Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trying To Kill Another Anti-Obama Talking Point

After reading this kos post, it occurred to me that somebody should point out something unsaid so far (as near as I can tell) concerning this pseudo-controversy about Barack Obama taking a vacation while "Straight Talk" McBush continued to pretend that he has a foreign policy expertise that, as nearly as I can tell, was conferred upon him by Fox Noise and selected other favored media outlets, strengthened somehow by his decision not to go and decompress for a little while also (though one could look at McBush's voting record and wonder if his vacation from his job has ever ended).

As a parent of a young child, I should note that vacations aren't, first and foremost, for the parents (with Barack and Michelle Obama parents of two young daughters). Vacations are for the family, especially when you're talking about kids the same age as those of the Obamas and the young one.

McBush's children, however, are either grown adults or teenagers by now, so family vacations, though important, take on a whole new meaning. Now I will grant you that, should Obama win in November, everything I've said here is likely to change. But for now, I think this needs to be pointed out to our media drones who think Barack Obama's decision to spend time with his family constitutes a lapse in judgment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Stuff

Hot Chip ("Ready For The Floor"; looks to me like someone's science experiment went horribly wrong)...

...and Jacob from "Why Tuesday" poses his voting question to Al Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman, and I think Al gave a much better response (Coleman could honestly have "stuck to his guns" on Tuesday voting and offered a more persuasive argument, but I grudgingly give him some slight credit for responding at all)...

...some pretty interesting stuff happened on this day in history; the AP reports...

...and as a tribute to legendary music producer Jerry Wexler, here's Dusty Springfield with "Son Of A Preacher Man" from back in the day (one of Wexler's triumphs was the album "Dusty In Memphis" from which this song originated).

Update 8/16/08: And I meant to include this; Kagro X asks a good question here...

Another Nod For Patrick

As noted here, congratulations to Patrick Murphy for being named as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Denver (don't know what night he is slated to speak yet...I know Matt Stoller is taking issue with the list for reasons that I don't think have much to do with Patrick).

And by the way, the faux freeper outrage in the form of venomous letters to the Bucks County Courier Times claiming once more that this is further proof that Patrick does the bidding of Nancy Pelosi will begin momentarily.

Update 8/16/08: So...somehow it's Patrick's fault that he participated in a zucchini-judging contest at the Lower Makefield farmer's market (silly, I'll admit) instead of a supposed debate in Doylestown that was never actually scheduled? And even though he's agreed to five debates with Tom Manion in October?

A pretty weak call by the Courier Times here, IMHO (note: Patrick received a "Thumbs Down" for what I described here).

Little Ricky Has No Clue On McBush’s No. 2

I’m a little late with my analysis, such as it is, of former Senator “Eye of Mordor” and his column yesterday about the possible nominees for vice president on the Repug ticket.

And Little Ricky thus tells the “straight talk express” to…

…err on the side of caution. His choice needs to be a pro-life economic conservative with zero baggage and solid experience in government. Completely noncontroversial.
Why do I suggest that a candidate who has been trailing in national polls and whose party is predicted to take a bath in the coming congressional elections play it safe?

Because this race is not about John McCain.
Really? I’m sure that’s news to the prospective voters polled here (and I have to admit that I got a kick out of this veep suggestion by kossack Trapper John).

Thanks to a legion of factors having nothing to do with McCain, the Democratic presidential nominee should be the prohibitive favorite in November. From the start, the race for the White House was always about the Democrat. Had the Democrats played it safe by nominating an experienced Washington hand, this race would be over - barring, of course, some major external event. Yet, the Democrats didn't play it safe. They threw caution to the wind and threw in with Barack Obama, a fresh new blank slate.

Opportunity thus came calling for McCain's campaign. They could make the fall campaign about Obama. They could define him as dangerously inexperienced and naïve - in addition to being the tax-and-spend, abortion-on-demand, foreign-policy-appeasing liberal that he is.
Aw, c’mon, former Senator Man-On-Dog, make up your mind; is Obama a “blank slate,” or representative of all of the childish labels you just listed?

Or better yet, why don’t you admit to this little escapade of yours in which you said that Obama has “no right to claim” he’s a Christian (and when it comes to criticizing others for using “faith as an avenue to power,” try taking a good look in the mirror before you decide to open up your face and start babbling about that, OK?).

If the Republican victory strategy is to disqualify Obama, McCain can't do anything that would disqualify himself in the minds of these less-than-ideological voters prepared to shift his way. As such, McCain's vice presidential pick has to be a nonevent, something of a yawner.
Is Little Ricky actually endorsing Holy Joe? Based on this latest episode, I think the Republican senator from Connecticut would be a perfect match, and he’s about as big of a “yawner” as you can imagine (whenever he isn’t whining like the baby he is, though). Of course, the problem is that all of those anti-choice zealot “values voters” McBush needs, particularly in the South, would sit on their hands in protest and not bother to vote for him.

And I love Santorum’s criticism of “the media” for “drumming up” all of the people on his list. Memo to former Senator “Sanitarium”; if you have a column in the print and online versions of a newspaper ostensibly representing a major city, that makes you a member of “the media” too.

As the screed continues by former Senator Unable-To-Do-His-Math-On-The-Voting-Rights-Act (here…had to dig for this one), he provides a bit of history in his “play it safe” message to “Senator Honor And Virtue,” stating that, though Michael Dukakis actually did that in 1988 when he chose Lloyd Bentsen and Poppy Bush didn’t when he chose Dan Quayle (who looks like a member of MENSA compared to Dubya) as his running mate, “Bush the elder was running in a more favorable political climate than the one McCain faces today,” which is an absolutely true observation, shockingly enough.

However, I believe McBush truly needs to shake things up here, if for no other reason, than to divert attention from his myriad verbal screwups. And if he ends up believing the same thing I do, then Bobby (“Don’t Call Me Piyush”) Jindal is his man (who had this to say about Holy Joe, as it happens).

Unless of course, this is all just some political “fan dance” by our now-happily-departed Republican former senator, hiding his true intention of somehow reserving that second spot for himself in the event that McBush’s prospects don’t pan out somehow (and it is a continual source of amusement to me that Tom Ridge always manages to end up on these lists – kudos for his military service, but not for his forgettable term at DHS, to say nothing of his time in charge of this commonwealth).

And it’s not as if former Senator “White Sepulcher” hasn’t been busy building his “base” all over again, as noted here, full of people whose acceptance of McBush would immediately change from “going through the motions” passivity to unconditional allegiance with Santorum on board, scarily enough.

In that event, if anyone doubted whether or not the race is “about John McCain,” they wouldn’t be doubting any more. The problem is that, with Little Ricky and his “dog whistle” conservative sideshow, McBush might be more electorally safe (relative to this political climate, of course), but I’m sure he’d be sorry.

And by the way, bravo to Dan Wasserman of The Boston Globe for this.

Exercising A Bad Repug Precedent

This Murdoch Street Journal news story tells us that John W. McBush’s son Andrew recently served on the audit committee of a troubled Nevada bank until he recently resigned on July 25th.

A week after he did so…

…the Henderson, Nev., company reported a loss of $62.7 million in the second quarter and said its capital -- the bank's cushion to absorb losses -- had eroded significantly. At the same time, Silver State announced the resignations of its chief executive and chairman.

On Thursday, the bank said in a securities filing that it actually lost $73.2 million in the second quarter. Silver State also said in the filing that its worsening financial condition means there is "uncertainty about the company's ability to continue as a going concern."
Hmmm, the son of a prominent Republican sat on the audit committee, then he bailed, and then the company's earnings took a nose dive.

Call me crazy, but doesn’t that sound familiar?

(Dubya, though, was able to help inflate Harken’s stock and cash in before he left and the company tanked, as noted here – the younger McBush has a lot to learn about the whole “pump and dump” thing).

Update 9/5/08: And another one bites the dust...

A Friday Freeper Fraud From Forty Years Gone

“The Most Trusted Name In News” published this commercial for John W. McBush disguised as an opinion column written by longtime Repug operative Leslie Sanchez (at least CNN discloses who she is up front, which is nice for a change), in which she tells us…

In one weekend, unpredictable events have given McCain a golden opportunity to capitalize on what are some of his strongest attributes as a potential president -- a lifetime of foreign policy experience, a military background and a strong anti-Russian stance. We will soon see if McCain can translate his advantage into a gain in the polls.
Again, I ask upon what exactly is this opinion based that, somehow, foreign policy is a McBush “strength.”

The column also contains numerous slaps at Barack Obama for actually having the unmitigated gall to go on vacation in “that exotic, foreign location” of Hawaii (of course, no criticism is noted of Our Gal Condi Rice, for doing nothing more than making those tough, ultra-serious phone calls while this has all played out, which I’m sure have Putin and Medvedev quaking in their proverbial boots…uh huh – and as we know, Rice is an actual representative of our “administration,” unlike Obama, for now anyway).

But what made me want to post about this was her comparison between the invasion of Georgia and the Prague Spring of 1968 (at least, as regards the political aftermath in this country - pictured above)…

Such was the case just before midnight on August 20, 1968, when Soviet troops marched through Prague, putting a sudden and brutal end to the Czechoslovakian communist reform movement that was known, all too briefly, as the "Prague Spring." Seventy-eight days later, Americans gave Richard Nixon an Electoral College margin of 110 votes.
So…according to Sanchez, Americans panicked as a result of the brutal Soviet crackdown and elected Richard Nixon directly as a result.

Would that history were so convenient for Sanchez’ argument.

It is true, though, that a military conflict ensured the election of Richard Nixon that year. The conflict, however, was in Vietnam, not Czechoslovakia. Dem Hubert Humphrey gained in the polls when he called for a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, and Nixon campaigned on the promise of a “solution” (I don’t recall who authored the phrase “secret plan” concerning Nixon, but I believe it was a newspaper reporter), and largely because of that and Nixon’s “southern strategy,” he won (all of this is noted here).

And as proof that Czechoslovakia was irrelevant, I present this link to an article by Richard V. Allen (Wanna buy a watch? He accepted three from Japanese consultants, as noted here) from the Hoover Institute web site that was reprinted from the Moonie Times; I purposely sought out the most Repug-friendly sources that I could for a reason.

In response to the Soviet invasion of 1968…

…Lyndon Johnson called Nixon, keeping him on the phone for nearly twenty minutes. President Johnson personalized the situation, relating it to Vietnam, saying that he had two sons-in-law in Vietnam and “was not about to make any great concessions on Vietnam” or anything else. Oddly, Johnson dwelt on a recent standing ovation he had received at a major speech to the VFW, which mystified Nixon; the issue of the moment was Czechoslovakia, not Vietnam. Johnson asked Nixon to “be careful” in what he said, expressing “dismay,” and then complimented Nixon on “the stand you took in Miami,” referring to the Vietnam plank agreed on at the Republican National Convention.

Analyzing Johnson’s motives for the call, it appeared to me that Johnson was desperately trying to keep Nixon from launching an all-out attack against the administration’s feeble response to the invasion. Humphrey’s position was also a consideration; Nixon was particularly anxious not to allow Humphrey to appear “as a knight on a white horse” by moving to a hard-line position.

In the end, Mr. Nixon issued a statement of “mild outrage” and, taking a cue from the Johnson initiative, decided to capitalize on the tension between Humphrey and Johnson over Vietnam.
So, contrary to Sanchez, Nixon didn’t ride any kind of a wave of fervor against the Soviets into the White House (if he had, Allen would have publicized it to be sure); as tragic as the aftermath of the “Prague Spring” was, it was not a deciding factor in the 1968 presidential election.

However, the great unpopularity of the ongoing war waged by the incumbent president proved to be decisive, to the point where the opposition party candidate won the White House in the fall.

And how such a development could foretell a positive outcome for John W. McBush is something I’ll never know.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Stuff

The Spinto Band ("Oh Mandy," kind of a dippy little tune with a catchy video, but I'm sure the kids like it - the guys are from nearby Wilmington, DE)...

...and hey, McBush, if you're going to steal a song by Jackson Browne, try this one, OK (though "Running On Empty" is oddly appropriate)...

...Robert Greenwald's videos from Brave New Films are all great, but this one is terrific (re: Obama smears from Fox Noise)...

...and James Roosevelt, Jr., FDR's grandson, has a special message for Senator McBush on the 73rd anniversary of signing Social Security into law (here).

Oh, and on the subject, Think Progress tells us here that Dem staffers in New Mexico attempted to sing "Happy Birthday to Social Security" outside of a McBush campaign office, only to have the birthday cake thrown in a trash can, presumably by one or more of McBush's campaign staff.

Aside from the sheer wastefulness, it shows a certain inconsistency. After all, McBush had no trouble with this cake; you know, the one he presented with Dubya on the airport tarmac for his birthday while the Ninth Ward drowned as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

And by the way, this sounds like more trouble too (snark).

McBush Hopes For A “Prayer From The Faithful”

This post from Chris Bowers at Open Left reminds us that both all-but-named nominees for president will appear with The Rev. Rick Warren on Saturday at a forum in the “heartland” of Southern California (and I totally agree with Bowers’ interpretation of the implied intolerance in that label).

This is significant because, to their credit, some of the “fundies” who actually DO care about trying to better our world have had enough of getting pretty much ignored by the Repugs over the last eight years after they've voted, to the point where they are very much “in play” in this election, forcing McBush to try and win them over (should be fun – part of that is due to the fact that a bit of a split is taking place between older and younger Christians, with the latter trending towards Obama, as noted here).

As he attempts to do that, though, I’d be interested in hearing his explanation as to why he was apparently too busy to attend this “faith gathering” (or whatever you want to call it) earlier this year (and we can do a deal: if Obama doesn’t have to discuss Michael Pfleger or Jeremiah Wright, then McCain doesn’t have to discuss John Hagee or Rod Parsley, OK?).

Speaking for myself, though, if I were to hear Barack Obama speak at my church or if I were to see him in that vicinity, I would attempt to shake his hand and wish him the best, and that would be it. And that is because he is one of the last people who I would approach concerning matters of spirituality. And I don’t mean to snub him; whet he believes is what he believes, and the same goes for me, and that’s that.

He’s running for president and not the head of my church. And I just cannot understand why more people don’t get that simple fact.

Obeying Our Masters

This Inquirer story tells us that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a ruling in 2006 dismissing a claim against Saudi Arabia, a Saudi charity, four princes and a Saudi banker of providing material support to al Qaeda before the September 11 attacks, saying that they could not be held liable because of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

This is particularly significant in this area because the law firm of Cozen O’Connor filed the action on behalf of several dozen insurers that paid out billions in claims to businesses at ground zero. They were joined in the legal action by law firms representing victims and survivors and various other commercial interests that suffered losses in the attacks, as the Philadelphia Inquirer tells us.

And as this prior post will tell you, if there is ever a legal venue in this country that is Bushco-friendly in a particularly odious way, it is the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

As noted, they issued “a bad reading of federal law” when they let gun manufacturers off the hook in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lawsuit, and they also let former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman “skate” as well, ruling that she could not be held liable for assuring residents near Ground Zero that the air was safe to breathe (overturning a verdict against Whitman issued by U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts, who stated that Whitman’s actions “shocked the conscience”).

And this is the court where Judge Dennis Jacobs presides, the man who ruled that Medicaid funds could be denied to disabled people, even though he knew that this, in his words, could be “a death sentence for some patients.” And he also thinks free speech claims from a student newspaper are “silly.”

Really, though, what other possible outcome could have resulted, given the fact that (as noted here), there are nations in this world who no longer want the dollar to be the world’s reserve currency, but the Saudis interceded to prevent a disastrous switch from the dollar to other currencies from taking place?

After reading about this, if you don’t want to push “full throttle” and sparing no expense towards the goal of energy self-sufficiency (making the Saudis irrelevant to the point where we no longer have to do their bidding), than you never will.

A Repug Sees The Light Of Day For Obama

This McClatchy story tells us that the “Republicans for Obama” just picked up a new member…

"This is simply not a time for politics as usual," said Jim Leach, a former congressman from Iowa who endorsed Obama on Tuesday.

Leach…said he thought that Obama would return the presidency to a less partisan style that looked to more international cooperation and was "rooted in very old American values."

The group's strategy will focus on winning support for Obama in states that have tended to favor Republican presidential candidates, such as North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa and Colorado, as well as Ohio and Florida. The group will launch a Web site this week and plans campaign appearances on Obama's behalf.
Jim Leach has kind of an interesting story; as noted here, he is currently the John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

He served in an Iowa district that trended Democratic more and more over his time in the U.S. Congress. His career in public life began when he entered the United States Foreign Service and served as a delegate to the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the U.N. General Assembly. He also resigned his commission when President Richard Nixon fired Watergate independent counsel Archibald Cox and Attorney General Eliot Richardson over Watergate in 1973, according to Wikipedia.

(Actually, that’s not 100 percent correct; Nixon told Richardson to fire Cox and Richardson refused and resigned; the same occurred with William Ruckelshaus, Richardson’s deputy AG, who, coincidentally, has also endorsed Obama. The person who ended up finally firing Cox was, as noted here, the former U.S. Solicitor General, a fellow named Robert Bork.)

I would argue that Leach embodied what a Republican typically represented in this country for a long time, and that would be someone who was fiscally conservative, socially moderate, and somewhat expansionist internationally. Also, though he voted in favor of the first Gulf War resolution in 1991, he voted against the 2002 resolution, only one of six Repugs to do so.

However, I’m not going to tell you that Leach found the perfectly moderate way each time. On the matter of choice, though he supported it into the third trimester (should be unconditional as far as I’m concerned), he opposed public funding. However, he did support stem cell research, considering it (quite rightly, I believe) as a “pro-life” position.

Also, though he expressed surprise at former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr’s sick preoccupation with the matter of how many times Bill Clinton unzipped his pants, he nonetheless voted in favor of the articles of impeachment for what he considered to be Clinton’s lies under oath. Finally, his name is attached to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill that effectively destroyed the Glass-Steagall Act and clouded financial transparency, to the point where we are in the present state of our financial markets trying to dig out from the subprime loan implosion.

So no, if I were looking for someone in public life who I would consider to be worthy of emulation, it would not be Leach (not completely anyway). However, I believe he is a man of principle who wants to do right by this country, correctly surmising that we have lost our way, and Barack Obama represents the best hope for rebuilding our nation and restoring our prestige.

So welcome aboard, Prof. Leach. God willing, we’ll all make history together in November.

And speaking of support for Obama...

Update 8/17/08: Interesting stuff from Cliff Schecter on this...

Welcome To Bucks County - Now Mind Your Own Business!

For Bucks County Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin, trying to shore up their fortress to keep any ray of light from shining through, thus allowing their constituents to see what they’re up to, is a full-time job (my response to this story in the Courier Times today)…

Bucks County's Republican commissioners want to release on their own terms the reasons why employees with county cars say they need them — and they don't trust the Democratic commissioner to keep that information to herself.

A heated exchange punctuated the commissioners' annual trek to the Middletown Grange Fair for their August public meeting Wednesday.

Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley Martin told Commissioner Diane Marseglia she could see the written justifications, but could not have copies.

I'd probably read about them in the paper tomorrow and I'd prefer not to do that,” Martin said.
And of course, we could NEVER allow that to happen, could we, Charley? God forbid that you should actually have to stand accountable for your actions (putting aside the fact that this is a horrible smear against Diane’s professionalism).


Marseglia said she wanted to make sure no changes are made to the employees' justifications. Cawley offered to direct Chief Operating Officer David Sanko to show her the pages after the meeting. As of 5 p.m. she still had not seen Sanko or the pages.

Just by asking for it (emphasis mine), you have once again questioned the integrity of a member of our staff,” Cawley said.

“You better believe it,” she said.

“You owe Mr. Sanko an apology,” he said.

“You owe me (emphasis mine) an apology that I can't have a copy of something our taxpayers paid for,” Marseglia replied.
See, Diane is supposed to just blend into the background as far as Cawley and Martin are concerned (“wear beige and shut up,” I suppose) while “business as usual” proceeds in Bucks County. How dare some Democrat actually look out for us and upset the tidy little furtive doings of Cawley and Martin’s kingdom!


Cawley said after the meeting that the justifications will be released to the public as soon as they are compiled into one document and corrected for grammatical errors. The essence of the statements will not be altered, he said.
But Diane can’t even look at them anyway??

Give me a break!

This, sadly, is just the latest example of Bucks County Repugs throwing Diane “under the bus”; this prior post tells us that Cawley and Martin stooge David Sanko, in addition to not providing Diane the information she requested on vehicle usage by county employees, also changed the locks on the commissioners’ office suite and didn’t tell Diane because she had given a reporter the combination to the lock and thus committed a “security breach.”

And this editorial from the Doylestown Intelligencer tells us that Diane also earned the wrath of Bucks County President Judge David Heckler when she intervened on behalf of a troubled teen who was ordered by a judge to attend a youth wilderness camp; Diane sought hospital and home-based care instead, more in line with the wishes of the family.

And as the editorial tells us, Diane is a licensed social worker, hardly some meddling politician with no expertise in this matter (also, Diane’s daughter tragically took her life at a wilderness camp in similar circumstances).

However, the matter of Diane advocating for the teen got Cawley and Martin’s attention because, as noted here, Heckler…

…asked commissioners to shift oversight of (the) department charged with advocating for juveniles removed from their homes.

(Bucks County) Commissioners postponed action on the matter during a public meeting Wednesday morning (July 23rd) and until county officials can determine whether a shift from the commissioners' jurisdiction to the courts would jeopardize a quarter million dollars in funding. The office has a budget of $500,000, half of which is reimbursed by the state.
And a financial hit like that would surely represent a big cut from Cawley and Martin’s “pie,” if you will, to say nothing of the loss of coveted political territory.

So Diane continues to do the right thing, but ends up earning the enmity of Bucks County’s Repug poobahs at every turn.

And the legacy of Jay Russell lives on.

Update 8/15/08: Kudos to the Courier Times for this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

Green Day ("Boulevard Of Broken Dreams"; I should've put this up after the Edwards thing broke on Friday)...

...and I dedicate the following video to that numbskull Cynthia Sneed who, along with her blinkered "values voter" brethren, kissed off this man when he ran for the White House four years ago in favor of President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (and I have to admit that I love this ad too)... the way, doesn't anyone want to try living in John W. McBush's alternate universe (where, "in the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations" - h/t The Daily Kos)? I didn't think so (or as Matt Yglesias at Think Progress pointed out, “We all recall, of course, John McCain’s outrage when the United States violated this rule back in 2003")...

Update 8/19/08: Apparently the stupidity is contagious.

...and I think it's pretty damn plain that "sweet crude" is fueling the "Straight Talk Express"...

...on the other hand, Barack Obama hammers McBush on Iraq and the economy again (not sure about the "schools" part, but hopefully, we'll get a chance to find out)...

...and K.O. brings us "Worst Persons" (NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly wants to turn the tip of Manhattan into a fortress, Michele Bachmann thinks Nancy Pelosi is Jesus - huh? - and Repug Ed Tinsley of New Mexico conjures up images of his Iraq-serving nephews with their throats cut, seriously; no comment from Michael Berg, by the way).

Punditry Can Be A Waste Of Time Too

It’s no surprise, I realize, that I came across a column basically arguing that college should be reserved only for those who study the sciences in the online version of the Murdoch Street Journal, and it is even less of a surprise that such a column was written by Charles Murray (pictured).

You see, Murray is an academic who seems to derive a perverse fascination out of performing two main tasks: 1) slicing and dicing people into primarily demographic categories in order to establish some sort of intellectual hierarchy whereby the privileged few (in his delusions) rise by virtue of some innate quality of leadership, intelligence, courage and/or good breeding to wisely preside over our society; and 2) explain with almost geometric logic precisely why the rest of the chaff that falls by the wayside in his reckoning deserves no better than employment at McDonald’s cleaning toilets (full disclosure – I’ve done that in my life, people…it’s as bad as it sounds).

And Murray has been at this for while now (as noted here). And he always has a ready forum for his pejorative musings somewhere, should he so desire to impart them upon us.

Today, he tells us that, in lieu of a Bachelor of Arts degree, individuals should be awarded a certification that they could present to a prospective employer. That would save all of the fuss for some undeserving types in Murray’s view from acquiring all of that nasty debt on their way to eventually earning a McJob as due their unimportance in George W. Bush’s America (I mean, to not possess a science-related degree? Gad, how pedestrian can you get?)

I want to emphasize, though, that in no way am I trying to diminish anyone who graduates with anything other than a B.A. from an accredited university, nor am I trying to demean anyone who obtains a certification in a trade. And I’m also not trying to put down anyone who doesn’t follow any of those paths, as long as they stay within the bounds of the law.

What’s prompting me to engage in this bit of navel-gazing is the following; I wear a few hats in my employment, but one of them is that of a technical communicator. And you simply cannot quantify with a certificate or award the point at which someone is proficient in this type of employment.

And just because that is so does not mean that someone with an aptitude for this business should not be allowed to pursue a course of learning at a university that would award that person with a degree conferring that he or she is skilled in that profession (allowing for acquisition of further knowledge and skill in employment). And yes, Murray is arguing that such a designation should not be awarded without a certification test.

Aside from the fact that there is no “test” that a person with a liberal arts background could or should have to take that would represent an entire body of knowledge acquired by that person in the course of obtaining a degree (nothing like the CPA exam of Murray’s example), I should point out that employers already employ at least a “two-tiered” model of employment (referencing Murray again) in which individuals skilled in one discipline are rewarded more effectively than others. That is a matter of business necessity more often than not, and even if I personally didn’t like it, there really isn’t much I could do about it.

Also, quite simply, there is no replacing the experience of attending an institution of higher learning of some type (if that option is available), if for no other reason, than because of the self-betterment that usually ensues from interacting with people of different races, religions, ethnicities, and gender preferences. But again, since that is something to which Murray (and many others who, instead of seeking greater opportunities for college, have tried to shut off those that currently exist) cannot attach a number, so it is meaningless to him.

“Getting rid of the B.A. and replacing it with evidence of competence” (meaning that the only individuals who could receive a degree of higher learning would be those in a science-related curricula) is a terrible idea, even if it could ever be realized (and institutions of higher learning would fight like hell over it, as they should, since their funding depends in part of the number of students they graduate). It would further demean the importance of the skills of creativity, communication, and outside-the-box problem solving that must be present in some form not only within a corporate setting, but within our society as a whole, in order to function within our communities, our nation, and the world.

Ok, you can stop singing “Kumbaya” now; I’ll get back to political bitching later.

Tom Manion, Already Out Of Energy

Well, as I live and breathe, it turns out that Patrick Murphy’s opponent for the PA U.S. House 8th District seat has something to say after all.

This takes you to today’s Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times written by Repug Tom Manion, and though I disagree with most of what he has to say ( I’ll get to that shortly), I would like to give him some small credit for not employing the snippy, whiny tactics of our former U.S. House Rep Mikey Fitzpatrick; one example is not referring to our current rep as “Pat” Murphy or some idiotic derivation, which is always a clue that an onset of freeper nonsense is coming. As I said, I disagree with Manion, but I believe he represents himself here in a professional manner.

Also, I apologize in advance for the repetition of this post; I know I’ve covered a good deal of this before. I’ll try to avoid too much redundancy if I can...

Today, the uniquely American spirit of entrepreneurship can find solutions to our energy demands. Innovative technologies need research and development support and non-oil options like solar, wind and nuclear power require more work.
Absolutely right. The problem, though, is that the “Roadblock Republicans” in Congress have blocked S. 3335, a bill that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems, EIGHT TIMES!!

And the last attempt to pass this bill died on July 30th, and John W. McBush didn’t even bother to show up for the vote, as Tom Friedman of the New York Times notes here today.

On July 23, House Republicans sent a similar plan, “The American Energy Act,” for a vote; unfortunately, the legislation was blocked by Patrick Murphy and other House Democrats.
Actually, according to this link in which someone named Stuart Varney interviewed House Minority Leader John Boehner (pronounced “bo-ner”) over “The American Energy Act,” it sounds like this legislation was unveiled on July 23rd (“taking the wraps off” is a bit of a tipoff), but Boehner called for an up-and-down vote right away.

Hate to break the news to you, Rep. Let-Me-Get-Away-With-Threatening-Violence-Against-Speaker-Nancy-Pelosi (here), but there’s a reason why you guys are the MINORITY party now. Let’s read over this thing and talk about it before we rush into anything, OK? And besides, the price of gas will go up or down independent of it anyway.

Also, the so-called “Gang of 10” in the Senate is trying to break the logjam, as noted here.

Manion also tells us…

While we seek these new energy sources and conserve our precious energy, Congress must assist the process by expanding exploration opportunities in oil-rich domestic regions. I will sponsor legislation for exploration of domestic natural gas and oil production in areas currently denied by Congress. Domestic drilling will decrease our dependence on oil from foreign countries that don't like us very much.
OK, but here’s the reality on offshore drilling (and we really aren’t going to find out how “oil-rich” they are until after we’ve starting digging holes all over the place)…

Even if states let drilling proceed, it would take years before new oil would flow.

First, drillers would need to clear regulatory hurdles and overcome environmental concerns.

Even if permission were granted, oil companies would have to find it worthwhile economically to drill; that's probably not a problem if prices stay high, but could be questionable if they fall again, as they did in the 1980s and '90s.

If companies found significant amounts of oil, some question whether this country has enough refining capacity to handle the new supply. The nation has slightly fewer refineries than it did in the mid-1980s.

Opponents fear environmental damage, especially to beaches that are essential parts of coastal-state economies and cultures. The key reason for a federal moratorium, Pope said, is that "one state could jeopardize beaches in neighboring states with risky offshore drilling."

A spill off the Virginia coast, for instance, "would impact beaches, marine life and tourism in New Jersey."

The Rainforest Action Network notes that even without a spill, a single oil rig can dump more than 99,000 tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean.
Also, Manion discusses the use of horizontal versus vertical drilling for oil. As noted here, though there could be less of a need for surface pipelines and less finding and operating costs, here are the drawbacks…

- It incurs higher cost as opposed to a vertical well.
- Only one zone could be drilled at a time, as opposed to multiple zones with vertical wells.
- There is currently only a 65 percent rate of success in drilling with horizontal wells, though this could increase over time if this technique is used more often.
Besides, I liked the ideas discussed by Patrick Murphy here much better (and I'm in somewhat of a more conciliatory mood than I was when I originally posted on this)…

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

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

Additionally, I have cosponsored the Small Business Investment and Promotion Act which will cut taxes for small business fuel purchases, and increase the tax deduction on fuel for small business owners and independent contractors who use their own vehicles for work.
Also, I’ve been looking for a way to introduce this Guest Opinion by Harris Martin on some of the oil futures trading that, I think, has an impact also, though, with respect, I think Harris is trying to foresee market forces at work here that no one else can; I’d love to agree with everything he says, but I have reservations (I believe most of what I see on CSPAN also, but not everything). Also, here and here are prior related posts, if you want another look.

Still, though, I give Manion a bit of credit for articulating the problem (with some anti-Dem spin, I’ll admit) in somewhat of an inspirational manner. He talks a good game, but the problem is that his political party in Washington has thwarted all of his rosy scenarios.

Fortunately for us, though, Patrick remains hard at work on this and other matters, and to reward good behavior, click here.

Update 8/14/08: More from the reality-based community...

Proof That Zombie Lies Never Die

Congratulations to Senator Bob Casey for being awarded with the opportunity to speak at the upcoming Democratic National Convention (noted here, probably a reward in part for his endorsement of Obama when everyone else in PA except for Patrick Murphy endorsed Hillary Clinton).

However, part of me wants to pummel Mark Halperin to a pulp over resurrecting the LIE YET AGAIN! that Casey’s father, former PA Governor Bob Casey, Sr., was denied the opportunity to speak at the 1992 convention because he opposed abortion (he opposed the Clinton-Gore ticket so he wasn’t granted the opportunity to speak, I’ll probably be repeating this forever, this is a recording…).

Update 8/16/08: Good stuff from Media Matters on this...

Update 8/25/08: It's pretty much a joke at this point (h/t Atrios)...

Update 8/27/08: Part of me wonders if it's really worth the bother anymore (here).

“No Exit” For Repugs On Infrastructure Woes

In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, PA House Repug John Peterson continued to run and hide from his abysmal performance in the U.S. Congress on the matter of appropriating funding to support vehicle traffic and mass transit in this state (fortunately for us, he announced last January that he would not seek another term).

Maybe he’s thinking that we’re diverted by the Olympics or something and we won’t notice his utter balderdash. Fortunately, that’s not true…

Washington isn't to blame for the sorry state of affairs of Pennsylvania's roads and bridges. The state legislature and the governor are.
Really? Then why did Sen. Joe Scarnati, the state Senate’s president pro tempore from Jefferson County, blame Peterson and fellow Repug U.S. House Rep Phil English here for not securing enough transportation dollars for PA (and did I mention that Scarnati is a Republican?).

And Peterson provides the following information but missing some important context…

Since 2003, $412 million in federal money for repair and maintenance of our state's roads and bridges has been diverted by the governor to fund mass transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
That’s because the PA State legislature doesn’t permit SEPTA (the state’s biggest transportation authority) to obtain funding any other way than to seek it from Harrisburg; 33 states have authored local or regional sales taxes for transportation costs, but not PA (Peterson has a bit of a point, but he also hasn't don't nearly enough on the federal level himself).

Continuing (with Peterson’s further mischaracterization)…

How do the governor and the state legislature pay for their billion-dollar plunder of the roads and bridges account? By the passage of Act 44, which calls for tolling I-80. Perhaps by fate, Act 44 was the same bill number that brought us the notorious 2006 state pay raise.
Gee John, would you like some apples with your oranges? Try sticking to the matter at hand, of which you apparently have a thin grasp of the facts, to say the least.

As noted in the Ferris post above, Dem U.S. House Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota (where the tragic 35W bridge collapse occurred, pictured above) tried to establish a trust paid for by a temporary gas tax increase to repair our bridges, but House Repugs (with Peterson chiming in, I’m sure) dismissed Oberstar’s plan as a “band aid.”

And speaking of the plan for tolls on I-80, it should be noted that Joe Scarnati also called Peterson and Phil English "obstructionists" for trying to stop the toll plan and use the revenue to pay for bridge and highway improvements and help mass transit (and while I’m definitely not “in love” with the idea of leasing the turnpike, it may be the only way to raise revenue for infrastructure repair).

All of this griping by Peterson sounds like sour grapes from a Repug who, instead, should take a long, hard look at himself in the mirror and realize his truly meager accomplishments on behalf of his constituents.

And to "honor" him, I suggest that The John Peterson Memorial Exit Ramp be built from I-80 at a location designated by the PA Turnpike Commission (who look like a model of efficiency compared to the PA U.S. House 5th District rep). To truly commemorate the departing member of Congress, it should be little more than a cow path of dirt and gravel leading to absolutely nowhere.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

Hey, it's "Olympic Fever" - Catch It! (no really, it is - just don't cough up a lung, OK?)...

...and trust me, if that doesn't make you want to gag, this will; "The Pap Attack" brings us the true cost of Bushco's woeful fiscal mismanagement...

...and K.O. brings us "Worst Persons" (yep, American Airlines charging our military for transporting their luggage en route to combat zones - that tears it all right)...

...and here's Jim Boggia ("Super Girl," live at the old Tower Records store on South Street in Philly before it closed...sniff).

Three Milestones On The Road To War

It is obviously good news that Georgia has apparently agreed to the terms of the cease fire brokered by Nikolas Sarkozy of France along with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev (here), but I would like to point out three developments over the last two years (more or less) that pointed to the recent conflict (IMHO)…

  • This tells us of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006, who wrote about the war in Chechnya and Russian Prime Minister (and former president, of course) Vladimir Putin’s role; a campaign which was supposedly to last “two weeks” in 1999 instead spawned a wave of terrorism by separatists which led to the brutal deaths of children at a Beslan school (I have no evidence upon which to blame Putin for that horrific act, I wish to emphasize, but only the tactics that led up to that).

    However, I would argue that, by this country’s relative silence in the aftermath of Politkovskaya’s death (as well as other dissidents), our ruling cabal made it clear to Putin that we would look the other way no matter what tactics he employed to squash opposition to his regime, or that of any Russian leader.

  • This reminds us of Dubya’s idiotic antagonism of Putin and Medvedev over deployment of a missile defense shield in Europe. Missile defense is truly the fantasy of all neocons in pursuit of unending war and “cost-plus” government contracts that deliver victories only within the realm of propaganda (they don’t call it “Star Wars” for nothing).

  • This tells us of the visit by Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Russia in which they met with some human rights activists, but failed to meet with Garry Kasparov, the highest-profile dissident of all. Such a meeting would have sent the message to Putin and Medvedev that we were serious, and possibly would have given him pause before deciding to strike.

  • I realize this is all speculation and ultimately my opinion only, but I would only ask that future adult political leadership in this country would see that these were missed opportunities to pursue a diplomatic course in advance of this recent tragedy.

    Update 8/14/08: Clueless as usual...

    Tuesday Foto Funnies

    This is precious...what more need I say?

    "Drilling" For Common Sense On Energy In Bucks

    I haven’t had much to say about Bucks County Courier Times columnist J.D. Mullane for some time because he’s largely confined his wingnuttery to his blog, which is something I don’t care to discuss at this moment because I’m eating my lunch.

    However, in his column today, he takes note of Patrick Murphy’s appearance at the Lower Makefield, PA Farmer’s Market last Thursday, in which Patrick judged the “Great Zucchini Race”…

    Just before the zucchinis zoomed down a 12-foot plywood track, a half-dozen protesters closed in on Murphy, holding signs that criticized him and his Democratic Party on oil, drilling and energy.

    Murphy, with his 150-watt smile, largely ignored them. Afterward, glancing at the sign-holders, he said with a shrug, “That's politics.”
    And by the way, it should be noted that, since they disagreed with the Democrats, these were “good” protestors as far as J.D. is concerned, not “hippies” opposing the Iraq war who should be tear gassed, as Mullane called for here.

    And where exactly does Patrick come down on the matter of energy?

    “Let's make this clear,” Murphy told one man, who drilled the congressman on oil drilling, “I am for drilling. I'm a Blue Dog Democrat. I just want to make sure it's responsible drilling.”

    Which means, Murphy told me, he opposes expanding drilling off the U.S. coasts. Tourism and environmental protection are his concerns. He's OK with drilling in Alaska, though not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR.

    Drilling, he said, must be balanced with wind and solar energy.

    “There's a reason we're creating a green energy hub here in Bucks County,” he said.
    Well said, though Mullane tells us the following…

    Renewable energy is fine, but even if we tripled wind power tomorrow, it would provide only 10 percent of our energy needs. Where do we get the other 90 percent?

    Solar power, an engineer explained to me, is decades from rivaling the efficiency of fossil fuels. And when home-based solar energy arrives, those lovely old shade trees in your yard will have to go.
    I guess we’ll have to pry that pump of petrol “from your cold, dead hands,” huh J.D.? And what an idiotic claim to make, namely, that we’ll automatically have to dig out the chainsaws and hack down our forests to make solar work.

    Well, in that case, I would like to point out once again that that “liberal, tree hugging Democrat” Governor Ahh-nold of the state of Caa-Lee-Four-Nee-Aah (who, apparently, is on the mark concerning global warming and energy issues but dead wrong on everything else) pointed out recently that, after former President Jimmy Carter gave his February 1977 speech on energy (for which he was roundly chastised by conservatives, of course), we took some halting steps towards developing a solar power industry, though all of that was derailed by The Sainted Ronnie R, Mullane’s hero of course (with Reagan tearing down the solar panels Carter had installed on the White House after he took over in 1981).

    However, as Ahh-nold reminded us, Germany took those steps also at the same time, though they continued to the present day. And as a result (as noted here)…

    Germany, the world leader in (solar photovoltaics (PV), which convert sunlight into electrical power) thanks to its "feed-in tariff" support, installed 1.1 gigawatts of capacity last year - the equivalent of a large power station. It now has nearly half a million houses fitted with PV panels. The feed-in tariff pays people with solar panels above-market rates for selling power back to the grid.

    "High oil prices have boosted demand even more. The market will probably expand another 40% this year," said Carsten Körnig, of the German solar industry association, referring to both PV and solar thermal systems, which produce hot water. He said his previous assumption - that grid parity would be reached in Germany in five to seven years - now looked very conservative since it allowed for only a 3% rise in electricity prices each year. In many countries increases of 20% a year are becoming the norm.

    Demand is particularly high in Spain, Germany and Greece but Britain's PV market remains non-existent in the absence of a feed-in tariff. The industry has very high hopes for the American market, though, as fears of energy dependence grow. Suntech's marketing director, Jeffrey Schubert, said:

    "Things will get much better after the [US] election. Oil prices have accelerated the change and our intention is to no longer rely on government subsidies as an industry."
    I hope that assumption about our election is right; if by some awful development John W. McBush gets in (God help us), all bets are off as far as I’m concerned.

    So Germany leads the world in solar; guess who gets the nod for wind power?

    Well, as Little Tommy Friedman tells us here (I hate to give him credit on energy because of his vile Iraq war cheerleading, but unfortunately I have to)…

    There is little whining here about Denmark having $10-a-gallon gasoline because of high energy taxes. The shaping of the market with high energy standards and taxes on fossil fuels by the Danish government has actually had “a positive impact on job creation,” added Hedegaard. “For example, the wind industry — it was nothing in the 1970s. Today, one-third of all terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark.” In the last 10 years, Denmark’s exports of energy efficiency products have tripled. Energy technology exports rose 8 percent in 2007 to more than $10.5 billion in 2006, compared with a 2 percent rise in 2007 for Danish exports as a whole.

    “It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.”

    Frankly, when you compare how America has responded to the 1973 oil shock and how Denmark has responded, we look pathetic.

    Because it was smart taxes and incentives that spurred Danish energy companies to innovate, Ditlev Engel, the president of Vestas — Denmark’s and the world’s biggest wind turbine company — told me that he simply can’t understand how the U.S. Congress could have just failed to extend the production tax credits for wind development in America.

    Why should you care?

    “We’ve had 35 new competitors coming out of China in the last 18 months,” said Engel, “and not one out of the U.S.”
    So please keep in mind that, while there’s nothing “rotten in the state of Denmark” if you will, on energy generated from turbines, development of “clean” energy in this country has been forestalled in large part by Mullane and his conservative fellow travelers, spouting a wholly other, inadvertent source of wind power from nothing but hot air.

    Hard Choices And Soft-Headed Punditry

    While many lefty bloggers out there have quite rightly focused on the idiocy of Cokie Roberts lambasting Barack Obama for taking a vacation in “that foreign, exotic location” of our 50th state, Hawaii by name, I would like to return to some of her lightweight analysis (along with husband Steve) that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on the matter of “hard versus soft power” under Bushco…

    As (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates told the Global Leadership Campaign, it was not just “America's military forces and intelligence capabilities” that “held the Soviets at bay for more than four decades.” There was also the Agency for International Development working to pull people out of poverty, diplomats defusing dicey situations, and the presence of the U.S. Information Agency providing a place to learn about “our history and culture and values.”

    But, Gates told NPR, that all changed after the Soviet Union fell apart. “When the Cold War was at its height, the U.S. Agency for International Development had something like 16,000 employees. It has 3,000 now. One of the points that I make, if you took all the Foreign Service officers in the world — about 6,600 — it would not be sufficient to man one carrier strike group.” Cutbacks in personnel plus the Clinton administration's decision to fold the USIA into the State Department left the “soft power” institutions in a sorry state.
    Cokie, darling, I hate to break the news to you, but Bill Clinton hasn’t been president since January 20th, 2001. Since then, your boy Dubya has had plenty of time to try and utilize “soft power” to win hearts and minds, and we all know the result (yes, Roberts has a point about the USIA and the State Department, but that’s ancient history).

    This post from The Swamp (of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington bureau) from October 2007 tells us of the departure of Karen Hughes, the former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, appointed by President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

    So, what did she do, exactly?

    The AP reports that "Hughes dispatched Arabic speakers to do four times as many interviews with Arabic media as in previous years and set up three rapid public relations response centers overseas to monitor and respond to the news.
    And in addition to this, Hughes sent former Olympics ice skater Michelle Kwan and Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken abroad as “goodwill ambassadors” (who, as far as I know, don’t speak Arabic either, like Hughes).

    But as a result of these brilliant moves (in addition to bloating her department’s budget to $900 million)…

    "Polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since Hughes took over,'' AP notes. "A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent (in 2006). ''
    So it sounds like Bushco didn’t do such a hot job with trying to “win hearts and minds” (part of Cokie’s “soft power”) also.

    And in the Swamp story, we see Our Gal Condi Rice, who didn’t think the Russia-Georgia War (which, thankfully, may be subsiding, with Sarko's help) was important enough to interrupt her vacation, (maybe she's buying shoes?) witnessing Hughes’ farewell. And Rice has her own “soft power” issues, as noted here; she was encouraged by Dem U.S. House Rep Gary Ackerman from New York to hire to the State Department the gay linguists dismissed by the Pentagon (some of whom are surely conversant in Arabic) as part of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” fiasco (no word on whether Rice ever did so – I expect not).

    And this Common Dreams article reminds us of the following…

    World opinion, dismissed by top Bush officials, has undermined U.S. clout, said Joseph Nye, a professor of international relations at Harvard University.

    Bush's emphasis on force has cost goodwill around the world -- nowhere more than among Muslims -- and squandered the sympathy that empowered the United States to invade Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "A president has to be able to combine the hard power of military force with the soft power of attracting others to want to follow us," Nye said. "In fighting a struggle against terrorism -- where everything depends upon winning the hearts and minds of moderates -- that loss of soft power is very expensive. The key to diplomacy is to divide your enemies, and Bush has in a sense united our enemy."
    Yes, Clinton rolled the USIA into the State Department after the Berlin Wall fell and communism collapsed. But it is hardly his fault that the person who followed him in office had neither the will, guidance, or basic intelligence to realize that the fight against a new enemy required a new strategy, utilizing assts from the military, political and civilian, corporate communities.

    They are no longer “history’s actors,” and never were, really. But like all actors, their time grows short on the stage, if you will. And since they cannot make a graceful exit, all that remains is for them to leave quickly and do as little further damage as possible.

    A Grudging Edwards Postscript

    Before I completely turn my back on the former senator from North Carolina, I must, in fairness, present the following noted by Paul Krugman yesterday here…

    One more thing: if we do get real health care reform, a lot of people will owe a debt of gratitude to none other than John Edwards. When Mr. Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, I credited him with making universal health care a “possible dream for the next administration.” Mr. Edwards’s political career is over — but perhaps he and his family can take some solace from the fact that his party is still trying to make that dream come true.
    That’s true, but it’s just about impossible now for me to accumulate even an ounce of respect for a man who, though a philandering liar, somehow believed that he could overcome that to win the Democratic Party nomination for president (I thank God now that he didn’t, or else this election would be over).

    And this “99 percent” quote, in light of the lies and covering up over the episode with Rielle Hunter, is one of the most pitiable whines that I have ever heard.

    Update: By the way, Flush, God just called; he said you can keep your "talent" (h/t Atrios).

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    Well, whaddaya know - our pal Brad "Freedom's Crock" Blakeman, who once decried frivolous lawsuits, filed (ahem) a "frivolous lawsuit" against Kelsey Grammer over the movie "Swing Vote," and it looks like the case against Dr. Bruce ("Yeah, Let's Pin The Anthrax Scare On The Dead Guy!") Ivins isn't so air tight after all, and also it sounds to me like those darn Iraqis sure as heck want us out of their country (pop quiz: name the movie where the line "Just say 'Oops' and get out!" is uttered)...

    ...The Onion News Network tells us that the Pentagon's first unmanned spokesdrone completed its first mission with the White House press corps (dancing on that razor's edge between reality and satire again)...

    Pentagon's Unmanned Spokesdrone Completes First Press Conference Mission

    ...Vampire Weekend ("Oxford Comma")...

    ...and the answer to our trivia question is "The Producers" (accountant Leo Bloom accidentally walks in on Max Bialystock while he's trying to bilk the little old ladies out of the money to produce another broadway flop, and Max utters those words to Leo; the clip of the scene didn't cache properly, so here's this one).

    Summer Flicks A Kingdom Of Perpetual “Knight”

    (And I ask you, where else are you likely to find a bastardized Shakespeare quote in a blog title?)

    As noted here, “The Dark Knight” was the No. 1 movie at the box office for the fourth week in a row. I’m not sure exactly what that says about the taste of the movie-going public (and I include myself), but there you are.

    And I had planned to add some thoughts on the movie on Friday before all of the mess over John Edwards hit the fan primarily because of what that numbskull Glenn Beck said about it here.

    (And I’m sorry – accuse me all you want of trying to degrade the opinions of others, but Beck IS a numbskull at the very least; as long as I’ve been subjected to his blather, I can’t think of a single constructive thought or utterance from this person.)

    And the answer is yes, I did see “The Dark Knight” about a week or so ago, partly out of parental duty, screening the movie for the young one (and despite the PG-13 rating, I wish to emphasize that this movie is NOT something that should be viewed by pre-teen kids, IMHO). However, I won’t lie to you; I wanted to see it for myself also.

    In addition to being what, at many moments, is a two-hour-and-thirty-minute thrill ride (and you really aren’t aware of the length, trust me), it is also about as involving a story of good and evil on a real basic level as you are likely to see.

    And as much as I hate to say it (especially after ridiculing him), Beck is partly right in that the film is a reflection of our life and times - a bit, anyway – creating a sense of dread concerning the inevitability of evil in Gotham City (just the environment for the neocon nut jobs to perpetrate their foul acts, with the Iraq war the most infamous of them all).

    However, in Gotham City, you see certain politicians, police, and members of law enforcement (to say nothing of Batman, of course), acting nobly to fight evil, but of course, The Joker (and Heath Ledger’s performance is everything people say it is, and maybe more) skillfully infiltrates the entire law enforcement apparatus to create chaos, and as the movie evolves, you realize that he truly is a step ahead of everyone.

    But getting back to Beck, my issue with him is that there really is nothing to celebrate in this movie, nothing that should be considered worthy of emulation. Long before Batman strike his deal with Commissioner Gordon at the end of the movie that creates the whole “Dark Knight” mythology (trying really hard not to give away plot points here), you see him breaking all kinds of rules, whether or not it’s kidnapping a foreign national, doing battle with members of a SWAT team, or, as Beck alluded to, concocting a means to eavesdrop on people’s phone calls (a tactic to which the Morgan Freeman character takes strong objection, as Beck also notes).

    In short, this movie is very dark, escapist entertainment that “raises the bar” for the genre (and I have an idea why Christian Bale felt he had to grunt his dialogue as Batman, but it was still hard to hear him at times). I could probably go back and watch it again to catch what I missed the first time, but I don’t think I’ll do that any time soon.

    However, even though the movie hits its intended mark, anyone who thinks this film is “a paean to fortitude and moral courage” is living in a truly dark place and, I believe, should seek counseling. And anyone who believes it embodies “values” of any positive sort is as messed up as The Joker himself.

    Bushco’s War On The Planet Continues

    From here…

    The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.
    Basically, he wants to gut the Endangered Species Act.

    Sometimes, there really are no words, except to point out, in their eternal infamy, our corporate media continues to pretend that the people running our ruling cabal in this country are actually sane.


    161 days and counting, people...

    More Fluffery For Our Man Arlen

    The Bucks County Courier Times is now the latest newspaper in these parts to prostrate itself on behalf of our Repug U.S. Senator (here)…

    Arlen Specter met several times with Fidel Castro in Cuba, visited with Saddam Hussein and welcomed Yasser Arafat into his Washington, D.C., office.

    He met Muammar Khadafi (“the worst terrorist in the history of the world”) in the middle of the desert.
    Of course, far be it for Specter to criticize Dubya for this little maneuver on behalf of Libya, then.

    He spoke with so many enemies of the United States, he considered putting up photos on a “wall of shame.”

    His point: “We need dialogue with Iran.”
    Specter is right, but then again, why is that OK for him, being a supporter of that “straight-talking maverick,” but bad for a certain Democratic senator from Illinois who happens to be running for president also (here)?

    Silly me – just another case of IOKIYAR…

    And of course, Specter stopped by to visit the Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer to endorse someone named Frank Farry, a Repug running against Chris King for Chris’s PA House seat in the 142nd district (please take note of that number by the way, Courier would help for Farry to complete the Project Vote Smart bio, by the way; what is it with the Repugs this year – between Farry and Tom Manion, you would think, based on their online non-presences, that they’re campaigning for a job at the CIA instead).

    And Arlen predicted that John W. McBush would “do well” in Bucks County in November, by the way. Well, if McBush wins (and don’t hold your breath), it would reverse a trend dating back at least eight years; Bucks supported Al Gore in 2000 by a comparatively thin margin over Incurious George, and did the same for John Kerry by an almost equally thin margin in 2004 (noted here). And the political climate was decidedly more favorable towards the Repugs back then, of course, and they still couldn’t pull it off.

    And I love the way Specter says that “there are no profiles in courage” in Congress anymore; gee Arlen, doesn’t this vote by the brother of a former president who you besmirched with that remark (a former president who happened to write a book with the title you mentioned in that quote) count for “courage” as far as you’re concerned?

    And by the way, Arlen, when you attack in part the legislative body where you reside, make sure you don’t let anyone forget that you supported an oil windfall profits tax before you opposed it.

    Finally (perhaps in an alternate universe somewhere), the issues surrounding Specter raised here will be addressed also.

    More Newt Science Fiction on R&D Funding

    I really don’t understand why our corporate media believes that Newt Gingrich has, over time, somehow become this great thinker and visionary (I mean, I partly do, but I partly don’t also). To me that’s kind of like believing that, if you need elocution lessons, you should contact Elmer Fudd (but then again, I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, so what do I know?).

    This misplaced hero worship is on display again here at (where else?) the Murdoch Street Journal, where Baby Newton Leroy tells us (in answering the question of how you would spend $10 billion of American resources “to improve the state of the world”)…

    New technologies have been improving life for virtually all of known history (think of fire or the wheel as examples of early technological breakthroughs). Given the inefficiency and slowness of bureaucracies with a four-year time horizon and a limited amount of money, I would favor the use of large tax-free prizes.

    Prizes are powerful because they send signals to everyone that they can compete. Furthermore they are payable on achievement rather than on application.
    Oh, great…so, we’re not going to fund a project so it would come to fruition, but we will expect it to happen anyway as if by magic and THEN pay out the funds?

    Wow, I never would have thought of that…

    Well, for Newt’s information, many other countries around the world have used their “bureaucracies” (read: government) to assist private development initiatives in a wide array of scientific projects.

    This tells us that Gordon Brown (as chancellor before he became prime minister) proposed a 10-year plan in July 2004 for research and development funding between private and public entities. And this tells us that Canada’s federal government supports the development and commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, products and services.

    And it’s not as it we’re “asleep at the switch” totally in this country on government R&D funding, despite Bushco’s notorious opposition to science as a whole. This tells us about the Federal Demonstration Partnership, which “is a cooperative initiative among 10 federal agencies and 98 institutional recipients of federal funds…”

    (I haven’t been able to find out much on the FDP, though this article tells us that it fell under the supervision of John Marburger in 2002, though the chair for the FDP is now Dr. Susan Sedwick.)

    But getting back to Newt, it really is no surprise that he opposes government funding of R&D in emerging technologies because, when he was Speaker of the House in 1995 (as noted here)…

    …Gingrich and his Republican colleagues pushing through a broad program of (budget) austerity that, though it preserve(d) most of the basic research programs now in place, (put) them on a strict diet. As this issue went to press, most basic research institutions, such as the National Institutes of Health, which sponsors biological and medical research, were slated for cost-of-living increases at best, while others, such as the National Science Foundation, were expected to have to make do on slightly less.

    The Republicans are expected to continue chipping away at spending on science in 1996. If Congress makes good on its resolution to balance the budget, it will have to cut science and technology spending by 3 3 percent (I assume that’s 3.3 with a typo) over the next seven years, according to estimates by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stagnation could be the result, as young scientists find it increasingly difficult to win funding. From their viewpoint, American science could be racing toward the millennium on a diet of cold gruel.
    Oh, and by the way, Newt, I’m still waiting to find out the latest on that space-based air traffic control system you said you wanted to develop here.