Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Stuff

Joe Biden responds to the latest "Governor Hottie" nonsense (18 more days of this from the Palin-McBush campaign)...

...I apologize for inflicting the idiocy of Michele Bachmann on you, but her garbage deserves a response, kind of a variation on what Palin said above (here; the way to respond to Bachmann is to help out her opponent here)...

Update 10/19/08: What a numbskull (below)...

Update 10/20/08: Over the weekend, Bachmann's opponent raised $640 K, as noted here. Awesome, people!

...this just blew me away; hat tips to Atrios and The Daily Kos...

..."Worst Persons" with K.O. (Bob Grant supposedly thinks Obama is trying to create an "O" flag - uh huh - Governor Palin's Secret Service detail comes up with an interesting new way to squash free speech, but former Senator Man-On-Dog takes the prize for tonight; God Little Ricky, "flag lapel pins"? That talking point is at least TWO YEARS OLD!!)...

...R.I.P. Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops ("Bernadette," cut off by a fraction of a second at the end)...

...Shinedown ("Second Chance," with clips of the show "Heroes")...

The “Dragon Lady” and Friday H-1B Visa Fraud

(By the way, I also posted over here today.)

This Yahoo tech story tells us…

San Francisco - A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] study, H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment?? published in September but just coming to light this month, found a 27 percent rate of fraud in the H-1B visa program.

The study, conducted by The Office of Fraud Detection and National Security [FDNS], drew 246 cases in a random sampling of the 96,827 "approved, denied or pending I-129 petitions" for employment of a non-immigrant worker filed between October 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006. Employers hiring IT professionals under the H-1B visa program must fill out an I-129 petition as well as an LCA [Labor Condition Application].
“A 27 percent rate of fraud,” huh? Nice.


…there were instances where "the employer failed to pay the beneficiary at least the prevailing wage for the particular occupation in the specific geographical location as noted and attested to on the (Labor Condition Application, or LCA) filed with the Department of Labor."

Another violation that was considered technical was the employer charging back to the petitioner the filing fees the employer was obligated to pay, according to the regulations.??

The study said this practice had the effect of "lowering the beneficiary's wages to less than the required prevailing wage."

The most blatant misrepresentation cited by the study was in a case where the H-1B visa worker "was performing duties that were significantly different from those described on the LCA and I-129 petition."

In this particular case, an IT professional hired as a "business development analyst" was found to be "working in a Laundromat doing laundry and maintaining washing machines."
I’ve heard of “scrubbing the code,” but that’s ridiculous (ba-dump!).

And this site, Joe’s Union Review, contains information about Cisco, for example, advertising a job that was only available to offshore workers (no naturalized Americans need apply).

And in response, Senators Charles Grassley wrote this letter to Jonathan Scharfen, the head of the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service last week (I’ll keep an eye out for a reply, but since this is Bushco, I’m not holding my breath).

And though Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (pictured above with hubby Mitch McConnell – and by the way, to help Bruce Lunsford, click here) isn’t really the bad guy here for a change, it is helpful I believe to recall once more that she hasn’t lifted her little finger to do anything preventing the flight of jobs from our shores (which, as noted here from last November, is based on the utter fiction that we aren’t graduating enough math and science majors in this country).

And finally, I think it’s important to note the following from here…

(Barack) Obama also has co-sponsored legislation that would give "Patriot Employers" a tax credit equal to 1% of their taxable income if they maintain or increase the ratio of their U.S. workforce to the number of workers abroad, keep their headquarters in the USA and meet other wage, health care and pension requirements. "We can end tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those breaks to companies that create good jobs with decent wages here in America," Obama said last month in Lorain, Ohio.
And what does John W. McBush say in response (here)? “New education, retraining, new economy, blah blah blah” (sorry, but I’ve heard that broken record before).

Refuting The Latest ACORN Lie

I received the latest communication from my "friends" at the RNC recently...

Every election, it's the same old song and dance from the Democrats and their liberal allies when it comes to donor and vote fraud.

This year, the Obama-Biden campaign broke their pledge to accept public financing during the general election. Now it turns out they padded their coffers with contributions from "mystery" donorsthat don't exist (as reported by Newsweek).

They will soon be trying to pad their totals at ballot boxes across the country with votes from voters that do not exist. From Ohio and Florida to Wisconsin and Nevada, there are reports of fraudulent voter registration forms being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a liberal group that is dedicating its resources to electing the Obama-Biden Democrats.

What's worse is the Obama-Biden campaign has funneled more than $800,000 to ACORN for work on get-out-the-vote activities conducted by the left-leaning organization.

...we must fight back against attempts by Democrats at vote fraud and ensure the integrity of our democracy. Please join our effort to keep our elections clean and fair by making a secure online contribution of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $35 to RNC Victory 2008 today.

The Democrats have proven they will do and say whatever it takes to win this election. This isn't the first time they've tried to inflate voter rolls with false names and take money from questionable sources -- and it won't be the last.

But this time we are ready for the liberals' deceitful tactics. We will not stand for the stealing of elections -- the tainting of our democracy -- by those who wish to subvert the rule of law.

Your secure online contribution of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $35 to RNC Victory 2008 will support Republicans committed to building a safer, more prosperous America and help hold the Democrats and their left-wing allies accountable for their actions. is one of our nation's most sacred rights. Do your part to protect the integrity of our elections -- support RNC Victory 2008 today. Thank you.

Best Wishes,

Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
Chairman, Republican National Committee
What bastards; in response, I give you this, including this excerpt…

(Obama campaign general counsel Bob) Bauer rejected the McCain campaign's accusation that Obama operatives had paid 800,000 dollars to ACORN to register voters in Kansas, insisting cooperation with the group stopped at joint canvassing efforts.

"It's a lie and the repetition of the lie won't make it true. We have never paid ACORN for any registration purposes and they know it," he said.
And to read more prior fairy tales about ACORN, click here.

Update 1: The McBush mess strikes again (h/t Atrios)...

Update 2: And I would say this was inevitable too (ACORN sued by PA Repugs, this is a recording...).

Manion's "Rx" May Have Harmful Side Effects

I read through this post from Above Average Jane about the most recent debate between PA-08 Dem U.S. House Rep Patrick Murphy, his challenger Repug Tom Manion, and pretend candidate Tom Lingenfelter, and the following excerpt caught my attention…

Q: Lobbyists spend over $2M a year to influence Congress. What does that get them. How much is at expense of taxpayers.

PM: In my office they aren’t getting their money’s worth. I listen to everyone, lobbyists, constituents, R, D, everyone. Number of lobbyists doubled under Bush. I am transparent, let you know who I meet with. I vote my conscience even at political costs.

TM: Again, the problem is not just the Bush administration, the problem is congress and the administration. We need to look to have a time line whether they work on the hill and then go into a lobbying role. There’s some oversight there and we need to continue looking at the problem. Find a way so they don’t influence the situation. Look at Chris Dodd and the money he is getting through those organizations. Even if there is no intent there it is a bad atmosphere. Good examples in the bailout. Need course correction.
Oh brother…

To begin, here’s a story on the supposed financial wrongdoing of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, in which we learn the following…

According to Conde Nast Portfolio, which broke the story, Dodd refinanced his Washington townhouse with a loan of $506,000 and refinanced his East Haddam home for $275,042. Dodd's East Haddam home has a spectacular view of the Connecticut River, and he held a press conference overlooking the water there when he returned home from Iowa after his unsuccessful presidential bid. Some of the state's top Democratic politicians, including much of the Congressional delegation, gathered with Dodd in East Haddam to celebrate his homecoming.

The Conde Nast article stated that Dodd's 30-year loans were both designed to be at 4.875 percent, but the East Haddam loan was reduced to 4.5 percent and the Washington loan was dropped to 4.25 percent. Over the life of the loans, that saved the Dodds about $58,000 on their Washington home and $17,000 on the East Haddam home, according to the article. Countrywide also waived three-eighths of a point on one loan and one quarter of a point on the other.

Dodd released a statement Friday, saying, "As a United States Senator, I would never ask or expect to be treated differently than anyone else refinancing their home. This suggestion is outrageous and contrary to my entire career in public service. When my wife and I refinanced our loans in 2003, we did not seek or expect any favorable treatment. Just like millions of Americans, we shopped around and received competitive rates.''
By the way, I should let you know that we did a "refi" on “Le Manse Mr. And Mrs. Doomsy” around 2003 also and managed to bag a rate of about 5.25 percent or so (sure, Dodd did better, but slightly better, not outrageously better). And when you’re talking about the life of a 20 or 30-year mortgage, a savings of $58,000 for what is probably a nice home (and what’s wrong with that?) is about right (and don’t waste my time with the $17K figure).

Now, let’s focus on what Manion said here in Jane's post…

We need to look to have a time line whether they work on the hill and then go into a lobbying role. There’s some oversight there and we need to continue looking at the problem.
So Manion considers lobbying to be a “problem,” I gather?

I actually agree with that, but here’s the thing; as a pharmaceutical executive with Johnson and Johnson, he should know that his company “spent $5,600,000 on lobbying in 2006. Of this total, $2,150,000 went to outside lobbying firms.”

The Source Watch post on J&J also tells us that “Johnson & Johnson's political action committee (PAC) gave $542,000 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election cycle - 39% to Democrats and 61% to Republicans.”

And here’s another thing (also noted by Source Watch)…

Johnson & Johnson refused to advertise on the progressive Air America Radio. In October 2006, around 90 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, told ABC Radio Networks that they did not want their ads to play on radio stations that carried Air America Radio.
So Manion and J&J want only the “corporate voice” to be heard above all others, my fellow prisoners.

There is no illegality (as far as I know) noted in any of what Source Watch tells us. But I’m pointing this out because I’m more than a little fed up at this point with Manion’s claim that he’s a political “outsider,” when he has close ties to a member of Big Pharma that is a truly influential “player” on Capitol Hill.

Conversely, Patrick tells us that lobbyists “aren’t getting their money’s worth” under him, and with the exception of his votes on FISA and the attempt by D.C. to regulate the deadly trafficking of guns, I believe him (none of these people are going to be perfect; we have to look at “the preponderance of evidence” as they say).

And given that, I don’t believe Manion is “good for what ails us,” whereas Patrick is the “prescription,” if you will, for the representation we deserve (and to help out, click here).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Stuff

It all started with this - we've got 19 days to go...

...and I think McBush came back with some lameass comment about Obama running against Dubya in response, or something...

...and by the way, I'm Doomsy, and I do not approve of this message (well, maybe I do - but only a bit)...

...K.O. with "Worst Persons" (denigrating comments by Fox Noise about Colin Powell, Billo The Clown resurrects images of Rich Lowry concerning a porn movie with a Sarah Palin lookalike, but the head of the inland empire - CA - women Republicans group take it with racist parody Obama currency)...

...Amy LaVere ("Killing Him" - hey now!)...

...and as a tribute to composer Neal Hefti, here's one of his signature themes ("The Odd Couple").

Thursday Mashup (10/16/08)

Interesting – I actually learned something from Dana Perino’s White House press briefing today (from here, at the bottom)…


Q What is your response to the House -- sit down -- House Oversight -- (laughter) -- the House Oversight Committee report that accused the administration of using public funds to influence elections during the midterms in '06, accused the administration of a gross abuse of the public trust?

MS. PERINO: Well, this is Congressman Waxman, who I think took a moment of -- a target of opportunity, three weeks before an election, to say, wow, there's a (sic) Office of Political Affairs at the White House. We weren't the ones that created it; that office has been here for decades. And it should come as no surprise to people that the administration seeks to promote its agenda, and we do so within the rules.
That remains to be seen; this post from The Gavel (dated yesterday) provides the following details…

Today, the House Oversight Committee released a draft report finding “that the White House used the political affairs office to orchestrate an aggressive strategy to use taxpayer-funded trips to help elect Republican candidates for public office.” Over the course of the Committee’s investigation, they found that “from January 1, 2006, until the mid-term elections on November 7, 2006, cabinet secretaries and other senior officials traveled to over 300 events recommended by the political affairs office. All of these events were held with Republican candidates, and in most cases, the travel costs were paid for with federal funds.”
The post goes on to say that Scott Jennings, the Deputy Director of the Office of Political Affairs, “displayed PowerPoint slides to the GSA officials describing the top 36 House Republicans the White House wanted to defend in the 2008 election, the top 20 House Democrats the White House wanted to defeat, and a slide depicting the “Battle for the Senate 2008.”

And see, Dana, the problem we have here is that Jennings, in all likelihood, violated the Hatch Act, which “prohibits federal employees (civil servants) from engaging in partisan political activity,” the type that Lurita Doan (the former General Services Administration chief) was also charged with here for allowing the meeting to take place.

“Within the rules,” huh Dana?

Remember when “Governor Hottie” was worried here about our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin being able to poke his head into Alaska (or something)? Well, it turns out that the Russkies were able to get a lot more “up close and personal” with some of the best oil industry pals of the “Alaska Disasta” here…

The Russian state-run natural gas company sent eight senior executives to Anchorage for talks Monday with officials from the state Department of Natural Resources and with the ConocoPhillips chief executive, Jim Mulva, state and company officials said.

Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of the natural gas used by Europe, is seeking to increase its reach with projects around the world, including in North America.
Why do I have a feeling that this is some kind of a power play by Gazprom as they try and control the worldwide energy supply (my pessimism is based in part on stories like this; all this is particularly dicey given our uncertain economic times).

“Governor Hottie” should be mindful of what her running mate has said about Putin, looking into his eyes and seeing “K-G-B” (an inflammatory statement, but probably true). She would be wise not to look at a rep from Gazprom in a similar fashion and see “M-O-N-E-Y.”

Update 10/17/08: Funny stuff here (h/t profmarcus - but please don't tell Rich Lowry!!)...

This story tells us the following…

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The European Union's 15 original member nations are on target to meet Kyoto treaty commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the bloc's environment agency said Thursday.

The countries pledged by 2012 to reduce by 8 percent their emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases thought to contribute to global warming.

Only three countries – Denmark, Italy and Spain – were “off their Kyoto track” and unlikely to meet individual targets, the European Environment Agency said.

But their shortfalls would be made up by Britain, Germany and Sweden, which were expected to show “outstanding performance,” according to agency's executive director, Jacqueline McGlade.
Meanwhile, in this country, we have to deal with a wholly other form of gas contributing to the crisis from one particularly noxious individual (who, in the process, helps to delay the action needed so desperately from our executive “leadership”) as James Wolcott tells us here.

McBush Mad Money vs. Obama’s Green-Baracks

(You have no idea how hard I tried to avoid that pun, but I caved; I’ll chastise myself later.)

I attempted to find the online link to this “Check Point” story by New York Times reporter Michael Luo, but I could not track it down; he writes about how Barack Obama supposedly reneged on his promise to run a publically financed campaign against John W. McBush (apparently, that came up last night)…

Mr. McCain accused Mr. Obama of failing to keep his word on public financing. Mr. Obama did indeed back away from an earlier pledge to accept public money for the general election if his opponent did as well.

In early 2007, before he became a money-raising phenomenon, Mr. Obama floated in a filing with the Federal Election Commission the possibility of working out an agreement with the other party’s nominee to accept public financing if both sides agreed.

Later, when asked in a questionnaire whether he would participate in the system if his opponent did the same, Mr. Obama wrote, “yes,” adding, “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” Mr. Obama also said this year that he would discuss parameters of a deal with the McCain campaign on public financing, but Mr. McCain’s aides say there were never any real negotiations.
As Mark Schmitt of The American Prospect tells us, the quote in the last paragraph is entirely correct. However, the following must be noted about McBush and public campaign financing…

"McCain's victories in the early primaries meant he never had to enter the public financing system," the (Washington) Post says. But this isn't quite right. At the time of the loan (November), McCain was in the public financing system (the certification to receive funds remained among the campaign's assets until Feb. 6, according to the Post). The question of reapplying in the future would have been irrelevant in December.

The Post suggests that "McCain may have inadvertently committed himself to entering the public financing system for the remainder of the primary season," which was my original argument, but it's pretty clear that his attitude toward the Federal Election Commission on this question (was), "Come and get me!"
Which is why DNC chairman Howard Dean did just that last April…

WASHINGTON — Democratic Party officials want a federal judge to order an investigation into whether Sen. John McCain violated election laws by withdrawing from public financing, saying federal regulators are too weak to act on their own.

A lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission, to be filed Monday in U.S. District Court, questions the agency's ability to enforce the law and review McCain's decision to opt out of the system. The Republican presidential candidate, who had been entitled to $5.8 million in federal funds for the primary campaign, decided earlier this year to give up that money so he could avoid strict spending limits between now and the GOP's national convention in September.
I do not know the status of the case, since I cannot find more up-to-date information.

And it would have been nice if Luo had checked for the response of the Obama campaign when the McBush forces had their hissy fit over this last June; if he had, he would have found this statement from Obama spokesman Bill Burton…

In the past couple of weeks, our campaign counsels met and it was immediately clear that McCain's campaign had no interest in the possibility of an agreement. When asked about the RNC's months of raising and spending for the general election, McCain's campaign could only offer its expectation that the Obama campaign would probably, sooner or later, catch up. And shortly thereafter, Senator McCain signaled to the 527s that they were free to run wild, without objection.
And this led to the exodus of McBush campaign aide Craig Shirley, as noted here.

Yes, I would rather have seen the Obama campaign accept public financing instead, but why do that unilaterally? Besides, in a manner of speaking (as a TPM commenter noted), aren’t they actually doing that anyway?

Anything Left To Think About Here? (updates)

Eugene Robinson of the WaPo here (registration required)...

McCain started quite well, getting off the most memorable line of the evening -- that if Barack Obama had wanted to run against George Bush, he should have run four years ago. From there, I thought, things went downhill for him.


Voters heard Democratic Party ideas juxtaposed against Republican Party ideas. That, more than grouchiness or demeanor, is what worked against John McCain and led respondents in the network instant polls to overwhelmingly favor Obama.
And Joe Klein "finds the nut" (here - h/t Atrios)...

The point is, this is a very good year to be Senator Government. Ronald Reagan used to say that the most frightening nine words in the English language were "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." That is no longer true. This year, the most frightening eight words are "I'm John McCain and I approved this message."
20 days to go...

Update 1: And as far as this "Joe The Plumber" business is concerned (here)...

Update 2: Gee, I wonder what McBush was going for here (h/t Atrios)? Quasimodo in search of a bell ("sanctuary, sanctuary!")?

Update 3: Here's more on the "real story" concerning "Joe The Plumber" (and I wholeheartedly agree).

Update 10/17/08: And how interesting is this? (h/t "Countdown" last night).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

(By the way, I also posted over here today.)

It sounds like Barack Obama didn't drop his drawers, pick his nose or start screaming "I LOVE ME SOME BILLY AYRES AND JERRY WRIGHT!!!" at the top of his lungs tonight, so I guess, even though John W. McBush flailed away some with his ridiculous charges, the numbers didn't budge too much either way (which is bad news for him, of course)...'re "proud of the people who come to your rallies," Senator McBush? You mean, people like these?...

...and given what I posted about here and the evidence in this Daily Kos video, I think it's a joke that Bob Schieffer was even allowed to "moderate" this at all...

...and also given that da' Phils are three outs away from the Series as I type this (crossing fingers, name it), here's Justin Roberts with "Pop Fly" to honor the occasion.


A Cautionary Lesson For Philly Absentee Voters

A family member living in the 19111 area code of Philadelphia applied for an absentee ballot from the registration office at 520 Delaware Avenue, and it was delivered to her location not long ago. The self-addressed return envelope to the Philadelphia Elections Office at 142 City Hall that accompanied the ballot showed that no postage was required, so the ballot was completed and mailed back without it. However, the envelope with the ballot was returned to her home address a few days after it was mailed.

A call to the Elections Office at 142 City Hall resulted in the discovery that postage is indeed required for the self-addressed return envelopes, even though they indicate that no postage is required if the envelope is mailed within the U.S.

So, if you live in Philadelphia and are mailing an absentee ballot to the elections office in City Hall, postage must be included even though the return envelope indicates otherwise. Hopefully, spreading this knowledge will result in fewer mixups and lost absentee ballots.

Playing A Political Game

This Yahoo News story tells us that the Obama campaign has come up with a new way to expand its online presence…

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has opened up a new front in his battle with Republican John McCain for the White House: videogames.

The Obama campaign has placed advertisements for the candidate inside the online versions of some of the hottest-selling videogames in the United States.

Holly Rockwood, a spokeswoman for videogame giant Electronic Arts, told AFP the Obama campaign had purchased ads inside nine of EA's top titles.

The ads are appearing from October 6 to November 3 in Xbox 360 games such as "Burnout Paradise," "Madden 09," "Nascar 09," "NHL 09" and "Skate," Rockwood said.

She said the ads would be visible to players in 10 US states who play the Xbox games online against each other using Xbox Live.

Among the 10 states are several expected to be among the most hotly contested in the November 4 showdown between Obama and McCain.

"Not all of our games support dynamic in-game advertising but these ones lend themselves well to this kind of opportunity," Rockwood said.

"You're driving down the freeway, you're passing billboards and one of the ads you will see is for Obama.
I would say that that takes “product placement” to a whole new level.

As I read this, I realized that some enterprising game designer out there could have come up with something for this presidential election; I think they would have cleaned up. It wouldn’t have been as graphic as, say, “Grand Theft Auto” (fortunately), and it wouldn’t have had the same degree of action, but I think it would have worked.

Imagine selecting either the McBush or Obama candidate, and you have to work your way through progressively bigger crowds of people (shaking hands, kissing babies, cutting blue ribbons, signing autographs), either at campaign stops, supermarkets, train stations…you name it…within a fixed period of time. Along the way, you character has a chance to chug a water bottle for more energy, or something like that.

Also, when your character reaches a certain point, he has the chance to either continue working the crowd or stop and make a speech (giving the speech provides more points). However, during the speech, either the McBush or Obama candidate has to choose from a list of keywords to continue the speech and keep accumulating points; selecting the wrong keyword results in losing points and/or having to start over.

Just imagine this with a Wii, by the way, as opposed to Xbox or PlayStation (TMs for all three). If you thought bowling required a lot of effort, this would probably have doubled that (the only catch is, though, that nobody would want to play the game after the election).

As for the McBush candidate, he would have to point to the nitwit in the crowd holding the “Obama Equals Osama” placard while giving a speech to earn points, as well as the human mistake who calls out “Obama Is A Muslim!” on cue.

There are also all kinds of other ways to “juice it up” that I haven’t thought of, I’m sure.

And by the way, choosing the phrase “my friends” for the McBush character more than three times when giving the speech would automatically initiate system shut down (but just remember, it’s a feature, not a bug).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

Yep, K.O. nails it again (a brief but powerful "Special Comment")...

...and this ranks pretty high on the disgust-o-meter also - keep running that stuff, Rog; voters just LOVE negative ads in this election...

...actually it's not next Tuesday (wish it were, though), but minor details like facts never swayed The Sainted Ronnie R, did they...

Update 10/15/08: Sorry to hear about this; best wishes for a full recovery.

...Kaiser Chiefs ("Never Miss A Beat"; still pondering this one, kind of part '80s Michael Jackson mixed in with some of the trappings of a Pink Floyd concert).

Going Nuts Over ACORN

(Too easy, sorry…also, posting may be even more sporadic for a little while after this – don’t know yet.)

I guess I’m coming in on the tail end of this, but it seems like the wingnutosphere is engaged in its usual gyrations all of a sudden over ACORN.

I say this because the editorial page of the Murdoch Street Journal (a lightning rod for this stuff, of course) waxed as follows today…

Acorn (sic) uses various affiliated groups to agitate for "a living wage," for "affordable housing," for "tax justice" and union and environmental goals, as well as against school choice and welfare reform. It was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards.
That last sentence is garbage, along with their usage of quotes to demean what the group does; the Journal is trying to blame the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) once more for our financial crisis, a charge I already refuted here.

But the organization's real genius is getting American taxpayers to foot the bill. According to a 2006 report from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977. For instance, Acorn's American Institute for Social Justice claimed $240,000 in tax money between fiscal years 2002 and 2003. Its American Environmental Justice Project received 100% of its revenue from government grants in the same years. EPI estimates the Acorn Housing Corporation alone received some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007. Only recently, Democrats tried and failed to stuff an "affordable housing" provision into the $700 billion bank rescue package that would have let politicians give even more to Acorn.
The Journal goes on to list allegations of ACORN malfeasance (calling the group “an operation with a history of fraud “) in Ohio (2004), Colorado (2005), Missouri (2006), among other locations (the ACORN charges were also “put out there” no doubt by an ideological journalistic kinsman – or woman – at this Dana Perino press briefing today…yes, she still has a job).

And by the way, charges have yet to be filed in these or other cases (something else the Journal chose to ignore).

Oh, and of course it’s Obama’s fault that he “served as a lawyer for Acorn in 1995” and channeled money to Project Vote, affiliated with ACORN, in 1992.

Oh brother…

This TPM Muckracker post tells us the following…

…by shrieking about voter fraud, the McCain camp hopes to make voting officials more willing to place restrictions in the path of voters on election day, potentially causing delays and confusion at the polls, and reducing overall turnout. And it seeks to discredit any Obama victory by raising the suggestion that it was aided by the votes of ineligible voters.
And in response, ACORN hit back as follows (noted in this post – the pic from the linked story appears above).

The Palin-McBush campaign is truly desperate if this is all they and their like-minded media ciphers have.

Oh, and by the way (as Wikipedia tells us)…

During investigations, ACORN has publicly supported the investigations of employees submitting fraudulent voter registration information, has fired them if evidence supports the charges, and has stated its concern with false information on registration forms.[47][48] Officials have stated that ACORN has been cooperative in these investigations.
So basically, absent any charges (though I’ll admit that ACORN needs to “tighten up” its procedures, to say the least, and I’m sure they will), the only “fraud” I see here is that which the Journal and their brethren seek to perpetrate on all of us just in time for the election (led by this guy in particular).

Update 1 10/16/08: Uh-huh...

Update 2 10/16/08: "The most trusted name in news" strikes again (h/t Atrios).

Update 10/17/08: Good Lord, this is tiresome (h/t Atrios).

Forward Into The Repug Past

I think that, unintentionally of course, David Brooks did us a favor in his New York Times column today (here).

Not because he actually provided a reasonably intelligent analysis of the issues we currently face and how the two individuals running for president would address them (hey, this is BoBo, remember?). And not because he decided to view the state of things generally with his eyes wide open, casting aside for the moment the prism of conservative dogma through which he interprets just about everything.

No, I think Brooks’ real contribution here is the fact that he gives us a glimpse of the right-wing strategy (if you can call it that) for at least the next four years. Don’t worry, though; there’s really not much to see because it’s merely a sequel of the bad “movie” we had to endure in the 1990s.

You see, BoBo is preparing for the very real likelihood that Barack Obama is going to win this presidential election and the Democrats will build on their congressional majorities. I say that not in a spirit of triumphalism, but with guarded optimism, particularly concerning the matter of electing Senate Dems to the point where we can establish a 60-vote majority and thus defeat the inevitable Repug filibusters that will ensue at every possible moment (and also tell Holy Joe what he can do in no uncertain terms).

After Brooks ticks off all of the bailouts and stimulus packages that he envisions (for “car companies, airlines and other corporations,” BoBo? Only in your neocon dreams!), he tells us that…

…we’re in for a Keynesian renaissance. The Fed has little room to stimulate the economy, so Democrats will use government outlays to boost consumption. Nouriel Roubini of New York University argues that the economy will need a $300 billion fiscal stimulus.

Obama has already promised a clean energy/jobs program that would cost $150 billion over 10 years. He’s vowed $60 billion in infrastructure spending over the same period. He promises a range of tax credits — $4,000 a year for college tuition, up to $3,000 for child care, $7,000 for a clean car, a mortgage tax credit.

(Also), there will be tax cuts. On Monday, Obama promised new tax subsidies to small business, which could cost tens of billions. That’s on top of his promise to cut taxes for 95 percent of American households. His tax plans aren’t as irresponsible as John McCain’s, but the Tax Policy Center still says they would reduce revenues by $2.8 trillion over the next decade.
Of course, BoBo fails to acknowledge that Obama is more influenced by the school of economic thought proposed by Milton Friedman than any self-respecting former “Weekly Standard” propagandist would admit. And I thought it was a hoot to read BoBo describe this apocalyptic showdown of sorts between the liberals “(making) a full-bore push for European-style economic policies” and moderates “(stressing) that the economy still faces a ruinous insolvency crisis caused by entitlement burdens.”

That’s funny, given that two leading economic advisors to Obama are Robert Rubin (a deficit hawk if one ever existed) and Paul Volcker (who successfully lowered inflation in the early ‘80s as Fed Reserve Chairman for The Sainted Ronnie R, though Volcker also helped usher in the highest period of unemployment we had seen since the Great Depression in the process).

(Also funny is BoBo’s totally disingenuous refusal to acknowledge the fact that eight years of executive Repug “governance” helped bring us to this mess, of course.)

Will Obama have to shift gears in one way or another considering the economic “reality on the ground”? Of course he will (and he basically has said as much already, more or less here). However, we vote for a president based on that person’s judgment at least as much (more, I hope) than any kind of political or economic ideology they espouse.

And in sum, BoBo tells us (concerning the supposed face-off between the liberals and the moderates)…

What we’re going to see, in short, is the Gingrich revolution in reverse and on steroids. There will be a big increase in spending and deficits. In normal times, moderates could have restrained the zeal on the left. In an economic crisis, not a chance. The over-reach is coming. The backlash is next.
And three guesses who’ll be cheering on that “backlash” more than anyone ("Oooga Booga! Here comes BoBo's backlash!"). I’ll give you a hint – it’s the subject of this post by Eric Boehlert, concerning some claims made in private about “Governor Hottie” that a certain pundit would never put into a column (besides “Kristol Mess,” I mean).

Given the fact that BoBo has “spilled the beans” somewhat on what the for-now minority party plans to do after next January (funny particularly when you consider this; the moral is that the political ebbs and flows in this country are such that the best you can do is try to manage them – trying to predict them with total certainty is the province of fools), and also given the fact that he has invoked the name of a former House Speaker, one Baby Newton Leroy, I think the following history lesson is in order.

When the Repugs took over the U.S. Congress, BobDole BobDole BobDole became Senate Majority Leader along with Gingrich in the House. And what did they do with that power?

Well, aside from concocting the Contract on America to derail Hillary Clinton’s attempt at health insurance reform, as noted here…

Bob Dole fought against both the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill, which Clinton signed into law in mid-1996, and the minimum-wage increase, and by the end of the congressional session, Kennedy had used both issues to give Clinton 2 of his biggest successes and also to make the Senate so hostile to Dole's presidential campaign that Dole resigned his seat.
(Kennedy-Kassebaum made health insurance portable when changing jobs, by the way.)

Dole also accused Clinton of appointing “liberal” judges when (as noted here), Dole voted to approve 182 of the 185 judges Clinton named (Dole also “tried to block the creation of the Drug Czar's office in the first place, and even tried to cut the Drug Free Schools budget in half,” as James Carville tells us).

And what of Newt? Well, as noted here, he gave us the following quotes, among his other infamies…

“We must expect the Soviet system to survive for a very long time. There will be Soviet labor camps and Soviet torture chambers well into our grandchildren’s lives.”

“I will not recognize any proposal that will appropriate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

“Most people don’t realize it’s illegal to pray in school, most people somehow think that’s not true.” (lie)

“Up to 25% of the White House, when they first came in, had used drugs within the past 4 or 5 years.” (presumably concerning the Clinton Administration; can't imagine who else he'd be referring to - lie)

“Give the park police more ammo.” (Newt’s response to a reporter who asked what to do about the homeless a few days after the police shot a homeless man in front of the White House).

“I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power.”(a queasy moment of candor if I do say so myself)

“It [the Clinton administration] is guilty of the most systematic, deliberate obstruction of justice, cover-up, and effort to avoid the truth we have ever seen in American history.”(lie, or at best a highly partisan bit of squawking)
I think a rehashing like this is important because, when it comes to the Repugs, past is prologue. What we will see is Dole-Gingrich style obstruction on steroids (think "values-voters BS" 24/7 in our corporate media as a distraction; what we're experiencing with the campaign is a lull before that storm once more), since, despite BoBo’s fervent hopes, they won’t be able to mount another “revolution” for some time to come, which gives us the opportunity to undergo the immense job of fixing the mess of the Dole-Gingrich-Dubya-McBush party and then play the inevitable game of defense when the Repugs try to take credit for it and claim to be able to do better.

Update: Oh, and speaking of the markets...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Stuff

(By the way, I also posted over here today.)

Yep, I think this ad is a keeper too (h/t The Daily Kos)...

...congrats to Paul Krugman for winning the Nobel Prize (of course, our corporate media leads with "Bush critic wins Nobel"; volume fades a bit)...

..."Worst Persons" (K.O. points out that Obama voted for that stupid Boxer amendment condemning MoveOn - not everything the guy does is perfect - while McBush actually opposed it...go figure, with Bill Orally wrong again, Mark Salter of the McBush campaign complains about Obama attacking McBush supporters, but that "straight talking maverick" can't be responsible for his own crazies - ??? - but The Rev. Arnie ("My God Is Bigger Than Your God") Conrad wins it for tonight...

...Southern Culture On The Skids ("Camel Walk"; I'm sure there are a few McBush supporters in this video somewhere - my money is on the guy in the alien mask).

Yep, In The End, Just Another Repug

This story tells us that Patrick Murphy and Tom Manion debated for three hours yesterday in two separate locations, covering a gamut of issues…

Murphy, in his first term, laid out two years of effort that included increased benefits for veterans and green energy jobs for Bucks County and several instances of bipartisanship.

Manion, a 30-year Marine and business executive with Johnson & Johnson for 18 years, railed against a “broken Washington” and a “do-nothing Congress.”
This Think Progress post tells us that the 110th Congress set a record for most roll call votes in a session a year ago, outpacing the happily-long-gone Repug 109th, which recorded the fewest days in session since the end of World War II (yes, I’ve linked to this numerous times already, and I’ll keep linking to it as long as Republicans continue to make stupid charges like this).

And this was worth a laugh…

In his closing, Manion took Murphy to task for taking credit for the alternative energy companies in Lower Bucks “as they were here before the current representative even took office.”
Yes, but Patrick managed to bring the players together and do the following (as noted here from his web site)…

Congressman Murphy helped to break ground on the fourth largest solar field in the United States – the largest east of the Mississippi River. In Bucks County, nearly 1,000 people have been put to work building components for wind turbines and solar panels at the old U.S. Steel site in Fairless Hills. Quickly, it has become a green energy hub, supplying the area with jobs that were lost when U.S. Steel stopped manufacturing at the site.

To help meet the needs of emerging businesses in the alternative energy industry, Congressman Murphy introduced and passed a bill that will prepare students for green energy careers by helping technical schools to modernize. He also voted for the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act to provide $20 billion in tax incentives to invest in, develop and use renewable energy.
And for a bit of a history lesson on the environment, I give you this from our former rep Mikey Fitzpatrick; before Murphy ousted him almost two years ago, Fitzpatrick “voted to fundamentally rewrite our national mining policy by ending a decade-long congressional ban on the sale of public lands to mining companies.” He also “voted for a conference report that would have allowed drilling in the ANWR,” and “voted to cut discretionary spending on the environment and natural resources by $2.85 billion, more than 9 percent below the previous year's levels.”

Maybe it’s unfair to take note of Mikey’s past failures, but I only do so because, more and more, Manion reveals himself to be cast from the same sorry mold as Patrick’s predecessor (And by the way, Tom, what say you on drilling in the ANWR? There’s nothing on your web site about it.)

And get a load of this from Manion…

He also kept up his attacks on Congress, saying it hasn't acted on the big issues of Social Security, health care and national security.
You can thank these characters for that, first and foremost (along with Dubya’s privatization scheme, of course).

“And where are we now on the economy?” he asked. “What did we do in 2006 when we knew we had problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? And we've got the same people that are pulling together the solution ... that were part of and responsible for the oversight of those groups.

“Nothing sickens me more than seeing Barney Frank and Chris Dodd at the front of the TV.”

Manion apparently struck a chord as the large crowd at Shir Ami broke into applause when he named Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Dodd, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. The two have been among the top recipients of campaign cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This story from the Politico (don’t usually cite them, but this looks surprisingly Drudge-free) tells us that Fannie and Freddie have spread plenty of dough around between the two political campaigns, so nobody has a monopoly on virtue (I’ll see you Obama’s Jim Johnson and raise you McBush’s Rick Davis, OK?).

And if the Shir Ami congregants choose to detest Dodd and Frank (interesting because Frank is Jewish) along with Manion (a pretty ugly comment from a guy who’s been milking this “duty-honor-country” thing all these months while saying virtually nothing else of substance, by the way) – well, all I can say is that Jews have the right to be intolerant too.

Oh, and another thing, Tom: criticizing the Dems for 2006 is particularly ridiculous on your part, seeing as how the 110th Congress wasn’t even sworn in until January 2007!

The rest of the Courier Times story tells you how Manion merely echoed the talking points prepared for him by his handlers (close the borders, “abortion as birth control is reckless” - ??? – “more government intervention is not where we need to go”…you get the idea).

Come to think of it, as I consider some of Manion’s meandering Guest Opinions and generally low profile to date before he, now in the closing weeks, has revealed himself to be at least as reactionary as the person Patrick Murphy replaced, it actually makes me miss Mikey Fitzpatrick a bit. Our former rep was a lot more honest about his petulance, shallow understanding of the issues, and – in the final analysis – lack of qualifications for the position he sought to hold onto for at least two more years.

And by the way, to help Patrick, click here.

Cultivating The Breeding Grounds Of Hate

Usually I dump on Kevin Ferris of the Philadelphia Inquirer for concocting all of his war-loving, Democrat/liberal-hating literary dreck from the confines of southeastern Pennsylvania, but in his most recent literary exercise yesterday, he travels to Baghdad to write about the U.S. detainee facilities at Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper (he writes primarily about Cropper, part of the military’s attempt to separate the innocent from al Qaeda and other extremists, apparently)…

At a briefing Monday at Cropper, officers said the detainee population peaked at 25,000 last October - news reports have said 30,000. Today, there are almost 18,000, including 3,500 al-Qaeda members, 2,100 "high-value" detainees - think former regime leadership - and 163 foreign nationals. The majority, 83 percent, are Sunnis.

About 25 detainees are added daily, but twice that number are released each day. Last month, during Ramadan, it was 81. At Cropper, they report that of the 13,236 released since September 2007, only 97 have had to be recaptured, for a recidivism rate of 0.7 percent. Before September 2007, the rate was about 7 percent.

Part of the difference has been the counterinsurgency strategy implemented within the detainee camps. There, too, protection and separation would occur, under the direction of Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, who took command in spring 2007.

Under Stone's leadership, camps began separating al-Qaeda from those deemed lesser risks. The evaluations are conducted by coalition staff, as well as local imams, teachers and counselors. Reading, vocational and religion programs were begun to help detainees safely reintegrate into society.

At Camp Cropper, the results of two of their programs are on display: the "Cropper Camel," a homemade stuffed animal often presented by graduates of the sewing class to family members during camp visits, as well as paintings by detainees who have joined the art program.

All detainees are invited to join the classes, though al-Qaeda members refuse, officers at Cropper say.
I am in no position to personally evaluate the effectiveness of Gen. Stone’s approach at Camp Cropper, but I do have some questions.

First, why is so much of Ferris’ column devoted to Cropper, when, according to this story…

…(Camp) Bucca is the U.S. military's largest detention center in Iraq. It currently holds about 18,000 Iraqis, the majority of those in U.S. custody. An additional 3,000 are at Camp Cropper at Baghdad Airport.

Since 2003, approximately 65,000 Iraqis have been officially detained by the U.S. military. Another 65,000 have been held for short periods and not sent to a major internment facility such as Bucca or Camp Cropper. The latter facility serves as the system's in- and out-processing center.
So Cropper isn’t even the final destination for many of the detainees? Gee, isn’t that something we should find out from Ferris’ column?

Detention can be extended indefinitely. Capt. Cornelia Schultz, a military spokeswoman, said approximately 10 percent of detainees have been in custody since at least 2005, 20 percent have been held since 2006, 50 percent since 2007 and 20 percent were detained this year. At the moment, overall numbers are dropping, with an average of 45 detainees being released and 30 entering the system each day.

Among the issues being negotiated under a new memorandum of understanding between the United States and Iraq is an Iraqi demand that the U.S. military no longer detain Iraqis without the Baghdad government's approval.

"The idea is not to tie the hands of the ground troops," said Capt. Dylan Imperato, a military lawyer at Cropper.
Understandable, if it ends up saving the lives of our people, even if we are playing “catch-up” (and as always, “no one could have foreseen this”).

And here’s another question I have that I wish Ferris had asked; what about the kids (here)…

US military authorities, operating as the Multinational Forces in Iraq, were as of May 12, 2008 holding 513 Iraqi children as “imperative threats to security,” and have transferred an unknown number of other children to Iraqi custody. According to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), children in Iraqi custody are at risk of physical abuse.

“In conflicts where it was not directly involved, the US has been a leader in helping child soldiers re-enter society,” said Clarisa Bencomo, Middle East children’s researcher at Human Rights Watch. “That kind of leadership is unfortunately missing in Iraq.”

On May 22, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (met) in Geneva to review US compliance with the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, which the US ratified in 2002. The treaty bans the recruitment and use of persons under 18 in hostilities by any party to a conflict, and requires states to provide all appropriate assistance for the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of such children under their jurisdiction or control.

Since 2003, the US has detained some 2,400 children in Iraq, including children as young as 10. Detention rates rose drastically in 2007 to an average of 100 new children a month from 25 a month in 2006. The US holds most children at US Camp Cropper in Baghdad, but has also held children at the main US military detention facility, Camp Bucca near Basra. US officials earlier this year told Human Rights Watch that they separate children from adults at these facilities but do not separate very young or particularly vulnerable children from other child detainees.

In early 2007, a 17-year-old boy was reportedly strangled to death by a fellow child detainee at Camp Cropper.

Child detainees, no differently from adults, may be interrogated over the course of days or weeks by military units in the field before being sent to the main detention centers. They have no real opportunity to challenge their detention: earlier this year US officials told Human Rights Watch that children are not provided with lawyers and do not attend the one-week or one-month detention reviews after their transfer to Camp Cropper. In addition, children have very limited contact with their families. While the US does assign each child a military “advocate” at the mandatory six-month detention review, that advocate has no training in juvenile justice or child development.

As of February 2008, the reported average length of detention for children was more than 130 days, and some children have been detained for more than a year without charge or trial, in violation of the Coalition Provisional Authority memorandum on criminal procedures. That memorandum’s section on “security internee process” states, “Any person under the age of 18 interned at any time shall in all cases be released not later than 12 months after the initial date of internment.”

“The vast majority of children detained in Iraq languish for months in US military custody,” Bencomo said. “The US should provide these children with immediate access to lawyers and an independent judicial review of their detention.”
Again, I’m not trying to impugn the efforts of our military, though it’s plain that the process started under Gen. Stone (with the blessing of The Almighty Petraeus, of course) still has a few bugs, to say the least.

And that’s not something we would learn from Ferris’ column, which is more appropriate for Stars N’ Stripes than a mass circulation daily newspaper, even one as propagandistic as the Inquirer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Sunday Funny For Stupid People

"Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding" - "Inherit The Wind" (h/t Michael Morrill at Keystone Progress).