Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Stuff

Right Wing Watch informs us that "Pastor" Rod Parsley, someone who McBush once called a "spiritual guide," most definitely has not gone away (if this charlatan is a "pastor," then I'm a nuclear physicist).

"Start with what God says, and that makes your voting very easy" - that's scary stuff. Parsley and his minions are right about "values voters" making a difference in 2004, though, I must admit; without them, it's possible we would not have seen the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the continuation of war without end in Iraq, or possibly even our current economic meltdown...yep, that's some "difference" (and I think they're right about the Supreme Court, unfortunately)...

...and some true corporate media idiocy here, my fellow prisoners: someone named Barbara West of WFTV (sure it isn't WTFTV?) tries to assail Joe Biden with some steaming hot garbage freeper talking points, and Biden calmly refutes them ("is this a joke" indeed - sorry the sound quality is a little off; might be better here).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Stuff

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

K.O. and Eugene Robinson of the WaPo are all over the Ashley Todd story today; as they say, I think she's just disturbed, and the real culprit here is the McBush PA campaign operative who apparently encouraged her...

...Hillary Clinton chimes in on behalf of Al Franken (hat tips for both of these to The Daily Kos)...

...and by the way, lest anyone think Michele Bachmann's latest delusional ramblings are accidental, you should be aware that this has been her act for awhile now; here, she proclaims "not all cultures are equal" from about three years ago.

She's drowning (politically), so throw her an anvil and help this guy out, OK?

...and I'm only too happy to help with this (remember the war, everybody? In Iraq, I mean particularly)...

...haven't had much to say about PA-08 lately, but this is a recent ad for Patrick Murphy...

...and to digress, I should note that Philly punk rock legends The Dead Milkmen will be performing at the First Unitarian Church on Chestnut Street this Sunday, so to commemorate the reunion, here's "Punk Rock Girl" from back in the day.

Yet Another "Pro Life" Anti-Obama Flowers Fraud

After reading her latest screed in the Philadelphia Daily News today, I must say that I almost feel sorry for columnist Christine Flowers.


You have to be pretty messed up to take the wonderful occasion of the birth of a child and use it as an excuse for attacking a politician you don’t like.

Basically, her dreck today is the typical freeper agit-prop of “you’re not a real Catholic if you support Barack Obama, that pro-choice NARAL darling,” or whatever (and by the way, if you have a feeling of déjà vu over this, you’re not imagining it; she also peddled this fertilizer here).

And Flowers could merely dismissed as a rabid partisan in her column today, were it not for this…

(Obama) voted to block legislation to mandate medical care for babies who survived botched abortions because he felt it infringed on the right to choose. He's also promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act if elected. Among other things, FOCA would let tax dollars be used for abortions, gutting the Hyde Amendment.
I, for one, would not consider it a big loss if the Hyde Amendment was relegated to the legislative dustbin, given the hypocrisy of the amendment’s namesake, a philandering spouse who, somehow later in life, felt it was his duty to tell women how to control their bodies.

And here’s a thought; as noted here, maybe the Freedom of Choice Act wouldn’t even be necessary if it weren’t for the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge J.R., Scalito and Thomas decided to uphold the odious “Partial-Birth Abortion” Ban of 2003 here (and it bears repeating that “partial-birth abortion” is a political term, not a medical one).

More than that, though, Flowers’ charge against Obama here is positively slanderous; as noted here…

Accusing a loving father of two beautiful little girls of wanting to kill babies isn’t just wrong on the facts, it’s the most disgusting and manipulative kind of hate politics around. But anti-abortion ideologues with a long history of partisan attacks are still launching unconscionable ads smearing Barack Obama.

The attackers torture and twist logic and history by willfully misinterpreting votes by Barack Obama in the Illinois State Senate to come up with their wild accusation.

Here’s the truth about Barack Obama and the bill:

• At the time Barack voted against a bill containing language designed to protect infants who were “born alive,” such protection was already on the books as Illinois state law.[1]
• The accusations against Barack are so reckless that not even the Republican state senator who sponsored the bill will support them. In fact, he freely admits that “None of those who voted against SB-1082 favored infanticide.”[2]
• The bill was opposed by many legislators and groups like the Illinois Medical Society because of the unintended impact it would have had on other laws and legal precedents in Illinois.[3]
• Barack is on the record[3] saying that he would have supported a similar bill that came up in Congress -- but that didn’t pose a threat to a woman’s right to choose the way the Illinois bill did.[4]
And believe it or not, there’s actually more from Flowers…

Catholics can't pretend to be in good standing when they cast a vote for a man who has been so devoted to abortion rights that he'd deny a child the right to medical care if it compromised a woman's right to an abortion. (And if you think that's hyperbole, go to www.ilga. gov/ senate/ transcripts/ strans92/ST033001.pdf.)
This is the link that Flowers is referring to. As you can see, it is a .pdf of minutes from the Illinois General Assembly dated March 2001 in which (by all appearances) the so-called “Born Alive” bill was debated.

The document is approximately 103 pages long; I think it’s humorous that Flowers, a lawyer, doesn’t even know how to properly cite the reference in question. And I, for one, am not going to bother doing her research for her.

But on a happier note, please allow me to welcome into the world young Alexander Christian, the “tiny vote for McCain” that Flowers is referring to. I personally wish only good things for him and his parents; this is a time of what you might call “bleary-eyed wonder” for the adults in the household.

There are many reasons why his young life should be celebrated, but I can think of one immediately; he already possesses more tolerance and a deeper understanding of life than his aunt ever will.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Stuff

(I also posted over here today, and posting here and elsewhere is a big question mark for tomorrow.)

Obama in VA a couple of days ago; backgrounder is here - echoes of the '04 speech at the Dem convention and this year's as well (great stuff)...

...and check out "Voter Intimidation 101" in North Carolina, my friends (backgrounder here)...

,,,ever wonder what McBush's campaign ads would be like if they were directed by big-name Hollywood directors? Neither have I, but here are some interesting parodies, IMHO...

...and this is almost too cool for words; radio station WXPN of the University of Pennsylvania in these parts recently completed its countdown of 885 essential songs (they're 88.5 on the dial) and number one was this great but unlikely choice - "'52 Vincent Black Lightning" by Brit folk-rock legend Richard Thompson.

The Joe Pitts Saga And Other Inky Funnies

Yep, it’s time for Philadelphia’s conservative newspaper of record to weigh in on our local congressional candidates (here – they already did so concerning New Jersey about a week ago, noted here)…

Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach in the 6th District, covering Chester, Montgomery and Berks Counties, outlasted a spirited challenge two years ago - and seems the better for it.

Always a thoughtful lawmaker dating back to his years as a state senator and state representative, Gerlach, 53, seeks a middle ground in the GOP caucus. It means he's strong on the environment, transit and other infrastructure investments, but in step with the Bush administration's tax cuts and other core Republican policies of limited government. A measure of his success is support from labor as well as business interests.

Former business executive Bob Roggio has made politics a second career and avocation, but he still may be to the left of this district on a range of issues. If JIM GERLACH can maintain his independence, he's best for the 6th District.
Gerlach voted against congressional oversight of CIA interrogations and requiring warrants for FISA-related wiretapping in this country (noted here), which is odious enough, but he also caved on a 2005 bill to provide $5 billion in subsidies to energy companies (I realize, though, that the time to punish Gerlach for that was the last election cycle, not this one).

And it should be noted that Gerlach benefitted greatly from the 2002 congressional redistricting scam that led his first opponent, Dem Dan Wofford, to refer to PA-06 as a “pterodactyl” when the district was created because of its ridiculous looking shape; as this 2002 Inquirer story tells us…

Drawn with Gerlach in mind, the Sixth represents gerrymandering at its most blatant. The district extends from City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd through Chester County all the way out to Reading and Kutztown. It's suburban, exurban, rural and Pennsylvania Dutch all in one, an elongated patchwork of communities with little in common.
However, I grudgingly have to note that Gerlach’s brand of Republicanism plays well for the majority of his constituents, or it seems to so far (socially conservative when he feels he needs to be that way with a feint towards moderation on occasion).

Despite that, I should tell you that I contacted the Bob Roggio campaign to get an idea of how much coverage the Inquirer actually gave him; I’ll let you know if and when I get a response.

And this leads us to the Inky’s next endorsement…

By the same token, longtime Republican incumbent JOSEPH R. PITTS, 69, has long mirrored his 16th District in Chester and Lancaster Counties. The former teacher reaches across the aisle to promote human-rights issues, but can be counted in the GOP fold on fiscal and social issues. His Democratic challenger, building contractor Bruce Slater, 52, is mounting a spirited campaign. He should be encouraged to try again.
Ye Gods

Well, with that, the Inky has now forced me to do something that I put off doing because I realize what a gargantuan task it truly is, and that is to assemble all of the particularly awful “No” votes by Joe Pitts throughout the entire 110th Congress (I will no doubt be popping the Ibuprofen like crazy; I expect to encounter a smorgasbord of screwups).

(And believe it or not, these aren’t all of his bad votes, but merely the bad ones where he’s out on a limb with maybe one or two other Repugs – or Tim Holden, though it’s hard to tell that Holden is a Dem as you read some of these.)

Here we go, my fellow prisoners (better put on your hip waders)…

  • Voted No against ending the secret earmarking of spending items and tax breaks (here).

  • Voted against raising the minimum wage for the first time since 1997 (also opposed implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations) (here).

  • Voted against repealing tax breaks designed to spur extraction of fossil fuels and use the savings of $14 billion over 10 years to open a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve for funding renewable fuels and energy efficiencies (here).

  • Voted against sending to the Senate nine appropriations bills that the 109th Congress left unfinished (here).

  • Voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, along with Gerlach (here).

  • Voted against a special advisory panel on global warming, against a bill to authorize $125 million in grants to cities for developing alternate water sources, and against authorizing $1.8 billion over five years in grants to upgrade city sewage systems that combine wastewater and storm runoff in the same conduits (here).

  • Voted in favor of Dubya’s efforts to hide the presidential archives, against a bill that would require agencies to be more responsive to requests filed under the 1967 Freedom of Information Act, against whistle-blower protections to civil servants, national security workers, government employees and contractors; and he opposed tightening federal contractor rules to eliminate more “sole source” awards (here).

  • Voted against a bill authorizing $7.3 billion over four years mainly for grants to protect mass-transit and inter-city rail and bus systems from terrorist attacks (here).

  • After the Repugs vilified Nancy Pelosi for a trip to Syria, Pitts took the same trip (here).

  • Voted against a bill that would spend $562 million over six years to make the Small Business Administration more responsive to companies harmed by natural disasters; also opposed a bill empowering shareholders of publicly traded companies to conduct nonbinding votes approving or disapproving of top executives' compensation (here).

  • Voted against expanding the federal law against hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability; also opposed a five-year renewal of the Head Start antipoverty program for children of ages 3 to 5 and the Early Head Start program for infants, toddlers and pregnant women (here).

  • Voted against a bill that granted civil-service job safeguards to the 170,000 DHS employees (here).

  • Voted against another minimum wage bill, this to raise it from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over 26 months; also against a bill to give the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general tools for prosecuting energy firms suspected of charging "unconscionably excessive" wholesale or retail prices; also against a bill to repeal a USA Patriot Act provision used by the administration to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation (here).

  • Voted against a bill that restored civil-service job protections and tightened security at U.S. chemical plants (here).

  • Voted in favor of a proposal to strip an Interior Department appropriations bill (HR 2643) of a nonbinding call for regulations to limit the emissions that help cause global warming; also voted for easing a proposed EPA rule that all smokestack industries install the best available antipollution technology when upgrading units (here).

  • Voted against granting limited union rights to police, firefighters, corrections officers and other public-safety personnel in all states (here).

  • Voted against a bill providing incentives for renewable energy sources and conservation; the bill also required electric utilities to use more renewable energy to generate power – also opposed a bill raising taxes on oil companies by $16 billion (along with Gerlach - here)

  • Voted against a bill to provide $2.2 billion between 2008 and 2012 for housing for American Indians living on tribal grounds (here).

  • Opposed renewing a program that provides taxpayer backing to help the insurance industry meet the catastrophic costs of any future terrorist attacks; the bill expanded the program to cover nuclear and chemical attacks (also voted against a bill that included $16 billion for improving airports and $13 billion for revamping traffic-control technology – the bill codifies a passengers' bill of rights, increased levies including fuel taxes on corporate aircraft, and required the FAA to renegotiate its labor contract with air-traffic controllers – here).

  • Opposed renewing SCHIP and the National Flood Insurance Program and expanding it by raising overall coverage limits and adding coverage for such categories as windstorm damage and business interruption (here).

  • Voted against a bill extending U.S. criminal jurisdiction to all of the government's private contractors overseas, not just those working for the military (can you say, “Blackwater,” boys and girlshere).

  • Opposed a bill that would establish a National Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help local and state agencies build or restore 1.5 million units over 10 years for families in need (by the way, Pancake Joe is referred to as a “moderate” in the linked Inky story; way too damn funny – here).

  • Voted against SCHIP (again) and a bill that would set tougher railroad safety standards, including a 12-hour maximum workday for train and signal personnel (here).

  • Voted against SCHIP for a THIRD TIME (here).

  • Voted against a bill expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance and extending the program to include workers in service industries and some government employees (here).

  • Voted against the veto override of a bill authorizing $23.2 billion over 15 years for more than 900 Army Corps of Engineers water projects for purposes such as flood control, coastal protection, storm recovery and navigation; also, in essence, voted in favor of workplace discrimination (here).

  • Voted against a bill to increase federal regulation of the lending practices now devastating the U.S. housing market (the bill, in part, would have curbed subprime lending and required states to license all types of mortgage providers); also voted against overriding a veto of a bill appropriating $606 billion in 2008 for the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services (here).

  • Voted against raising vehicle mileage standards 40 percent over 12 years and requiring utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources (here).

  • Voted against a bill that would raise vehicle mileage requirements by 40 percent by 2020; boost residential and industrial energy-efficiency standards; phase out the incandescent light bulbs now used in most U.S. homes; and increase production of ethanol and other biofuels sixfold by 2022 (here).

  • Voted against SCHIP for a fourth time here.

  • This tells us how Joe is a “human rights champion” for heteros only (here).

  • Voted against a bill (HR 5351) to raise taxes on the five largest oil companies by $13.6 billion over 10 years and use the revenue to fund tax breaks that would spur the development of renewable fuels and promote energy efficiencies (along with Gerlach - here).

  • Voted against a bill (HR 1424) requiring the same level of coverage between mental and physical illnesses in group medical plans (along with Chris Smith - here).

  • Voted against spending $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of global programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa (he and Gerlach voted to cut out the funding entirely, but they were unsuccessful – here).

  • Voted against giving force of law to an eight-year-old program designed to preserve landscapes of national significance on Bureau of Land Management acreage in the West (here).

  • Voted in favor of cutting the federal share of Medicaid by $13 billion over five years and leave it up to the states to replace the funds or cut health services to the poor (here).

  • Voted against authorizing $7,500 tax credits for first-time home purchases and allowing taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to treat up to $700 of their 2008 property taxes as a federal tax deduction (here).

  • Voted against a GI Bill to pay post-9/11 veterans' college costs and use tax hikes on individual incomes over $500,000 and joint incomes over $1 million to pay for the program (here).

  • Voted against a bill authorizing the U.S. attorney general to sue OPEC under U.S. antitrust laws for monopolistic practices; also opposed a bill (HR 6049) providing $55.5 billion in tax breaks for purposes such as spurring the production of non-fossil fuels, promoting energy conservation, stimulating business activity, and helping homeowners and the working poor (here).

  • Voted against a bill (HR 3021) establishing a federal program that would authorize $33.2 billion in fiscal years 2009-2013 for grants to renovate and modernize public schools; also opposed as bill (HR 5540) renewing for five years a federal-state program that promotes citizen involvement in restoring the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York (here).

  • Voted against providing 13 additional weeks of jobless checks for those who have used up their initial allotments, or 26 more weeks in states with at least a 6 percent unemployment rate; also opposed a bill (HR 6003) to provide nearly $10 billion for Amtrak, about twice the agency's pre-2007 rate of spending, and $5 billion for state intercity projects (here).

  • Voted against giving oil companies a "use it or lose it" mandate to either drill on federal land they have leased or give up the right to do so; also against a bill (HR 5501) authorizing $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of international programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America (kind of strange that Pitts cast two votes against this but claims to be a leader in human rights, or something - here).

  • Voted against a bill empowering the FDA to regulate cigarette content, requiring disclosure of product ingredients, banning cigarette marketing to children, and requiring more prominent health warnings (this is truly sick); also opposed a bill directing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb "excessive speculation" in the oil-futures market; and also opposed a bill banning gender-based pay discrimination (this might have been his worst week of the entire congressional session - here)

  • Voted against a bill setting pro-consumer rules for credit-card firms; also opposed a bill requiring private insurers to cover mental illness and chemical addiction at the same level and cost that they cover physical ailments in the same policy (here).
  • And that, as they say, is that, my friends (God, do I need a drink – as far as I’m concerned, if someone makes it all the way through this list and they vote for Pitts anyway, they should lose their right to the franchise).

    I should also note that I contacted the Bruce Slater campaign to determine the coverage they received from the Inquirer in the same manner as I did the Bob Roggio campaign, and I’ll let you know those findings also.

    But not to worry about the Inky; at least they endorsed Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Murphy also (the “blind squirrel funds the nut” at long last, though they stupidly endorsed the opponent of Admiral Joe in PA-07 merely because he’s a Repug and electing him would provide “balance”).

    Given this rate of “success” concerning the Inquirer’s candidate endorsements for the U.S. Congress, I only have this to add…

    They should be encouraged to try again.

    Update 10/24/08: I was informed this morning by the Slater for Congress campaign manager that the Inquirer "did call Bruce and had a 15-20 minute discussion. The Q's were all about stuff on the website. There was no advance questionnaire, and they have never responded to any press releases or press events we ever announced."

    Thursday AM Stuff

    Another example of putting "country first," my friends; from here...

    ...I'll see McBush "Joe The Plumber" and raise him "Joe The Laborer" for Obama (h/t Michael Morrill at Keystone Progress)...

    ...and in another great Keystone Progress video, we get a much better understanding of our country's history of racism...

    ...A Perfect Circle ("Judith," something to help us wake up).

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Not Too Late To Lend A Hand

    This contains links to Dems that I’ve featured in the right nav bar and in other posts just as a reminder that it’s not too late to help out if you can (actually, the campaigns would truly benefit if you could help now with mailers, working the phone banks or other GOTV efforts)…

    For the PA State House:

    Harris Martin for District 18 (here)

    Steve Santarsiero for District 31 (here)

    For the U.S. House:

    John Hall for NY-19 (here)

    Patrick Murphy for PA-08 (here)

    Bob Roggio for PA-06 (here)

    Joe Sestak for PA-07 (here)

    Bruce Slater for PA-16 (here)

    Annette Taddeo for FL-18 (here)

    Josh Zeitz for NJ-04 (here)

    For the U.S. Senate

    Al Franken (MN) (here)

    Scott Kleeb (NE) (here)

    Larry LaRocco (ID) (here)

    Bruce Lunsford (KY) (here)

    Jim Martin (GA) (here)

    Ronnie Musgrove (MI) (here)

    Rick Noriega (TX) (here)

    Andrew Rice (OK) (here)

    And last (though certainly not least)…

    Barack Obama (here)

    I have a feeling I’m forgetting some people – I’ll update this list if I remember who they are (or feel free to let me know in the meantime).

    And in case anyone out there thinks they need some motivation...

    Update 10/23/08: Somehow I forgot Darcy Burner in WA-08 - sorry...

    Our Many-Colored Meltdown

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

    The New York Times ran this feature story on Sunday about the role played by former Clinton administration HUD secretary Henry Cisneros in the subprime mortgage debacle.

    The article goes into detail about how Cisneros (who left government in 1997 – more on that later) joined the boards of KB Home and Countrywide afterwards and ended up as a major player, taking the lead in the building of the Lago Vista housing development in San Antonio, TX (Cisneros’ hometown), which ended up as a bit of a metaphor for the boom gone bust, since the development has now fallen into disrepair, according to the story, which also tells us…

    While Mr. Cisneros says he remains proud of his work, he has misgivings over what his passion has wrought. He insists that the worst problems developed only after “bad actors” hijacked his good intentions but acknowledges that “people came to homeownership who should not have been homeowners.”

    They were lured by “unscrupulous participants — bankers, brokers, secondary market people,” he says. “The country is paying for that, and families are hurt because we as a society did not draw a line.”

    The causes of the housing implosion are many: lax regulation, financial innovation gone awry, excessive debt, raw greed. The players are also varied: bankers, borrowers, developers, politicians and bureaucrats.

    Mr. Cisneros, 61, had a foot in a number of those worlds. Despite his qualms, he encouraged the unprepared to buy homes — part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.
    See, if I were sourcing Fox or the Murdoch Street Journal here, they wouldn’t mince words; they would just state right out (erroneously, of course) that that dastardly Community Reinvestment Act is the problem (led by Neil Cavuto, who gets appropriately slapped down here in response).

    But the Times is a little too elegant for such crudities, I realize, so they will merely say that the problem is that “the unprepared” were allowed to get in on the fun (and really, is it such a big step to say that that’s code for minorities?).

    I’ve had problems in the past with John Ridley of HuffPo, but I think his analysis here is spot-on; he wrote a reply of sorts here.

    I will admit, though, that there are gray areas all over the place here among all of the players, and I think Cisneros acknowledges that in the story as follows…

    Mr. Cisneros, who says he has no recollection that appraisal rules were relaxed when he ran HUD, disputes that notion. “I look back at HUD and feel my hands were clean,” he says.
    Though he later points out that…

    “The irresistible temptation to engage in subprime was Countrywide’s fatal error,” he says. “I fault myself for not having seen it and, since it was not something I could change, having left.”

    “It is inaccurate to say that we put people into homes that they couldn’t afford,” he says. “No one was forcing people into homes.”
    And in the interest of fairness, I should present this story dated almost two years ago, in which Countrywide amended its lending practices to minorities so in New York that they complied with the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, to the point where Countrywide was commended by Attorney General Eliot (“Emperor’s Club”) Spitzer.

    Now, to the matter of Cisneros’ exit from the Clinton administration in 1997; as this Wikipedia article tells us…

    Special Prosecutor David Barrett was appointed in 1995 to investigate the matter of payments Cisneros had made to his former mistress (this was revealed in an FBI background check).
    And speaking only for myself, I would add that investigating payments by a government official to a mistress is something I personally don’t care about unless the payments were made with taxpayer funds.

    In December 1997, Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of Justice. (Linda) Medlar (the mistress in question) used some of the Cisneros hush money to purchase a house and entered into a bank fraud scheme with her sister and brother-in-law to conceal the source of the money. In January 1998, Medlar pleaded guilty to 28 charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and obstruction of justice.

    In September 1999, Cisneros negotiated a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI, and was fined $10,000. He did not receive jail-time or probation. He was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.
    And that should have been the end of it, my fellow prisoners. But it was not.

    Wikipedia continues…

    The independent counsel investigation continued after the pardon focusing on alleged obstruction of justice. In May 2005, Senator Dorgan (D-ND) proposed ending funding for the investigation; negotiators refused to include the provision in a bill funding military operations in Afghanistan. The funding at that point for the investigation totaled $21 million.
    Barrett’s farce witch hunt waste of taxpayer dollars investigation finally and mercifully ended on January 19, 2006.

    And continuing...

    Barrett's report was released in January 2006, but three judges -- David Sentelle (D.C.), Thomas Reavley (Texas) and Peter Fay (Florida) -- blacked 120 pages worth of redactions. Barrett's investigation was far and away the longest independent counsel investigation in history. After agreeing to permit Cisneros - the target of his investigation - to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no jail sentence, Barrett thereafter spent six years investigating whether the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service had impeded his investigation.
    Not Ken Starr-level prosecutorial abuse, but close (continuing)...

    Despite fervent speculation that the report contained damning evidence about corruption in the Clinton Administration, the report when released demonstrated only the dangers of independent counsels operating without ordinary prosecutorial supervision; indeed Barrett's abuses were routinely cited as one of the reasons the Independent Counsel Act was not renewed. He brought no charges and the report contained no evidence of any conspiracy. Since the release of Barrett's report, no one has paid any attention to it, and the Republican journalists and politicians who made accusatory statements prior to its release were strangely silent afterwards.
    Excluding R. Emmett Tyrrell, Bob Novak and the late Tony Snow, who were some of the leading conservative loudmouths who cried foul, with Snow even claiming that Barrett’s report “would make the Valerie Plame affair vanish into comical insignificance."

    Uh huh.

    Again, I know there are gray areas here, but I honestly believe that Cisneros set out to first and foremost to make home ownership a reality for those who thought it wasn’t possible. And sure, he lined his pocket in the process, but I see no evidence of illegality on his part as he did so.

    Our economy will eventually be righted, though God knows how long that will take. And when that happens (led by a stabilized housing market with homes comprising realistic levels of financial equity), I sincerely hope Cisneros is on hand to help “the prepared,” if you will, to realize their dreams once more.

    More Never-Ending FEMA Follies

    This AP story presents the latest chapter in the saga of the formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers…

    IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday questioned a TV station's findings of high formaldehyde levels in agency-issued trailers and said the lifestyles and habits of the flood victims living in the trailers may be to blame.
    The story tells us that TV station KGAN contracted with a chemical testing company to conduct a test of 20 trailers; receptor “badges” were left in some selected trailers over the course of 24 hours to measure formaldehyde levels (apparently, FEMA uses “a daily average” to determine formaldehyde content).

    The result?

    The KGAN-TV test found that six of the trailers had levels of formaldehyde that exceeded Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association limits, which are more stringent than FEMA's or Iowa's standards.

    The levels in the trailers ranged from 0.023 parts per million to 0.111 parts per million. The FEMA threshold is 0.016 parts per million, and the state accepts 0.04 parts per million.

    April Samp, KGAN-TV's news director, said the station contracted with Florida-based Advanced Chemical Sensors Inc. to test the samples, and they tested only trailers in which no one was a smoker.

    The conference call between reporters and FEMA officials turned testy when Samp said an infant living in a tested trailer had been taken to the hospital with a nosebleed.

    "Some of these people are moms with babies, OK?" Samp said. "What responsibility does FEMA have to make sure that the air quality is safe enough to continue living there, even if (the reading) wasn't the baseline number?"

    FEMA spokesman Michael Lapinski replied that residents unhappy with their trailers could move out.

    "You can have a health concern regardless of what the formaldehyde reading is," Lapinski said. "If you have a health concern and you want to move out of that housing, you're free to move out of that housing." But moving out of that housing could cost the residents, said Bill Vogel, FEMA's coordinating officer for disaster recovery in Iowa. If they've already received the maximum of $28,800 in a housing-assistance grant from FEMA, then they'll be moving out on their own dime.
    So what’s FEMA’s excuse for the elevated formaldehyde levels (and by the way, a nosebleed is definitely a sign of formaldehyde exposure)?

    (FEMA Assistant Administrator David Garratt) said cooking, smoking and storing dry-cleaning products can elevate levels of formaldehyde.
    And this after Garratt was informed that the study did not include trailers in which smokers lived...

    And in case you had any doubt, this problem is not confined to Iowa; as noted here…

    (In 2006) the Sierra Club tested 31 travel trailers in Mississippi and found that virtually all 94 percent had levels of formaldehyde above (a workplace exposure limit of .1 parts per million.).

    FEMA'S recommendation for fixing the problem? Open the windows and turn on the air conditioner.
    Why didn’t they recommend not smoking or not cooking (good luck with that) at that time as well?

    Also, take a look at this Wikipedia article on FEMA trailers and see if you can find a reference to an air conditioner anywhere; I can’t.

    Back to yesterday’s story…

    Earlier this month, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled the government is not immune from lawsuits claiming Gulf Coast hurricane victims were exposed to high formaldehyde levels in FEMA-provided trailers. The judge said there was evidence FEMA delayed investigating complaints about the trailers because it might be held legally responsible.

    Roughly 800 people are plaintiffs in the Gulf Coast cases, and attorneys are seeking certification as a class-action on behalf of thousands of people who lived in FEMA trailers after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

    Government tests of the air quality in hundreds of those trailers and mobile homes showed formaldehyde levels that were, on average, about five times higher than what people are exposed to in most modern homes.
    I am not a legal professional, but as far as I’m concerned, this is criminal negligence.

    But of course, Bushco will continue to “run out the clock” and possibly escape prosecution for this and a wide range of other shenanigans, including the fired U.S. attorneys and its squashing of scientific data related to the climate crisis, among other matters.

    And not to worry; the residents living amidst the formaldehyde fumes in their trailers will be just fine.

    As long as they don’t cook their food or run their non-existent air conditioners.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Remember this ridiculous ad for that Mississippi scumwaffle Roger Wicker?...

    ...well, here's the response (and to do something about it, click here).

    ...and sorry, "Governor Gidget," but the Vice President is NOT in charge of the Senate; as Kagro X tells us here, "the Vice President may sit as the presiding officer of the Senate, but has no legislative role whatsoever, with the exception of casting tie-breaking votes if the Senate is deadlocked. There's no "get[tin'] in there with the Senators and mak[in'] a lot of good policy changes." Which is why modern Vice Presidents hardly ever bother to take the chair on more than a few ceremonial occasions.

    Thanks for playing our game - here are some lovely parting gifts...

    ...and as long as this is in the news again, maybe these guys will get another one too?...

    ..."Worst Persons" (God, I missed this item with Dana Perino denying the recession AGAIN!, but fortunately K.O. caught it, and I'm SO GLAD Sean Inanity didn't accuse Obama of selling drugs, aren't you - however, Rupert takes the prize for an imaginary story on Michelle Obama...all together now - aaarrrggghhh!)...

    ...Green Day ("Give Me Novacaine"; I'll need it after this election).

    A Repug In The Eye Of A Storm

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

    Jenna Portnoy of the Bucks County Courier Times wrote a lengthy story on Sunday about the latest developments with the former polling location at Creekside, now located at the St. Mary’s Wellness Center; the move appears to be a suitable compromise, but the voter disenfranchisement lawsuit spawned by the move is still going forward.

    There were a few “takeaways” from the story for your humble narrator, and I’ll share some of them, notably the following excerpt (and to begin, the story notes that the Bucks County Commissioners, in an interesting bit of political sleight of hand, did not actually authorize the move, but three judges, who act as the Board of Elections when commissioners are on the ballot, did so) …

    Marc Weinstein, an attorney representing Creekside residents in a voter disenfranchisement lawsuit, said the move was a Republican ploy to make it hard for Democrats to vote.

    During a hearing earlier this month, Weinstein tried to link (Bucks Commissioners Jim) Cawley and (Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin, Bucks County Chief Operating Officer Dave Sanko, Bensalem solicitor Joseph Pizzo, Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo and Bensalem GOP Chairman Mike Brill to a Creekside conspiracy.

    Republicans, however, argued that the apartment complex was simply too dangerous and parking was inadequate to continue hosting the polling place. They pointed to two letters (Bucks County Board of Elections Director Deena) Dean received in February 2007 that appeared to be from residents worried about the violence at Creekside.

    But recent testimony and court documents show this seemingly routine polling place change was on high-ranking officials' minds as much as three years earlier.

    Dean learned of officials' desire to move Creekside when Brill contacted her in 2004.

    “He said that, you know, it was a Democrat poll ... and the other voters felt intimidated coming to that poll location,” she testified.
    I know we’ve covered some of this before (notably here), but this is just a refresher (and the context of this is Dean fighting back against efforts by her fellow Repugs to let her “swing” over the Creekside mess).

    Portnoy also tells us…

    Dean came under increasing pressure as the Creekside controversy continued. On Sept. 18, 2008, she finally sent an e-mail to Democratic Commissioner Diane Marseglia, saying “they” tried to “intimidate me, confuse me and make me doubt myself.”

    “They worked me over pretty good prior to meeting with Marc,” she wrote, referring to a deposition scheduled with Weinstein. When the e-mail surfaced, the judge granted an order prohibiting the county's attorneys from contacting Dean about Creekside.

    She testified that during a pre-deposition meeting, assistant county solicitor Tina Mazaheri “screamed that "I better get the guilty look off my face.' ” Dean went on to testify Martin and Cawley “impeded (her from) doing her job in a fair, non-political way,” and she was “most afraid” of Sanko, whom she accused of two years of harassment.

    Weinstein suggested there are other examples of intimidation that did not come out during the federal hearing.

    “As far as the other stuff Deena Dean has been subjected to,” Weinstein said, “keep in mind it's not all out there yet.”
    Lovely (and I really want to know how much all of these legal proceedings are costing us as Bucks County taxpayers, by the way).

    The story also tells us that Dean was reprimanded by Martin, Cawley and Sanko for violating some procedure that apparently wasn’t documented anywhere.

    Another thing we learn is just how far back Dean goes with Bucks and the Repugs…

    Dean had worked in voter registration since 1978 and was groomed for the top spot, but she also volunteered at Republican headquarters in Doylestown and was treasurer of the county Young Republicans for less than a year. She remains a registered Republican.

    At the time, then-commissioner Sandy Miller, a Democrat, said Dean was qualified, but the benefactor of patronage.

    “This is a very sensitive position,” she said. “This individual is known to be political. All the political activity on her part must cease. I hope she will provide service to all Bucks Countians regardless of registration.”

    Miller said Dean showed political favoritism at least once. In 1995, Dean asked her to recommend a Democrat who could temporarily help in the office so that both parties had representation, Miller said. Later, when it was revealed that Miller's pick was the sister-in-law of her campaign manager, John Galloway — now a state representative — Miller hoped Dean would come to her defense.

    “Instead, she was mute,” said Miller, who later came to be closely associated with Cawley and Martin herself.

    Miller opposed the move from Creekside a year ago, but recently she seemed to side with the GOP commissioners. The day after testimony ended in the federal hearing, Miller explained what she said was the real motivation for her “no” vote years ago.

    “A major reason for me not voting for Deena is that I felt there were emotional and stability concerns. It was unspoken at the time,” Miller said, adding: “It was not at all unusual for her to be in tears over one issue or another.”
    So let me get this straight – Miller doesn’t support Dean’s promotion to board of elections director in 1992 because she worked for the Repugs, so Dean doesn’t support Miller’s choice of a Dem to even out the representation in the elections office (which Dean must have ascended to in the meantime - ???), and now in response, Miller brings up what she perceives to be Dean’s “emotional and stability concerns” as a reason for her opposition to the Creekside move?

    Here is what Dean’s attorney said in response…

    (Dean’s attorney David) Truelove sprang to Dean's defense, calling Miller's comments “outrageous and scurrilous” and “the musings of an embittered political hack.”
    I would tend to agree with that; even if somehow that stuff about Dean is true, it really doesn’t belong in the newspaper as far as I’m concerned, not on this matter anyway.

    “She's not an emotional cripple,” (Truelove) said. “This is a lady who had a child who when she was very young had to deal with a very serious illness. To say she can't deal with this stuff because she's unstable first of all is a cheap shot and displays a tremendous amount of ignorance about county staff.”

    Despite all this, he said, Dean has no plans to leave county government.

    “I think she has every intention to stay on,” Truelove said. “I think she feels duty bound. This is almost like her calling. In this day and age, she's become someone's who's valued and well regarded in this field.”
    I also seem to recall reading that Dean had a degree in either business or computer science and makes about $60-$70K working for county government, though I can’t confirm that at the moment. I think that shows some degree of dedication; after 30 years, she probably could have made better money in a corporate setting by now.

    I want to emphasize, though, that I don’t believe her to be innocent in the Creekside mess, though she most definitely is a scapegoat.

    And the story mentions at the end that Cawley and Martin have “lawyered up,” "(adding) to their defense two Philadelphia attorneys who specialize in civil rights."

    And once more, I wonder aloud how much this is costing us (and somewhere, Jay Russell smiles).

    The Mayor of 9/11 Needs A History Lesson

    So sayeth Rudy 9iu11ani yesterday at Shady Brook Farm in Lower Makefield, Bucks County, PA (from here)…

    Guiliani introduced McCain and said, “You'll make all those media predictions wrong if you get out and vote for John McCain in 15 days.”

    “I remember if the polls were right four years ago, John Kerry would be president right now. The difference then was the people and it will be this time, too. John will stand up for us as he has for his partner, Cindy. Cindy McCain has helped people all over the world. Theirs is a family that puts country first.”
    Yeah, well, as far as the claim by Rudy! that Kerry was leading at this point four years ago, I give you this post by Oliver Willis that tells us how Real Clear Politics polled that contest, with the “trend lines” favoring Dubya. However, the embedded chart in Willis' post tells an almost identical story, only with the parties reversed (I mean, this is hardly a “done deal,” people, but I’m just sayin’).

    And I want to call out this from his post also…

    ALSO: I should take this moment and note that there are few things I loathe more than undecided voters. Obama and McCain have been campaigning for this thing for almost two years now. They’ve both participated in debates, advertised all over the country, and been the subject of thousands of news stories. The general election for the most powerful nation in the world is 28 (14) days away and you’re telling me that you’re still unsure? Well then I’m sorry, you don’t get to vote. If only.
    Yep, no excuse as far as I’m concerned, either (and by the way, Courier Times, you need to check the spelling of Rudy's name, OK?).

    Update: Apparently, Rudy! needs more than one lesson (and Flush can't tell fact from fiction anyway).

    Maybe A Keeper At HUD

    This prior post tells us that Dubya nominated former SBA head Steve Preston to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development last April, taking over the reins from the embattled ‘Zo Jackson (noted here); I believed at the time that Preston’s nomination was a situation where President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History was bound to accidentally do the right thing at a certain point and appoint someone who was actually competent.

    Well, notwithstanding some complaints from Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein here about funds allocated to California to “purchase, fix up and sell foreclosed properties” (though California got $529 billion, Florida got $541 – maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see the point of the outrage), it looks like Preston has “stood up” again, as Think Progress notes here…

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s plan to have the government pay the difference between the balances of troubled mortgages and what homes are now worth is troubling, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development said Monday evening.

    “I have a very grave concern about that,” said Steve Preston, who took over at HUD in June after leading the Small Business Administration.

    In response to a question during a forum at Town Hall in Seattle, Preston said the problem is that the plan would put the loss on taxpayers, “when the financial institution took that risk.
    Gee, given all the properties McBush owns (as noted below), you’d think he’d be an expert on this issue, huh?

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Monday Stuff

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

    Unfortunately, a big chunk of Colin Powell's integrity is floating in a vial of baking soda as far as I'm concerned, but the man is 100 percent correct here (h/t The Daily Kos - and reading "State of Denial" by Woodward definitely redeemed him a bit also).

    And by the way, to help El Tinklenberg knock off that bubblehead Michele Bachmann, click here...

    ...and in very much of a related vein, we have tonight's "Special Comment" from K.O...

    ...and here is the "godfather," if you will, of all of this (h/t The Daily Kos again)...

    ...and this song has been in my head all day after the post comparing Obama to Dubya; get ready for a whole raft of that garbage from our corporate media cousins in an effort both to undermine the Dem nominee and enshrine President Brainless onto a pedastal he will NEVER deserve; "Can't Let Go" by Lucinda Williams.

    Finally Seeing The Light On NJ-04

    (Two peas in a pod in this photo as it were; Holy Joe with a certain New Jersey House rep.)

    Yep, I’m wiping the “egg off my face” big time on this one (if I knew everything, I would admit it, but I most certainly don’t, and this is proof).

    You see, though I felt a natural antipathy to incumbent Repug U.S. House Rep Chris Smith of New Jersey, I have painstakingly given him credit for what I believe were good votes in the past, such as here where he tried to override His Fraudulency’s veto of the fiscal 2008 intelligence budget (HR 2082) that required CIA personnel to obey the Army Field Manual's ban on waterboarding and other forms of torture of prisoners.

    I also complimented Smith here when he refused to cut HIV/AIDS funding from $50 billion to $30 billion for sub-Saharan Africa. I did so as well here when he voted to exempt middle-class households from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) this year. Finally, I gave Smith due credit here for standing up to former House Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, and as a result, losing his chairmanship of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (though, truth be told, Smith has milked that for all it's worth).

    The problem, I now realize, is Smith’s myriad other failures, which I’ve glossed over in the process.

    And as you might have expected, the Philadelphia Inquirer glossed them over recently also when they handed out their endorsements for the New Jersey U.S. House reps (including one to some guy named Glading whose apparent qualification is that his name isn’t Rob Andrews; I don’t like Andrews either, but give me a break!).

    The Inquirer also endorsed Chris Smith, as you might expect, as well. The problem?

    Well, as noted here (referencing an article from last month in The New Republic), Smith…

    …has longstanding ties to religious-right hate groups; that he sat on the board of advisers of a pro-racial segregation organization in the 1980s; that he authored legislation that would bar gays and lesbians from working openly as nurses, doctors, first responders, federal employees or federal contractors; and that he played a role in a vicious disinformation campaign about HIV/AIDS that demonized gays and lesbians as "serial killers." The article also reveals that Smith concealed campaign contributions from at least two hard-line, pro-segregation groups.

    The New Republic only scratched surface of Smith's bigotry. Following up on TNR's reporting, this morning, the (Josh) Zeitz campaign (Smith’s NJ-04 Dem opponent) discovered Chris Smith not only worked with segregationists; he voted with them. In 1981, Chris Smith voted to restore non-profit status to segregated private schools [HR 4121, 7/30/81] that were created as a mechanism for white Southerners to avoid the full implications of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

    The Zeitz for Congress campaign also obtained a copy of Chris Smith's early college writings. In an article dated 1973, Smith accused gays and lesbians of being in league with "the Anti-Christ":

    In Smith's words:

    "We can live in harmony with His [God's] spiritual laws and be like the man, as Christ said, who built on an undestructable [sic] rock, or we can live in disharmony with the Anti-Christ; the devil, not the laughable, fiery and character with horns, but the evil one often spoken of by Jesus and he like the man who built his life on sand which eroded and eventually fell. God wants us happy; His laws are for our welfare, our protection, not Sin!"

    Chris Smith's bigotry goes beyond his early career. In the 1990s, Smith introduced legislation that would force any company or public entity that receives federal funds to fire openly gay employees. The legislation would deny gays and lesbians the right to work as teachers, doctors, nurses, first responders, federal contractors, or state and federal workers. It might even deny basic rights like student loans to gay college students.
    Please read the entire MyDD post; it made me sick that I actually gave this guy an ounce of credit.

    And how did the Inky “cover” Smith’s opponent, Josh Zeitz? Well, as Matt Stoller tells us here (quoting Zeitz)…

    "the Philadelphia Inquirer never covered my race once. Never interviewed me. Never sent a candidate questionnaire. Never responded to any of dozens of press releases. Purports to oppose the Bush tax cuts, the war, the bankruptcy bill, homophobia, and the Christian Right. But endorsed Chris Smith. This is the state of journalism today. They endorsed someone without even interviewing by paper or in person his opponent."
    Typical corporate media garbage I realize, but for once I can’t pile on too much because I didn’t dig deeper myself. Fortunately, though, TNR (can’t call them “Joe Lieberman Weekly” for a change) and Open Left did.

    And the least I can do to try and make amends (aside from writing this post), is to link to Zeitz’s web site (maybe, with some last-minute scratch, he could put together a T.V. ad or something – there are lots of ways to help).

    The "Medical Center" Edition Of "Election '08"

    Interesting stuff in the New York Times today from Lawrence K. Altman. M.D., concerning the medical records of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates (from here – this is kind of involved, but I think it’s important)…

    In early August 2000, just as (John) Mr. McCain’s rival George W. Bush was about to receive the Republican presidential nomination, Dr. John F. Eisold, the attending physician at the United States Capitol, detected two more melanomas, Mr. McCain’s second and third.

    One on Mr. McCain’s left arm was determined to be the least risky type, in situ. But the one on his left temple was dangerous.

    A few days after detection of the melanomas, Mr. McCain sought care for them at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Mr. McCain’s campaign said this year that the left-temple melanoma was 2.2 millimeters at its thickest part and graded as Stage IIA on a scale in which Stage IV is the worst. Stage II meant that the melanoma had not spread into the lymph nodes. The number of melanomas is less significant than the thickness measured in the pathology assessment of any one of them.

    Mr. McCain underwent extensive surgery on his face and neck for the melanoma on Aug. 19, 2000. Surgeons removed more than 30 lymph nodes, and pathologists then determined that all of them were cancer free.
    OK, good for Senator McBush. Now, let’s jump forward seven years…

    In March 2007, as Mr. McCain was making his second bid for the Republican nomination, The Times began asking his campaign for permission to speak with the senator and his doctors, citing the history of such interviews.

    On May 6, 2008, Jill Hazelbaker, a McCain spokeswoman, denied the requests, writing in an e-mail message that The Times was “not at the top of the list” and including a link to a Times editorial that had criticized Mr. McCain for not disclosing health information and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for not disclosing financial records.
    Typical McBush campaign BS (it gets better with Hazelbaker later, though)….

    On May 23 (this year), Mr. McCain allowed a small pool of journalists, including three doctor-reporters, though none from The Times, to spend three hours reviewing a newer set of his Mayo Clinic records. That set, 1,173 pages, included records from 2000 to 2008 but none of the records made available in 1999. Again, the campaign did not allow the journalists to photocopy any documents.

    Mr. McCain’s Mayo Clinic doctors answered selected reporters’ questions by telephone, but only for 45 minutes instead of the scheduled two hours. The McCain campaign did not allow New York Times reporters to ask questions in the teleconference.

    The clinic doctors said that Mr. McCain was in good health and that no medical reason precluded him from fulfilling all the duties of president.

    The doctors said that a fourth melanoma they detected on the left side of his nose in 2002 was also in situ, the least dangerous type. All four melanomas that Mr. McCain experienced were primary, or new, and there was no evidence that any of them had spread, the doctors said.

    However, the reporters’ summary cited a report dated Aug. 9, 2000, from two pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington who examined a biopsy of the melanoma taken from Mr. McCain’s left temple a few days earlier.

    The Armed Forces pathologists suggested that the left-temple melanoma had spread from another melanoma, known as a metastasis or satellite lesion. “The vertical orientation of this lesion,” the report said, “with only focal epidermal involvement above it is highly suggestive of a metastasis of malignant melanoma and may represent a satellite metastasis of S00-9572-A,” which is the “skin, left temple, lateral” biopsy.

    The pool report was by nature unable to provide a complete portrait of Mr. McCain’s recent medical history. It left several questions, including about the number of biopsies and when they were done. On Aug. 18, 2000, Dr. John D. Eckstein, Mr. McCain’s personal physician at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, noted in Mr. McCain’s records that there were two biopsies of the left temple. Dr. Eckstein’s note did not say where and when the biopsies were performed. The Armed Forces report cited one biopsy, so presumably a second was performed in Scottsdale. The Armed Forces pathologists said a melanoma had developed over a skin scar whose origin was unclear.

    A skin lesion, not one of the four melanomas, had been removed from Mr. McCain’s left temple in 1996 and interpreted as being benign; some experts have speculated that it might have been misdiagnosed, and thus the origin of the 2000 melanoma.

    The Armed Forces pathologists did not speak in the teleconference in May 2008, and questions raised by their report have remained unanswered. The selected reporters did not ask about that report, and the Mayo Clinic doctors did not discuss it. A complete Mayo pathology report was apparently not included in the pool summary.

    In interviews, several melanoma experts questioned why the Mayo Clinic doctors had performed such extensive surgery, because the operation was usually reserved for treatment of Stage III melanoma, not Stage IIA.

    On Aug. 18, 2000, the day before Mr. McCain’s operation, his surgeon, Dr. Michael L. Hinni, wrote in the records that he planned to do the extensive operation because of the size and location of Mr. McCain’s melanoma. In the teleconference in May 2008, Dr. Hinni explained that because the melanoma was two centimeters across he had to make “a 6-by-6-centimeter island of skin, a fairly sizable wound” to remove it.

    It is not known whether the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale asked pathologists outside the Mayo system for an independent review.

    If Mr. McCain’s 2000 left-temple melanoma was a metastasis, as the Armed Forces pathologists’ report suggested, it would be classified as Stage III. The reclassification would change his statistical odds for survival at 10 years from about 60 percent to 36 percent, according to a published study.
    So one of the matters raised by Dr. Altman in his article today is the question raised by the Armed Forces pathologists about one of the melanomas removed from Senator McBush at his left temple by the Mayo Clinic doctors; the Armed Forces doctors apparently believe that that melanoma metastasized from the first, and their questions have remained unanswered, as Dr. Altman tells us. I would consider that to be significant, affecting his survival odds as noted in the prior paragraph.

    Oh, and don’t expect any help from the McBush campaign, by the way…

    Last week, The Times contacted the McCain campaign to fill in gaps in the medical records. Ms. Hazelbaker, the McCain spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail message: “As you know, we disclosed over 1,200 pages of Senator McCain’s medical history to Dr. Altman’s colleagues in the press earlier this year. We also arranged a Mayo Clinic briefing with three of Senator McCain’s physicians that Dr. Altman listened to by phone. Additionally, we released a detailed document outlining his most recent physical and lab test results. It was an unprecedented level of disclosure, and Dr. Altman can look at the public document on our Web site if he wishes to do so. It was certainly more significant than the one-page doctor’s note Obama released, though I have little hope The Times will report it that way.”

    What a bunch of freaking babies!

    Oh, and as long as Ms. Hazelbaker referred to the release from Obama’s doctor, I should note that, yes, it probably isn’t complete, but at least it goes on record as saying that the senator from Illinois has no major ailments, which is good, aside from the fact that he’s a smoker. And the Times tells us that “Governor Hottie” didn’t release anything (yeah, I guess anyone who actually cares about the health of a prospective vice-president is nothing but a “socialist” – God, is this election over yet?).

    I have to admit, though, that Dr. Altman’s article does raise some questions in my mind about Joe Biden, who was treated for two brain aneurysms 20 years ago.

    Mr. Biden has “recovered fully without continued effects” from the aneurysm, Dr. Eisold, the Capitol physician, said in a letter released by the campaign. Dr. Eisold, a specialist in internal medicine, has a longstanding policy not to talk to reporters about his patients, even with their permission.

    The Obama-Biden campaign referred me to Dr. Matthew A. Parker, an internist in Washington, who reviewed Mr. Biden’s records and also spoke with Dr. Eisold about them. Dr. Parker said that Dr. Eisold told him that brain imaging tests were not needed now because Mr. Biden had done well for the 20 years after the aneurysm. “It is a nonissue,” Dr. Parker said Dr. Eisold told him.

    Dr. Parker, who is associated with George Washington University Hospital and Sibley Memorial Hospital, said he had not treated or met with Mr. Biden and did not have a direct connection to the campaign. Federal Election Commission records show that Dr. Parker contributed the maximum, $2,300, to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign on March 13, 2008.
    I, as a layman, have no grounds whatsoever to question Dr. Eisold, though I cannot help but wonder why it isn’t a good idea to do periodic tests to monitor whether or not an aneurysm would have returned (and I assume both of the aneurysms are being treated here as one “instance,” if you will).

    And though Dr. Parker’s contribution may be completely legal, I feel a bit uncomfortable with the fact that a candidate’s physician can make that kind of contribution to the candidate (I mean, Dr. Parker could have done something like funnel it into the DNC somehow and let them disburse it – maybe making too much of a point out of that, I’ll admit).

    So it looks like we’ll have to deal with a president who may have to “step outside” from time to time to take a drag (kidding – somehow I’m sure accommodations would be made for him; with the kind of stress he’ll be dealing with, breaking the cigarette habit will be almost a superhuman feat) and a vice-president who, literally, should have his head examined. I’ll take that, however, over someone who, unfortunately, is a ticking cancer time bomb and another nominee who won’t release any of her medical records at all.

    Obama's "Low Expectations Presidency" Begins

    Our corporate media cousins are up to their usual tricks in this AP “story” by Jennifer Loven that appeared over the weekend (why at least the qualifier “analysis” wasn’t stuck in here somewhere is a mystery to me – this reminds me a bit of this Atrios post today about how those all-knowing fonts of wise discourse, or so they would have us believe, are already trying to concoct their narratives on Obama before he’s even sworn in)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) _ For all Barack Obama's talk about change, there are signs that in style — if not substance — a new White House under Democrat Obama would operate much like the current one under President Bush.

    Think discipline, efficiency and secrecy. These are hallmarks of Obama's campaign, just as they have been for the last eight years in the leak-proof, tightly managed Bush administration.

    Obama, like Bush, demands an orderly shop.

    Aides are expected to be both tightlipped and tight-knit. They get a "no drama" speech upon hire. And even if that rule is violated, histrionic disagreements over strategy, policy or personality are expected to stay behind closed doors, and they actually do. Most events come off like clockwork.

    Obama's style as a candidate predicts a CEO-style president, one who delegates rather than micromanages.

    It's the same model as for Bush, the nation's first MBA president. It derives in part from something the two men have in common: natural political gifts that set them on a path to the White House that took shortcuts around much government experience. That means policy experts are needed for heavy lifting.
    Spare me (and gosh, such thorough sourcing for these claims!).

    What “shortcut” did Obama take when he was graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review, as noted here?

    Any “shortcuts” when he directed Illinois' Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and seven hundred volunteers, which achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African-Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be?

    And I never found a “shortcut” when, in July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, which electrified the country (of course, John Kerry was unable to capitalize on that for a variety of reasons).

    Dubya, on the other hand, served as a bumbling presence on the audit committee of Harken Energy (here), a figurehead owner for a baseball team (here), a ceremonial governor of Texas (here), and perhaps the worst president this country has seen in nearly a century (here - I know this stuff is, sadly, engrained into our collective memory, but it bears repeating).

    But to take a trip back in time and see just how thoroughly our fourth estate stenographers utterly fawned over Commander Codpiece, take a look at this story in USA Today published shortly after the beginning of Iraq War II in March 2003, particularly the following…

    It was time for some reassuring words from the commander in chief, Bush and his aides decided.

    Bush, who had just returned from Camp David, said "good progress" was being made. Then came a bleak warning: "This is just the beginning of a tough fight." To address concerns that he might have been out of touch while away from the White House, he mentioned that he is "constantly briefed."

    He said Saddam Hussein "is losing control of his country." Finally, Bush said he expects prisoners of war to be treated humanely and warned their captors that they could be tried as war criminals if they don't comply.

    Bush's investment of 10 minutes on a balmy afternoon ensured that his words were part of the day's biggest stories. His appearance was meant to spotlight his optimism that the war will be won and to highlight his place at the epicenter of the action. His words were limited to increase the odds that the news media would emphasize his key messages. It's known as "message discipline." Other administrations have done the same thing, but analysts say the Bush team is particularly good at it.

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, says Bush's absences from public view mean that when he does speak, Americans "take it as a very, very important moment."
    The story goes on to note other occasions where Dubya just sort of popped up to proclaim victory is within reach, Terra! Terra! Terra!, “coalition of the willing” (remember them?) and then retreat out of the reach of cameras and microphones, often taking no questions before he did so. And of course, this was considered to be nothing more than “message discipline,” as noted above, not the potentially dangerous antics of an individual completely unsuited for the job by virtue of experience, presence, or temperament.

    And as we eventually learned, this indeed was all scripted, as Frank Rich reminded us yesterday in his column about the McBush/Dubya bond, though for a very different reason than the one originally advertised at the time (here)…

    The Bushian ethos that (John) McCain embraced, as codified by Karl Rove, is larger than any particular vote or policy. Indeed, by definition that ethos is opposed to the entire idea of policy. The whole point of the Bush-Rove way of doing business is that principles, coherent governance and even ideology must always be sacrificed for political expediency, no matter the cost to the public good.

    Like McCain now, Bush campaigned in 2000 as a practical problem-solver who could “work across the partisan divide,” as he put it in his first debate with Al Gore. He had no strong views on any domestic or foreign issue, except taxes and education. Only after he entered the White House did we learn his sole passion: getting and keeping power. That imperative, not the country, would always come first.

    One journalist who detected this modus operandi early was Ron Suskind, who, writing for Esquire in January 2003, induced John DiIulio, the disillusioned chief of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, to tell all. “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus,” DiIulio said. “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

    If politics strongarm everything, you end up with the rampant cronyism, nonexistent long-term planning and abrupt, partisan policy improvisations that fed the calamities of Iraq, Katrina and the economic meltdown. Incredibly, McCain has nakedly endorsed the Bush-Rove brand of governance in his own campaign by assembling his personal set of lobbyist cronies and Rove operatives to run it. They have not only entangled him in a welter of conflicts of interest, but they’ve furthered cynical political stunts like the elevation of Sarah Palin. At least Bush and Rove didn’t try to put an unqualified hack like, say, Alberto Gonzales half a heartbeat away from the presidency.
    As opposed to Barack Obama, who has put Joe Biden in a position where, God forbid, Biden could step into the job in the event that something catastrophic happened.

    I also found Loven’s remark about “heavy lifting” to be hilarious. Obama has mastered the art of negotiation to craft legislation pertaining to sometimes arcane policy matters; Dubya, on the other hand, has always presented himself as someone who gets “arcane” on matters about as complicated as a Bazooka Joe bubble gum cartoon.

    And for added emphasis, we have Obama here quite rightly calling the ruinous Bushco reign “catastrophic”; yes, I know there’s some political posturing going on, but my point is that it’s absolutely ridiculous, to say nothing of patently untrue, to assign some causal relationship of any kind between Obama and Dubya where none exists, while on the other hand, you have the nominee of Dubya’s own party trying to distance himself from the failed legacy of his commander-in-chief, though doing so ineptly, as the voters of this country have largely come to realize by now.