McCloy and Robert Lovett.

    Today power is dispersed. There is no permanent bipartisan governing class in Washington. Globally, power has gone multipolar, with the rise of China, India, Brazil and the rest.
    Ah, so it’s all the fault of that darned “cultural diversity,” then. How astute! How about the fact that we have endured a void of adult executive leadership in this country for the last eight years under almost exclusively Repug “governance”?

    And this isn’t the first time that Brooks has invoked the name of Acheson, as noted here (to say that an utter sycophant like Our Gal Condi Rice has anything in common with the man who helped formulate the “flexible response” foreign policy of JFK, as well as serving as one of LBJ's “wise men,” is pretty funny; Acheson also won a Pulitzer Prize in history writing for his memoir of his time in the State Department).

    It is also amusing to consider that Acheson faced ridicule in 1949 for somehow preventing the communist takeover of China, as if we could have stopped that, with Brooks’ ideological predecessors leading the charge.

    Brooks also tells us (concerning what he considers the ill effects of missing Acheson)…

    And so the globosclerosis continues, and people around the world lose faith in their leaders. It’s worth remembering that George W. Bush is actually more popular than many of his peers. His approval ratings hover around 29 percent. Gordon Brown’s are about 17 percent. Japan’s Yasuo Fukuda’s are about 26 percent. Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and Silvio Berlusconi have ratings that are a bit higher, but still pathetically low.
    I don’t know where BoBo got that 17 percent number for Brown, but this tells us that Brown’s Labor Party has a 28 percent approval rating (close enough – I’ll bow to Brooks on that). However, though Sarkozy has dropped off as well (guess that “my way or the highway” rhetoric didn’t go over so well the land of haute coutoure), he still maintained a 33 percent approval rating here. Meanwhile, our buddy Uh-Oh Silvio Berlusconi enjoyed a 50 percent rating here, and Angela Merkel of Germany, according to this story, is enjoying her highest ratings ever.

    Brooks also tells us…

    The best idea floating around now is a League of Democracies, as John McCain and several Democrats have proposed. Nations with similar forms of government do seem to share cohering values. If democracies could concentrate authority in such a league, at least part of the world would have a mechanism for wielding authority. It may not be a return to Acheson, Marshall and the rest, but at least it slows the relentless slide towards drift and dissipation.
    Actually (as noted here), McBush’s “League of Democracies” is a pretty dumb idea, and actually kind of funny when you consider that the Repugs and their acolytes are the ones always railing against the U.N. (soo...I guess having their own “league” will make them happy then?). It also would be nice if BoBo would tell us which Democrats support this half-baked idea, since I couldn’t find any.

    Suppose for the sake of argument, though, that we form this league that McBush wants full of nations we like. Well then, suppose there’s a problem with a country we don’t like that isn’t in our little league? Are the other member countries of our league supposed to join in any action against that supposedly baaad country? Or, if a country in our league decides they don’t like a country not in our league, are we supposed to help them if they decide to take action against a country they don’t like?

    With all of their imperfections, the U.N. and N.A.T.O. exist for a reason. Respect it and work within their frameworks to resolve differences, OK? After all, Brooks’ hero Acheson was the “main designer” of N.A.T.O., as Wikipedia tells us.

    And by the way, BoBo, your hero Acheson refused to turn his back on Alger Hiss, accused as a spy by that upstart Repug congressman from Whittier, California named Richard Nixon many years ago. You, however, wrote glowingly of Whittaker Chambers, Hiss’s accuser, here. Try to reconcile that, if you can.

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    It’s “Little Ricky’s Gas Pains” Thursday!

    I seem to recall that Former Senator Man-On-Dog concocted some nonsense that I responded to shortly before we traveled north to the Vine-yaaad (where, as I noted earlier, we saw “smart cars” all over the place), and now, he is poised to “drill” us with more stupidity, if you will (from here, and I have to admit that it gives my liberal heart a bit of a jump to see him getting flayed in the comments section over it)…

    Democrats, including Barack Obama, support increasing taxes and regulatory costs (environmental) on energy producers and consumers (you), limiting exploration for new oil and natural-gas supplies, and mandating conservation. Liberals like Obama have long argued for higher gas prices to force conservation and reduce emissions. The only concern he has expressed recently is that prices have not gone up gradually and that the sudden spike has hit Americans hard.

    It's no surprise, then, that the High-Priced-Energy Party has focused on finding a scapegoat for the rapid rise in prices. The culprits? For starters, greedy Wall Street speculators. So, the High-Priced-Energy Party tried to pass a don't-blame-us bill that further regulates the energy futures market, even though the trading activity on these exchanges during the crisis is at or below normal levels. Interestingly, the bill doesn't cover gold or silver speculators, whose commodities have seen similar price spikes.
    Who the $#@! cares about gold or silver? Can I pump either of those commodities into my gas tank? So bloody stoo-pid!...

    And yes, Obama calls for going after speculators as Little Ricky snidely notes (though in no way does he advocate increasing the gasoline tax on consumers – nice try, former Senator “Eye Of Mordor”), but for the reality perspective, please click on this link and find out the reason why.

    If you do, you'll find that Obama advocates doing everything possible to control the manipulation of gas prices by the oil futures market, as well as doing everything legally possible to encourage our geniuses in the energy biz to drill on land they’ve already leased, about 68 million acres I believe – folks who, somehow, didn’t see the increase in demand from India and China coming and thus act with speed and resolve to develop our alternative energy markets (and if you don’t want to believe me or Obama, fine – try believing a “liberal” like T. Boone Pickens here).

    Basically, this Congress is hardly perfect, but again, you can’t blame them for this (gas was $1.86 a gallon when Dubya and his pals were installed into the White House by the Supreme Court, if you’ll recall).

    And another thing: because the “oh, we should be ripping apart our coastlines for oil exploration and inflicting God knows how much environmental damage for the sake of a few more drops of black gold to lower the pump price” crowd insists of blathering this idiotic talking point, I confess that I’m getting a bit winded from refuting it so often. So instead of pointing out that idiocy yet again, I will link here instead to an interview with another “liberal,” and that would be Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Caa-Lee-Four-Nee-Aah, who, all snark aside, makes the best argument I’ve heard to date as to why no amount of coasting drilling will make gas cheaper any time soon.

    Little Ricky also tells us…

    Why, you might ask, are energy companies not drilling on current leaseholds? Because they discovered there isn't sufficient oil or gas on these lands to justify drilling. So, the Democrats' second answer to high energy prices is to force energy companies to drill, but only on unprofitable poor-producing fields.

    The High-Priced-Energy Democrats have used this unused-leases canard to block the More-Energy-Now Republicans' offshore-drilling amendment, and why not? It's a high-octane blend of politics and policy for them. High-Priced-Energy Democrats score cheap political points by beating up on Wall Street and Big Oil while blocking any price-lowering increase in domestic supplies of oil and natural gas. Neat if you don't have to worry about filling your tank or heating your home.
    Santorum’s baiting rhetoric notwithstanding, I should note that, in an effort to find out more on the whole “what’s going on with the 68 million acres” question, I came across this link from

    After reading the article a few times, I should note that Obama was apparently wrong to claim that no activity is taking place on some of that land. However, it is highly unclear as to what may or may not be happening on the area in question that contains “non-producing” leases, and it is equally unclear as to whether or not any oil will be produced anytime soon from the approximately 4,700 holes currently drilled on those acres (see, the geniuses in the energy biz don't want anyone to know that because it could impact their shares of the market).

    So basically, we have a mess in this country due to high energy prices that, apparently, no one could have anticipated (yeah…right), with fingers being pointed in the usual directions.

    And all of this made me wonder about Little Ricky’s energy votes in the Senate during his happily-now-over time in office, so I found some information here. And what do you turns out that Senator Blame-Liberals-For-The-Boston-Priest-Abuse-Scandal voted No on a bill to reduce our oil usage by 40 percent instead of 5 percent by 2025, voted Yes on terminating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for vehicles within 15 months, and voted Yes to defund renewable and solar energy (and of course, he voted Yes for the Bushco energy policy authored by Deadeye Dick Cheney). And he voted against funding ethanol development here (kind of a mixed blessing, though, I'll admit).

    To be fair, though, I should note that Santorum voted Yes on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010 (guess he had an “off” day and actually did the right thing).

    So the next time you hear Santorum yammering about energy, just remember that he was as much a part of the problem as anyone when we had a window of opportunity to avoid this current mess (would that we had been able to “drill,” if you will, for common sense instead).

    Misty-Eyed Reflections From Snarlin' Arlen

    In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, our state’s Republican senator tells us here that he’s all ready to run in defense of his seat for the 2010 political campaign…

    He looks pale and frail. His gray-plaid suit seems to hang on his shoulders. And, yes, he is quite bald.

    Two weeks after completing a debilitating, three-month regimen of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's disease, the 78-year-old Republican pronounces himself in "good physical shape" and says he has an "excellent" chance of full recovery.

    There's probably a better chance of a snow squall on this steamy July morning in Washington than that Specter - a former prosecutor and a renowned political infighter - will admit any weakness. "I'm at the top of my game," he says.
    Seriously, I should say at the outset that I’m glad Specter is enjoying good health. Of course, it would have been nice if he had bothered to support legislation that would have blocked a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors as a thank-you to those who help him to maintain it instead of caving in to the White House, though the cuts were eventually blocked anyway, as noted here.

    Also laudable is Specter’s stated goal to meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, since we should all be adult enough to talk to those with whom we disagree (of course, Specter can discuss talking with our enemies and not fear any kind of appeasement backlash unlike A Certain Senator From Illinois Running For President, because, as we all know, IOKIYAR).

    But beyond this, Specter offers the following…

    Specter was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 and 2006, the last time Republicans controlled the Senate. He envisions an even bigger role for himself if he gains another term and if the GOP somehow rebounds in the Senate.

    "If reelected in 2010," he says, "I think I have an excellent chance to be chairman of the Appropriations Committee."

    That would make him one of the most powerful figures in Washington and would be a boon for Pennsylvania, which, like every state, relies on its congressional delegation to bring home discretionary federal funds.

    Committee leadership in the Senate comes from seniority, and Specter has 28 years of it. He says he will argue to voters that this is a big reason to keep him.
    Well, that’s interesting, but see, Senator, here’s the problem for you on that.

    As you know, the Democrats currently enjoy a single-seat advantage in the Senate and, barring electoral calamity (which can always happen), should pick up at least five more seats and maybe more. That will add to their majority. So, for you to claim that you could take over the Appropriations Committee is assuming a huge mid-term electoral collapse that would return Senate leadership to your party. Again, this is possible, but at this moment (after eight ruinous years of essentially Repug “non-governance”), it is highly unlikely.

    And again, I really wish that, one of these days, Tom Infield or someone else in our corporate media would bother to ask Specter exactly what he meant when he said almost a year ago here that "I don't know that there is any victory (in Iraq). We're not going to be able to defeat all the crazies (there)." I would also like for Our Man Arlen to finally come clean on his relationship with Comcast (here) and his book deal (here).

    I’m “a firm believer in dialogue” too.

    Beck’s Dreck Taints “The Most Trusted Name In News”

    I guess CNN believes that they must cater to some truly demented audience demographic out there and give page space to Glenn Beck, though why any adult with a double-digit IQ would bother to take Beck seriously is a never-ending mystery to me.

    My instincts got the better of me, though, and I actually read some of his opining today along the lines of “gee, I just don’t know who I’m going to vote for in this election, because no candidate is ‘conservative’ enough for me…I only know that BARACK OBAMA IS A DIRTY LIBERAL (whisper, whisper, threatening, uppity Negro, wants to $#@! your white sister, whisper, whisper, really a SCARY MUSLIM!!, whisper, whisper), and I’ll NEVER vote for him and neither should you” (whisper, whisper, SCARY, ELITIST MUSLIM!!, whisper, whisper).

    Well anyway, Beck ticks off the list of candidates and rambles about them, but as I looked over his drivel (and did a search just to make sure I was right), I noticed that Beck omitted a highly notable name.

    And that would be Alan Keyes (gee, you’d think Beck would at least do a bare minimum of research before he decided to “gather his source material” by apparently gazing at his navel for an extended period of time).

    As you can read here, Keyes has a pedigree that would be attractive to Beck. Under The Sainted Ronnie R, Keyes served as deputy chairman of the delegation to the 1984 World Population Conference in Mexico City, and in that capacity, he negotiated the language of the Mexico City Policy to withhold federal funds from international organizations that support abortion. And when he ran for the U.S. Senate for the state of Maryland, he took a $8,463/month salary from his campaign fund.

    Even better is the notion of a “revenge factor” in supporting Keyes, since he was defeated in his run for an Illinois U.S. Senate seat (the Washington Post called Keyes a “carpetbagger” since he’d never lived in Illinois) by none other than (you guessed it) Barack Obama.

    Now it’s true that Keyes isn’t really officially sanctioned by a political party at this point, but he apparently is trying to drum up support in California (kind of an odd strategy for someone who was once an avowed conservative), but I’m sure an endorsement by Beck would help that along. After all, a tortoise moves faster than a snail, doesn’t it?

    And finally, I present as evidence this interview Beck conducted with conservative scholar (tongue firmly in cheek here) and writer Mark Steyn, who said conservatives should “get behind Alan Keyes or shoot ourselves.”

    So please allow me to do here what Glenn Beck should have done, and that’s to help drum up support for Alan Keyes.

    I believe this would have the effect of weeding out and neutralizing some of the mental misfits who give credence to Beck’s opinions by ensuring that they vote for Keyes, thus making it more likely that the most important election of our lifetimes will be decided by actual grownups voting for the most legitimate candidate instead.

    Update 8/1/08: As a mea culpa of sorts, I should point out (as noted in the comments) that Beck doesn't have a recent history of spreading Obama smears about wanting to $#@! your white sister, or words to that effect (though, as Josh Marshall noted here, that narrative is clearly emerging from people who are kindred spirits to Beck).

    However, Beck entertained Mann Coulter here and allowed her to refer to Obama as a "Manchurian candidate" without a word of protest, and Beck himself referred to Obama as "the antiChrist" here. Also, Beck referred to Obama as "colorless" here, which, while maybe not too offensive, was pretty dumb anyway, and Beck pulled a sneak attack against Dem Rep. Keith Ellison here, accusing him of being a "scary Muslim." So basically, anyone defending Beck barely has a leg to stand on.

    Update 1 8/6/08: He's at it again - can a whole, fresh cycle of trolling comments be far behind?

    Update 2 8/6/08: By the way, jarabefull left the following comment that I approved; don't know why it didn't show up...

    "All I am really trying to get across is a point that Mitt Romney made. He said that bias is shallow thinking. Read widely, particularly from people who disagree with you. Argue to learn rather than to win. If you don't respect, I mean really respect, the views of people who disagree with you, then you don't understand them yet. There are smart people on both sides of almost every important issue. Learn from them all.

    You can't do that when you just categorize people as clueless and bullies and unpatriotic. When you do, YOU are the one putting up a wall of misunderstanding that makes it hard to create any real progress.

    Glenn Beck, Al Gore, Reverend Sharpton and even Ron Paul all have something we can learn from."
    To which I replied...

    "Hard for me to respect someone who threatened to kill a person he disagreed with, which apparently is fine with you, but otherwise your point is well taken."
    That was being overly kind as far as I'm concerned (and quoting The Mittster??); as this point "uppity Negro who wants to $#@! your sister" is the only negative thing Beck HASN'T said about Obama.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    This news report on Jim Adkisson, the deranged individual who killed two people at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, informs us that high on Adkisson's reading list were Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Billo himself with their screeds against liberals (more info here - congratulations, you sick frauds; now your garbage is getting people killed)...

    ...and uh, excuse me, but I think Senator McBush needs to take a look in the mirror the next time he imagines that a presidential candidate besides himself has anything in common with Britney Spears (h/t The Daily Kos; apparently, Obama already has a response, which is typical for his generally sharp campaign, and I'll keep an eye out for it)...

    Update 7/31/08: Welcome back to "fighting the good fight," Jake - well done (h/t Atrios).

    ...and Charles Krauthammer gets the nod from K.O. here for "Worst Person In The World" for his dig at Obama's speech in Berlin, even though Patrick Pogan, Jr., the "clothesline cop," is a very close second IMHO...

    ...and I am absolutely bound and determined to try to work some music videos in again, even though I won't be able to do it in batches like I used to, and with that goal in mind, here's a neat little YouTube gem from axelmaes for "Crash Into The Sun" by Jim White.

    Wednesday Mashup (7/30/08)

    I came across two of these items last week that I haven’t seen in posts anywhere, so here is my commentary, for whatever it’s worth (with a third thrown in from yesterday).

  • For anyone who thought that Bushco would treat the whole FISA fiasco as a “one-and-done” on the issue of immunity from prosecution for negligence, I give you this story in which FEMA is seeking the same thing on the matter of people sickened by the formaldehyde in the trailers the agency provided for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    See, the branch of Bushco formerly run by Mike (“Horsey Time”) Brown thinks that the contractors they hired should face litigation and not the agency itself…yeah, that’s the ticket…sure (dated comedy reference, sorry).

    And by the way, good luck trying to get these contractors to help our government again after Bushco left them high and dry (sorry), or, you could say, sold them down the river (oops – sorry again…honestly can’t think of other ways to put it).

    And when I think of the fact that a legislative precedent now exists for FEMA to fall back on due to FISA, I can only present this graphic once more in response.

    Heckuva job, Congress.

  • And in another shining example of stupidity by our ruling cabal, voter registration drives have been banned from VA facilities (from here)…

    The policy, called Directive 2008-025, prohibits voter-registration drives at all VA facilities and hospitals.

    VA officials said the policy is intended to prevent disruptions and ensure that the VA doesn't get caught up in partisan politics.

    "It's totally ridiculous," (Dem Philadelphia U.S. House Rep Bob) Brady said. "We're talking about having bonafide nonpartisan organizations going in and helping soldiers register or get absentee ballots, and they won't allow it."

    Matt Smith, the VA's deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, said in a statement that the VA isn't in a position to "examine the agenda, history and motivations of every organization" that wants to hold registration drives at VA facilities.
    Translated: we’re not going to “support the troops” because we believe that, due to the pain they’ve suffered from Dubya’s disastrous war of choice in Iraq, they’re going to have the proverbial heads of the Repugs, as it were, this November, and we’re not going to do a damn thing that will make that any easier.

    Ideologues to the bitter end…

  • And in keeping with that theme, I present this San Diego Union-Tribune story telling us that Bushco’s Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has proposed a new plan for funding of our highways (hint: it poses a threat to the environment, of course)…

    (Peters) said the scheme plan would reduce the 13-year average it now takes to build (highways and transit projects). It also promises a renewed focus on maintaining and expanding federal highways instead of diverting funds to other projects.

    She also called for Congress to revamp the “antiquated” gas tax, which she said results in less revenue for transit because it relies on volatile fuel prices.

    Environmental activists quickly raised a red flag, saying the plan would eliminate the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, a key air pollution project.

    It's a little bit surprising that they would go so far as wanting to abolish a critical part of the Clean Air Act,” said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “The message they are sending is they want money going for asphalt rather than clean air.”

    Peters said the funding that would go to the program would instead be funneled into a pool that cities could use as they wish. Cities struggling to meet clean air guidelines could use their share to reduce pollution, while others could expand transportation.
    By now, there are certain words or phrases that, though they are part of our lexicon, should automatically invoke a response not unlike that of the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!” gyrations of Bob May’s robot on “Lost In Space” (hey, I haven’t sneaked in a “boomer” reference for a little while now, OK?). One of those is “deregulation of markets.” Another would be anything whatsoever indicating that federal monies will be distributed to states or other localities to do with as they please (either in the form of block grants or other appropriations), since that inevitably means that at least some of that funding will be misspent. And this is a perfect example.

    Also, I really don’t understand why Mr. O’Donnell would actually be surprised by the antics of Peters on behalf of her ideologue handlers in the White House. How much more evidence do you need that the environment isn’t even an afterthought to Incurious George and his puppet masters?

    And finally, this story gives me an opportunity to plug this site, which I am only too happy to do. There are just way too many Bushco bottom feeders out there to go after for me or anyone to tackle by ourselves, and to say that Peters has a checkered history is an understatement.
  • The Latest Lies From Dana Perino

    On the one hand, I suppose it’s pretty miraculous that our lap dog White House press corps (with the notable exception of Helen Thomas) even bothered to ask Bushco about the internal investigation that discovered the long-known-but-not-quite-so-thoroughly-proven politicization of the Justice Department under Abu Gonzales and his mindless functionary Monica Goodling at all (here).

    However, that in no way excuses the following…

    Q Dana, what's your reaction to the Justice Department report where they -- the report essentially says, yes, that there was inappropriate influence on politics and ideology that was part of our hiring and firing practices?

    MS. PERINO: Well as I have read the coverage of it -- I haven't read the report, but as I read the coverage of it, there's obviously information in there that would cause concern to anybody. And we agree with Michael Mukasey that -- the Attorney General -- that there was concern. There should be concern any time anyone is improperly using politics to influence career decisions. We believe that is improper. We could absolutely not defend that. And we are pleased that the Attorney General has taken steps to change it there at the Justice Department.
    Uh…not exactly.

    The New York Times recently opined as follows about this (here)…

    The details of what the investigators found were appalling, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s response was disgracefully lukewarm. If he hopes to leave office with any sort of reputation for integrity, he needs to get serious about punishing this sort of wrongdoing.

    The report, prepared by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General, does not delve deep enough. There is much more work to be done. But even this dip into the murky waters of the Justice Department found that senior officials took into account applicants’ political views in hiring United States attorneys and other nonpolitical positions. This, the report said, “violated federal law and department policy, and also constituted misconduct.”

    Mr. Mukasey’s response to the report focused on making sure that the improper and illegal activity “does not occur again.” He does not seem to understand that, as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, he has a duty to investigate crimes committed in his own department and to punish the offenders. The report’s authors could not interview Ms. Goodling because she no longer works at the Justice Department. Mr. Mukasey, who has subpoena power, presumably could get her to talk — as well as Mr. Rove, Ms. Miers and all of the others who need to testify under oath before this matter can be put to rest.

    The strength of American democracy depends on our ability to be shocked by abuses like these — and to punish them appropriately.
    You may now return to your regularly scheduled propaganda.

    Barely Even Worth The Bother Anymore

    This item from Political Radar tells us that George W. Milhous Bush recently appeared at a speaking engagement in Cleveland, Ohio, and, instead of reciting his canned spiel and then departing the stage, he actually decided to linger and take questions from the audience.

    The only problem is that his audience didn’t have anything to ask him, so he started waxing philosophic about a rainbow he saw in Bucharest, Romania instead (yawn).

    Well, I have a question for His Irrelevancy; why have you held 32 of your last 36 campaign fundraisers behind closed doors (as noted in this New York Times story of Dubya campaigning for Repug Aaron Schock of Illinois, who is running for the U.S. House to replace retiring Repug Ray LaHood...and no wonder the child is crying; the parent who permitted that should be slapped).

    Is it because you finally realize what an utter embarrassment you are based on the cringing acknowledgement of your presence from nearly everyone, and you don’t want anyone else to notice that either (as if you could hide it)?

    173 days and counting, people…

    Update: Actually, I wished someone had asked Dubya about this. After all, these are two topics he knows about.

    An Advertisement For Failure

    In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, writer Jeff Hurvitz tries to make a case here for allowing Unisys Corp. to place its sign amidst the downtown Philadelphia skyline, and he also tells us…

    The request by Unisys to display its name near the top of the building that will house its world headquarters - Two Liberty Place - was met by a strong opposition during hearings with the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment last week. A follow-up hearing is scheduled for September.

    It is imperative that the board approve that request.

    Residents who recently bought condos in the otherwise commercial use structure are contending that the 11-foot-high letters will detract from the aesthetics of the structure and thus reduce the value of their investments. To call this massive building a "residential community" is like calling a horse a cow, simply because it can supply milk.

    In legal terms it is called caveat emptor - buyer beware. For the few to stymie the benefit of the many is absurd.
    And aside from impugning those who actually had the audacity and bad business sense to buy property in the same building where Unisys proposes to hoist their hideous signage, Hurvitz takes a potshot at those “twentysomethings” who find it “hip” to leave Philadelphia and look for better employment elsewhere.

    (Before I continue, though, this disclosure and a mea culpa; family members of yours truly work in the sign-making industry, and I don’t know if they have a contract with Unisys or not. My criticism isn’t with their work, but with the aesthetics of the Unisys logo, which I always though unintentionally showcased the amateurism of the company as a whole. And I apologize in advance for any possible negative economic impact upon any party noted by reference or association in this post, but I feel like I have to say this.)

    On the matter of employment, the Inky tells us here that Bushco’s Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that area employment was up slightly in May, though, as McClatchy tells us here, our ruling cabal has effectively managed to hide the numbers of long-term jobless in their doctored figures. Regardless, it’s childish for anyone to impugn anyone of any age group for trying to better their careers by leaving this area (trying to find recent employment numbers by region in this country and having some difficulty – I’ll keep looking).

    But the real issue I have with allowing the Unisys signage atop Two Liberty Place really doesn’t have anything to do with the aesthetics of the sign (bad as they are) and the pain it would inflict on those unfortunate enough to live there.

    It is the fact that Unisys is an awful company (I ripped into them here, with a post title that was meant as a parody of their advertising slogan at that time), and if I were Mayor Michael Nutter, I wouldn’t want to allow them free advertising and thus besmirch the city’s name in the process. They bled capital and slashed their workforce for years before they realized some recent growth through expansion of consulting services and (you guessed it) offshoring.

    Trying to fend off charges of provincialism and imagining some benefit for “the many” by granting Unisys some primo publicity far into the future are hardly justifications for allowing this ludicrous request (at least Comcast, with their many faults, isn’t a quarter or two away from a slide into the financial abyss).

    As many of us know, Unisys was formed by the utterly mindless merger of Sperry and Burroughs many years ago in a move by Michael Blumenthal to get rich off the new company’s inflated stock price. The end result was not unlike “putting perfume on a pig,” which is what this corporate mistake remains to this day, regardless of how it is “branded.”

    Tuesday AM Stuff

    "The Pap Attack" tells us who's responsible for trying to kill "green" automotive technology (by the way, we saw "smart cars" all over the place at MVY last week - more of those insidious liberals actually trying to better all of our lives by being eco-friendly)...

    ...and yeah, I've beaten some of this stuff to death, but I still thought this was a funny vid of Sen. McBush (hat tips to The Jed Report and The Daily Kos)...

    ...and so truthful McCain is, of course; sorry I don't have the ad in question at the moment...

    Update 1: More "straight talk" from "Senator Honor And Virtue" here (or, to paraphrase Atrios, McBush is happy to portray Obama as a presumptuous and arrogant African American who seeks to have relations with your female sibling).

    Update 2: More on the original ad here...

    ...oh, and I mustn't forget that little development with the senior Repug senator from Alaska yesterday; here is my "tribute" once more, with Stevens "explaining" a modern marvel of technology (h/t The Daily Kos).

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    "Milk"-ing Intolerance

    If nothing else, this demonstrates that there’s no vacation for gay bashing and other forms of discrimination.

    As the PFAW post tells us…

    Religious Right groups are voicing their opposition to efforts to honor gay rights activist Harvey Milk: "'What significant contribution did Harvey Milk bring to the state of California – other than encouraging gay people to come out of the closet?' asked Benjamin Lopez of the Traditional Values Coalition. 'This is yet another example of them trying to normalize and force acceptance of the gay lifestyle upon people,' he said…
    God, this stuff is tiresome.

    This Wikipedia article about Milk tells us that, aside from the fact that he was San Francisco’s first openly gay city supervisor (and a rather shameless self promoter, though he was admirably tongue-in-cheek about it), he was also a tireless community organizer, building a coalition from labor unions and neighborhood groups to replace the city-wide elections with district elections (as the Wikipedia article tells us). And he did so with the specter of death threats overshadowing him constantly.

    As we also learn from the article, the effect of the change to district elections was to elect the most diverse board of supervisors the city had ever seen.

    Also, as a result of the assassination of Milk and former San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by former supervisor Dan White (who infamously employed what came to be known as the “Twinkie defense,” committing these acts supposedly because he’d consumed too much junk food), the “diminished capacity” defense for capital crimes in California was eliminated (a legal footnote that deserves to be mentioned).

    And as far as Milk’s legacy is concerned, the following paragraph barely scratches the surface…

    Milk "profoundly influenced gay and lesbian politics, and was also a champion of human rights".[1] He was named in the "Heroes & Icons" section of Time magazine's Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. Many institutions and organizations are named for Milk, including the Harvey Milk Recreational Arts Centre, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, the Harvey Milk Institute, the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library, and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club in San Francisco.
    Truth be told, though, I have to tell you that, after considering Milk’s life and his enduring imprint on our politics in this country, I have to reluctantly say that I don’t think he deserves a day for commemoration either.

    Actually, I think he deserves an entire month (on behalf of himself and all gay, lesbian and LBGT individuals). And I’ll really be interested to find out more on this upcoming movie about him starring Sean Penn in the title role.

    Oh, and speaking of San Francisco, how curious is this anyway?

    The Courier Times Concocts Nader Nonsense (And More)

    I admit that I haven’t had anything to say about the Bucks County Courier Times for awhile, even before we left town. And that is because it has given me very little reason to do so, seeing as how all it does anymore is recycle the same old, less-and-less-relevant freeper agit prop, either from its usual litany of right-wing shills or (mostly) from its reader correspondence.

    Today, though, the paper leapt to the defense of perennially losing Democratic presidential nominee Ralph Nader, and it’s going to take a bit of ‘splaining to tell you why.

    As the editorial notes, the “Bonusgate” scandal is currently under investigation in our beloved PA commonwealth, highlighted by “grand jury revelations of political work conducted with taxpayers' money,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

    More specifically…

    The grand jury report, released by Attorney General Tom Corbett (earlier this month), alleges that former House Minority Whip Michael Veon of Beaver County ran a statewide political operation out of his Capitol and district offices involving hundreds of legislative workers on the House Democrats' payroll.

    One of the House Democrats' most visible targets was Nader, who in 2004 was seeking to challenge Democrat John Kerry as well as President Bush. As many as 50 Pennsylvania House staff members worked on a challenge to Nader's ballot petition, and more than half received state-funded bonuses, in part for their "Nader efforts," according to the report.
    Even though there may be a link between “Bonusgate” (yes, I hate that four-letter suffix also) and Nader’s failed 2004 candidacy, that doesn’t change the following facts as noted by the Inquirer…

    A decision by Commonwealth Court, upheld by the state Supreme Court, found that most of the signatures for Nader were invalid.

    Abe Amoros, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said the grand jury report did not "exclude the fact that Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli (the Green Party candidate in the 2006 U.S. Senate race won by Bob Casey) falsified their nominating petitions."

    "I fail to see how this is the responsibility of the Democratic Party," he said. "They are rehashing their own inadequacies and their own incompetence to get on the ballot."

    And the Courier Times tells us in the editorial that “We don't know how many of the signatures Nader collected were no good,” even though they state earlier in their own editorial that “Nearly two-thirds of Nader's signatures were declared invalid.”

    It is to laugh, my friends (oops…a little “McBush” sneaked in there).

    Also, as long as I’m on the subject of Bucks County’s conservative newspaper of record, I’d like to pose a question: whose bright idea was it to either reduce the point size of the newspaper’s text type or change the leading, thus making the paper harder to read? Are you trying to reduce your own circulation?

    Also (again), as long as I’m talking about matters pertinent to Bucks County, I have to point out that, unless he gave a speech or public pronouncement of some type while we were away, I should note that Tom Manion is running the most mysterious campaign for the U.S. Congress that I have ever seen, in an effort to unseat Patrick Murphy that is looking less and less likely to succeed.

    I know of no time (except for the kickoff press conference at his house) that this man has spoken in a public forum or addressed a group of individuals on any issue or cause whatsoever. And I don’t think it should be incumbent upon yours truly to do the legwork and seek out his web site absent any coverage in the “traditional” print media. Hell, even Mikey Fitzpatrick wrote Guest Opinions regularly; I know I shot a few of them full of holes, but at least he told us what he believed and what was going on, however bad the information was and/or however wrong he was on the issues.

    I know Tom Manion is a brave man, and he certainly isn’t dumb. But when a purported candidate for Congress is reduced to merely naysaying against the Democratic incumbent in response to the most important issues we face (the war and the economy, including the price of gas, among others) then he does a disservice not only to himself, but more importantly, to the voters he would serve in Washington.

    An "Old Gray Lady" Obama-Rama Sneak Attack

    As we romped on the beaches of Lobsterville, Aquinnah and Squibnocket (public after 5 PM) last week, I must confess that I missed Barack Obama’s Berlin speech, which is my loss I know (though I was able to browse over BoBo’s hit job on it in the New York Times last week…if you choose to subject yourself to it, please do so from here).

    And in case you missed out on it, Mark Leibovich (who wrote a tremendous article on Tweety noted here) joined in the Obama-bashing fun yesterday also, comparing the imagery of the presumptive Dem nominee’s overseas travels to that of “Senator Honor And Virtue” here…

    The journeys provided a roving platform for the candidates to mimic the “official” conventions of a commander in chief. Mr. Obama set forth on his European and Middle Eastern tour accompanied by 12 foreign policy advisers and a virtual army of men wearing earpieces that approached presidential levels. He was ferried through the streets of Amman, Jordan, in a 20-car motorcade.

    While the McCain entourage pales compared with that of his rival — as does his Boeing 737 next to Mr. Obama’s 757 — his trips still convey an unmistakably presidential vibe.
    No word on whether or not Obama rewards members of the press who provide favorable coverage with special access, as McBush does (here), or whether or not the Illinois senator would even consider the military accompaniment of the Repug nominee as the latter “strolled” through a Baghdad market here.

    But what really got me about Leibovich’s column was this…

    Mr. Obama’s trip was mostly judged a success — he made no embarrassing missteps — which was particularly important to his candidacy because polls have shown that he has the greater burden in persuading voters that he is ready for the presidency. He needs “to plant in peoples’ minds the visual image of him sitting in the White House,” said Mike McCurry, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton.
    First of all, I cannot fathom at this point why any Democratic politician or operative of one type or another would take Mike McCurry seriously at this point (though the media is another story, I know). All he does is lend what little gravitas he has to the Repug-favored story line of the day, to say nothing of his odious opposition to Net Neutrality.

    Second (and this is a familiar refrain, I know), what possible evidence does either he or Leibovich have to substantiate the charge that Obama has a “greater burden in persuading voters that he is ready for the presidency”?

    Well, whatever it is that Obama is doing, it must be succeeding so far to indicate a result like this; we have miles to go in this contest, however, and we can only look forward to more of this nonsense to perpetuate the “horserace” so fervently desired by our corporate media cousins.

    Update: And by the way, Senator McBush is at it again with the gaffes, as noted here (and of course, he was against Barack Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq before he was for it, as noted here).

    Another Hollywood Type Tries To Analyze The News

    And what should greet me upon my return to the keyboard today but this CNN nonsense in which Ben Stein is given a platform to pontificate about the economy.

    I guess, if you’re a high-profile conservative, it just doesn’t matter how many times you screw up as you echo Republican Party talking points in the guise of an “interview” or other allegedly impartial means of communication. And Stein has had his share of these moments, such as here where he incorrectly claimed that Dr. Benjamin Spock’s son committed suicide (it was his grandson, and how low is it to bring that up anyway)?

    Stein also claimed here that ExxonMobil “needs a hug” (and how much did it cost for you to fill up your vehicle at the pump recently, dear reader?)

    But for today’s CNN “story,” Stein claims that John W. McBush needs to bring on Karl Rove and put him in charge of the former’s fading presidential campaign.

    Sure, bring on board the guy who “led” the Repugs to their Congressional loss in 2006 and, in the process, remind way too much of this country of how they got suckered in 2004 to vote for President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History because they were afraid of wetting their pants over terrorism and the threat of gays marrying and indoctrinating their kids into “the homosexual agenda.”


    And I also want to take note of Stein’s comment about how the economy is supposed to be doing just fine, thank you…

    "We are in a psychological recession. People think times are really, really bad, but it is an amazing thing if you are out there among them: the hotels are full, the airlines are full, the high-end shops are full, the Wal-Mart is really, really, really full, the highways are full, the trains are full. But on the other hand, clearly some portions of the economy are suffering terribly."
    There are all kinds of ways that I can blow holes in this, but I would just like to point out the following.

    In the metropolitan Philadelphia/Southeastern Pennsylvania area where I live, I have occasion to travel on our roads a good deal for both work and non-work related reasons. And I have traveled into southern New Jersey on Saturday mornings twice recently during what would normally be peak traffic times for those traveling to the Jersey shore points.

    In prior years, I would have sat for possibly an hour or longer, but I have sailed through to my destinations as if I were traveling at night time. And we recently completed a six-hour trip en route to our vacation stop through Connecticut when we expected to run into horrendous traffic on I-95; we almost tried to break up the trip through making a hotel reservation near Mystic, CT closer to our final vacation stop at MVY. But the anticipated traffic hangups didn’t materialize there either and we proceeded with no problem; we only hit traffic when we arrived on the cape of Massachusetts, which was completely anticipated.

    My point is that the price of gas is affecting people’s vacation plans. The highways are not as crowded as they have been in prior years when gas was a dollar or more less per gallon. Anyone who denies that is a liar or a fool, or both.

    At least Stein supports Al Franken for the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, though if I were Franken, I would be wary of such an endorsement.

    And believe it or not, this ties into a comment on Stein’s column in the New York Times a couple of days ago, in which he told us…

    As far as I can tell, there are several reasons (why, in Stein’s view, the economy isn’t as bad as we’re being told). One is the immense size of government expenditures. Federal outlays alone are roughly $3 trillion in a $14 trillion economy. If you add in consumption expenditures by state and local governments, the number comes in above $4 trillion. Second is the very large federal deficit, on the order of $400 billion. This is highly stimulative, as was the federal stimulus package itself. Third is the truth that the blows to the economy, while painful, are simply not enormous on a national scale.
    Actually, I agree with Stein a bit on the fact that our federal deficit is “highly stimulative”; as noted here, it is “stimulative” for China, Japan, the UK, and other countries that (for now) continue to finance our wasteful economic negligence (and since Stein doesn’t go to the trouble to source his numbers except to claim that they basically come from Bushco, I won’t bother to try sourcing them either).

    Also, as kos notes here, those sorry statistics noted by the Australian actually don’t include the cost of our two wars, believe it or not.

    I couldn’t help but note in the CNN piece that Stein is hoping for a sequel to the ‘80s hit movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the film that launched his movie career (he wants to star in the sequel, of course). This is appropriate in a way, I guess, given that the original (and yes, I had a laugh or two over it also) took place during the supposedly sunny, “Morning In America” years of The Sainted Ronnie R, which prescribed both domestic and international reality avoidance for this country.

    The problem is that, though Stein has the means and the high profile to get away with intellectual “truancy” over our current plight, if you will (reminiscent of Bueller himself – an iconic performance by Matthew Broderick), most of this country does not (including yours truly, of course). And due to eight years of primarily Repug “governance,” we have ended up in the same metaphorical condition of Cameron’s father’s Ferrari at the end of the movie (and don’t expect Stein or any of his fellow members of the investor class to help as we dig ourselves out of the ditch).

    Update: More proof for Ben Stein that everything is just hunky dory...

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    Ready or not, I'm shaking the last of the sand out of my flip flops and other beach accouterments and plan to rev up this whole blogging thing again soon. But for now, here are some vids for your edification.

    First, Bruce Lunsford heaps this one onto Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (h/t Daily Kos)...

    ...and my oh my, did John W. McBush make a stinky here while we were away at MVY (h/t Atrios)...

    ...I also missed this joyous little item featuring McBush pal Bud ("RUN FOR YOUR LIVES FROM THE SCARY MUSLIMS!!") Day...

    ...and I meant to squeeze this in before we left also: Liddy Dole in freeper la-la land, Chris Wallace screwing up his talking points and Mike Meehan sinking lower than I hope anyone else does ever again (which probably means someone will go lower still)...

    ...and as far as I'm concerned, this is why David Sirota is The Man.