Saturday, August 30, 2008

Today's Palin Post

Doesn't this little audio item speak volumes (h/t Atrios)?

And also, I thought this was an exceptionally clear-eyed look at what the selection says about McBush (the following excerpt in particular)...

...He’s desperate. Let’s stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters — and too close for comfort in several states like Indiana and Montana the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election — and very sick of the Bush years.

McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.

McCain’s pick shows he is not pretending. Politicians, even “mavericks” like McCain, play it safe when they think they are winning — or see an easy path to winning. They roll the dice only when they know that the risks of conventionality are greater than the risks of boldness.

The Republican brand is a mess. McCain is reasonably concluding that it won’t work to replicate George W. Bush and Karl Rove’s electoral formula, based around national security and a big advantage among Y chromosomes, from 2004.

“She’s a fresh new face in a party that’s dying for one — the antidote to boring white men,” a campaign official said.

Palin, the logic goes, will prompt voters to give him a second look — especially women who have watched Democrats reject Hillary Rodham Clinton for Barack Obama.

The risks of a backlash from choosing someone so unknown and so untested are obvious. In one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama.

“I think we’re going to have to examine our tag line, ‘dangerously inexperienced,’” a top McCain official said wryly.
And as far as this notion from the McCain camp about Obama or Biden not being able to criticize Palin because, allegedly, women PUMAs who supported Hillary would now flock towards her instead...well, I hope the majority of women voters whom I consider to be clear-headed are offended by that.

Update 1 8/31/08: And I guess it's no surprise that Palin comes down on the side of hunters versus tourism here, even though the latter accounts for significantly more state revenue than the former (hat tip to SG).

Update 2 8/31/08: More from C&L here...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Stuff

Funny thing, Governor, but we thought YOU would be able to tell US at this point, seeing as how you JUST SIGNED ON AS McBUSH's RUNNING MATE (this may be the most craven political maneuver I've ever seen, and anyone who thinks Karl Rove didn't have a hand in it must also believe in the Tooth Fairy)...

...and the TV station in Alaska actually set up a tip line for people to call to figure out what's going on with the whole "troopergate" thing with Palin and Walt Monegan? I mean, don't stations usually do that to find out about a lost pet or jewelry or something? Looks pretty direct to me; somebody's lying, and it isn't Monegan...

...and as far as "the top of the ticket" goes, forget about McBush's homes for a minute; did you hear about his parking lot?...

...and I can't tell who's stupider here, Larry Elder or Ben Stein, trying to reinforce some laughable fiction that Bill Clinton could have prevented 9/11; guess that came from that Mickey Mouse production - being literal here - kudos to Larry King for being a standup guy (h/t Think Progress; I knew one of these clowns would mention "the surge" - hey, if it's supposed to be going so well, why the fluck are our people STILL OVER THERE???!!!!)...

...and lest anyone think I'm giving the Dems a total pass (FISA will be tethered around the neck of every Dem responsible for that cowardly fraud, including Hoyer, but as much as I hate saying it, we have to move on, as it were, for now)...

...and I dedicate the following video to Gov. Palin, and that would be "Over My Head" by The Fray, with clips from "The Human Stain" starring Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins (a nice little homemade vid by YouTuber nicolenut512).

Is This McBush's Veep Selection? (updates)

Oops...wrong Palin.

Update 1: If nothing else, I hope she at least gets a commemorative "Victor The Victory Elephant" (here).

Update 2: I thought this was a terrific post on Palin; her story reads a bit like an Elmore Leonard novel, IMHO (h/t The Daily Kos).

Update 3: A hat tip goes out to Editor and Publisher Online for jogging my memory about Palin's diatribe in the New York Times that I posted about here in which she defended global warming and said that the polar bears could all drown (paraphrasing, I'll admit).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday Stuff

This is the first 16:24 of Obama's acceptance speech tonight. I still can't believe it.

He hit all of the right notes, people. All. Of. The. Right. Notes.

Accuse me of drinking the Kool Aid as much as you want, but that was the best political speech I've ever heard in my life. And what a presidency of promise (hat tip C&L).

(Update: The hell with MSNBC; here's the whole thing courtesy of TPM)...

(Oh, and by the way, here's the predictable corporate media attack, and this from BoBo is not only an insult to the Times, but to journalism itself, to say nothing of the Dems of course.)

...Simple Plan ("Shut Up"); I hereby dedicate this to the loathsome NPR radio team of a woman announcer whose name I couldn't locate from their web site, some supposed gadfly named Bob Smith who thought it was more important to ignore Susan Eisenhower's speech tonight and talk to someone in the stands about the sunset over Invesco Field and buffalo brats (a grinder, as I think they call it out there), and some "Weekly Standard" nothing with a voice named Matt somebody or other whose job it was to shoot verbal spitballs at the Dems for the whole week - I absolve E.J. Dionne because he was getting crowded out to the point where I barely heard him.

Update 8/30/2008: I believe this is the NPR guy, doing what he does best (propagandizing against Dems, that is).

Three Thursday Crybabies

(Note: I said a day or so ago that posting would be problematic, but I’ve been able to do so more than I thought. However, tomorrow is anyone’s guess.)

  • The Inky wingnuttery has been relentless; yesterday, Smerky told us that political correctness is causing the current baby boom in this country (not to rival the post WWII “surge,” if you will, but still statistically significant), and today, Former Senator Eye of Mordor criticizes Barack Obama twice for knowing how to use a TelePrompTer (here).

    He also says…

    Obama doesn't limit his denial of human rights just to babies in the womb. When he was an Illinois state senator, it was within his pay grade to vote against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (a bill I authored that passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate). It prohibits the killing of a child after it is born.

    Until last week, Obama contended that he never voted against such a bill. He even called those of us who said he did liars. Now, his campaign concedes that Obama voted against - and was the only senator to speak against - legislation to stop infanticide.
    I don’t know who in the Obama camp said that; Little Ricky of course doesn’t cite his source and I’m not going to do any research for him on that. However, I should point out that he apparently “didn’t get the memo,” because I already chastised his ideological “sister” Christine Flowers for repeating what is at best a half truth by not pointing out that Obama voted “present” for SB 1095 and other iterations in the Illinois legislature here because, though he objected to the “personhood” provisions of the bill, if you will, he did not wish to kill it outright (a compromise bill was achieved in 2005).

    And Little Ricky was also unhappy for the Dem presidential nominee for the following:

    (Reporter Cathleen) Falsani (of the Chicago Sun-Times) asked the candidate, "What is sin?" Obama's response: "Being out of alignment with my values."
    Santorum was unhappy with Obama’s invocation of “(his own personal) values” instead of those of God, you see.

    Which is funny because, upon reading this, it’s obvious Former Senator Man-On-Dog embodies neither.

  • I simply must share with you the latest from conservative icon Richard Viguerie in response to John W. McBush’s search for a running mate (got this in my Email - sorry, no linky; Viguerie is just a tad full of himself, for the uninitiated)…

    An Open Letter from Richard Viguerie to John McCain: Conservatives Can Also Play the Maverick Game

    (Manassas, Virginia) The following is an open letter from Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, to Senator John McCain in regard to news reports that the Republican presidential candidate may select a vice presidential running mate who supports abortions rights:

    Dear Senator McCain:

    The buzz in recent days has been that some of your key aides were calling national and state GOP leaders to alert them to the possibility that you were seriously considering a pro-abortion running mate and to take their temperature on such a selection.

    As Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal asked: Are you politically “stupid” or do you care little for conservative principles?

    It also shows that you don’t understand why the Republican brand has taken a massive beating in recent years. You clearly don’t comprehend why millions of conservatives are off the Republican reservation and sitting on the political sidelines.

    Your indication that you’re willing to put a person who has a clear, unequivocal pro-abortion record within a heartbeat of the presidency is alarming.

    Pro-life conservatives understand that, to change the laws to protect innocent life, first and foremost, we need good, articulate leadership--from the president and vice president.

    To put it as simply and clearly as I can, most Republican leaders at the national and state level have betrayed, abandoned, and sold out the principles that define conservatism. Talk of selecting a pro-abortion liberal Republican (Tom Ridge) or, even worse, a pro-abortion liberal Democrat (Joe Lieberman) drives the Republican brand lower and lower.

    Your apparent interest in selecting a running mate who is out of sync ideologically with the vast majority of conservatives reinforces the image of the Republican Party as a party without principle and dedicated to one proposition above all others – the seeking, acquiring, obtaining, and holding onto power.

    Senator McCain, you are exceedingly proud of being a political maverick – you wear it as a badge of honor.

    Well, poke the base of the Republican Party – the conservatives – in the eye one more time by choosing a pro-abortion vice presidential candidate and conservatives will show you that two can play the maverick game.

    Conservatives are people with proudly held principles. We’re now waiting to see if you share our principles.


    Richard A. Viguerie
    And here I always thought “conservative principles” was an oxymoron; color me astonished (and I’m so “on board” with Attaturk concerning this possible veep selection).

  • This Inquirer article tells us the following about Unisys Corporation and its intent to place a sign with its hideous logo atop Two Liberty Place (this and the Viguerie thing are a day or so old, I’ll admit).

    The story tells us that Unisys CEO Joseph McGrath has threatened to halt its plans to move employees from its Blue Bell, PA offices downtown because the city zoning board ruled against him.

    However, as Inquirer architecture writer Inga Saffron notes here…

    The best towers, I'd argue, don't need signs in the sky; the design is the sign. But when companies insist, it's not unreasonable to expect them to earn their bragging rights.

    Philadelphia has traditionally allowed "major tenants" to advertise their presence with big signs on their building facades. Usually, they're expected to place those signs just above the first level. But if you look skyward, you'll see more corporate logos than you might expect in our self-effacing, taste-conscious town - from the historic, sans-serif graphic masterpiece of PSFS to the brand new, acid-green ExcelleRx logo that crowns the 20-story Three Parkway building.

    Unisys, however, is leasing a mere 31/2 floors at Two Liberty, or 7 percent of the building. It calls these offices its "global corporate headquarters," although it expects to send only 225 of its 1,700 Blue Bell employees to Center City. The token presence means the Fortune 500 company won't pay a whole lot in business taxes, while it's the employees who will bear the extra wage-tax burden. Sounds like Unisys got a great deal on a billboard.
    I think that’s “the skinny” here too. And since McGrath and his cohorts have decided to kick and scream about their precious sign (though, again, as Saffron notes, they’ll represent little more than a token presence in Two Liberty Place), the city should require the company to sublet the leased space (McGrath apparently noted that as a possibility) with an outplacement service, so this corporate mistake will have to compete for its employees.

    I’d love to see Mayor Nutter send a message like that to these other ego-inflated members of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class the next time one of them tries to bully his or her way into getting what they want. It won’t happen, I know, but it would be nice for a change.

  • Update 10/08/08: So the new Unisys CEO has experience "restructuring companies before selling them off," huh (here)? Looks like they definitely won't get that sign now (or maybe under another name?)

    More Anti-Dem Beck Dreck

    “The Most Trusted Name In News” granted another opportunity for Glenn Beck to spew his drivel today against the Democrats (here). And while I don’t intend to reply all of what he said (even if I wanted to, I couldn’t, because he doesn’t source his claims so I could detect from which bodily orifice he obtained them), I do want to address three points in particular…

    …instead of traveling to Denver, Colorado, and reporting on the Democratic National Convention in a fancy suit like a real show, I get to watch the speeches at my house in my boxers. Sorry for that image. Here are my impressions of some of the noteworthy quotes from the convention so far, which I observed from a safe distance.

    Nancy Pelosi: "I am very proud of the Democrats in Congress."

    Never mind that no Congress in the past 20 years has passed fewer public laws than this one, according to the Wall Street Journal. How could they?

    They are spending one quarter of their work week debating and passing symbolic measures such as creating National Watermelon Month. The Journal says no Congress in the past two decades has proposed more symbolic resolutions than this one -- 1,900, for those of you keeping score at home.
    Oh yes, that’s one of the new freeper talking points about the 110th Congress (and here’s the column in the Murdoch Street Journal from which it originated).

    But it’s a funny thing: according to this link listing public laws passed by prior Congresses as well as this one, I was able to obtain the following totals…

    108th 1st Session – 8
    108th 2nd Session – 4
    109th 1st Session – 8
    109th 2nd Session – 10
    110th 1st Session – 6
    110th 2nd Session – 6
    As you can see, the Beck/Journal claim isn’t even correct because the 110th Congress (which, it should be noted, has not concluded) has already passed the same amount of public laws as the 108th, and that would be 12 (granted, the horrid 109th passed more, but what do you expect when the same party controlled all branches of our government?).

    Further, the 110th, as noted here, broke the record for the highest number of roll call votes in U.S. congressional history last October!


    Hillary Clinton: "John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis."

    She must have missed the update that this number dropped by over a million. While it's still too high, I doubt she would have missed the news if it had risen.

    She also missed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that 37 percent of the uninsured live in households making more than $50,000 a year, most of which can afford health insurance.

    Twenty percent aren't even citizens of this country. One in three are eligible for government insurance, but aren't enrolled. So, while our health care is far from perfect, it's much better than Hillary wants you to believe.
    Concerning those “households making more than $50,000 a year,” this post tells us that…

    …a household at the $50,000 income level with family health insurance coverage is paying over a quarter of its income into the health care system.

    After you’ve finished gasping in surprise at the share of your income that is already going into health care, you may wonder where all that money goes. One answer is that the United States has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world, including over 1,500 different companies, each offering multiple plans, each with its own marketing program and enrollment procedures, its own paperwork and policies, its CEO salaries, sales commissions, and other non-clinical costs—and, of course, if it is a for-profit company, its profits. Compared to the overhead costs of the single-payer approach, this fragmented system takes almost 25 cents more out of every health care dollar for expenses other than actually providing care.

    Of the additional overhead in the current U.S. system, approximately half is borne by doctors’ offices and hospitals, which are forced to maintain large billing and negotiating staffs to deal with all the plans. By contrast, under Canada’s single-payer system (which is run by the provinces, not by the federal government), each medical specialty organization negotiates once a year with the nonprofit payer for each province to set fees, and doctors and hospitals need only bill that one payer.

    Of course, the United States already has a universal, single-payer health care program: Medicare. Medicare, which serves the elderly and people with disabilities, operates with overhead costs equal to just 3% of total expenditures, compared to 15% to 25% overhead in private health programs. Since Medicare collects its revenue through the IRS, there is no need to collect from individuals, groups, or businesses. Some complexity remains—after all, Medicare must exist in the fragmented world that is American health care—but no matter how creative the opponents of single-payer get, there is no way they can show convincingly how the administrative costs of a single-payer system could come close to the current level.

    Some opponents use current U.S. government expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid to arrive at frightening cost estimates for a universal single-payer health care system. They may use Medicare’s $8,568 per person, or $34,272 for a family of four (2006). But they fail to mention that Medicare covers a very atypical, high-cost slice of the U.S. population: senior citizens, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and people with disabilities, including diagnoses such as AIDS and end-stage renal disease. Or they use Medicaid costs—forgetting to mention that half of Medicaid dollars pay for nursing homes, while the other half of Medicaid provides basic health care coverage, primarily to children in low-income households, at a cost of only about $1,500 a year per child.
    Hillary Clinton has forgotten more about the health insurance crisis in this country than Glenn Beck will ever know.

    And finally…

    Joe Biden: "Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history ... John (McBush) wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks."

    Here is the justification behind this talking point:

    1.) John McCain wants to cut corporate income taxes for all companies.
    2.) Oil companies are companies.

    That's it.
    Actually, here is the justification behind this fact (a lot more than a talking point)…

    According to a study conducted by the Center for American Progress, “The McCain plan would deliver approximately $170 billion a year in tax cuts to corporations, including some corporations that are very large and profitable. Just one of the proposals—cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent—would cut taxes for five largest U.S. oil companies by $3.8 billion a year.” [Center for American Progress, 3/27/08]
    While I still have to be sold somewhat on Biden as the VP nominee, I know his plusses far outweigh his minuses, and on this occasion, he hit the bull’s eye, as it were (give or take $.2 billion).

    Actually, after reading this, it makes me feel good knowing that Beck plans to “keep his distance” from the Democrats.

    If only he would extend that favor to everyone else.

    A Campaign Of Ideas? It's "Greek" To McBush

    This post from the LA Times blog describes a truly silly development from the Repug nominee for president (R-Too Many Homes)…

    Reporters covering Barack Obama are getting style tips from an unexpected source: the McCain campaign.

    John McCain spokesman Brian Rogers on Wednesday sent out an illustrated "style guide." It includes detailed directions of how to select and properly wrap a toga -- yes, a toga -- as well as instructions on where to don one: Obama's nomination acceptance speech, which he'll give at Denver's Mile High stadium tonight.

    Why the sudden interest in Classical haute couture? Hint: It's not about attire but satire.
    See, McBush and his people think it’s funny that Obama’s stage tonight will feature “a podium in front of a backdrop featuring neo-classical columns,” as the LA Times blog tells us, and they’re trying to use that as an excuse to prolong this idiotic “cult of personality” theme about Obama, even though writer Kate Linthicum points out that Dubya accepted the Repug nomination in 2004 against a very similar stage.

    This criticism isn’t surprising to me, really, since I think the McBush campaign has “ancient” themes anyway, if you will (meaning tired, stale, trite, overdone…feel free to come up with your own similar adjective).

    And considering the fact that foreign policy is supposedly a strength of the Repug Arizona senator, even though he mixed up the timing of the “Sunni awakening” and the “surge” here, stated that Gen. David Petraeus was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here (that’s Admiral Mike Mullen’s title), stated that there was an Iraq/Pakistan border here, and stated at least twice that Iran’s Shiites were helping Iraq’s Sunni insurgents (here is one example), it’s hard to tell whether McBush’s campaign at this point is a Greek tragedy or a Roman farce.

    Update: Gosh, I don't know what to say about this - I'm all choked up. Maybe as a "kiss and make up" kind of a gift, McBush could let Dubya have one of his homes.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    I heard Patrick Murphy on WHYY in these parts (good stuff on Iraq and our vets), and The Big Dog rocked also (loved the line about our country leading by "the power of our example rather than the example of our power," or words to that effect), and Biden did his thing also, but for me, the star of the night was John Kerry, and this is a big part of the reason why...

    ...Descendents ("I'm The One"; time for a quick "mosh" before the big speech tomorrow).

    A Bushco Boomlet, Ready “Orr” Not

    I tell you, you really have to hand it to Michael Smerconish; if you’re looking for someone to completely obfuscate and demagogue on a vital issue facing our country, he’s your guy. And he provides more evidence of that in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer here, in which he tells us…

    Newly updated census data confirm that the United States is in the midst of unprecedented population growth. Today, we are a nation of about 305 million, and in three decades we will reach the 400-million mark.

    Left undeterred, this will be the single greatest growth spurt in our history, as we expand by 135 million additional people by 2050.
    I’ve been trying to figure out how Smerky would “deter” a man and woman from “begattin’,” as they used to call it; would he stand next to them with a megaphone and shout at them, telling them to knock it off in that annoying, high-pitched nasally whine of his? Or would he do something similar to that, as he did here?


    …what's really driving the population growth is significantly higher birth rates among immigrants and the continued influx of foreigners. That's where political correctness kicks in and politicians go mum, including the presidential candidates.
    Oh come on, now; you REALLY didn’t think Smerky was interested in trying to solve this, did you? Not at the expense of plugging his pet cause one more time, anyway. And you also didn’t think he would actually acknowledge the fact that what derailed common-sense immigration reform in this country – something that could have addressed this issue somewhat, if it were crafted with some imagination – was the self-righteous, high-decibel blathering of the wingnuts who typically listen to his show, did you?

    Good. I didn’t think so.

    And despite what Smerky claims, “non-Hispanic white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies, too,” as noted here.

    The story also tells us…

    Fertility levels tend to decline as women become better educated and gain career opportunities, and as they postpone childbirth until they are older. Experts say those factors, along with the legalization of abortion and the expansion of contraception options, explain why the U.S. fertility rate dropped to its lowest point -- about 1.7 -- in 1976.

    But while fertility declines persisted in many other developed nations, the United States saw the reverse: The fertility rate climbed to 2 in 1989 and has hovered around that mark since then, according to federal birth data.

    Kohler and others say the difference has more to do with culture than race. For example, white American women have more children than white European -- even though many nations in Europe have more family-friendly government policies on parental leave and child care.
    I readily acknowledge that this is a complicated issue, and there are a lot of factors involved. As nearly as I can figure out from my admittedly limited research, geographic preference plays a role also, with the south, Midwest, and western areas of this country likely to have more children per family.

    But please allow me to fill in another piece of this puzzle.

    This Think Progress post tells us about Dr. Susan Orr, appointed by Dubya last October to oversee the federal family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, after less than a year on the job, Dr. Orr (who, as noted, referred to contraceptives as “part of the culture of death”) quit (and in typical Bushco fashion, she fought funding for birth control methods every way possible).

    And returning to Smerky for a minute, he tells us in his column that he sought advice to combat “political correctness” from Frank Luntz, of all people (again, Smerky believes that’s the problem, instead of the fact that many people in this country lack the knowledge, methods and materials to protect themselves against accidental pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases). And Luntz says…

    "You need to personalize and humanize it to the community, so that you don't ask the question generically. You ask the question: How do we add more people to New York, to Miami, to L.A., when they're already packed to the brink? Where's the housing come from? Where's the transportation come from? Be specific. Don't talk about infrastructure . . . infrastructure nobody gets, no one understands."
    Of course not (that is, unless the odd bridge or two tends to collapse in Minnesota every now and then).

    So what do we take away from this latest bit of high-minded literary claptrap from another of the Inky’s moral scolds? Fight political correctness, blame the immigrants, don’t trouble yourself with details, and end up in circumstances such as this (“gosh, but it was OK in the movies”…).

    Such is life under President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (145 days and counting, people)…

    When We Become The Enemy

    The New York Times tells us here today that...

    In March or April 2007, three noncommissioned United States Army officers, including a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements.

    After removing the blindfolds and handcuffs, the three soldiers shoved the four bodies into the canal, rejoined other members of their unit waiting in nearby vehicles and drove back to their combat outpost in southwest Baghdad, the statements said.
    As I read the horrific details of this story, my mind kept coming back over and over again to one name, and that is Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

    As this New York Observer story tells us of Beauchamp’s tales that appeared in The New Republic (hat tip to Media Matters for the link)...

    The stories Scott Thomas (Beauchamp’s alias) told were almost too bad to be true.

    There was the Iraqi boy whose tongue is cut out for talking to Americans; the dog eating a corpse lying in the street; the troops mocking and sexually harassing a woman whose face had been damaged by an I.E.D.; and the soldier who wore a part of an Iraqi boy’s skull under his helmet.

    And on July 18 (The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb) said so, asking other military bloggers to check out the stories of the anonymous columnist and find out whether they were true.

    “Is it possible that American soldiers would be so sadistic?” Goldfarb asked rhetorically, referring to the mocking of the I.E.D. victim and then, in turn, to each of the stories told in TNR’s “Baghdad Diarist” column.

    Soon, the right-wing blogosphere had taken up the cause. Bloggers exploded with rage that an anonymous soldier might be telling tall tales that maligned the dignity of American troops serving in Iraq. Only, it was not completely clear where the doubts were coming from initially—other troops found the stories implausible and wrote in to Mr. Goldfarb and others to say so; to many, the stories were simply too upsetting to be possible.
    Just to jog our memories, the Beauchamp story was one full of gray areas, much like war itself. Some of his claims did not hold up to examination (e.g., the burned woman Beauchamp described was in Kuwait before he was stationed in Iraq). And even though five other members of Beauchamp’s company corroborated his anecdotes, the Army Public Affairs office supposedly proved the allegations to be false (according to Goldfarb, though I give him no credence). And The New Republic basically was left with egg on its face over the episode, even though senior publication staffers worked diligently to validate the story (perhaps to cover up some sloppy initial “chain of custody” maintenance on the story, as noted here).

    All I know is that this is yet another product of the harrowing, torturous treatment our military has endured in Mesopotamia. Yes, those who committed this crime should received the full weight of the law in their sentence, but I somehow can’t help but feel that a sense of willful blindness we may have towards what our military still endures over there – “success” of the surge or no – makes us complicit to a degree in the fact that they’re stuck in conditions where this behavior could take place (complicit because we’re not all screaming our heads off to start getting them out of there, and I don’t absolve myself when I say that).

    And another thing - Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp suddenly looks a lot more credible.

    Some End-Of-Summer Labor Pains

    The Murdoch Street Journal tells us here (a few days before the holiday) that…

    …rewriting federal law to promote union organizing is now near the top of the Democratic agenda. The main vehicle is "card check" legislation, which would eliminate the requirement for secret ballots in union elections. Unable to organize workers when employees can vote in privacy, unions want to expose those votes to peer pressure, and inevitably to public intimidation. This would arguably be the biggest change to federal labor law since the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The Democratic House passed card check last year, and Mr. Obama has pledged his support. With a few more Senators, it might pass.

    Card check is merely the start. Next on the agenda is a campaign to repeal "right to work" laws in the 22 U.S. states that have them. Right to work laws allow employees to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support a union. Former Michigan Congressman David Bonior told a union event in Denver on Monday that limiting right to work laws is essential both to lifting union membership and promoting more Democratic political victories. He pointed out that John Kerry didn't win a single right to work state in 2004, while Al Gore won only one -- Iowa -- and only by a few thousand votes in 2000.
    As noted here in a post crediting Oregon Senator Ron Wyden for supporting card check, (and criticizing fellow Repug Senator Gordon Smith for opposing it), card check “(allows) for certification of a union when a majority of workers signed cards designating the union as their bargaining representative.” Such transparency is needed to ensure that employers don’t use secrecy to threaten workers who wish to join a union (actually the complete opposite scenario of the one described by the Journal).

    And this AFL-CIO post tells us that “right to work” laws (“right to work for less” is more accurate) actually cheat dues-paying union members because “(they) say unions must represent all eligible employees, whether they pay dues or not. This forces unions to use their time and members’ dues money to provide union benefits to free riders who are not willing to pay their fair share.” And by weakening unions, it makes it harder for them to ensure workplace safeguards for their members.

    Also, it should be noted that federal law already protects workers who don’t wish to join unions, so let’s set that “straw man” alight right now, OK?

    There are many reasons why the Journal opposes unions, despite their two-faced claim that “if workers want to form a union, they have every right to do so.” One of them is because unions oppose “free” trade agreements, which is anathema to our corpocracy. But as I’ve often said, if you can present evidence to me of a job in this country that was replaced in the same industry with a better paying job with better benefits due to a “free” trade agreement, I’d love to hear about it.

    This takes you to more information on the “right to work” scam and the 22 states that have fallen victim to it. And it’s not surprising that Democrats have not done well there, since what the party advocates and represents is completely opposite to this anti-union con.

    Update 8/31/08: Here's more from Pete Dreier.

    A Station Break

    I really don’t have a lot to say here, but I only want to echo the comments of Atrios and others concerning the network coverage of the Democratic National Convention (here).

    I haven’t watched as much of it as others, but if you really want to get an idea of what’s going on, watch CSPAN or PBS (maybe MSNBC, but even with K.O. as a moderating force for Tweety, they’re still prone to gaffes such as the Norah O’Donnell/McCaskill one noted by Atrios and Media Matters).

    ABC, on the other hand, featured Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson yapping over the speech by Montana governor Brian Schweitzer last night, until they started to notice how good it was from the crowd reaction and decided to shut up for a little while.

    This more or less continues what the networks did when John Kerry spoke four years ago when he ran for president; the film would show Kerry speaking and concluding to applause, while the networks spoke over his words (granted, Kerry is not Barack Obama, but let’s see if they continue this rude tactic as we edge closer to November).

    So, long story short – to find out what’s happening, watch CSPAN and PBS on the T.V. (and keep checking to sites online for up-to-the-moment vids, even here if you would to put a smile on the face of a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger).

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Rilo Kiley ("Silver Lining")...

    ...and to think, I almost gave BoBo a bit of a nod today for being one of the few pundits not claiming that Obama should scream about Dubya from here to eternity (as the movie/book title goes); I mean, populist rage is a good thing and he needs some of it, but Obama is also a teacher, and he should use that too or else he won't reach the people he'll need in November, IMHO ("North Korean pep rally" - bit me, you nimrod, as he fans the flames of some imaginary crisis of disunity)...

    ...and here's a "BoBo Golden Oldie"; comparing bin Laden to "lefty bloggers" (everything I said above...cubed)...

    ...from the ridiculous to the sublime: I'm going to try and grab Hillary's entire speech the first chance I get, but this is a terrific sound bite, and so true - as she spoke (and Bill beamed, and got a bit choked up also), I told the young one (who was watching) "This is what leadership sounds like," and I'm sure I'll be able to say that Thursday night also (more from C&L here).

    Obamanomics 101

    (I should point out that posting is likely to be flaky over the next week to ten days for a variety of reasons – we’ll see.)

    I basically stole the title of David Leonhardt’s excellent article on what Barack Obama proposes for our economy (adding the “101”) that appeared in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday – when you can’t improve on something, don’t even bother.

    There are many ways that Obama is superior to John W. McBush: Iraq, improving our schools for real, restoring our economic competitiveness, rebuilding our infrastructure, addressing health care, entitlement reform (eventually…and I’d like to add preserving the Constitution to that list – maybe I’ll be able to one day), but with the exception of the war and the climate crisis, the underpinning of all of will be the return of equitable distribution of wealth in this country (or some approximation of that, at least something a hell of a lot better than anything we’ve seen over the last eight years) to levels close to what we experienced under the Clinton Administration.

    And that, in essence, is what Obama is proposing.

    And as Leonhardt also tells us, Obama is actually closer to an economic school of thought more similar to Milton Friedman than most people realize. He only sees government intervening in the event of “market failure,” which is a euphemism for what we’ve endured under Bushco.

    This means that, while Obama doesn’t envision anything along the lines of “Great Society”-era legislation (assuming that could even fly now, and it barely did even back then), he does see a place for government as a means of providing a structure of sorts for capitalism to work (which I think is pretty close to what most of this country sees as its proper role).

    Though Leonhardt’s piece is lengthy, it is definitely worth the read. And this excerpt “cuts to the chase”…

    The Tax Policy Center, a research group run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, has done the most detailed analysis of the Obama and McCain tax plans, and it has published a series of fascinating tables. For the bottom 80 percent of the population — those households making $118,000 or less — McCain’s various tax cuts would mean a net savings of about $200 a year on average. Obama’s proposals would bring $900 a year in savings. So for most people, Obama is the tax cutter in this campaign.

    If there is a theme to the Obama tax philosophy, it’s that the tax code is not quite as progressive as you think it is. Most of the public discussion about taxes tends to focus on the income tax, which taxes the affluent at a considerably higher rate than anyone else. But the income tax doesn’t take the biggest bite out of most families’ annual tax bill. The payroll tax does. And even as the federal government has been reducing income taxes over the last few decades, it has allowed the payroll tax, which finances Social Security and Medicare, to creep up. That’s a big reason that overall tax rates for the bottom 80 percent of earners have not fallen as much as rates for the affluent.

    Obama’s second-most-expensive proposal, after his health-care plan, is the equivalent of a $500 cut in the payroll tax for most workers. (It is actually a credit that is applied toward income taxes based on payroll taxes paid.) In a speech this month in Florida, he proposed that the cut take effect immediately, in the form of a rebate, to stimulate the economy. For most workers, it would be the first significant cut in the payroll tax in decades, if not ever.

    The other way that he would cut taxes involves a series of technicalities. But since the campaign began, Goolsbee has been arguing that those technicalities offer one of the best glimpses of how Obama thinks about the tax code. Right now, several big tax breaks that sound broad-based — like those for child care and mortgage interest — don’t always benefit middle-income and lower-income families. Another example is the Hope Credit for college tuition, a creation of the Clinton administration. Obama wants to more than double the credit, to $4,000. More to the point, he would make it “fully refundable.” As a result, a family with an income-tax bill of $3,000 wouldn’t merely have that bill eliminated; it would also receive a $1,000 check. Increasingly, the income-tax system becomes a way to transfer money to poor families.

    All told, Obama would not only cut taxes for most people more than McCain would. He would cut them more than Bill Clinton did and more than Hillary Clinton proposed doing. These tax cuts are really the essence of his market-oriented redistributionist philosophy (though he made it clear that he doesn’t like the word “redistributionist”). They are an attempt to address the middle-class squeeze by giving people a chunk of money to spend as they see fit.

    He would then pay for the cuts, at least in part, by raising taxes on the affluent to a point where they would eventually be slightly higher than they were under Clinton. For these upper-income families, the Tax Policy Center’s comparisons with McCain are even starker. McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush’s tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners — those making an average of $9.1 million — by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.

    It’s hard not to look at that figure and be a little stunned. It would represent a huge tax increase on the wealthy families. But it’s also worth putting the number in some context. The bulk of Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy — about $500,000 of that $800,000 — would simply take away Bush’s tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn’t nearly reverse their pretax income gains in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, their inflation-adjusted pretax income has roughly doubled.

    To put it another way, the wealthy have done so well over the past few decades, with their incomes soaring and tax rates plummeting, that Obama’s plan would not come close to erasing their gains. The same would be true of households making a few hundred thousand dollars a year (who have gotten smaller raises than the very rich but would also face smaller tax increases). As ambitious as Obama’s proposals might be, they would still leave the gap between the rich and everyone else far wider than it was 15 or 30 years ago. It just wouldn’t be quite as wide as it is now.
    As McBush adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin has pointed out, more or less (he used to work in the CBO), Obama’s plan to impact the payroll tax would hasten a serious dialogue on Social Security, since there would be fewer funds for that pot (with H-E accusing Obama of “a lack of judgment,” of course). Also, Obama’s plan to return to Clinton-era levels of taxation hastens charges of “dependence over self-sufficiency and bureaucratic condescension over self-help,” as the authors of the book “Grand New Party” put it (as if governments are the only institutions with bureaucracies – please).

    Well, as I often do on economic matters, I turn to Paul Craig Roberts. Knock down a good, stiff drink before you read what he has to say here – you’ll need it.

    And then try convincing me that Obama is wrong.

    Abusing The Excuse

    When it comes to narratives in this presidential campaign that I’m definitely sick of by now, the supposedly irreparable conflict between the disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters and those favoring Barack Obama (with the Clintons doing all that they possibly can to quash this nonsense as nearly as I can see) tops the list.

    However, I would put John W. McBush’s POW experience as a close second.

    And it shouldn’t be that way, I know. And we should always express gratitude and admiration for what he endured in our country’s service.

    However, McBush has utterly tarnished that himself, particularly in this campaign, and he only has himself to blame.

    And the latest example of the entire “noun-verb-P.O.W.” syndrome, as Atrios and others have put it, came last night on (appropriately enough for the “non-elitist” Arizona senator) “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” as noted here…

    After their opening segment together on the stage, Leno came back from a commercial break to ask McCain, “For $1 million, how many houses do you have?”

    McCain answered by first citing his time as a POW in Vietnam.

    “Could I just mention to you, Jay, that, at a moment of seriousness,” McCain began, “I spent five-and-a-half years in a prison cell. I didn't have a house. I didn't have a kitchen table. I didn't have a table. I didn't have a chair. And I didn't spend those five-and-a-half years because, not because I wanted to get a house when I got out.
    Give it a rest, Senator McBush (as if that has anything to do with why you can’t remember such a basic fact).

    You and your gaggle of bottom-feeders would have had no trouble milking such a gaffe by a Democrat for all it was worth; indeed, your cohorts merrily persecuted John Kerry for much less four years ago (and to think, you told him not to play up his military experience).

    But since you brought it up, Senator McBush, I think we should take a look at your P.O.W. experience after all.

    This Washington Post story from May tells us…

    Since his repatriation in 1973, (McBush) has occasionally been examined at the Robert E. Mitchell Center for Prisoner of War Studies, run by the Navy in Pensacola, Fla. However, (campaign spokesperson Jill) Hazelbaker said this week that the senator "has not for many years participated in any POW follow-up."

    The center saw 470 of 666 POWs who served in Vietnam and has also seen prisoners from World War II, Korea, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Persian Gulf War and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Very little information about them has been published. For example, it is not known how their longevity compares with that of other veterans or non-veterans.

    A 1996 paper, one of the few studies to appear in a scientific journal, reported that naval aviators imprisoned in Vietnam had eight times as much nerve and muscle damage as non-imprisoned fliers, probably a result of shackling and torture. They had slightly more joint and back disorders, as well.

    Over a 14-year period, 4 percent of the aviator POWs, all of them officers, experienced PTSD. Research on World War II prisoners found that officers as a group had far less psychological trauma than enlisted men.

    More recently, the Pensacola center helped identify something called "late-onset stress symptomatology" or LOSS, which came to light after 562 combat veterans -- about 300 of them POWs -- answered a long questionnaire. The syndrome involves the return of troubling memories late in life, along with emotional anguish and guilt, often triggered by retirement and friends' deaths.

    LOSS shares with PTSD a re-experiencing of traumatic events and some of the physical "hyperarousal" that accompanies it. But it does not include "emotional numbing" and the avoidance of activities that trigger the intrusive thoughts -- two key features of PTSD.

    "As the veterans reached their later years, they began to experience combat-related thoughts and feelings as they faced the changes and challenges of aging," said Lynda A. King, a researcher at Boston University and the local Veterans Affairs hospital, who has studied LOSS. "We saw it as something much broader than PTSD."
    So basically, McBush, while less likely to experience PTSD in the White House (arguably), could still experience LOSS without anything to trigger such an experience (though any claim that McBush did not experience PTSD will be disputed in a minute).

    (And by the way, all of this is starting to make this whole freeper movement to get McBush to sign onto a “one-and-done” pledge a logical move, given what could happen to him at the onset of an attack.)

    And as Matt Stoller reminds us here…

    All we know is that (McBush) released 1500 pages of medical records for his 2000 campaign and this cycle he allowed selected journalists to look at certain documents for three hours.
    And no photocopies were made of McBush’s records during that review, it should also be noted (can’t tell you if that would have violated HIPAA regs, though).

    Oh, and another thing – do you know that McBush tried to kill himself?

    No, I’m sure you didn’t. I can’t expect that our dear corporate media cousins would have been so impertinent as to mention such a disturbing fact.

    As noted here…

    What McCain's promoters have carefully edited out of their McCain-for-president equation is his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Department of Defense psychiatrists have evaluated McCain for PTSD several times, the results of which remain locked by privacy laws.

    PTSD can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which physical harm occurred or was threatened. U.S. government studies have concluded that former POWs "may remain embroiled in a harsh psychological battle with themselves for decades after returning home."

    An outcome of PTSD is a subtle web of personal problems including difficulty in controlling intense emotions such as anger and an inability to function well under stress.

    Psychologist Patricia B. Sutker of the New Orleans Veterans Administration Medical Center and her colleagues reported in a 1991 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry that as many as nine of 10 surviving U.S. servicemen taken captive during the Korean War may suffer from PTSD and other mental disorders more than 35 years after their release.

    In a follow-up study, VA experts concluded that POWs suffer "a much greater risk of developing PTSD than combat veterans."

    Robert Timberg, in his book, The Nightingale's Song, wrote that POW McCain "suffered terribly in North Vietnamese camps."

    Timberg wrote that in July 1968, McCain was taken to a room in which the North Vietnamese POW camp commander, whom the prisoners had nicknamed "Slopehead," was waiting with 10 guards and an interrogator nicked named "The Prick."

    The guards, according to Timberg, charged into McCain, beating and kicking him until he "lay on the floor, bloody, arms and legs throbbing, ribs cracked, several teeth broken off at the gumline." The Vietnamese wanted McCain to confess to being a war criminal.

    It was then and there that McCain, Timberg noted, was introduced for the first time to the "torture ropes." He wrote that McCain was tortured for several days before he broke and signed a confession that he was a war criminal. After signing the confession, McCain was so distraught that he attempted suicide but was stopped when a guard burst into the room.
    And let us not forget the following (living up to his “Senator Hothead” rep)…

    In 1996, McCain encountered a group of POW/MIA family members outside a Senate hearing room. The family members were some of the same who worked tirelessly during the Vietnam War to make sure Hanoi released all U.S. POWs - including POW McCain.

    McCain immediately began quarreling with the POW/MIA family members, who were eager to question him on the issue of what happened to their loved ones.

    Instead (of) showing courtesy and appropriate compassion by answering their questions, the Arizona senator pushed through the group, shoving them out of his way, nearly toppling the wheelchair of POW/MIA mother Jane Duke Gaylor. Her son, Charles Duke, a civilian worker in Vietnam, is among 2,300 American POWs and MIAs still unaccounted for by the communists.

    The POW/MIA families, shocked at McCain's overly aggressive behavior toward Mrs. Gaylor, registered complaints with senate officials.
    It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to try and deflate John McCain in this way. As I noted, he has served our country courageously, and none of us should forget that.

    But he brought this upon himself, but not being honest and forthcoming about what he endured and trivializing his torture (again, if he were a Dem, our media cousins would demand no less, maybe to the point where they would stop insinuating that Barack Obama is some kind of an alien life form who sounds like a terrorist and, instead, actually push to find out how stable McCain really is).

    So the next time you hear McBush chatting it up with some T.V. talking head and tossing aside casual references to his captivity, ask yourself why his interviewer isn’t asking him when he last received a psychiatric evaluation and what the results were. And then ask yourself what it is that you think they’re trying to hide.

    Update 1: More from Chris Kelly of HuffPo in a similar vein here (I loved that movie, especially the part where Jose Ferrer throws the glass of champagne in Fred MacMurray's face at the end)...

    Update 2: And here's the latest from "Senator Honor And Virtue" (R-Too Many Homes...Eldon?).

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    Danielia Cotton ("Bang My Drum," recorded live in White Plains, NY)...

    ...and in that spirit, if you can endure the presence of Katie Couric at the end, this video retrospective of Ted Kennedy hosted by Jeff Greenfield is worth a watch... a warm-up to this.

    P.S. - Jesse Jackson, Jr. gave a good speech also - I'll embed it if I can.

    (Oh and one more thing - go soak your head, Carville.)

    More “Hard Hitting AP Reporting”

    Your favorite news organization brings us this no-holds-barred, shooting-from-the-hip, hot-off-the-presses, rip-and-read, up-close-and-personal, insider’s look at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

    (If I ever write a lede like that again, I’m going to blow my brains out with a pea shooter.)

    Spontaneity has been in short supply since before the time of Bill Clinton, who applied political calculation to his choice of vacation destinations. President Bush's message-control operation is drum tight.

    And are we sure that passionate kiss Al Gore gave Tipper at the 2000 convention wasn't inspired by a focus group telling him to loosen up? Could a kiss really be just a kiss?

    _By Calvin Woodward

    Welcome to Denver, a city a mile high and a convention an inch deep.

    _By Philip Elliott
    Last (and certainly least)…

    The nomination of the first black candidate by a major party for the presidency is a salient moment in the history of a country built on slavery, compounded by an ugly tradition of racism and divisions that exist to this day.

    _By Nedra Pickler
    Brilliant! Time to belly up to the bar!

    Update: Towards the end of this story, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said...

    Pelosi chastised journalists for fixating on conflicts between Obama and Clinton supporters.

    "You know what? This is like a yesterday room," she told the reporters. "We are going into the future. What did I walk into, a time capsule?"
    Gee, you'd never know that from the headline would you (and by the way, on the subject of press wankery, David Gregory of MSNBC, in an interview with John Kerry, asked how Barack Obama "closes the commander-in-chief gap" with John W. McBush...Kerry easily deflected it).

    And continuing with more press wankery from Denver, I wonder why CNN doesn't tell us that the guy who posted this is also responsible for this? (CNN's "Republican Strategist" disclaimer doesn't cut it as far as yours truly is concerned).

    Update 8/26/08: Uh-huh...

    Update 9/3/08: I'd like to find out the answer to this also.

    McBush Blows Hot Air On Global Warming

    This Reuters story tells us…

    ACCRA (Reuters) - Morality should be a spur for stronger action to fight climate change, which threatens food and water supplies for the poorest in Africa, a group of Christian activists said on Saturday during U.N. climate talks.

    "We hear about climate change as a political issue, an environmental issue and an economic issue. We want to press the point that this is a moral issue," said Marcia Owens, a minister in the Florida branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

    She and a group of Christian activists told Reuters they were lobbying delegates at the August 21-27 U.N. talks in Ghana to work out a strong new treaty, due for completion by the end of 2009, to slow global warming.
    This is, to me, the proper context for framing this issue, for it truly is a matter of faith as far as your humble narrator is concerned (and the Catholic Church has spoken out also here, though not lately as nearly as I can determine from my “Googling”).

    And with this in mind, I decided to review the positions of the two presidential candidates on the matter (any sense in using the “all-but-named” prefix at this point?).

    John W. McBush here tells us that he would work towards the following goals…

    Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets And Timetables

    2012: Return Emissions To 2005 Levels (18 Percent Above 1990 Levels)

    2020: Return Emissions To 1990 Levels (15 Percent Below 2005 Levels)

    2030: 22 Percent Below 1990 Levels (34 Percent Below 2005 Levels)

    2050: 60 Percent Below 1990 Levels (66 Percent Below 2005 Levels)
    Well, that’s nice. However, the problem is that, according to this link…

    Observations have also shown that the area of Arctic sea ice cover has already decreased by about 10% over the past 30 years and could diminish by another 10-20%. Climate change researchers have found evidence of a global warming induced slowdown of the Gulf stream – the ocean current that keeps Europe from freezing. Such a slowdown is not only a warning that a much cooler climate for Europe could already be on its way; it also spells disaster for the Arctic. The ice cap could melt as early as 2020, leading to extinction of Arctic wildlife such as the polar bear.
    So we could be reducing our emissions by targets from 2030 to 2050, but it won’t matter because of the impact on our climate and, subsequently, the lives of all of us (to say nothing of cataclysmic changes in weather patters for most of the world, impoverishing nations and creating perhaps the greatest refugee crisis the earth has ever seen).

    And by the way, concerning McBush’s other votes on climate change, David Roberts of The Nation tells us here…

  • On June 21, 2007, the Senate voted on the Baucus amendment to the energy bill, which would have removed some oil company subsidies in order to fund renewable energy. The amendment failed to pass. Where was McCain? He didn't vote.

  • On the same day, the Senate held a cloture vote to overcome the standard Republican veto threat and pass the energy bill. The vote succeeded. Where was McCain? He didn't vote.

  • On Dec. 7, the Senate held another cloture vote to overcome the standard Republican veto threat on the energy bill, which had become substantially bolder after being aligned with the House version. The vote failed. Where was McCain? He didn't vote.

  • On Dec. 13, 2007, the Senate held another cloture vote to overcome the standard Republican veto threat and pass the energy bill, which had the Renewable Portfolio Standard stripped out of it but retained a measure that would shift oil company subsidies to renewables. The vote failed -- by one vote, 59-40. Where was McCain? He didn't vote -- the only Senator not to do so.

  • On Feb. 6, 2008, the Senate held another cloture vote to overcome the standard Republican veto threat and pass a stimulus bill containing a number of green energy incentives. The cloture motion failed, by one vote. Where was McCain? He didn't vote -- again, the only Senator not to do so.
  • (I’m sure I have this in another post somewhere, but it bears repeating.)

    And Barack Obama? Like McBush, he favors a cap-and-trade program (also working towards a percentage reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050), but according to here…

    Obama will re-engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) -- the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem. He will also create a Global Energy Forum of the world’s largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues.
    And how nice it would be to return to working with a community of nations again on something besides war and armaments, huh?

    With Obama, I believe we have a better shot of working towards curbing emissions and generating new “clean” industries in the bargain (it will be a tough road, but it’s one we must travel for the sake of the planet). We can also help to achieve a measure of redemption on the world stage as we do so.

    But with McBush, when it comes to the future of the earth, we haven’t got a prayer.

    A “Pro-Life” Flowers Fraud Against Obama

    I missed some items from the weekly screed by Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News last Friday, so I’d better catch up here.

    On this occasion, she took all-but-named Democratic nominee Barack Obama to task, calling him “NARAL’s dreamboat” (in case you hadn’t guessed by now, Flowers is rabidly anti-choice); in so doing, she also provided a plug for "The Case Against Barack Obama" by David Freddoso, one of the smear merchants from the cottage industry of propagandistic assaults against the Illinois senator.

    There’s some tricky stuff here, so I’ll try to pick through this carefully. At the outset, though, I should note the lawyerly trick employed by Flowers in implying that (here it comes again…) the Democratic Party did not allow Bob Casey, Sr. to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention because he was pro-life, though Flowers does not say that in so many words.

    However, she does tell us this…

    A glance at a draft of the Democratic platform reveals just how entrenched pro-abortion sentiment still is in the party of Obama.

    Under the section ironically titled "Renewing the American Community" (which is difficult to do if you support killing its prospective members), the party makes the following commitment:

    The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

    So, not only must abortion be safe and legal, it should also be free, or at least reasonably priced. Who cares if the Hyde Amendment poses a small stumbling block, prohibiting as it does federal funding of abortions? Those crazy kids can dream, can't they?
    Funny that Flowers should mention the Hyde Amendment, since Wikipedia tells us that…

    The amendment effectively ended the provision of abortions for low-income women across the United States through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for poor people. As a rider attached to the yearly appropriations bill for Medicaid, it occasioned intense debate in Congress each time that it came up for renewal. The original measure made no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother, provoking an outcry from women's rights advocates. As a result, beginning in 1977 language was added to provide for such circumstances; however, the exact wording has varied from one year to the next, subject to the outcome of Congressional bargaining on the issue.

    The cutoff of federal Medicaid funds prompted some states to provide public funding for abortion services from their own coffers. Over time the number of states doing so has gradually expanded, either through legislation or consequent to judicial rulings mandating equal access to health care for low-income women. Nonetheless, as of 2007, only 17 of the 50 states provide such funding, and 13 of these are required by court order to do so.
    And the states break down as follows…

    States that voluntarily fund abortion for low-income women:

    Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Washington

    States that are under court order to fund abortions for low-income women on the same terms as other pregnancy-related and general health services are funded:

    Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia
    So, as you can see, the Hyde Amendment isn’t as ironclad as Flowers and her ilk would have us believe.


    This was most blatantly on display when, as an Illinois State senator, Obama opposed SB 1095, a bill that would have mandated medical care for infants who survived botched abortions.

    The legislation, which ultimately died in an Illinois House committee after passing with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority in the Senate, would have required that children who miraculously survived an attempted abortion be treated just like every other premature infant. It posed no threat to Roe since it only applied to children who had been born alive.
    Flowers knows full well that SB 1095 did indeed pose a threat to Roe, since it mandated “person-hood,” if you will, to life in any form. That sounds admirable, until you realize that it would now mean that both women seeking abortions and their health-care providers would be committing an act of murder subject to criminal prosecution. And make no mistake; that is exactly what the “pro life” forces want.

    However, the real gaffe here by Flowers is her claim that Obama opposed SB 1095 in Illinois, which is not completely true. As noted from this WaPo link, Obama voted “present” instead (on 1095 and previous iterations of the bill - I have no record of him voting "No," but I cannot disprove it either), one of the 13 Illinois senators to do so (I believe WaPo registration is required here, and the 1095 vote total is embedded from the page). His intention was not to kill the bill, but only to try and get rid of the language concerning an infant “born alive” at "any stage of development" (and as you can read here concerning unrelated legislation, a “present” vote is a commonly accepted congressional practice).

    (If you don’t mind, I’m going to back up here for a minute and point out, yet again, that abortion is a topic about which I truly do not want to post, but I feel that I have to. First and foremost, it is a health-care issue between the woman, her medical provider, her family and/or support group, and anyone else who she chooses to invite into this situation. Yes, I cannot imagine ever being in a position where that is something I would personally advocate, but catastrophic situations happen in life even with the very best of intentions, and sometimes, this is the least worst option available. And everybody else should stay the hell out of the picture.)

    Getting back to Flowers, I noted earlier that her intention is to plug the book by David Freddoso, in which he tells us (in italics, as noted here by Media Matters)…

    Obama would speak against the born-alive protection bill once again when it was proposed in 2002, and he would kill the bill when it came before the committee he chaired in 2003, after Democrats had taken control of the Illinois General Assembly. His is a radical position that most abortion-choice advocates do not share.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) does not share his position. In 2001, just three months after Obama inveighed against protecting premature babies in Illinois, the United States Senate voted on the language of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. It contained no significant legal differences from the Illinois bill, but it did contain even more specific and redundant language stating that the bill did not apply to the unborn, only those already born.

    In fact, although both bills included language providing that the bills would not impinge on Roe v. Wade, Obama and abortion-rights advocates noted that Illinois law, unlike federal law at the time, includes statutory provisions specifically regulating abortion. Abortion-rights advocates said that in order for the Illinois bill to avoid restricting abortion rights in any way, it would also have to make explicit reference to Illinois law and make clear that it would not affect access to abortion under Illinois law.

    Planned Parenthood states of the 2005 "compromise" bill that included legislative language making clear that the bill did not affect state abortion or medical practice law: "The enactment of HB 984 did not negatively impact access to abortion services in Illinois and medical care for pregnant women remains protected."
    And that is what Obama was trying to do: enact law protecting the unborn as much as possible without overriding Illinois law to the point where it endangered abortion services for women and health care providers in Illinois.

    (And by the way, it should be noted that Obama’s votes against the Illinois bill came in 2001 and 2002; he did not serve in the U.S. Senate at the time the federal act passed, with all leading Dems at the time voting in favor of it, including Joe Biden - my concerns about him remain based on this vote and this Will Bunch post. As stated, though – and contrary to Flowers – the Illinois law was more restrictive than the federal one.)

    And again, contrary to what Flowers tells us, we have a case where, like the AUMF vote in 2002 that launched the Iraq war, Obama carefully took the time to truly understand what the legislation was about before he cast his vote.

    Would that more of our “leaders” would do the same.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Sunday Stuff

    I'm sure there'll be plenty of political stuff later, but for now, I'm in the mood for a couple of tunes, and I hope you are also.

    First is Ryan Shaw ("We Got Love" on the CBS "Second Cup Cafe"; "Nobody" knocked me out, and this is a neat tune too)...

    ...and next is Melody Gardot ("Worrisome Heart").