Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday AM Stuff

I was dismissive of Frank Luntz last night, but I thought this was a good report on how his "focus group" viewed the debate; hat tips to HuffPo and The Daily Kos...

...and I'll have more to say about this, but I'm still trying to digest it at the moment; in the meantime, here's a tribute of sorts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Stuff

While I'm still trying to digest the notion from tonight's debate that, according to McBush, Pakistan was somehow "a failed state" before Musharraf took over, I would ask that we take a look at this clip of Brad Woodhouse on MSNBC from earlier today...

...and Jack Cafferty is showing a ton of guts to me for soldiering on in light of the loss of his wife - thoughts and prayers go with you, Jack - but ladies and gentlemen, he's absolutely right; it's not a liberal or conservative comment to say that Sarah Palin is an utter scatterbrain on the national stage (truly dangerous all the same, though) who should be a host on QVC right about now and not doing much else than that...

...and by the way, this is what happens when you compliment a Repug; I thought Jane Hamsher's summary here was good, and Think Progress said that Frank Luntz reported that his focus group was sympathetic when Obama talked about the war vs. McBush, though that shouldn't be a surprise (and again, we're talking about Frank Luntz after all - Obama should have been "hot under the collar" from the start over that premature pic about McBush winning the debate, and I'm sorry, but Rove would have NEVER let Dubya go out there without his flag lapel pin; one of the reasons I don't pay much attention to these things is because of the preoccupation with the "gotcha" nonsense, though the Pakistan thing was big...after all of these months, if we don't know these people by now, we never will)...

...and for a change in direction, I should note that we haven't had any '80s strangeness here for awhile, so here's "Numbers With Wings" (??) by The Bongos.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (9/26/08)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.


Offshore drilling, renewable energy. Voting 236-189, the House passed a bill (HR 6899) that would open additional areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling and devote a large share of royalties to developing renewable fuels. The bill would permit drilling beyond 100 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific shorelines, or as close as 50 miles with permission of the adjacent state.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

GOP drilling plan. Voting 191-226, the House defeated a Republican alternative to HR 6899 (above) that, in part, sought to allow drilling as close as 25 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts with permission of the adjacent state; would have expanded drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; would have provided coastal states with a share of drilling royalties; would have spurred nuclear and clean-coal energy technologies; and would have provided tax incentives to speed the development of renewable fuels.

A yes vote backed the GOP drilling bill.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden and Saxton.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Not voting: Pitts.
As you can see, this week was as productive for Joe Pitts as he probably will ever get (and to help Bruce Slater, click here).

It really gets me that these two bills couldn’t have been reconciled somehow. I’m not real big on so-called “clean coal,” but the “tax incentives to speed the development of renewable fuels” sounds good, as opposed to waiting for drilling royalties to pay for that. However, “the expansion of drilling into the eastern Gulf of Mexico” part, as well as the 25-mile limit versus the 50-mile limit, doesn’t sit well with me either.

And I can understand the political machinations at work whereby Jim (Dead-Of-Night-Anti-Lois-Murphy-Robocalls) Gerlach would oppose the Democratic plan but favor the Repug one, and I really don’t care about Mike Castle’s “yes” votes to both, but how dumb is “Bush Dog” Tim Holden for voting for the plan sponsored by his own party and the Repug alternative?

District of Columbia guns. Voting 266-152, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 6842) removing most restrictions on gun possession in the District of Columbia. The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy and Saxton.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Not voting: Pitts.
Speaking of “Bush Dogs” (and I never thought I’d refer to him as such), my disgust with Patrick Murphy over this vote was palpable here (and here is a message for our senators who hopefully will be able to put a stop to this cowardly nonsense).


2009 military budget. Voting 88-8, the Senate approved $612.5 billion in 2009 military spending, including $70 billion to fund wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for part of the fiscal year. The bill (S 3001) sets a 3.9 percent military pay raise, bars permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, bans premium or co-pay increases in the military health plan known as TRICARE, and provides $5 billion in earmarks.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
Kagro X at The Daily Kos had some background on this here…

There's an interesting fight still looming on the bill over -- what else? -- earmarks. You may recall the executive order issued by Bush earlier this year, directing federal agencies to ignore earmarks made in the committee reports that accompany authorization and appropriations bills (and indeed all bills). Earmarks typically are written into the report language and not directly into the bills themselves. That gives the necessary wiggle room to ignore them, since the committee reports aren't actually part of the legislation passed.

The response of the Senate Defense authorizers? Put language in the bill that deems the report's list to be a part of the bill. The looming fight? An amendment to strike that language from the bill. Levin says he'll block a vote on that amendment, but
Bush says he'll veto any bill that keeps that language in.

Sounds like fun.
This week, the House debated the 2009 defense budget and the rights of credit-card holders, while the Senate considered bills on offshore drilling and renewable-energy tax breaks. Both chambers will debate stopgap spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

(And of course, looming over all of this is the bailout plan, and it’s anybody’s guess how much time will be dominated in the days – weeks? – ahead over that.)

And The World Is Paying Attention, Too

This Der Spiegel story informs us that, among other things, President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History had better not try to give German Chancellor Angela Merkel another back rub, or else he might end up in traction (re: our financial market meltdown).

(By the way, I also posted over here today and the day before, including David Letterman's hilarious takedown of John W. McBush...and apparently he's still at it.)

Update 10/2/08: And another "ally" isn't happy either.

The "Old Gray Lady" McBush P.R. Agency Strikes Again!

The New York Times today called out Barack Obama for what it claimed were untruths in his campaign ads against John W. McBush (here).

I suppose this was inevitable; part of the media jujitsu going on here is that, if Obama doesn’t respond to the myriad lies of the McBush/Governor Hottie campaign, then he gets labeled as a “wimp.” If he attacks on his own, though, then he runs the risk of his attacks being overanalyzed without the proper context, which I will try to provide in a moment (and the fact that the lies from the McBush campaign are so outrageous when compared to the lies of the Obama campaign – which to me are nothing more than subtle misinterpretations – is utterly lost).

To begin…

A radio advertisement running in Wisconsin and other contested states misleadingly reports that Mr. McCain “has stood in the way of” federal financing for stem cell research; Mr. McCain did once oppose such federally supported research but broke with President Bush to consistently support it starting in 2001 (his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, does not support it).
I responded to this already here.


A commercial running here on Thursday morning highlighting Mr. McCain’s votes against incentives for alternative energy misleadingly asserts he supports tax breaks for “one source of energy: oil companies.” Mr. McCain’s proposed corporate tax break would cover all companies, including those developing new sources of power.
Really? Then how come McBush opposed tax breaks for the wind power industry (here)?

A new television advertisement playing in areas with high concentrations of elderly voters and emphasizing Mr. McCain’s support for President Bush’s failed plan for private Social Security accounts misleadingly implies Mr. McCain supported “cutting benefits in half” — an analysis of Mr. Bush’s plan that would have applied to upper-income Americans retiring in the year 2075.
This to me sounds like more actuarial numbers fudging dependent on stock market performance (I mean, privatization is a big part of what McBush has in mind, and can you predict how the market will perform over the next, say, 67 years? I can’t.), so it sounds to me like benefits could possibly be cut by half by a larger percentage than the Times supposes (I’m not saying it will pan out that way, but it could).

Also, Stephen Herrington of HuffPo tells us here that…

…Obama has a detailed plan for retirement security, over and above Social Security, enunciated on his website. McCain does not even mention Social Security on his website.

Obama proposes this to "fix" Social Security, paraphrasing from his website:

"Ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security. Those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to 4 percent more in total (combined employer and employee)."

Obama's plan appears to be consistent with the facts of what happened to the Social Security Surplus, recognizing that there were elements of society that have enjoyed a benefit from that surplus and asking them to give some back.

John McCain consistently proposes, as the AFLCIO website reports, diverting some percentage of the SSA income stream to private accounts, or "privatization" of Social Security. This does nothing whatsoever to solve the projected shortfalls in funding that will begin in about fifteen years. And the debate over the wisdom of placing tax collections in private investment is as old as the program itself. But that is a subject for another setting.

So essentially McCain's plan must be characterized as simply doing nothing, effectively cutting benefits to the people who paid for them already. And that characterization, that they have paid for them, may elicit some criticism from people who do not understand that the Greenspan plan (of, essentially, over collection of Social Security funds beginning in 1982, which Bill Clinton used to pay down our national debt) was an exception to the formula of Social Security. Before Greenspan, it was current workers supporting retired workers. Greenspan made it, by collecting more money than current obligations, a loan to the government by the Baby Boomers.
So basically, under McBush, there would be a cut in benefits en route to Social Security’s ultimate insolvency, hastened by his diversion of SSA funds into private accounts. This is actually worse than “cutting benefits in half” (and if McBush has a counter explanation to that, the very least he should bother to do it put it up on his website).

Also, the Times tells us…

A much criticized Spanish-language television advertisement wrongly links the views of Mr. McCain, who was a champion of the sweeping immigration overhaul pushed by Mr. Bush, to those of Rush Limbaugh, a harsh critic of the approach, and, frequently, of Mr. McCain.

The advertisement implies Mr. Limbaugh is one of Mr. McCain’s “Republican friends,” and quotes Mr. Limbaugh as calling Mexicans “stupid and unqualified.” Mr. Limbaugh has written that his quotes were taken out of context and that he was mocking the views of others.
I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard Flush whine that he was “taken out of context” or some variation of that whenever he’s been called out for saying something overtly racist or patently offensive for one reason or another (Donavan McNabb, Michael J. Fox and his Parkinson’s affliction, “Obama’s only chance of winning is that he’s black,” Obama “thugs” were responsible for hacking into the Email of “Governor Hottie,” etc.). If I did, I would truly be rich, my friends.

More than that, though, stating that Obama misrepresented McBush’s position on immigration by associating him with the OxyContin addict of the airwaves is truly silly. This post captures chapter and verse McBush’s conversion from a “maverick” who said that “amnesty has to be a component of immigration reform,” to the point where he voted against his own bill crafted with Ted Kennedy in favor of a “Report To Deport” provision (and as McBush “saw the light,” by the way, his moribund presidential campaign took off from a point where he had only a 15 percent popularity rating in his own state to his eventual winning of the nomination…and some yapping about funding the proposed “Woodstock Museum” by Hillary Clinton – which I still think was a good idea, for tourism purposes in the Empire State if for no other reason – didn’t hurt him either).

And when it comes to “déjà vu all over again” concerning McBush’s clumsy ploy yesterday of hijacking the meeting with Dubya and the Congressional reps over the market meltown, I give you this from the Democratic Party…

Republican Blasted McCain For Parachuting In at the Last Minute. Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) called out McCain for being "out of line" by choosing to "parachute in" at the last minute to take credit for the current immigration bill in the Senate despite not sitting in on negotiations all year. McCain exploded under the pressure of his failed balancing act by accusing Cornyn of "making a 'chickens-t' argument" and shouting to Cornyn, "[Expletive] you!" [, 5/18/07; Roll Call, 5/21/07]
That’s some straight talk we can believe in.

So there you have it, and in conclusion, Times reporter Jim Rutenberg tells us that Tommy Vietor of the Obama campaign states that the Obama ad claim that McBush supports tax breaks only for oil companies is “technically true.”

Actually, I believe the more appropriate ending for this story would have been, “I’m John McCain, and I approved this message.”

Update: So why bother to watch the debate after all, I ask myself, since it's already a foregone conclusion (h/t The Daily Kos).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Stuff

That's it - time for me to suspend this blog so I can take the train down to D.C. and solve this market mess, my friends (h/t The Daily Kos)...

...and let's recall that, of all of the Dem presidential candidates during the primaries, Chris Dodd stood taller on FISA than anyone else, and I for one trust him to do the right thing here ("a rescue plan for John McCain" indeed - h/t Think Progress)...

..."Worst Persons" with Neil ("His World") Cavuto trying to sneak in another "Drill, Baby, Drill!" plug aimed at Congress, some clown at a Swedish airport almost gets the place evacuated over cooking a sausage...didn't know about the Phillie Phanatic thing...and Steve Doocy thinks that McBush's "Keating Five" escapades belong on The History Channel (but his POW stuff doesn't? Huh?)...

...Firewater ("Borneo," live on Radio Station KEXP in Seattle).

Some PA-08 Smoke And Mirrors From Tom Manion

I had to look really hard to find something post-worthy concerning the challenger for Patrick Murphy’s U.S. House seat in PA’s 8th district, seeing as how his “stealth” campaign is rating nary a mention in the newspapers.

Despite that, he did have this to say recently in the Bucks County Courier Times concerning the financial market meltdown…

Tom Manion, a Republican challenging (incumbent Rep. Patrick) Murphy in Bucks County, said: “We held interest rates too low for too long, allowed Fannie and Freddie to give out too much credit, messed up the banking regulators and were too focused on meeting unrealistic “affordable housing’ goals. It’s a mess, and now we’re going to have to work together for a solution.
This gives me an excuse to link to this landmark post by Devilstower at The Daily Kos once more that spells out chapter and verse how our markets were crippled by deregulation and investment in shadowy financial instruments such as something called a “credit default swap” (it’s explained fairly well, along with noting that it was cheered on by none other than Alan Greenspan, among others). And Manion is partly right here, I should note, but it’s laughable for him or anyone else to ignore what Devilstower is talking about; “messed up the banking regulators” doesn’t cut it as an explanation as far as I’m concerned.

Also, I don’t like this innuendo that somehow this is primarily the fault of mortgage holders who bought at the peak of the housing bubble. I think it’s important to recall that credit refinancing, along with commercial and residential real estate, were sectors of our economy that actually did well for a time under the ruinous Bushco reign while everything else tanked (you can infer the same thing I can about the fact that debt management was actually a growth industry). Borrowing excessively against home equity isn’t something I or anyone else should encourage, but we’ve only been playing a game where the rules – the few that actually existed – were decided upon by regulators, politicians and lobbyists, not by us.

This kind of reminds me of the editorial in the Murdoch Street Journal recently that blamed the Community Reinvestment Act for our current mess (Manion’s slap at “unrealistic ‘affordable housing’ goals” brings this to mind), when in fact, as Rick Perlstein noted here, CRA-covered institutions “tended to practice less risky lending, not more”.

Also, Manion brings us this pearl about the economy (under “immigration” from his web site)…

Tom also supports increasing the H-1B visa cap. Increasing the number of highly skilled foreign workers able to work in the U.S. will allow companies to keep operations in the U.S. and in turn create more jobs for Americans.
I know this is about what you’d expect from a Repug, but it’s no less revolting coming from him.

Also, I came across a quote from Manion where he questioned whether or not it would do any good to change the tax code in favor of job creation in this country as opposed to sending jobs overseas; I apologize for not having that link at the moment, but I’ll keep looking for it (probably somewhere else on his website - I thought this related article was informative; doesn't sound like the tax code has ever been changed to keep jobs here before).

Given the fact that Manion has lukewarm support at best for domestic job creation along with the professed desire to raise the H-1B cap as stated above (with those workers not contributing to our economy as much as permanent hires already living here, unless the new arrivals are doing really well), I don’t know how he can claim to speak as a government-sector expert on the economy; if there’s one thing I’ve had enough of, it’s professed CEO politicians.

And lest I forget, to help Manion’s opponent, click here.

Update 9/26/08: I forgot to note Manion's complaint about Patrick taking $15K from Rangel here; want some cheese with your whine, Tom? Let's let the Ethics Committee do its job first, OK?

Stop The Bush Bailout!

Posting is a big question mark for today, but I wanted to get this out there...

Since Monday, progressives around the country have been calling their Senators and Representatives to say "NO" to the Bush Bailout plan. Congress is starting to get the message.

We can't stop now.

Today at 5pm, America will say NO to the Bush Bailout -- and we need you to be there.


The Bush Bailout is still a new tax on every American that would amount to a $700,000,000,000 check to bail out Wall Street. The Bush Bailout would be the largest giveaway of public money in American history.

Our friends at True Majority are leading the way for over 20 different groups including MoveOn, USaction, and ACORN to name just a few. They organized the events, now we need to turn out and help make the events a success.

Rallies held over the last two days in cities across the country have received a lot of coverage already. These events have helped back up the phone calls, emails, and letters against the Bush Bailout that Congress has been receiving all week.

Now, with a nationwide coordinated action with hundreds of rallies on the same day, we will amp up the pressure and make sure Congress hears the message loud and clear: America says NO to the Bush Bailout.


I signed up for the rally near me. I hope you will sign up too.

Thank you for everything you do,


Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America
And here's the latest (and does anyone know how they came up with that $700 billion number to begin with? Didn't think so.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

(By the way, I also posted over here earlier today on more nonsense with the "fundies".)

Kal Penn of "Harold and Kumar" brings us an important message (and he didn't even have to go to White Castle or escape from Guantanamo)...

(Note: YouTube is performing site maintenance - just go to!)

...meanwhile, David Shuster talked to Rachel Maddow about some truly damning words written about McBush by George Will, of all people (Rachel is right; it's fascinating to see conservatives more or less eating each other at this point)...

...Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent takes us on a brief tour of Kabul, Afghanistan (looks like, once you get out of the town, you'd better keep moving)...

...and here are The New Pornographers on "Letterman" ("My Rights Versus Yours").

More Fiction From His Fraudulency

This story from Yahoo News tells us that George W. Milhous Bush (yes, he’s still around – 117 more inexorable days, give or take a few minutes) spoke as follows before the U.N. today…

Calling the threat from violent extremists "the fundamental challenge of our time," President Bush on Tuesday reminded the world's assembled leaders that "every nation in this chamber has responsibilities" in the battle with terror.

Speaking in a matter-of-fact tone, Bush seemed to understand that he was not speaking to a fully friendly audience. When the US president best remembered here for going to war in Iraq without a UN blessing spoke of "transformation in Iraq," the chamber remained silent. "Iraq and Afghanistan," Bush said, were "transformed from regimes that support terrorism to democracies that fight terror."
Memo to President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History: if everything is supposed to be so peachy, particularly in Afghanistan, try releasing the latest NIE when you’re supposed to instead of after the election (of course, as we know, it’s not as if you’ve never played politics with national security matters before).

And I guess John W. McBush, perhaps without saying it in so many words, believes that Iraq is “the central front on the war on Terra! Terra! Terra!,” so Afghanistan should take care of itself (or something); also, I don’t know how smart it was for him to try and weasel out of the Friday debate (here) over the market crisis; the thing he does best is miss votes, and I can’t see how that will impact the bailout plan one way or the other.

Some Mavericky Vote Fraud We Can Believe In

Not much to add to this, my friends - just trying to get the word out.

A Stem Cell Flip-Flop From John W. McBush?

McClatchy Online, in a critique of a campaign ad by Barack Obama, tell us that they believe the Democratic presidential nominee went too far in stating that John W. McBush opposes stem cell research…

"Stem-cell research could unlock cures for diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's, too," says an Obama radio ad that's airing in selected states. "But John McCain has stood in the way. He's opposed stem-cell research. Picked a running mate who's against it. And he's running on a platform even more extreme than George Bush's on this vital research. John McCain doesn't understand that medical research benefiting millions shouldn't be held hostage by the political views of a few."
This Media Matters post points out that McBush has indeed voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, and he voted in favor of it on another occasion also. However, this runs counter to his relatively recent “pro-life” epiphany, something our media apparently doesn’t think is important enough to cover.

Because (as noted here)…

…National Right to Life Committee Executive Director David O’Steen said anti-abortion rights activists think they can turn McCain to their way of thinking on stem cells.

“We’d be hopeful that he’d leave [Bush’s] policy in place,” O’Steen said. What McCain might actually do, he cautioned, is “an open question.”

McCain’s campaign website does not state that he supports embryonic stem cell research. Instead, a statement titled “Addressing the Moral Concerns of Advanced Technology” touts “promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that does not involve the use of human embryos.”
Sound to me like Senator McBush was for stem cell research before he was against it (or, at least, favored it with lukewarm support at best, and, as noted here, he’s no stranger to flip flops on other issues).

So go ahead and flag Obama for not noting McBush’s two prior votes on funding embryonic stem cell research if you must. But given the thoroughly reality-challenged nature of the Arizona senator’s campaign (to say nothing of his running mate “Governor Hottie”), I believe this is a minor offense by comparison.

Update 1: And by the way, on the matter of Senator McBush, Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times tells us here today that…

Mr. McCain has at times been a target of over-the-top attacks from outside groups, such as a recent advertisement from the liberal group Brave New Pac, based in California, that suggested his time in a Vietnamese prison ill-affected his ability to be president; the Internet was filled with various unsubstantiated and discredited rumors about his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, immediately after he named her last month.
I don’t know what Palin rumors Rutenberg is referring to; he doesn’t substantiate that claim and I’m not going to do his homework for him. And I also don’t know how criticizing McBush’s mental competency because of his POW trauma can be considered an “over-the-top attack” when he permitted a “review” of his medical records under these ridiculous circumstances.

Update 2: Again concerning McBush, don't hold your breath waiting for this story to generate the same news coverage as a certain $400 haircut.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

"The Pap Attack" gives us a history lesson on the "Keating Five," of which John W. McBush was a member 20 years ago; this tells you about the others; McBush was the only Repug, strangely enough...

...and for anyone who thought that history could never repeat itself...

...Jackson Browne ("Time The Conqueror"; so new I can still smell the vinyl - hey, it's "theater of the mind" people, OK?)...

...and here's Rachel Yamagata, recorded live at Austin City Limits ("Be Be Your Love"; she's gotten a lot of press lately, and from this clip, I don't think it's hard to see why).

A Squeaker Versus A Wipeout

In my abbreviated travels around all of those Internet tubes today, I happened upon this story about Senator John Kerry that appeared in The Boston Globe, in the vein of “how the mighty have fallen, oh what a shame he’s only appearing at 4H clubs now instead of debates with an incumbent president watched by 63 million people, etc.”

And I read this…

The closest parallel to Kerry's story is George McGovern's, who was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1972 and then in 1974 was stumping around South Dakota farms before his reelection to the Senate.
I believe Globe staff writer Matt Viser needs to brush up on his history; this tells us that incumbent Richard Nixon won 49 states, while McGovern won Massachusetts (ironically enough) along with the District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, Dubya (as noted here) officially carried 31 states in 2004, while Kerry won 19 plus, again, the District of Columbia. Nary a wipeout in sight, sports fans (and, but for some truly low electoral antics by Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio, who knows – too painful to contemplate, though).

And by the way, what a shame that Curt Schilling did not decide to run against Kerry after all (as noted here). What a pleasure it would have been to see “Top Step Shill” get a big electoral defeat shoved down his throat – maybe that would have shut his mouth at long last.

And as long as I’m mentioning Kerry, here’s some of his speech in Denver a few weeks ago.

More "Horserace" Reporting From The Old Gray Lady

The New York Times tells us here today that…

Senator Barack Obama has shown himself at times to be a great orator. His debating skills, however, have been uneven.

Some of his chief strengths — his facility with words, his wry detachment, his reasoning skills, his youthful cool — have not always served him well and may pose significant vulnerabilities in the series of presidential debates that begins Friday, according to political analysts and a review of his earlier debate performances.

Mr. Obama has a tendency to overintellectualize and to lecture, befitting his training as a lawyer and law professor. He exudes disdain for the quips and sound bites that some deride as trivializing political debates but that have become a central part of scoring them. He tends to the earnest and humorless when audiences seem to crave passion and personality. He frequently rises above the mire of political combat when the battle calls for engagement.
As you can tell, much of this article by John Broder pertains to the method in which Obama presents himself typically during a debate, based on the earlier forums with former Democratic candidates. And yes, I’ve noticed moments where he could have been more forceful (as Broder notes, and also in a recent interview with Keith Olbermann, for example, where K.O. set him up with a question about the Repugs’ perpetual exploitation of 9/11 but Obama chose to pass on clobbering the opposition – probably a wise choice, IMHO; why belabor the obvious?).

But call me crazy, but I tend to focus on the content of the answers of the candidates as opposed to how clever they may sound when they’re giving those answers (the standard I go by is the Carter-Reagan presidential debate in 1980; the incumbent gave taciturn responses and presented himself sternly, though he was correct, whereas Reagan was jovial and familiar but almost completely wrong, with our media failing to call him out for it).

This, however, goes against the narrative being reinforced that Obama is somehow too airy and intellectual but John W. McBush knows how to provide pithy sound bites in his answers; again I care about the facts here.

And given that, I think it’s noteworthy that, in prior debates, McBush denigrated mayors and governors who served “for a short period of time” here, though he ended up choosing just such a governor as his running mate. He also uttered the “lipstick on a pig” reference about Hillary Clinton’s health care initiatives here also in a prior Repug debate long before Barack Obama made that comparison to which “Governor Hottie” took such offense.

Also, McBush blamed “special interests” for “hogging radio frequencies” that our first responders should be allowed to use; the fact is that they will be allowed to use those frequencies next year, as noted here. And McBush helped one of his own “special interests,” specifically Motorola, by allowing them to use those frequencies for their analog TV sets before they retooled for digital transmission, holding up that transition in the process (God, did the 109th Congress actually do something right for a change?).

And just for the record, here are 10 debate questions McBush will never be asked. Also, here is a reminder of debate perceptions between Al Gore and Dubya in 2000; though the audience tended to side with Clinton’s former veep, the observation that His Fraudulency “appeal(ed) to a level that most voters reside in” should be a cautionary lesson to anyone shortchanging an examination of facts from the candidates for the purposes of airy musings about style (with the assorted calamities we currently face, we cannot afford the luxury of sacrificing the former for the latter – I cannot tell you how much I wish to see a president again who can articulate an interesting thought in a manner that respects our intelligence).

(By the way, posting will continue to be questionable for the next few days - also, if anyone is disposed to leave a comment, I can reply once more as long as Blogger cooperates; I don't know if I mentioned that already or not.)

Update: More posts are here - just an FYI.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Stuff

This reminds me - I missed my copy of the Times today; que sera sera (h/t Atrios)...

...once again, leave it to al jazeera to do the difficult reporting our corporate media won't do, this concerning our homeless veterans of Iraq and Vietnam...

..."Worst Persons" (Steve Doocy of Fox Noise has a spaz over a tagline Al Franken never wrote about John W. McBush, Councilman Paul Lindeman of Columbia, SC tries to use "Governor Hottie" as a defense for his aberrant behavior, and "time to blame those danged minor-ee-tees" again for the subprime meltdown; hope you're not late for your weekly cross burning, Neil)...

...Donavan Frankenreiter ("It Don't Matter).

Blaming David For The Sake Of Goliath

Leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to scapegoat exactly the wrong culprit for the present mess in our markets (and it must be noted that The Eternal Molly Ivins was eerily prescient on this as noted here, concerning Long Term Capital Management; think “no oversight” and “privatizing the profit but socializing the culpability”).

The journal tells us the following (and calling this a “fable” is literally apropos, by the way, as opposed to reasoned analysis fit for a paper with the Journal’s alleged profile – they’re listing all of what they perceive as the milestones on our road to financial hell)…

The Community Reinvestment Act. This 1977 law compels banks to make loans to poor borrowers who often cannot repay them. Banks that failed to make enough of these loans were often held hostage by activists when they next sought some regulatory approval.

Robert Litan, an economist at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post this year that banks "had to show they were making a conscious effort to make loans to subprime borrowers." The much-maligned Phil Gramm fought to limit these CRA requirements in the 1990s, albeit to little effect and much political jeering.
To begin, here is a Wikipedia article on the Community Reinvestment Act, telling us that it is “a United States federal law that requires banks and thrifts to offer credit throughout their entire market area and prohibits them from targeting only wealthier neighborhoods with their services, a practice known as "redlining." The purpose of the CRA is to “provide credit, including home ownership opportunities to underserved populations and commercial loans to small businesses. It has been subjected to important regulatory revisions.”

(By the way, “redlining” can take many forms, whether we’re talking about denial to jobs, health care, banks, or even supermarkets, with poor of different races and ethnicities losing out at the expense of a more well-to-do clientele, but for our purposes, we’re talking about mortgage discrimination for the moment.)

In 1995, the CRA was strengthened by President Clinton “to meet community credit needs,” and it provided for a period of review in 2002; this coincided with the founding of lenders such as Countrywide that did not mitigate loan risks with savings deposits as traditional banks did. And as a result of the “review” under Bushco, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the two primary agents guaranteeing subprime loans – were moved under the Treasury Department, with Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) calling it “a shell game…(that) weaken(ed) the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing.”

So it’s easy to see why the Journal and their ideological fellow travelers would despise the CRA, since it helped to level the playing field in the matter of affordable housing for all. And as far as Phil Gramm “(fighting) to limit the CRA requirements” (here)…

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the recipient of enormous banking contributions, Gramm did an even bigger favor for the financial industry in 1999 when he sponsored the Financial Services Modernization Act allowing banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to combine. The bill weakened the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to help meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Gramm described community groups that use the CRA as “protection rackets” that extort funds from the poor, powerless banks. The bill is also a disaster for the privacy of bank customers and weakens regulatory supervision. As Gramm proudly declared, “You’re not going to find a single bank, insurance company, or securities company that will say they were hurt financially by this bill.”
Of course, no word on how consumers fared, since that constituency is invisible to Gramm anyway.

And returning to Wikipedia for a moment…

Critics claim that government policy encouraged risky lending[7] and the development of the subprime debacle through legislation like the CRA.

Robert Gordon of the Center for American Progress disagrees, and quotes statistics that he claims show "independent mortgage companies, which are not covered by CRA, made high-priced loans at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts." He faults then-Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan for "cheering the subprime boom" in the banking industry.
This tells us about HR 1960, introduced in the House last year to amend the CRA in order to make housing more affordable for our veterans (probably something that should have been scheduled for debate by now). And this post from Rick Perlstein tells us, among other things, “that CRA-covered institutions tended to practice less risky lending, not more risky lending.”

The Journal concludes by telling us to “beware politicians who peddle fables that cast themselves as the heroes.” To that, I would only add – particularly in the case of Phil “Nation Of Whiners/Mental Recession” Gramm – that we should beware of newspapers trying to do the same thing.

(And by the way, for more posts, please click here.)

McBush and "Governor Hottie" Come To Media, PA!

For anyone able to provide some non-violent protest, here are the details...

John McCain and Sarah Palin will be at a Victory Rally, Monday, September 22nd on the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse, 201 West Front Street. Doors open at 3:00pm.

If you have any questions please email or call (717) 412-1538.

Please remember to wear RED!

Once more, here's the address...

Media Victory Rally
Steps of the Delaware County Courthouse
201 West Front Street
Media, PA
The preceding was provided courtesy of the McBush/Palin campaign.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Stuff

As a condition for granting the $700 billion, my first request as a taxpayer is to make Dubya, Bernanke, Paulson, and every one of these supposedly genius CEOs working for these financial firms now seeking our help watch this video every day for an hour until they find themselves incoherently babbling this song at highly inopportune moments...

...Ray LaMontagne ("Hold You In My Arms"; I don't know who these people are in this video, but I just like the song).

About That Bailout...

Here's a petition from Credo Mobile, and Paul Krugman had some important thoughts here - also, this Open Left post sums up what I hope a lot of Dems in Congress feel about it (dare such thoughts lend themselves to action??).

(Hat tip for the last two to Atrios, by the way; also, as Brad DeLong notes here, this will certainly spill over into the next administration and then some, with Krugman asking, based on the likely Treasury Secretary nominee from a - gasp! - McBush presidency, "Are you willing to give essentially unlimited discretion over the use of $700 billion — with explicit protection against any review by Congress or the courts — to Phil Gramm?").

(And speaking of dumb - and dumber...)