Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Watch" The Two Bushes

Like father (it happens right away in this '92 video of the debate with Clinton and Perot - you don't have to watch the entire video, even though I thought the first question was very good)... son (and "daughter-in-law" if you will - yep, Kagro X nails it here).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Stuff

The Beard and Barack Obama remind us that Iraq has more damn oil money than they know what to do with (but he's got to be careful about that "not using the 68 million acres" line; try working on the line about Repug obstruction on a windfall profits tax and tax credits on renewable energy investment, OK? Has a nicer ring)...

...oh, and by the way, just to let you know, Russia and Georgia (the country, that is) are at war (or just about - more info here, along with this al jazeera video)...

Update 8/9/08: And one reason why we should care about the conflict noted above is that we have about 1,000 troops in Georgia. Now, back to the John Edwards story..., Rick Davis of the McBush campaign was the top lobbyist for the DHL deal that will cost this lady and 8,200 of her co-workers their jobs, huh?

You wanna try some "straight talk," McBush? Try telling her that you and other senators were paid $185 K by Davis' lobbying firm so she and 8,200 other Ohioans would get thrown out into the street, you feeble old man (h/t Atrios)...

...K.O. brings us today's "Worst Persons" (amazingly, Edwards didn't make the list, but John McBush messes up the charges in the Hamdan conviction - and really, even if he'd been acquitted, he'd still have been held as an "enemy combatant" - Billo sends one of his producers stalking after Dem FLA Congressman Robert Wexler, and Newt forgets echoes of The Sainted Ronnie R in Obama's Berlin speech, and I hope K.O. was joking about Ronnie Baby at the end)...

...oh, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Man Tan) said today that "the American people are going to hang Nancy Pelosi" over the Repugs and their energy antics here.

As you can see, Boehner (pronounced "bo-ner") is the same clown who said that our troops have paid "a small price" in Iraq (and Biden's response hits the proverbial bullseye)...

...and here's Stereophonics ("Dakota")

This Will Go Down As A Life Lesson (updates)

I suppose, in the end, it’s my fault, really (in case you don't know what I'm talking about somehow, you'll find out shortly).

And maybe, if we feel our opinions are superior to those of others to the point where we do this and feel that we’re bringing order to chaos in our own small way, it's ours too a bit.

But see, I really do endeavor to tell what, as nearly as I can determine, is the truth here. And I think anyone who does this with any professionalism (the whole “blogging” thing, I mean) is trying to do the same thing.

And yes, there’s plenty of snark here where I honestly feel that it is deserved.

But when the time comes for me to take the hit, I have to stand up and take it. And that’s what this post is all about.

And I have to admit that, as I try to reconcile all of my own feelings at this point in order to compose something with some logic to it, I come back to the image of Private Pyle in “Full Metal Jacket” after he snuck a jelly doughnut into his foot locker.

You see, I honestly investigated John Edwards before I decided to devote such an enormous amount of space on this site towards publicizing his candidacy for president, and doing all that I could to help him along (including authoring this post, which I thought represented what he was truly all about).

And I believed in him, as anyone with any familiarity with this site knows, kind of the way that F. Lee Ermey (in his demented way) and the other recruits in Pyle’s company somehow believed that he would conform and become a “soldier” of sorts on our behalf (of course, if you saw “Full Metal Jacket,” you know full well what eventually happened to Private Pyle).

But maybe it’s my fault, as I say, that I didn’t pick up on what I suppose were warning signs during the 2004 campaign when it seemed like Edwards was freelancing in an effort to build his 2008 candidacy; I mean, John Kerry is a great American, and he would have been a great president, but the man has a charisma gap – sorry, but it’s the truth – and Edwards filled that. But if I thought that that was all there was to Edwards, I would not have given him a second thought after the ’04 campaign ended.

Maybe I was projecting that, like Pyle as a marine, Edwards would hit the right notes as a candidate and follow through, all the way to the nomination (and I guess the fact that he was saying he was taking his candidacy that far earlier this year when the numbers provided a decidedly more realistic message should have been a tipoff also).

What I’m saying is that it’s all about standing up and doing the right thing, in politics as well as everything else.

So I stuck with him, through all of the crappy-to-non-existent news coverage (such as this), and the debates, and the Iowa loss that pretty much sealed the deal (and I want to emphasize that I never had bitterness about that; Obama beat him fair and square, and that’s the way it goes – the only time I’ve ever really flipped out on Obama was over FISA, and I’m STILL not thrilled with him over that…to be honest, I thought that was the lowest I’d ever feel as a blogger – silly me).

And soon after the numbers started to trend against him once and for all, I started to hear the whispers about Rielle Hunter.

Ridiculous, I thought. This goes against everything he represents (to say nothing of hurting Elizabeth, whose honor as a result of this unbelievable mess is something that cannot be measured as far as I’m concerned; to be honest, I still can’t completely comprehend all of this at this moment because of the utter shock).

And when the National Enquirer started writing about it, I didn’t pay it any mind (a commenter reminded me of it also who I put down, though this person has been proven utterly right, and I’m sure I will be reminded of that in due course). But I have to admit that, when I saw a HuffPo post from Lee Stranahan about it, that got my attention, with Marty Kaplan answering in a manner that seemed to defend Edwards (and don’t ask me about what Leno and those people were saying – I haven’t a clue).

And as the drumbeat got louder and I continued to defend him (hell, I even made a remark today about Pawlenty that was intended as a jibe over the haircut business!), I took comfort from this McClatchy story (I mean, how much firmer of a denial could he provide, even though the birth certificate indicated no father?).

But of course, this is where we are now (and, for good measure, here also).

So give John Edwards credit for legitimately trying to call attention to poverty in America throughout his campaign for president and during his recent efforts, as noted here; despite this, that should not be forgotten.

But he is now a pariah (it's still unreal to contemplate this along with, say, Senator Wide Stance or "Diaper Dave" Vitter, or "Governor Emperor's Club," but again, this is where we are).

We online (to say nothing of his campaign staff) have, as I noted previously, invested incalculable hours and effort to promote him and his work and to make the case for his role in government (I said somewhere that I believed he should be the Attorney General in an Obama administration – can't find the link at the moment, though; more fool me).

And no, don’t expect any quarter to be given. As harsh as I am on those who deceive us and betray us for whatever the reason, expect the very same to be doled out to him (worse, actually, because according to the rules of this game of trying to shape and inform public opinion, we are nothing if we are as bad or worse as those we criticize).

As always, the mistake is forgivable by itself. If he had come forward about the matter when it first happened, that might have still ended his career in public life, but he still would have retained a measure of respect. But it’s the goddamn lies and the cover up that absolutely reeks to high heaven!

So have fun now, trolls. You were right and I was wrong. That’s the risk I run when I put my opinion out here like this – it’s your time now.

And coming back to “Full Metal Jacket” again, I hope John Edwards enjoys his metaphorical donut, if you will. I hope he takes a seat in the middle of that floor, so to speak (like Pyle did in the movie) and has a real big time with it (with Ermey barking out commands to the other marines, punishing them because they failed to straighten out Pyle also, as he saw it). And when Edwards is finished, I hope he crawls under a rock and stays there for a long, long time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll start doing some pushups.

Update: And by the way, as a lead-in to his show on MSNBC, Tweety ran a promo with Edwards and Barack Obama in photos together, with the voice-over asking what will happen to the Dems as a result of these revelations (implying that this will affect Obama somehow).

Thanks, John. This will be "a gift that keeps giving" into November, I'm afraid.

Update 8/9/08 #1: And we have a winner! in the Corporate Media Horse's Ass competition to state publicly that this is somehow bad news for Obama here, though Josh Marshall has a cautionary note here (hat tips to Atrios for both).

Update 8/9/08 #2: I've had this song in my head ever since this story broke...

Update 8/9/08 #3: Gee, HuffPo, have MORE of a field day with this, why don't you (and please remind us once more that you're "cutting edge" - you have the right to do this, I realize, but then don't go preaching about ethics to "dead tree" media).

(And I'm sorry, but blaming Elizabeth Edwards for this somehow is bullshit.)

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

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.

Federal tobacco regulation. In a 326-102 vote, the House sent the Senate a bill that would begin Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products. The bill would empower the FDA to regulate cigarette content, require disclosure of product ingredients, ban cigarette marketing to children, and require more prominent health warnings.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 1108).

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.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
I make a lot of fun of Joe Pitts and his awful votes, but in all seriousness, this is utterly unconscionable (to support Bruce Slater, please click here – if this isn’t a reason to do so, I don’t know what is).

Oil-market speculation. In a 276-151 vote, the House failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill directing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb "excessive speculation" in the oil-futures market, in part by setting higher margin requirements, limiting investment positions, and requiring more public disclosure.

A yes vote was to advance the bill (HR 6604).

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

Voting no: Pitts and Saxton.
So Pitts and Saxton think they know more than Nomi Prins, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs who thinks we must do a hell of a lot more than we’re doing to regulate oil speculation (noted here)?

How interesting.

Gender-based pay bias. In a 247-178 vote, the House sent the Senate a bill to bolster the federal law that bans pay discrimination based on gender. The bill would empower women alleging pay bias to sue for recovery of back pay and receive punitive and compensatory damages, ban employer retaliation against those who share salary data with coworkers, and establish a grant program to teach negotiating skills to girls and women.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 1338).

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

Voting no: LoBiondo, Pitts and Saxton.
I actually just went looking for more information on Pitts (along with LoBiondo – Saxton is a hopeless case also who can’t leave soon enough at this point), and I found out that Pancake Joe is scheduled to host a public meeting to discuss the proposed Sparrows Point Pipeline Project this Tuesday at 7 PM at the Octorara High School Auditorium, 226 Highland Road, Atglen (for any PA-16 folk who may be reading this).

Why don’t you show up and give Joe a piece of your mind over this and other matters? It can only help (when it comes to adding to whatever gray matter Joe actually has, I mean). I’d like to hear him try to explain why he thinks gender-based pay discrimination if OK.


Renewable-energy tax credits. In a 51-43 vote, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to end GOP blockage of a bill to extend renewable-energy tax credits due to expire at year's end. The credits would promote fuel extraction from sources such as the sun, wind, earth and crops and promote the manufacture of more energy-efficient homes, buildings and appliances.

A yes vote was to advance the bill (S 3335).

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

Voting no: Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Gee, didn’t Arlen just get done criticizing Congress for supposedly not doing anything on this issue here? Well, it sounds like they were trying, but the “Roadblock Republicans” struck again, with “Senator Comcast” going along for the ride.

As always, screw you, Arlen.

Higher Education Act. In an 83-8 vote, the Senate sent President Bush the conference report on a bill (HR 4137) renewing the Higher Education Act at a cost of at least $142 billion in discretionary spending through fiscal 2013. The bill would provide up to $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness to members of the armed forces, public defenders, prosecutors, firefighters, emergency workers, law enforcement officers, educators, and nurses.

A yes vote was to approve the measure.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Menendez, Lautenberg and Specter.
As you can read here, I thought the voting on this was pretty interesting.

Repug Olympia Snowe of Maine voted “present.” Does she support helping out all of these fine professionals with their student loans, or doesn’t she?

John McCain did not cast a vote (yes, I know there’s a good reason, but this is in keeping with his horrific attendance). Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise did not vote. Neither did Norm Coleman (take note, Al), Dems Amy Klobuchar and Ted Kennedy (for an obvious reason), and Repugs Chuck Hagel and Pete Domenici.

And the No votes, as you might expect, were all from Repugs trying to recover some conservative “brand” of miserly spending on the backs of people who don’t deserve it, and they would be Jeff Sessions, Jon Kyl, John Isakson, Tom Coburn, Jim Inhofe (to help Andrew Rice, click here), Jim DeMint, Lamar Alexander, and Bob Corker.

And as of now, Congress is in recess until the week of Sept. 8.

Only Regrets For Brett

Believe me when I tell you that I’d rather pluck out all of my eyebrow hairs one at a time than agree with Philadelphia Daily News columnist Christine Flowers, but on this incredibly rare occasion today (here), I feel I must do so (straying into sports for a minute).

She is opining today on the whole situation with former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

If there is ever a guy that should take the hint and fade from the spotlight, it is Favre. Yes, he’s had a great career, including a Super Bowl win along with a bunch of other playoff victories and championships. Yes, he’s often served as a good ambassador for the game.

But he’s done. Kaput. Finished. And that is obvious apparently to just about everyone but him.

I still remember the playoff game earlier this year between the Packers and the New York Giants in which Favre threw up yet another dying quail of a pass that was intercepted by the Giants en route to their winning score, which landed them a trip to the Super Bowl while Favre and his teammates went home. Favre had the good sense back then to know it was over, but unfortunately, his perspective has become skewed again by absence from the spotlight he so craves, like just about every other athlete of his orbit.

As I watch all of this play out (all that remains is for Favre to get pasted along with his New York Jet teammates – and of course, the New York media will be so forgiving, as we know), I am reminded once more of the greatness of Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt (switching back to baseball).

As the Wikipedia article tells us, Schmidt also had an illustrious career; he was a member of the World Series-winning team in 1980, was named an All-Star twelve times, and was also named MVP three times.

The article also tells us that Schmidt knew when to “hang it up,” as he did in 1989 after a rotator cuff operation. He did so on May 29th after a game against San Diego, and the explanation he gave was that he couldn’t compete at the level he wanted to any longer, or words to that effect.

Imagine that. Schmidt didn’t go on injured reserve or anything, then try to milk the Phillies for any more money or generate some media circus where he would be shipped to another team (and in baseball, he could have played first base that would not require quite the same degree of quickness as third base did – the Phillies were actually playing him there more and more by then – and had he been traded to an American League team, he would not have even had to play the field at all because of the designated hitter rule).

No, he knew he was done (and Schmidt was about a year older than Favre is now when he retired). And so what if it was in the middle of the season?

Mike Schmidt knew that, regardless of how great a career he had, he could never be bigger than the game. And I have a feeling that will start to occur to Brett Favre after he gets sacked a few times while playing for his new team, or throws up another dying quail of an interception.

The "Pawlenty Of Nothing" Repug

This New York Times story today tells us of Tim Pawlenty, the Repug governor of Minnesota, who has emerged as a “short list” veep candidate for John W. McBush (and Pawlenty is co-chair of McCain’s veep selection committee).

Based on the story, it seems like Pawlenty has largely kept out of the spotlight (admittedly, though, that doesn’t seem to be hard to do in Minnesota – no offense intended), and in his early public life, he seemed to embody what a typical Republican represented; someone fiscally conservative but socially moderate. However, as the fundie nut jobs gradually wrestled control of the party away from them (along with the capitalist greed heads who want to do away with any government whatsoever – see Norquist, Grover), Pawlenty seemed to adopt to them just fine also; as noted below…

Fifteen years ago, while in the State House, Mr. Pawlenty voted to expand rights for gay men and lesbians; he has since said he regrets the vote.

Then, as governor, after a partisan battle with the Legislature and a partial shutdown of the state government, he agreed to a “health impact fee” on cigarettes, irking fiscal conservatives who said he had broken his promise not to raise taxes.
The story also tells us that Pawlenty vetoed 34 bills by Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled legislature, and there was also some question about Pawlenty’s consulting for a telecomm firm in 2001 and 2002 for which he was paid $4,500 a month (and as part of this “shadow man” persona of his, if you will, he refused to take Project Vote Smart’s National Political Awareness Test here).

Also, after the I-35W bridge collapse last year in Minnesota, Pawlenty exercised one of his vetoes on a transportation legislation package that included a gasoline tax increase to pay for bridge repairs. However, that was the first of his vetoes that was overridden.

And it is acknowledged that Pawlenty has shrewdly positioned himself for higher office, even to the point where he alters his haircut from time to time for appearances sake, as noted by his wife (no word on how much his haircuts have cost or whether or not anyone will be calling him “the Breck Boy” any time soon).

Also, Pawlenty is capable of propagandizing with any Repug on the block; this tells us that he spread the lie that Barack Obama would, as president, pass a tax that would affect anyone owning an IRA or a 401(k) (you have to be particularly dumb to bite on something like that, people – you wouldn’t have to declare those earnings unless you withdrew them or had to take a distribution, and unless you’re rich or an older member of the workforce, that wouldn’t apply), and he also wrongly said that Obama flip-flopped on the matter of whether or not he thinks Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is a terrorist organization here.

And Pawlenty has often said that the Repugs should be “the party of Sam’s Club instead of the country club.” That’s a clever catchphrase (the Repugs always seem to come up with this stuff, no matter how much it flies in the face of reality), and I don’t know if Pawlenty had anything to do with it or not.

However, given that Sam’s Club locks in their store employees supposedly to ensure their safety, but really, to combat what they see as pilferage (here), regularly engages in illegal termination and discipline of pro-union employees (here, echoing this post...the "Sam" in Sam's Club is the late Sam Walton, whose family also owns Wal-Of-China Mart), doctors time cards here, denies breaks to keep down labor costs here, and, in this case, had to close the non-refrigerated foods section of one of its stores in Georgia due to a mouse infestation…well, I don’t think Pawlenty has to worry.

I would say the Repugs already meet that low standard, and then some (and Pawlenty can continue this “aw, shucks” act of his a la Mike Huckabee to hide his true wingnuttia, perhaps to the point where he may end up as McBush’s selection after all).

(And by the way, B.J.’s is much better – join them instead.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday Stuff

Glad YouTube seems to be up and running again, and as long as it is, here are tributes to Philly pop rock icon Robert Hazard ("Escalator of Life")...

...and pianist Louis Teicher of the duo Ferrante and Teicher ("Exodus" - don't ask me who was who; God, are those velour wide lapels with bow ties? Ugh, what typically horrific '70s fashion!)

Technical Difficulties

I'm not sure what's going on with the YouTube videos. I checked their site's help forum and saw that they're blaming "the usual suspects"; pop-up blockers, some contention with Flash player and Javascript, old versions of Internet browsers (though this seems to be occurring regardless of whether or not you have IE or Firefox), but they don't seem to have an explanation for the fact that the audio plays while the message "We're sorry, but this video is no longer available" appears for ALL OF THEM!
Also, MSNBC is apparently no longer allowing videos downloaded from their site to play if they're more than a day old. Pray tell, who was the genius who came up with something as dumb as that?
At least the "Pap Attack" videos from Air America seem to be unaffected. Aside from them, though, I'm not going to embed any more YouTube videos until they figure out what's going on.
Sorry about all of this - if I can fix this, I will ASAP (and Blogger itself appears to be hosed - ugh).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Off The Front Page, But Still A Scourge

The New York Times tells us here today that…

…millions of people are becoming infected because governments are overlooking studies showing that behavior modification works, AIDS experts said Tuesday.

Among the behavior modifications the experts cited: promoting safer sex through delayed intercourse and the use of condoms, decreasing drug abuse, providing access to needle exchange programs and promoting male circumcision.
(By the way, this story originated from the 26th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.)

Yes, none of these approaches are cure-alls by themselves, but, combined with drug therapies and other means, they can help slow the spread of the disease (obvious, I know, but it bears repeating).

And Bloomberg tells us here that…

The AIDS virus infects about 40 percent more people in the U.S. than the government has long estimated, federal health officials said today. The new data sparked criticism of Bush administration policies.

About 56,300 people in the U.S. annually contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Since 2001, the Atlanta-based agency had said there were about 40,000 new infections a year. The latest data, gained using new methods, suggests the rate was higher all along, said Kevin Fenton, the CDC's director of AIDS prevention.
Gosh, Bushco doctoring statistics to put itself in a more favorable light than it deserves? Color me shocked!

And in an effort to learn more about this miscalculation, I navigated to this site and found the following disclaimer…

New technology and methodology developed by CDC show that the incidence of HIV in the United States is higher than was previously known. However, the incidence has been stable at that higher level for most of this decade.
So what? You still underreported the numbers, didn’t you?

And in other AIDS-related news, this tells us that H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (now that's a mouthful!), was signed into law by President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History on July 30th (this was the bill that Elizabeth Dole wanted renamed to include Jesse Helms, just to let you know, truly an obscenity given Helms’ intolerance towards LGBT individuals).

But while Dubya is busy patting himself on the back over signing Lantos-Hyde, please consider the following (from here)…

The two principal AIDS programs funded by the federal Government (in Dubya’s FY 2009 budget), the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and the Ryan White CARE Act (RWCA), received a combined increase of seven million dollars between them; however, due to hefty annual price increases for lifesaving AIDS drugs that are automatically granted to the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry based on the consumer price index (CPI), the six million dollar ADAP budget increase actually translates into a $27 million dollar cut to the federally funded, state run consortia of ADAPs which provide lifesaving AIDS medicines to low-income Americans.
And the net effect is demonstrated here; I’m sure volunteers Cece Jones and Latoya Bryant could give Dubya an education – what a pity that they don’t live half a world away in a place where they dress unlike we do and engage in rituals that provide great photo-ops, like this one.

Update 9/16/08: Anon, I apologize, but I had to disallow your comment because of Blogger's ridiculous ultra-policing of comment spam - otherwise I would have gladly allowed the link.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

Hey, McBush, you're so busy yelling at Congress to get back to work - you ever realize that that includes YOU TOO??!!

And as you ponder that, please keep this in mind also, my friends...

...well, at least McBush has some fans here (yep, a fairy tale, just like his platform, such as it is)...

...meanwhile, "The Pap Attack" offers another history lesson about Dubya and also notes what Elaine Chao and other Bushite cronies are up to...

...and here's Florence And The Machine ("Kiss With A Fist"; love that melodic guitar solo).

A Patrick Murphy Note

For Bucks County, PA folk, just a quick note that Patrick Murphy will be appearing at the Lower Makefield Farmer’s Market at Edgewood and Heacock Roads at 4:45 this Thursday August 7th…please tell a friend.

Go Home And Do Us A Favor, OK?

Fresh from some more glowing hosannas in Philadelphia’s conservative newspaper of record here, Our Man Arlen Specter is back to bash the deliberative body of our government where he currently resides here for not “taking any action on the prices of oil or gas at the pump and other key issues,” as he states.

Gee, if you hate it in the Senate so much, Arlen, then why are you running for another term in 2010? You should be planning a bus trip with your neighbors at that “step-down” community to the Catskills instead, don’t you think?

Besides, as noted here, you voted against increasing taxes on oil company profits and rescinding their tax deductions, and you also voted against cloture on low-income energy assistance funding and alternative energy tax incentives (I see no mention of a 7/23 bill Oil Speculators bill).

But this appears to be part of the Repugs’ game plan of trying ceaselessly to pin the high price of gas on Democrats, and as I and many others have pointed out probably to the point where people are sick of reading about it, our current state is the result of bad-to-no planning by the supposed energy geniuses who run our country and took no note (or deliberately looked the other way) while India and China emerged as economic powerhouses that consumed more and more of the crude we’ve demanded for ourselves, with the all-too-willing assistance of their Repug acolytes in Congress and the White House who don’t mind our painful status quo one bit and underfunded alternative energy development and discouraged conservation because all they could see were dollar signs instead of families having to choose between petroleum and food, to say nothing of the attendant environmental wreckage of our planet.

(OK, rant mode off…).

And to contribute to the sorry political spectacle, we have this story of 24 Republican U.S. House representatives who insist on hanging around chambers in the never-ending search for partisan sound bites, including this jelly sack…

"Markets respond. The market is responding to the fact that we're here talking," said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz.
Well, I would be more prone to trust this explanation instead…

In New York Monday, crude oil prices fell below $120 a barrel for the first time in three months on US growth fears as data showed that real US consumer spending fell by 0.2% in June, as rising inflation offset the impact of $100bn in rebates for US taxpayers - including food and energy, prices rose 0.8% in June – more than the 0.6% increase in spending produced by the stimulus cheques.
So basically, the price of oil fell due to bad news (also, we’re getting near the end of the summer, people – we’re either in the midst of our vacation travel plans or we’ve already had them, or not, so not as much driving equals not as much gas equals not as much $$$ for our “friends” at Chevron, CITGO, etc., so the price goes down, just as it goes up in the spring before all that starts).

And I find it hilarious that House Repugs would criticize the Dem “leadership” for taking a vacation, since the 110th Congress (as noted here) had more roll call votes than any other Congress in our country’s history in 2007, whereas the dreaded 109th set a record for the fewest number of days in session in one year since the end of World War II.

But on second thought, maybe Shadegg and his pals should continue their fruitless little exercise anyway. It’s appropriate for them to be stumbling into each other in the dark.

Another BoBo Bashing of Obama-Rama

I know it’s repetitive to keep rehashing all of the wingnut nonsense out there concerning all-but-named Dem presidential nominee Barack Obama, but David Brooks in particular today made it impossible for me to avoid commentary (here...BoBo is in true "concern troll" mode).

So, in addition to all of this “what do we really know about him” business (as if we could really know any of these people), the narrative of “why doesn’t he have a bigger lead” is now spreading all over the place, as if that somehow provides an excuse for our punditocracy to avoid an in-depth analysis of why John W. McBush is so bad of a candidate to begin with.

And BoBo tells us that Obama was “sort of there” for a few key moments, but not really, including his time with the University of Chicago Law School. And Brooks also tells us that Obama “was a community organizer for three years but left before he could be truly effective.”

Well, I don’t know by what measure Brooks considers Obama to be “truly effective,” but according to this Daily Kos post…

More than 150,000 new African-American voters were added to the city's rolls (for the 1992 election). In fact, for the first time in Chicago's history-including the heyday of (former mayor) Harold Washington-voter registrations in the 19 predominantly black wards outnumbered those in the city's 19 predominantly white ethnic wards, 676,000 to 526,000.

For the first time in ten years, more than half a million blacks went to the polls in Chicago. And with gubernatorial and mayoral elections coming up in the next two years, it served notice to every¬one…that an African-American voting bloc would be a force to be reckoned with in those races.

"It was the most efficient campaign I have seen in my 20 years in politics," says Sam Burrell, alderman of the West Side's 29th Ward and a veteran of many registration drives.
Not bad for a 31-year-old lawyer and community organizer now running for president, wouldn’t you say? However, heaven forbid that BoBo actually let facts get in the way of his innuendo that Obama is somehow too mysterious, too effete or too careless to be trusted with the most important job in the world (repeating this “belonging to something, but not ‘of it’” nonsense).

But what really got me in particular was this…

He became a state legislator, but he was in the Legislature, not of it. He had some accomplishments, but as Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker wrote, he was famously bored by the institution and used it as a stepping stone to higher things.
Actually, Brooks is partly right that Obama’s career in public life has been almost a continuous arc towards this moment. However, to say Obama was “bored” according to Lizza is ridiculous (and I should also note that Lizza’s fine article was obscured by the dustup over That Cover by Barry Blitt; that was the issue in which Lizza’s piece ran).

While on vacation, I read Lizza’s well-written and well-researched article, and it is truly educational to see how Obama has emerged to this moment. It discusses his one-time allegiance with Chicago alderman Toni Preckwinkle who grew disenchanted with some of Obama’s political moves, though she remains a committed delegate. It also discusses Obama’s relationship with political matriarch Alice Palmer, who feuded with Obama when Palmer sought her State Senate seat once more after she was defeated in her run for the U.S. Congress; the problem was that Obama sought it also, and he refused to back down. And it also discusses how he once opposed Emil Jones, a powerful political presence with whom Obama once fought, but, after Obama learned a bitter lesson in his defeat at the hands of U.S. House incumbent Bobby Rush in 2000, he sought Jones’ help in his bid for the State Senate (Jones became president of the Illinois State Senate in 2003).

In short, it tells the story of how Obama became a seasoned pol growing up in the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago politics, and acquiring more saavy (to say nothing of powerful connections) in the Illinois senate. Yes, I believe he is a visionary figure, but he is hardly a neophyte, and I think that’s true of all of these people, regardless of their party.

Of course, far be it for Brooks to try and communicate any of this, and he closes as follows…

So, cautiously, the country watches. This should be a Democratic wipeout. But voters seem to be slow to trust a sojourner they cannot place.
Actually, I cannot recall a “Democratic wipeout” in any election during my lifetime; as noted here, Bill Clinton won in 1992 with less than 50 percent of the vote (and I once read an excellent post explaining how Ross Perot siphoned votes both from the challenger and the incumbent Poppy Bush, but I cannot locate it at the moment; if I do, I’ll update this…and by the way, for the latest presidential numbers, click here).

And finally, allow me to propose another reason why more Americans don’t profess to support Obama at this moment versus John W. McBush…


Update: Doesn't sound like "real change (that) needs real change for real" (or whatever) to me, Newt (here...sorry for the link) - sounds like more of the same, actually.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday Stuff

(By the way, posting is a little questionable for tomorrow and a lot for Wednesday, and no posting on Thursday.)

If you have any familiarity with this site, then I think you know what I think of Reagan, but this is still a nice ad...

...oh, and speaking of campaign contributions to "Senator Honor And Virtue" (still mystified by Patrick Murphy's opposition to a windfall profits tax, I must admit)...

...keep fighting, Al; no one said trying to knock off Norm Coleman would be easy, but we believe you're the man to do it...

Update 8/5/08: I should have acknowledged a hat tip to The Daily Kos for the prior three vids...oops.

...and K.O. talks to Gerald Posner on the latest with the anthrax story (and no, I don't believe it either, at least as it stands right now)...

...and just for kicks, here's Harvey Danger ("Sad Sweetheart Of The Rodeo"; an inadvertent homage to Len Hart there for a minute)...

...and best wishes for a speedy recovery to Morgan Fairchild, appearing here awhile ago on "The Electric Company" (uh, wait...).

A Mysterious Unanimity

Today’s Bucks County Courier Times reports that all three candidates for the PA U.S. House seat for the 8th congressional district oppose a windfall oil profits tax (I say “three” with more deference to perennial election loser Tom Lingenfelter than he deserves).

Now I can understand why Repug challenger Tom Manion would oppose such a tax, stating…

The issue isn't about oil company profits, but about Congress' inaction on the nation's energy crisis, he said.

“Congress recessed [Friday] without even bringing options to the House floor for a vote,” Manion said. “Let's concentrate on finding alternate sources of energy, conserving the energy we have and expanding our domestic oil exploration.”
Well, well, ladies and gentlemen, what do you know – Tom Manion just old his very first lie. I’m sure his Repug handlers are so proud of him. However, I'm surprised by Patrick Murphy a bit, and I'll get to that later.

Actually, though, Manion is partly right about the House vote (amazingly enough), but to say Congress did noting isn’t true. As this tells us…

A bipartisan group of Senators calling themselves the ""gang of 10" were finally able to package a compromise bill on Friday aimed at breaking the persistent deadlock in the Senate over energy issues.
Basically, the “compromise” is to allow offshore drilling in some southern states (go ahead and let them wreck their coastlines in the process; they deserve it), while, on the other hand, the bill provides billions of dollars of research and development money to assist US automakers in achieving the goal of transitioning 85% of all new vehicles to run on alternative, non-petroleum based fuels within 20 years, as the story tells us.

This was probably the best deal we were going to get in this political climate; it is literally better than nothing.

And as for Patrick's opposition to a windfall profits tax, I thought this was an interesting post on the subject from Justin Fox of Time, in particular…

…the last windfall profits tax--in force from 1980 through 1988--was a flop, running up huge compliance costs and generating far less revenue than expected. But it was a flop mainly because oil prices began to plummet not long after the tax went into effect. The overwhelming impact of the oil glut--and the fact that nobody seems to be proposing reviving the unwieldy design of the 1980 tax (which was really an excise tax on oil, not a tax on oil company profits))--mean that there are few useful lessons to be drawn from that experience.
Fox is basically arguing that a windfall profits tax is meant to punish the oil company geniuses who somehow didn’t see $4 a gallon for gas approaching in their rear view mirror, if you will (or, if they did see it, didn’t think it was worth mentioning). I don’t have a problem with that, considering the profits of culprits like Shell and Exxon Mobil, as noted here (and please don’t point out to me that they only make .08 cents for every dollar of gas they sell, as if these people somehow are paupers).

It should be noted, though, that Patrick favors closing such loopholes as ensuring that our corporate energy cousins pay their royalty fees (and Patrick has also supported mass transit as an alternative, as noted here).

So, with that in mind, please click here to reward good behavior. Meanwhile, Tom Manion should review his talking points at least one more time.

Update 8/5/08: Any particular reason why the Courier Times published the same Murphy-bashing letter two days in a row (in which the author tells us Murphy "got it wrong" on energy, but doesn't explain how, aside from the "68 million" claim)?

"Gauging" Stupidity

So the Repugs believe that they can score points ridiculing Barack Obama for suggesting that we keep the tires of our vehicles properly inflated, as noted here (h/t Atrios)?

This tells us the following…

Keeping your car's tire pressure at the optimal level is a small and easy eco-tip that would help save a lot of precious oil if everybody did it.
And yes, we check the tire pressure on the Doomsymobile every couple of months or so (and luckily, we have a station nearby that doesn’t charge for air).

We truly are in the midst of the silly season here, my friends.

The Wrong Way On WiFi

The following letter appeared in the New York Times today…

Re “OPEC 2.0” (Op-Ed, July 30):

We find Tim Wu’s warning of a coming “bandwidth cartel” ridiculous when you consider the rapid progress America is making in expanding better and more affordable broadband options.

A decade ago, basic DSL cost $70 a month in Pennsylvania and $90 a month in California (not adjusting for inflation). Since then, prices have plunged, while online speeds and access choices have surged.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi spots are in virtually every coffee shop, and more than 15 million users have signed up for wireless broadband, which is also getting faster. In short, the trend is toward the opposite of a bandwidth cartel.

Equally important, maintaining a quality Internet requires sophisticated data management on the network, not just new bandwidth. Even the Japanese, with their high-speed networks, have accepted the need to manage data traffic to keep up with P2P, or peer-to-peer, file-sharing and other data-intensive applications.

Christopher Wolf
Mike McCurry
Hands Off the Internet
Washington, July 31, 2008
(By the way, I thought Wu’s column made some good points, though this post really isn’t meant to comment on what he wrote.)

For some background, I ripped into Wolf and McCurry here, noting that Hands Off The Internet is a front group that purports to support “open” Internet development, though in reality, they advocate exactly the opposite of that.

And while I don’t have enough information to contest their claim about “WiFi spots in virtually every coffee shop,” I can point out that Arriva, a Danish passenger rail service, is offering free WiFi access to its customers (the article notes various other WiFi success stories that would seem to indicate that Wolf and McCurry could be right).

However, this tells us of Philadelphia’s recent experiment with WiFi (as well as that of many other cities in this country) in which EarthLink, the Internet company that, formerly, led the way for WiFi development, ended up backing out of the venture…

EarthLink announced on Feb. 7 that “the operations of the municipal Wi-Fi assets were no longer consistent with the company’s strategic direction.” Philadelphia officials say they are not sure when or if the promised network will now be completed.

For Cesar DeLaRosa, 15, however, the concern is more specific. He said he was worried about his science project on global warming.

“If we don’t have Internet, that means I’ve got to take the bus to the public library after dark, and around here, that’s not always real safe,” Cesar said, seated in front of his family’s new computer in a gritty section of Hunting Park in North Philadelphia. His family is among the 1,000 or so low-income households that now have free or discounted Wi-Fi access through the city’s project, and many of them worry about losing access that they cannot otherwise afford.

Philadelphia officials say service will not be disconnected.

“We expect EarthLink to live up to its contract,” said Terry Phillis, the city’s chief information officer.

But when City Council leaders here held a hearing in December to question EarthLink about how it intended to keep service running and complete the planned network, the company failed to show up.

Officials in Chicago, Houston, Miami and San Francisco find themselves in a similar predicament with EarthLink and other service providers, and have all temporarily tabled their projects.
And while Wolf and McCurry are crowing about how cheap WiFi apparently is in their coffee shops, maybe they should consider the following…

Prices for Internet service on the broader market also began dropping to a level that, while above what many poor people could afford, was below what municipal Wi-Fi providers were offering, so the companies had to lower their rates even further, making investment in infrastructure even more risky, he said.

“The entire for-profit model is the reason for the collapse in all these projects,” said Sascha Meinrath, technology analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.
It’s less difficult to develop WiFi networks in certain localities in this country and certain locations, such as mass transit venues, but to develop it in our cities takes a true public/private investment involving all levels of government.

However, Barack Obama had better be careful if he makes any statements on this, or else Wired Magazine will manufacture or clip another quote saying Obama claims to be “the father of WiFi,” not unlike this mess.


Back in Philadelphia, Cesar’s older sister, Tomasa DeLaRosa, said she had faith that city officials would find a way to finish the network and keep her Internet service going.

“Our whole house is totally different now,” said Ms. DeLaRosa, 19, who had never had Internet access at home until last December because she could not afford it.

After signing up for a job training program and completing its course work, Ms. DeLaRosa received a free laptop, training and a year’s worth of free wireless service from Esparanza, a community group.

“For us and a lot of people in this neighborhood,” Ms. DeLaRosa said, “the Internet is like a path out of here.”
Of course, it would be nice if Wolf and McCurry, in addition to dropping their idiotic opposition to Net Neutrality, would actually encourage partnerships and investments in an effort to better the lives of the DeLaRosas and others in their circumstances instead of shilling for those who care only about the profit motive instead.

Short of that, though, maybe they’d help Tomasa DeLaRosas to get a job in one of their coffee shops, since, apparently, that’s the only way that she’ll have reliable WiFi access.

Update: And by the way (speaking of technology), K.O. had something about this in a "Bushed" segment last week on "Countdown" - more "under the radar" Big Brotherism by Bushco.

A Monday Dose Of Obama-Rama Wankery

On a scale of pissant pundits, John Harwood of the New York Times isn’t too bad, but he still served up some choice items in this column about the presidential campaign that deserve a response…

Establishment candidates typically use risk arguments to fend off dashing insurgents promising change. It didn’t work for President Jimmy Carter against Ronald Reagan in 1980; it did for Walter F. Mondale against Gary Hart in Democratic primaries four years later.
This is a minor point, but it really should be noted that Carter was elected against Gerald Ford in 1976 as an “insurgent promising change,” if you will, in light of Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon for the Watergate scandal, as well as some of Ford’s presidential gaffes, including his statement that, at the time, Poland “did not consider itself to be under Soviet domination,” though it most certainly was (compared to Dubya, though, Ford looks like a scholar, even though he helped launch the political careers of two Repug operatives named Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney).

Returning to Harwood…

Bitter feelings remain (allegedly, between Obama and Hillary). In a Washington Post interview over the weekend, Mr. Clinton offered cursory praise for his party’s presumed nominee; the Obama team has made it clear that Mrs. Clinton isn’t likely to become his running mate.
I don’t know what article Harwood is referring to; I searched the WaPo for last weekend’s columns related to the Clintons and found two by Anne Kornblut and one by Jonathan Weisman, as well as a bunch of AP reports. However, in yesterday’s Kornblut column, the topic was the dynamic of the Obama campaign (which, since it is emblematic of a Dem presidential candidate leading in many polls, must be fraught with secrecy, intrigue and deception – I mean, he couldn’t possibly be doing well because he’s actually running a good campaign, can he?), and there was no “cursory praise” offered from Hillary Clinton, and there was no declaration as to who Obama’s VP nominee was likely to be, whether it’s HRC or anyone else.

However, there IS a note of three senior women campaign advisers brought on by the Obama campaign: Stephanie Cutter, a former operative for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) who is Michelle Obama’s chief of staff; Sarah Hurwitz, who joins Patti Solis Doyle as another Hillary-ite working for Obama; and Christina Reynolds, a former operative for the John Edwards campaign.

If there are “bitter feelings” remaining between Obama and the other former Dem presidential nominees, then you really can’t see that in the makeup of Obama’s campaign staff then, can you?

Once again, back to Harwood…

…McCain advisers paid close attention to the strong finish of a Clinton primary campaign that fell just short of defeating Mr. Obama. “The most important thing we learned is this: Hillary Clinton won 8 of the last 13 primaries,” said Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist. “He is beatable.”
Dream on.

Comparing tired, mistake-prone John W. McBush (with his moments of utter befuddlement) to a political pro like Hillary Clinton is to laugh.

And by the way, speaking of that “straight-talking maverick,” this Times story by Harwood’s colleague Michael Cooper tells us…

Asked about affirmative action, (McBush) said that “affirmative action is in the eye of the beholder” and praised the United States military as the nation’s greatest equal opportunity employer.
Gee, would it have been too much trouble for Cooper to point out that McBush opposes affirmative action, instead of letting him off the hook with that stupid “eye of the beholder” quote?


To some degree, Republicans feel compelled by public opinion to adopt an aggressive stance. The electorate’s desire for change is robust enough, polls indicate, that questions about Mr. Obama may represent the principal barrier to Democratic victory in November.
Translated: The only “strategy” the Repugs have is to throw mud because they’ve made such a hash of this country under their “governance” and have no solutions to our most urgent issues (none that are any good, anyway).

Also, get a load of this…

Obama advisers say their task lies partly in reassuring voters that he can handle the presidency. But another part lies in redoubling their efforts, interrupted by his overseas trip, to move Mr. Obama out from behind speechmaking lecterns and to convey his on-the-ground understanding of voters’ economic struggles. He will try to do so this week in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, among other places. Mr. McCain will hit Michigan and Ohio as well as Pennsylvania, with an appearance at the Sturgis, S.D., motorcycle rally to underscore his blue-collar sensibilities.
Is it possible that somehow Harwood missed the news that Obama “moved out from behind speechmaking lecterns” to travel halfway around the world a couple of weeks ago, visiting Iraq, Israel and France and making a speech in Berlin, as noted here?

And it is a continual source of amusement for your humble narrator to read language from a pundit implying that a U.S. senator who has “served” for decades, owns his own jet, and married into the fortune of a beer heiress with whom he conducted an affair while still married to his wife and mother of his children actually has “blue-collar sensibilities.”

Well, at least Harwood didn’t say McBush had “pundit” sensibilities. Now THAT would truly be an insult.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Sunday Energy Meditation

I dedicate this to everyone screaming about drilling offshore - "Only So Much Oil In The Ground," by Tower of Power.

By the way, please keep in mind that this song was written in 1974.