Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Stuff

(By the way, you guessed it; I also posted over here.)

Just remember everyone that, in Saxby Chambliss's Georgia, you're not allowed to stand around with a video camera filming a Repug rally of smears featuring Rudy 9iu11ani and generally minding your own business without being confronted by a cop and asked what you're doing ("You show me yours and I'll show you mine," huh? Real nice - and by the way, to do something about stuff like this, click here, and here's more)...

...and gee, as News Hounds points out, isn't it con-VEE-nient that the only politicians featured in this ultra-jazzed up ad for Fox Noise (full of explosions, yelling people and general turmoil and chaos) are DEMOCRATS??!! (they'll have to change it to blot out pretend liberal Alan Colmes and probably just insert another pic of Sean Inanity over it)...

...and as a tribute to screenwriter William Gibson who wrote "The Miracle Worker," here is the climactic scene from the 1962 film with Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as her teacher, Annie Sullivan (with Victor Jory and Inga Swenson as her parents and Andrew Prine as her brother)...

...also, I don't know what I can say or do about the tragedy in Mumbai, except to decry the cowardly, terrorist thugs who perpetrated such acts; aside from sending our best wishes and condolences for the families and friends of the victims, I thought embedding this might be a reminder of happier times that once were and hopefully will be again - this is "Tunak Tunak Tun" by Daler Mehndi (h/t Crooks and Liars).

Maybe A Time For Thanksgiving-Back?

(Or, short of that, trying to rein in the investor class a little more…)

Like many of you I’m sure, the issue of executive compensation has been much on my mind concerning the geniuses at the Big Three automakers who currently want Congress to approve a “bridge” loan (from TARP or elsewhere) to help them out while they do the retooling they should have done long ago to make more efficient vehicles (and I saw an ad yesterday on TV for the Cadillac Escalade and I thought, yep, it’s true; they really never will learn, will they?). The latest reminder came courtesy of this news story from Wednesday about a speech Alan Mulally of Ford gave at a meeting of the Seattle Rotary Club.

And lest anyone think that only Ford, GM and Chrysler are feeling the pinch, this story tells us the following…

"October was the worst month for U.S. auto sales in 25 years," said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan and Renault. "Nothing is moving. The decline is not confined to the U.S. market; most of the mature auto markets, including Europe, Japan, are also down significantly, with slowdowns in the emerging markets as well."

If the Japanese carmakers are gloomy, who can just imagine how the contingent from Detroit feels. GM canceled its events but still has cars on display. It scratched plans to showcase a new Buick LaCross sedan and a new Cadillac model. Instead, it will lift the veil on those models in Detroit in January.

Chrysler has only a minimal presence at the show as well. Ford, on the other hand, is showing off a new Mustang model, as well as a restyled Fusion hybrid.
OK, so I’ll give Mulally a bit of a nod for that one.

But getting back to the issue of compensation, this story tells us that President-Elect Barack Obama has been pushing so-called “say on pay” legislation since last year, with his bill “languishing in the upper house”; somehow I’m sure that, regardless of whether or not the Dems get to 60 seats this election or not, Obama’s bill will be revisited.

As the story tells us…

(Obama’s bill) would make non-binding "advisory" shareholder votes on executive compensation packages mandatory at annual meetings.

"Say on pay is in and of itself but a baby step," said Charles Elson, a governance expert at the University of Delaware. "Ultimately the issue is replacing the directors who approve the bad pay."

This is where "say on pay" could get interesting because it is closely linked to another movement, known as "proxy access," which basically gives investors greater ability to nominate their own slates of directors - and perhaps include some kind of statute to reimburse shareholders' for the costs of nominating dissident directors if they are successful. (This would replace the current practice of investors withholding votes for directors, which is often more of an exercise in moral suasion than accountability.)
And this story tells us that…

French CEOs made 56% of what American CEOs did in 2005, according to the latest figures compiled by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. German and British CEOs made 55%, and Italians, 53%.

In the USA, the median compensation package (half were paid more and half less) rose to $8.4 million last year for CEOs of 410 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, the Associated Press reported earlier in June. That's a rise of $280,000, or 3.5%, in a year. The 10 best-paid made more than $500 million last year, AP found.
And this story, which proposes what I think is an interesting theory about executive compensation (even though I personally don’t agree with it; namely, that it should be totally market driven throughout the world and would lower itself on average over time on its own) tells us that Japanese executive compensation is generally lower because more of their executives are trained and promoted in-house. The story also tells us that the decline of unions in this country is tied to the rise of executive compensation (and I most definitely agree with that).

What to do? Well, tell your elected representatives to support “say on pay” legislation when it’s proposed in the next session of Congress (which, after all, merely calls for disclosure by executive boards in an attempt to indirectly pressure them to do right; we can’t literally tell the boards what level of executive compensation to approve, and unless we as taxpayers are bailing these people out, I don’t think we should).

And the next time someone screams about Obama supporting “Marxism” and/or “class warfare” on this issue, remind them that he won the election by almost twice as large of a popular vote as the person he’s replacing when Dubya last ran four years ago.

And if it helps, let the naysayers take a look at this map one more time for good measure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

As a special pre-Thanksgiving treat, here's Just Plain Folks Sarah giving her interview in front of the turkey slaughtering processor just one more time, for the benefit for the half-dozen-or-so people on this planet who haven't seen this yet (there's a version out there with commentary by K.O., but I think the captions here are funnier)...

...and speaking of turkeys (and K.O. again), here are more Bushco scandals, including an abundance of pardons to people involved with the S&L mess in the '80s - it seems like Dubya is always ready to help out southerners busted for stuff like running moonshine or passing bad checks or mail order fraud or stuff like that, to say nothing of drug abuse; not saying they automatically don't have merit, but it just makes me wonder - Judge Richard Sanders is my hero for the day for finally saying "enough" on Mukasey, who seems to be nothing but a cracker version of Abu G. as far as I'm concerned, and Karl Rove didn't care about politics versus policy; I mean, we heard it on Fox Noise, so it must be true, right?...

...and here's "Worst Persons" (something called is going to feature an hourly weekly radio show about Sarah Palin - I'm guessing there won't be discussion of how to prepare and cook a Thanksgiving turkey - even though it takes you to a program on John "You Kids Get Off My Lawn!" McCain; Glenn Beck, who just joined Fix News also of course, believes that any state that chose not to vote for Obama should be able to mount an insurrection against this country - uh, as Keith notes, that was already tried about 1860 or 1861 or so; and while Andrew Ross Sorkin, business writer for the New York Times, may be an unlikely choice for "Worst" here, it's deserved when you consider that he started this lie about GM workers making $73 an hour, and believe me when I tell you that that lie has spread EVERYWHERE - P.S., if the scandals video appears again, just refresh the page - or if that doesn't work, click on the More Video link in the upper right corner and select it from MSNBC's site; sorry they're so flaky about this stuff)...

...Ryan Adams And The Cardinals ("Cobwebs," on "The Late Show" - interesting image, and good advice from Dave at the very end; I'll take him up on it in about five minutes)....

...and here's more holiday fun.

A Pre-Holiday Right Wing “Laff Riot”

So what should appear in my “In” box over the last day or so but the latest from conservative icon Richard Viguerie about the latest doings with the conservative “grass roots” movement; do they still have one (outside of the South)? Color me shocked!

And in case you were wondering about their plan for rebuilding the “movement”…well, here are some “highlights”:

  • Citigroup funded ACORN, and now this huge financial services company is getting more tax dollars!

  • Auto industry bankrupt due to CAFÉ requirements!

  • Obama is only making the financial meltdown worse!

  • Obama’s “Clinton problem” (sorry – no exclamation point…just saying “Clinton” provides all the shock value needed here).

  • Ross Douthat agrees with George Weigel, but elsewhere it’s Kathleen Parker vs. James Dobson (I’ll take Parker, no more than four rounds) and Morton Kondracke vs. Rush Limbaugh (I’ll bet Mort barely answers the bell before Flush belly flops on him, flattening him through the canvas).

  • Gee, wasn’t William F. Buckley great?

  • (Supposedly, Pat Toomey is in here somewhere spouting off – oh God, please please please let Toomey run again in a Repug primary against Specter for 2010!!).

  • “The Congressman, The Donor and The Tax Break” (hey, how on earth did some legitimate news reporting from the New York Times – and first rate, at that – get in here??!!).
  • So in other words, what we will be seeing from Viguerie (who, by the way, thought Sarah Palin was a great choice as McCain’s veep nominee – and she’s campaigning in Georgia for Saxby Chambliss? YEE HAH!!) is more harping, complaining, and cacophony while the grownups try to put our country back together again.

    But not to worry; Viguerie and his brethren will let us know when they actually figure out what they’re all about again.

    Just don’t hold your breath while they do – it’s going to take awhile, people.

    Update: And there's no letup on "the stupid" in sight, based on this (h/t Atrios).

    Don't Harp on TARP If Detroit's In Distress

    Bushco flak Tony Fratto told us the following from this press conference on Monday…

    Q Why don't we help the automakers?

    MR. FRATTO: We are helping the automakers -- or at least we have a plan to help the automakers. We had a bipartisan agreement on the floor of Congress -- well, actually, it never made it to the floor because the Democratic leadership decided not to bring it to the floor. But we had a bipartisan agreement that we believe would get bipartisan support. It was for $25 billion in the loan program that would have freed up that money in a way that would support the automakers in their efforts -- to help to support them as they become viable firms, because these are important parts of our manufacturing base. We want to see the automakers succeed.

    There seems to be some misconception out there that we don't want to help the automakers. We do want to help the automakers. We had a bipartisan agreement to do just that, and we believe that's where those funds should come from. And by the way, the news overnight where -- this was a relatively unexpected effort by Treasury and the Fed. If you had said two weeks ago that they were going to have to take this action for Citibank, I think that would have seemed unlikely. This is a very dynamic situation we're dealing with, and the financial system is still fragile.

    But that also speaks to the need to preserve the funds in the TARP for their intended purpose. We don't need to be taking funds out of the TARP program for other purposes -- and with respect to the automakers, especially when we have a $25 billion loan program that was specifically set up for their use.

    Q Well, what's the hang-up? Is it because the money is coming out of the --

    MR. FRATTO: That's a question for Congress, Helen. The money is there; we tried to work on both sides of the aisle to design it in a way that the automakers could access it and to help them move forward and be viable. So I would put that question to the Democratic leadership of the Congress.
    Actually, the “hang-up,” as noted in this story, is what Fratto referred to above more than anything else…

    …the new rescue plan appeared stalled on Capitol Hill, opposed by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress who don't want to dip into the Treasury Department's $700 billion financial bailout program to come up with the $25 billion in loans (for the automakers).

    "Our industry ... needs a bridge to span the financial chasm that has opened up before us," General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee. He blamed the industry's predicament not on failures by management but on the deepening global financial crisis.

    And Robert Nardelli, CEO of Chrysler LLC, told the panel the bailout would be "the least costly alternative" when compared with damage from bankruptcy.
    Yes, I’ll note yet again that it’s very hard to feel sympathy for Wagoner, Nardelli and Alan Mulally of Ford, but as Dem Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said to Rachel Maddow last Friday, I don’t see our financial wizards who were allowed to create this mess to begin with (with no government oversight, of course) getting the same treatment as the automakers, especially since all the Big Three are asking for is $25 million from TARP as a bridge so they can do the retooling that they should have done years ago (I got into some of this earlier from here).

    And as far as this business of funding for the automakers being contingent on what amounts to a loan application, that doesn’t make any sense to me either given the immediate need (why do I get the feeling that this is just a sop to try and placate conservatives who wouldn’t bat an eye if the automakers sank altogether?). Yes, have the Big Three explain what they’re going to do with the “bridge” loan and the additional $25 billion for retooling (and by the way, the funding for the financial services companies should be paid out in installments on the condition that strict accounting is performed and reporting provided concerning the existing funds as well, or else they get “cut off at the knees”). But can we get them the money first so they don’t go under while we’re still arguing the matter?

    The net effect of this “loan application” provision for the automakers, as far as I’m concerned, is to create what Senate Minority Leader Mitch “Mr. Elaine Chao” McConnell called here a "bizarre and confusing" spectacle (yep, it’s pretty sad when I find myself agreeing with the leader of the “Roadblock Republicans” and last year’s “Dregs Of The Year” winner – and by the way, look for the ’08 nominees to start “rolling out” in a couple of weeks – but there you are).

    Returning to the press briefing by Tony Fratto for a minute, though, I’d like to note the following (stumbling onto what I thought was an interesting point)…

    Q Tony, some are concerned, particularly on the Hill, that this Citigroup bailout is smacking of AIG all over again. Some are asking for Citigroup to pull their name -- opt out of naming for the New York Mets Stadium -- $400 million and you just gave them $25 billion. I mean, people are saying that smacks of it, particularly Congressman Elijah Cummings from Maryland, would say -- do you think they should opt out of the naming rights contract?

    MR. FRATTO: That's -- I'll be honest, this is the first time I heard of that. I didn't know that they were involved in that. I would presume that if there's a contract then that's a legal question as to what they can do. But I'll leave that for Citibank for now, and Treasury, and the regular -- their regulators, because you're telling me something I'm not aware of.
    Hey, if we’re going to hold up funding for the automakers, then the least we can do is name some stadiums after them (why do the banks, telecoms and insurance firms always have to have the fun?).

    Update 11/27/08: I just noticed that the Detroit Lions play in a stadium with the Ford logo on the roof - my bad; serves me right for making a sports comment I guess.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Yep, if Coulter is in the news again, then that means it's time once more for this obligatory Henry Rollins video, complete with "f" bombs (and the best part about this, if true, is that she wouldn't even be able to talk back - seriously, even though she wishes all kinds of bad things on us, I hope she heals up so we can continue to ridicule her, again, assuming this story is legit)...

    ...Amy Goodman of Democracy Now discusses a lot of Dubya's "midnight rules" with Matthew Madia of OMB Watch (here); I got into some of this stuff here also (and, as this story states)...

    President Bill Clinton used his last weeks and months in office to strengthen a host of environmental rules and lock up federal lands with wilderness and other protective designations. Bush is taking the same window of opportunity to open swaths of wilderness land for oil and gas drilling and to loosen safeguards for air, water and wildlife.

    ...and oh yeah, I saw this little item in the news but didn't quite know what to say about it (besides the fact that it's pretty pathetic), but fortunately, Cenk Uygur does here...

    ...The Decemberists ("Days Of Elaine," on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," and Max Weinberg's band "playing us out").

    Cheesed Off Over Iraq And "Three Blind Mice"

    (And the person agitated would be yours truly, of course; by the way, posting will be sporadic for the rest of the week, with nothing on Thursday.)

    I didn’t want to let too much more time pass without noting that the venerable “old gray lady” really committed another affront to sane discourse last Sunday when it published a bunch of editorials under the theme of “so, what the hell do we do now in Iraq?” The problem, I should add, isn’t the topic, which is a good one; the problem is the people chosen to inflict their opinions on us (and, as is usually the case when talking about the mess in Mesopotamia, nary a dissenting voice was heard).

    I chose three from the list of individuals who offered their commentary, the most notorious of the lot IMHO. So let’s begin with Fred Kagan, who tells us here…

    Leaving aside the debate in America about what ties global Al Qaeda has to Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqis overwhelmingly think that they have indeed been fighting an arm of Osama bin Laden’s organization. Every major political grouping in Iraq rejects Al Qaeda and supports the fight against its ideology. Iraqis increasingly pride themselves on being the first Arab state to reject the terrorists.
    For a state that has “rejected the terrorists,” CIA director Michael Hayden offers a more realistic – and grimmer – assessment here, including this (I usually have “a bone to pick” with Hayden also, but this sounds more like the reality)…

    "Today, the flow of money, weapons, and foreign fighters into Iraq is greatly diminished, and al Qaeda senior leaders no longer point to it as the central battlefield," (Hayden) said. "In fact, bleed-out from Iraq—export or diversion of terrorists and their deadly capabilities—is as much a concern now as the ongoing threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq attacks inside the country itself."
    Also, according to Kagan…

    This summer, leading members of Anbar Awakening, a group of Sunni leaders who have joined forces with the United States and the Shiite-led Baghdad government, circulated a memo about how they could help Afghans develop their own “awakenings” to fight Al Qaeda on their territory.
    I don’t know if Kagan is telling the truth here or not (he seems to be more prone to fudging and obfuscation than outright lies, as was the case here, where he prefers the term ethnic “consolidation” to “cleansing”), but I should note that I have seen no evidence anywhere else of a “memo” circulated from Iraqi Sunnis to their fellow tribesmen in Afghanistan.

    I wonder if this memo is anything like the dreaded “Mujahedeen Data Form” I posted about awhile ago here (couldn’t find evidence of that either)?

    Oh, and Kagan also tells us…

    Overall violence and American casualties have dropped remarkably since the surge began last year.

    The situation remains delicate, however, as Iraq moves into provincial elections in January and parliamentary elections at the end of 2009. Although Iraqi forces increasingly bear the burden of fighting (and, increasingly, peacekeeping), they will need continuing American support
    Excuse me if I get a little tired of hearing about how successful the “surge” has been; yes, there has been a decrease in casualties, but that’s due partly to the Sunni Awakening that Kagan acknowledges, and the ethnic cleansing that he ignores. And for anyone who thinks Iraq will see peace anytime soon, unfortunately – well, take a look at this and this and get back to me on the answer, OK (not trying to sound callous, just tired of hearing about more supposed excuses of why we should stay when the Iraqis plainly want us to get the hell out of their country at long last…can’t entirely blame them).

    And with that in mind, here is the next Times editorialist, and that would be Ahmed Chalabi (I’ve listed the writers in descending order of infamy, by the way, though I’ll admit that it’s a close call – also, did it occur to the Times that a headline like “Thanks, But You Can Go Now” is incredibly insulting to those in this country who have suffered the most from this horrific escapade in Iraq?).

    The convicted Jordanian embezzler tells us…

    The Iraq war is over.
    Somehow I think those 19 bombing victims in Baghdad and those individuals in Amman, Jordan I referred to previously would disagree with that.


    Iraq has the strongest constitution, the fairest elections and the most democratic government in the Islamic Middle East.
    And if stories like this are any indication, it sounds like the sessions in Iraq’s parliament should be pay-per-view wrestling events.


    Iraqi freedom is a debt to America we will never forget.

    This is true despite President Bush’s manifest failure to honor his word. At one time, the liberation of Iraq was to be the centerpiece of a new regional order in the Middle East founded on a new American emphasis on democracy, human rights and free enterprise. Instead, Iraq has endured occupation, the authoritarian installation of a prime minister, the strong-armed removal of an elected leader, the indiscriminate arrest, torture and killing of Iraqi civilians without recourse to law, and an utterly corrupt reconstruction program that oversaw one of the biggest financial crimes in history, which has left average Iraqis with little water, power, health care, education or even food.
    And as Maureen Dowd tells us here from ‘05 (in fine form – maybe she’ll return to writing like this since the election has ended; we’ll see), Chalabi knows all about “failure to honor his word” (the message above makes good points, but again, the problem is the messenger)…

    The neocons' con man (Chalabi) had been paid millions by the U.S. to tell the Bushies what they wanted to hear on Iraqi W.M.D. A year ago, the State Department and factions in the Pentagon turned on him after he began bashing America and using Saddam's secret files to discredit his enemies.

    Right after the invasion, the charlatan was escorted into Iraq by U.S. troops and cultivated an axis of Americans, Iraqis and Iranians. He got a fancy house with layers of armed guards and pulled-down shades, and began helping himself to Iraqi assets. The U.S. occupation sicced the Iraqi police on his headquarters only after an Iraqi judge ordered thugs in the Chalabi posse arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, torture and theft.

    Newsweek revealed that the U.S. suspected Mr. Chalabi of leaking secret information about American war plans for Iraq to the Iranians before the invasion, and of perhaps leaking "highly classified" information to Iran that could "get people killed" if abused by the Iranians. Mr. Chalabi claimed the Iranians set him up.

    In August of last year, while he was at a cabin in the Iranian mountains, the Iraqis ordered him arrested on counterfeiting charges, which were later dropped for lack of evidence.

    Now, showing survival skills that make Tom DeLay look like a piker, the resourceful Thief of Baghdad has popped back up as one of the four deputy prime ministers and the interim cabinet minister controlling the one valuable commodity in that wasteland: the second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. He even has a DeLay-like talent for getting relatives on the payroll: a Chalabi nephew is the new finance minister.
    And the Times thinks that Chalabi has any kind of credibility at all to make pronouncements about the state of Iraq and the war effort, given these revelations from one of the paper’s own reporters (they’ve learned nothing from the Judith Miller fiasco apparently).

    But not to worry, though – I’ve saved the most odious of these three for last, and that would be one Donald H. Rumsfeld, who tells us here that…

    As one who is occasionally — and incorrectly — portrayed as an opponent of the surge in Iraq, I believe that while the surge has been effective in Iraq, we must also recognize the conditions that made it successful. President Bush’s bold decision to deploy additional troops to support a broader counterinsurgency strategy of securing and protecting the Iraqi people was clearly the right decision. More important, though, it was the right decision at the right time.
    Well, as Noah Shactman tells us here, Rummy did support some elements of the surge, but they were not his preference, according to some memos to subordinates; he actually favored a “draw-down of U.S. bases” and to “put reconstruction efforts to work in Iraq where they’re ‘behaving’” first (can't entirely disagree with that on the merits, but it does fly in the face of what he's now telling us, of course).

    But double talk is not unusual for Rummy, of course, given the following (written in ’04, from here)…

    Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine.

    We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld's blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.
    And I believe it bears repeating that Rumsfeld aborted an al-Qaeda raid on Pakistan in ’05, as noted here; basically countermanded the President of the United States on how Dubya wanted to be briefed on Jay Garner, the interim head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, here (I don’t know if that speaks more to Rumsfeld’s arrogance or Dubya’s incompetence); pulled two key players from Garner’s team (Warrick and O’Sullivan) because they were critical of Chalabi here (and of course, Rummy got Doug Feith to do his dirty work for him); and stated that anyone who opposed Bush “lacks courage on terror” here.

    And who of us can forget this evergreen Rummy moment here, going to war “with the army you have, not the army you want”?

    Oh, and did I mention that Rummy (as noted here) was shopping around for a “large cash advance” on a book deal about the war (don’t know if he got it yet)?

    I’m sure that, given such a stellar journalistic moment from the Times as what I’ve noted here, we can look forward to future “theme” columns on topics such as integrity in government service by Dick Cheney, U.N. conciliation strategies by John Bolton, disaster management by Mike Brown, and Oval Office scholarship by George W. Bush.

    Update: And yep, only Dubya would be dumb enough to be "pleased" with a deal that would keep our troops in Iraq for three more years under "strict Iraqi oversight."

    Update 11/26/08: More of the same from "Bubble Boy" here; the payoff, though, comes in the very last paragraph...

    Mr. Bush’s upbeat assessment of the two wars made hardly any reference to the problems he will leave to President-elect Barack Obama.
    54 days and counting, people...

    Shed No Tears For "Freedom's Crock"

    Based on this, it looks like Freedom’s Watch, a premier propaganda vehicle for the Republican Party, is effectively done (consider this a triumph for informed discourse – this was inevitable given the money problems of its “sugar daddy” noted here)…

    Freedom’s Watch spokesman Ed Patru “confirmed that much of the staff was on its way out,” but refused to say if the group would continue in the future…
    Let’s see, Ed Patru – that name rings a bell, but I can’t remember why.

    Oh, wait, I remember now; he’s the guy who said that Patrick Murphy stated in 2004 that everything was just peachy in Iraq (here), supposedly refuting Murphy’s spot-on criticism, but when Brendan attempted to reach Patru about what Patrick supposedly said, Patru (as if by magic) was nowhere to be found.

    And among the other numerous lowlights for these cretins, this tells us that FW linked Iraq to 9/11 (of course) and this notes that they also paid a certain Karl Rove six figures for “advice” (yep, if I were ever a donor to these people, hypothetically speaking of course, I’d sure have something to say about that). And just for good measure, this tells us that they ran an ad attacking veterans who opposed the Iraq war on Veterans Day (nothing too low for these nematodes).

    However, as Think Progress notes, the group is going out with “one last blast” in Georgia on behalf of Saxby Chambliss, set to defend his U.S. Senate seat once more against Dem challenger Jim Martin in the Dec. 2nd runoff (and if that isn’t a good reason to help out Martin – and to do so, click here – then I don’t know what is).

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    K.O. is back, with "Worst Persons" (Mark Halperin is a liar and a shill, Billo keeps repeating this utter lie that the Minnesota Senate election results were certified, and Holy Joe is caught dead to rights)...

    ...The Black Keys ("Your Touch"; don't try this at home, kids).

    A Job For Dubya In The Spirit Of The Season

    I have to admit that I was inspired a bit by the following column from Gail Collins in the New York Times over the weekend in which she basically tells Dubya, in so many words, to quit (of course, if our elected representatives in Congress actually had a spine, they would have impeached Commander Codpiece and made the decision for him by now, but there you are).

    Well, along comes the news today that, in addition to many other shortages in the world, it turns out that there is also a shortage of Santa Clauses in Germany.

    Now, I’m not asking that we send Dubya to another continent for employment, though the idea does have its merits. I’m merely suggesting that we send some of our more-qualified Santas abroad, assuming they have language skills (voluntarily, of course, offering a nice payday; oh, but that’s just a joke, kids – Santa doesn’t really get paid…silly me) and Dubya would move from one short-term contract job (the presidency of the United States) to another (Kris Kringle).

    Why, I can picture the results as being something like this (complete with quotes from here)…

    Dubya/Santa: “Ho, ho, ho, little girl. Hope yer’ ass on up here.”

    Girl: “Hi, Santa.”

    D/S: “Now, let’s see here. What do you want for Christmas?”

    Girl: “Um…I thought you knew already, Santa. Didn’t you get the letter I sent?”

    D/S: "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it...I'm sure something will pop into my head here…with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet...I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one."

    Girl: “Daddy, something’s wrong with Santa. He’s acting like an idiot.”


    D/S: “Ho, ho, ho and all like that. Whaddaya want?”

    Boy: “I want Balls Of Fury for my Wii.”

    D/S: “What the hell is that? Reminds me o’ the time I fell cycling in Scotland. Almost busted my nuts.”

    Boy: “What are you talking about?”

    D/S: “An’ why the hell is it always about what YOU want? How about what I want? If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.”

    Boy: “MOM!!”


    D/S: “(zzz…)”

    Girl: (whispering to her brother) “I think Santa has nodded off.”

    Boy: (whispering also) “Yeah, judging from that half-empty bottle of Jim Beam, I’d say you’re right. Smells a bit too. Check his pockets for change.”

    Girl: (looks in pockets, and D/S wakes up)…

    D/S: “Hey, what the hell are you up to, little Bar’?”

    Girl: (stepping back in surprise) “Uh, what did you call me?”

    D/S: “N-N-nevermind” (holding head, bending over slightly). “Ho ho an’ all – you know the rest.”

    Girl: Santa – Santa, are you listening to me?

    D/S: "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here."

    Boy: “What a moron.”

    Girl: “Sshh! Santa, you act like you’re sick.”

    D/S: “So what?”

    Girl: “How do you explain this?

    D/S: (sitting up in a hurry) “I’m Santa -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being Santa."

    Boy: (rolls his eyes) “I’ll get security. I think Santa is flagged.”

    Girl: “Santa, I think you’re too sick to hear my wishes for Christmas. Maybe you should withdraw.”

    D/S: “"I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me."

    Girl: Um…OK, Santa, whatever you say (as boy returns with security guard).

    Guard: OK, Santa, come with me. I know where you can get three “hots” and a cot (taking D/S by the arm).

    D/S: (stumbling away) “There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
    On second thought, maybe Dubya should stay where he is for now. This would probably be just another job he would screw up, and he's done enough damage already.

    (And by the way, it looks like Bollywood knows the profit-making potential of lampooning Dubya based on this.)

    Smerky Sings The Corporate Media Blues

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

    In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Smerconish told the tale of Martin Eisenstadt, "a senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy" who, as it turned out, was a fictitious creation from two filmmakers (Eisenstadt was “a self-described neoconservative who found his opinions in demand during the presidential campaign” – tee hee).

    Smerconish then uses this episode to decry the “24-hour news cycle (in which) bloggers and even mainstream media work so quickly that they don't really have the chance to check,” according to one of the two perpetrators of the Eisenstadt fiction, with the net effect being that news organizations are suffering (the New York Times, for example, cut 100 newsroom jobs earlier this year, despite revenues of $209 million last year, as Smerky tells us).

    (By the way, I haven’t “called Smerky’s number” for a little while now because he seems to be in the process of redefining himself ideologically a bit, at least for the moment. I will acknowledge that he’s a bit more astute of a media creature than, say, Bill Orally, Sean Inanity or Flush Limbore, mainly because he has to be in order to cater to his local radio audience. However, that doesn’t mean that he won’t “turn to the dark side” every now and then either.)

    Yes, I can appreciate that it’s very difficult for news organizations to operate during a time when it’s tough to generate revenue in order to stay afloat (with that in mind, I thought this idea by Dan Abrams, former MSNBC host, was interesting). And as I’ve said in the past, I am one blogger who respects news professionals (the reputable ones, anyway) because I can appreciate the work that went into obtaining a degree in the field and building a career; I will never speak dismissively of the craft of journalism.

    However, as I was wondering what to say about the points Smerky brings up, I happened to come across the following Daily Kos post which, I think, does a good job of illustrating exactly where our corporate media has gone wrong.

    It begins with the matter of the proposed auto industry bailout and presents the conservative argument against it (which, really, are merely talking points waiting to be exploded). With what I think is great care, the blogger (DHinMI) critiques the talking points and explains how absurd they are (in particular, the claim that automakers earn $73 per hour in salary, when, in reality, the number is a lot closer to $28 per hour).

    The post is very well sourced, it provides plenty of background, and it leads the reader to a plainly obvious conclusion; namely, that there is a critical need to assist the carmakers because of the huge consequences if this doesn’t occur (and yes, that means helping malefactors like Rick Waggoner of GM and Bob Nardelli of Chrysler, who appears to be adding to his rep as a mediocre CEO with as forgettable a performance here as the one he brought us when he ran Home Depot, generating big compensation even though the stock did not do well).

    Also, this post contains news that would be of direct interest to what I would guess would be the majority of the people reading it. It tells people how the news of compensating the automakers directly affects their lives.

    It’s not full of speculation, spin or other types of editorializing. It’s not something that reads as if it were a press release. Its tone is constructive and it’s written in a manner that lends itself to explanation and analysis.

    Basically, this is what news is supposed to be.

    Now it’s not my purpose here to discuss what I believe are unrealistic expectations from individuals or entities regarding return on investment in a news organization of one type or another. I am merely trying to point out that news is a product to a certain degree, and if that product isn’t going to fulfill the need of the consumer (i.e., to be informed and/or entertained if possible), that consumer will look elsewhere for something else that will.

    And while that inevitably means more blog traffic for others (maybe even more radio traffic for Smerky and his brethren), it is also inevitable that this will affect the content of the product.

    So, with that in mind, maybe instead of proclaiming that “I don’t do reporting” (I try to in my admittedly imperfect way), Smerky should “hand over the reins” of his column to someone else who does. And while that would hardly rectify the problem he notes here, it would definitely be a step in the right direction.

    And the fact that the lies that sometimes result from "non-reporting" are propagated so easily doesn't help either (h/t Atrios).