Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Stuff

R.I.P. Paul Benedict, a lot more that George Jefferson's neighbor as it turned out; here's a grainy clip from "the mad painter" he played on Sesame Street (and if there's such a thing as a beautiful place to die, he picked it)...

...more Bush scandals (senior Dubya counselor Ed Gillespie is having a lobbyist party in the White House two months before he's due to depart, though he of course can lecture NBC about its "unfair" press coverage - uh huh; Mary Beth Buchanan is apparently only going to leave her job as a U.S. attorney for Bushco kicking and screaming; taser anyone?; and K.O. provides the definitive takedown on the claim from Turd Blossom that Muslims in this country weren't "rounded up" after all)...

..."Worst Persons" (yes, I'm taking a chance again with two consecutive MSNBC videos, I know - first up is "Nooners" for claiming in her Murdoch Street Journal column today that Dubya "kept us safe," which actually is somewhat true if you don't count this - well, I suppose it isn't even under those circumstances, as noted here; Bill Orally ends up inciting one of his single-brain-celled followers to commit an act of theft against a sign by an atheist; but Lorraine Henderson takes it, the person in charge of Massachusetts Homeland Security - Boston in particular - who hired illegal aliens to clean her home and even paid them to stay...I have a feeling she's going to become another statistic shortly)...

...Voicst ("Feel Like A Rocket"; gosh, why does everything always have to be about sex?).

An Indian Obama-Rama Slam From Little Ricky

(And if you guessed that I also posted over here...well, never mind; I just did, that's all.)

It must be hard for former Senator Man-On-Dog to find fault with the incoming presidential administration, but he gave it his best shot in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday here…

As we saw last week in Mumbai, political and religious divisions in the world's largest democracy make our disagreements seem tame by comparison. So when Obama named economist Sonal Shah to his transition team, the unifier invited division.

From India to the United States, Hindus, Muslims and Christians criticized her appointment, alleging that she has links to Hindu militants. News of Indian American groups' protests was the top story on the Times of India's Web site for days.
I don’t know what the Hindi term is for “hyperbole,” but if I knew it, I would surely use it here.

Not being an expert in the politics of India, I must admit that it’s a little difficult for me to get a handle on exactly what our former PA senator from Northern Virginia finds so objectionable. But I’ll take my best shot.

As Santorum notes, one of Shah’s efforts included serving as relief coordinator for Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) of America (the “World Hindu Council of America”) when they aided the Indian state of Gujarat after it suffered an earthquake in 2001.

Well, as far as Santorum is concerned, that’s enough for him and writer Vijay Prashad, among others, to link Shah with the ultra-nationalist VHP of India, which itself is linked to other extremist groups, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), of which VHP is an offshoot, according to Little Ricky (if that’s incorrect, please bash him and not me, OK?).

There are at least two problems here. The first is that blaming Shah for the violence of VHP-India is a little like blaming U. S. House Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Muslim, for Islamic terrorism. By that I mean more precisely that Shah’s links to VHP-India are innocuous, assuming they exist at all (that claim is supported by this article in which Vijay Prashad is mentioned – I noted him earlier).

(Note: If you have any trouble with the above link, the referenced article is called, "In defence of Sonal Shah," by Salil Tripathi from 11/12/08 from the Wall Street Journal.)

Despite Little Ricky’s claim that VHP-America and VHP-India are similar, I cannot find evidence that VHP-America has signed onto VHP-India’s ultra-nationalist agenda (Santorum says that VHP-America’s site “shares VHP-India’s ideals,” but I couldn’t track that down).

Also, it’s kind of peculiar to read expressions of sympathy towards Muslims from Santorum, particularly when he tells us here that “Islam is less compatible with democracy than is Christianity” (nice).

You want to know what I think is going on here? Santorum sees a chance to beat up an Obama selection and also criticize Shah (who has impressive credentials aside from this) for not expressing the proper fealty to Christianity (as least, not to Santorum’s liking anyway).

But this is “par for the course” for a “whited sepulcher” like Santorum, who said here that Obama’s faith was “phony” anyway.

I seem to recall someone who once said, “Judge not that ye not be judged,” Little Ricky (Matthew 7:1). Does that ring a bell?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Stuff

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

Rachel Maddow interviews Lawrence O'Donnell about the "Dubya Legacy Project" (uh, yep; it's every bit as pathetic as it sounds, and O'Donnell is a bit glib about the economy at the end)...

...Tom Waits, live at Rockpalast in 1977 ("Bad Liver And A Broken Heart"; for all my friends who lost their jobs today).

NYC Whacks Plax For Gun Goof

(My attempt at a headline for the NY Post, for better or worse…)

I have to admit that I’m torn a bit over this Wall Street Journal opinion column by David Kopel, in which he argues that New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, apprehended when his handgun discharged into his leg while he drank in a midtown Manhattan nightclub, should not receive a mandatory prison sentence of 3 ½ years for his incredible rank stupidity.

And I actually agree with that part; what good does it do to send someone to the “gray bar hotel” who would never intentionally pose a threat to anyone but himself?

However, towards the end of Kopel’s piece, he tells us…

New York City needs to regularize its carry permit system so that law-abiding people can protect themselves, especially if their circumstances (such as being a witness to a gang crime) place them at heightened risk.
In response, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC tells us in this New York Post story (with a real headline) that…

"If you want a gun permit, you should have to really show that your life is in danger, and that having a gun will protect you, will improve the chances of you surviving," the mayor said.

He added that he doesn't have a problem with people who own guns to hunt, but said it doesn't make sense for those in densely populated urban areas.

"I do think that having concealed weapons on the streets of major cities is not something that is in the interests of the citizens of those cities in this day and age, and I don't think the founding fathers really thought about that when they drafted the Constitution," Bloomberg said.
Kudos to Bloomberg for a common-sense perspective here (and I don't see any extraordinary circumstances for Burress to have the gun in the first place).

And Kopel has been an advocate against gun laws for some time; as noted here…

The various gun control proposals on today's agenda--including licensing, waiting periods (presumably while a background check is conducted), and bans on so-called Saturday night specials--are of little, if any, value as crime-fighting measures. Banning guns to reduce crime makes as much sense as banning alcohol to reduce drunk driving.
I’m sure someone from MADD would have a word or two to say about that, but as for myself, I’ll just reply with the following (from here):

Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a law this year, that strengthens the Brady law by providing financial aid to states to improve their system of reporting severely mentally ill people to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The law was spurred by the actions of a mentally unstable Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and then himself at Virginia Tech University in April last year.

Even the National Rifle Association, which opposed the Brady law when it was introduced, supported this year's tightening. The NRA was among gun-rights groups that said Brady checks would be useless because buyers simply would turn to unregulated sources for their guns. But the many interceptions of illegal purchasers through the years demonstrate the fallacy of this argument.

Just last month, Barry Cleveland Roberts attempted to buy a handgun at a shop in Norfolk, Va. Police arrested him soon after a background check showed he was wanted in Baltimore, where he faced a first-degree murder charge.
And from here…

A 1999 analysis of crime statistics conducted by The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence) demonstrates that allowing people to carry concealed handguns does not mean less crime. The Center found that, as a group, states that rely on permissive concealed weapons laws as a crime fighting strategy had a significantly smaller drop in crime than states which looked to other means to combat crime rather than make it easier to obtain a concealed weapons permit.
And by the way (from here)...

According to a National Post-Election Omnibus Survey, support for sensible gun laws is strong, not only among those who voted for Obama, but also among McCain voters.

The poll, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland, found that 3 in 4 (76%) voters favor reasonable gun regulations in general, with 4 in 5 (83%) who favor Brady criminal background checks for all gun sales, including 84% of McCain voters and gun owners. The results also highlight that the NRA had little sway over voters
And on the matter of guns purchased legally elsewhere that are used to commit a crime in New York City, perhaps if this country had gun laws as strict as England’s, maybe all four Beatles would have been alive in 2000 when this opinion piece was written.

So yes, throw the book at Burress for walking around with a loaded Glock in his sweatpants, and say a prayer of thanks that the accidental wounding was only to himself. But if there was ever a case for overturning a mandatory sentencing guideline, this is it (especially since, as Jim Dwyer of the New York Times tells us here, many of those accused under the tougher gun law passed two years ago end up sentenced based on other charges).

(I just realized another unintended benefit of the Burress story; at least he won't be able to catch any touchdown passes against the Eagles on Sunday.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wednesday Stuff

"Worst Persons," with K.O. (nice to see hockey player Sean Avery get nailed here, and interesting theory about why he might have wanted to be suspended - what a creep; Cincinnati radio idiot Bill Cunningham loses it over a creationism museum with a dinosaur...besides him, surprise surprise...yep, I'd say also that it's inappropriate in the least to compare an alleged discount coupon scam to "Bull" Connor; and Sean Inanity blames the Obama win on "poorly informed voters" but inadvertently slams his audience in the process - tee hee)...

...Julian Cope ("World Shut Your Mouth"; yep, I have that reaction after dealing with BS from Fix Noise too).

Waging War On The Innocent

The following excerpt also comes from Dana Perino’s press conference today (in addition to the excerpt noted earlier from here)…

MS. PERINO: Helen, did you have a question?

Q Yes. Is the President going to sign the anti-cluster bomb treaty? Apparently this is --

MS. PERINO: Right, this is a treaty that was passed out of the U.N. Security Council several months ago. We said then that, no, we would not be signing on to it. And so I think that the signing is actually -- we did not participate in the passage of it, and therefore we're not going to sign it either.

Q Why not?

MS. PERINO: What I have forgotten is all the reasons why, and so I'll get it for you. (Laughter.)
Two immediate observations…one, I’m sure the person speaking to Perino is Helen Thomas, because this is actually a good question, as opposed to someone in the press corps leading Perino into an excuse to expound on a White House-approved talking point; two, I can’t imagine the cynicism and ignorance that would compel anyone to laugh concerning the topic of cluster bombs, and hopefully I never will.

This BBC News story tells us…

As he opened the signing convention in Oslo, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the treaty would make the world safer, but had been too long in coming.

"Too many people lost their lives and their limbs; too many futures were shattered," he said.

"The tragedy of their needless suffering is matched only by our joy today in being able to prevent more human misery in the future."

Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Red Cross, reminded the meeting of the deadly legacy of cluster bombs.

"The path to Oslo is also traced through the mountains and the rice paddies of south-east Asia where several hundred million sub-munitions were dropped and many tens of millions remain today," he said.

"This path runs through the lives of civilians in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who have lived with the threat of unexploded sub-munitions for four decades."
As noted from Democracy Now here, according to the group Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, and 27 percent are children (the BBC story basically says that we’re working on “smarter” cluster bombs, though I have yet to hear a good explanation for why we should have cluster bombs at all; is it a coincidence that the three countries who refuse to ban them – us, China and Russia –are not likely to be victimized by them? At least we’ve agree to provide “clearance” in countries where these monstrous devices are located, which is something I guess).

Returning to the BBC story…

Jody Williams, an anti-landmine campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the US had "essentially obeyed" all the elements of the treaty and she hoped US President-elect Barack Obama would sign it.

"Mr. Obama tells us to look for hope and change," she told Reuters news agency. "I like hope and change, but I want to see him sign it."
So do I.

Update: More from Think Progress here...

Run, Jeb, Run

This CNN story tells us that former Florida governor Jeb Bush is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat that has opened up as a result of the decision of incumbent Repug Mel Martinez not to seek another term (they say Alex Castellanos reported this, but I think he got it from Marc Ambinder; he’s the first person I heard reporting about this).

And yes, I think this is a good thing overall.

Because this gives us a chance to take another look at Jeb’s ties to Cuban exile Miguel Recarey, who had assisted the CIA in its attempts to kill Fidel Castro, but fled this country after he was charged with Medicare fraud, noted here (hmmm, “fled the country,” huh? Where’s the “Marc Rich standard” of outrage over bad “expat” behavior now?).

And I wonder what Jeb thinks now of his admittedly principled stand to protect the Everglades from oil exploration in the past? Will he join the “Drill, Baby, Drill!” chorus? And has he come around to the fact that the climate crisis is occurring because of man-made activity or not?

And let’s revisit Jeb’s role in the Terri Schiavo fiasco again, shall we, in particular, the law he signed to keep her alive against the wishes of her husband Michael, whom he investigated, even though prior investigations cleared Michael Schiavo of any wrongdoing (here).

Another thing – it might be worth noting that Jeb oversaw more executions (21) than his gubernatorial predecessors Bob Graham, Bob Martinez and Lawton Chiles, with nary a pardon to be found (curious for someone who converted to Catholicism, a faith which is opposed to the death penalty, of course – he did put an end to executions when one was botched two years ago, to be fair).

Oh, and did I mention that Jeb is a member of PNAC? And somehow I don’t think Jeb’s endorsement of Rudy 9iu11ani for President during this year’s Repug Florida primary amounted to much.

Hmm – I jut have this nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something else about Jeb…

Oh yes; boy, that was some presidential election in 2000, wasn’t it? And I’m sure you had absolutely nothing to do the purging of over 50,000 eligible voters from your state’s voting registries (yes, the act was overseen directly by Katherine Harris, as we know all too well now, but this could not have transpired without your tacit endorsement at the very least).

So I hope Jeb runs for the Senate. I think it will be fun to keep turning over all of these rocks to see what oozes out all over again (cutting to the chase, wouldn’t he have been the veep on the ticket with McCain instead of “Governor Hottie” if Jeb’s halfwit brother hadn’t totally trashed the Bush “brand” once and for all?).

Update 1: And here's more news about the Bush clan - I would say that that family's gene pool needs a lifeguard (h/t The Daily Kos).

Update 2: More from brownsox at The Daily Kos (again)...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday Stuff

To Jim Martin and all of the Georgia Democrats who worked so hard for his campaign, take solace from the fact that we all are grateful for your efforts - change will eventually come (kudos to the ever-courageous Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also).

And to the lizard-brained, single-digit-IQ supporters of Saxby Chambliss, I realize that you're too stupid to realize that it's a bad thing when a candidate for high political office claims that he doesn't know the meaning of the word "recession," stonewalls an investigation into a refinery fire in which 14 people died (here - and shoves his hand into a camera lens when he's asked about it), and makes sure the state police removes someone from a campaign event who has the apparent effrontery to exercise his God-given right to record the event for posterity.

We got to 50 seats in the Senate in 2006, and we'll do no worse than 58 this year (59 if Franken wins). That's one away from 60 (I'm helping you with the math so you don't have a hard time counting on your fingers and toes).

If you want the Repugs to remain the political party of choice for largely male, middle-aged white crackers, that's the path you choose. We'll just keep surrounding you until the point where you're irrelevant; we're just about at that point now (and here and here is good news on two more targets for 2010).

But for now, here's another look at the life form you're sending back to Washington. Take a bow (and I hope you herniate yourselves in the process).

Update 12/05/08: I thought this was interesting stuff on the runoff.

...Bruce Springsteen ("Working On A Dream").

Keeping Us Scared (W)itless

I don't know what else to say about this great post by Edger but to merely point out that this is yet another example of our corporate media trying to make us wet our pants.

"Root causes of terrorism," huh? Where the f*ck did THAT come from?

Why didn't we care about the "root causes of terrorism" over the last seven years or so after the Reichstag burned towers fell (as noted here)? Because a DEMOCRAT is now in charge?

Take the cue from "Fox Noise," people...

Update 12/3/08: In addition to the absurdity of expecting Obama to address the "root cause of terrorism" (yeah, in anticipation of corporate media caterwauling as he tries to reach out to our enemies - oh yeah, Bushco's "go it alone" strategy WORKED SO WELL, as we know)...well, what BarbinMD sez here.

Frugality To A Fault (For One, I Believe)

(By the way, I posted over here based on what I thought was a well-written Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today by Cyril Mychalejko.)

The Murdoch Street Journal tells us here that Texas Governor Rick Perry and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (both Republican, of course) wrote a column basically telling the incoming Obama Administration and the 111th Congress that they don’t need a bailout, thank you…

…the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a "bailout mentality" where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions. We're asking other governors from both sides of the political aisle to join with us in opposing further federal bailout intervention for three reasons.
And the three reasons, by the way are: 1) We’re acquiring too much debt (a concern I would echo were it not for the fact that we have to get credit moving again; I defer to Paul Krugman on stuff like this); 2) “…the bailout mentality threatens Americans' sense of personal responsibility” (yes, let’s all be moral scolds while our economy is tanking…God, I can cut the “stupid” with a knife here); and 3) “…we'd ask the federal government to stop believing it has all the answers” (yes, just remember, boys and girls, as your jobs, pensions, health insurance and your homes are disappearing like sand through a strainer, it’s not happening because this is the culmination of the scam first perpetrated by The Sainted Ronnie R – namely, that YOU TOO can be part of the “ownership society,” which, as Barack Obama correctly surmised, means that, if you aren’t rich, you’re on your own…hell no, this is happening because of BIG GOVERNMENT!!

Pardon me while I retch.

In the case of Perry, it should be noted that Texas doesn’t need federal help because, as stated here, they have benefitted from the increase in oil prices this year to the tune of $10.7 billion (let’s see the guy The Eternal Molly Ivins used to call “Goodhair” lambaste the federal government and whine about a “bailout mentality” minus all that dough). And though she didn’t author this column, it should be noted that “Governor Hottie” herself echoed similar sentiments here, which is also amusing considering that residents of Alaska benefit from about four different oil-related taxes; if anything, Alaskans should be bailing US out.

The real puzzlement to me, though, is why Mark Sanford would buy into any of this hooey. I believe the answer, though, lies in the fact that his state squandered a billion dollar budget surplus (here), while, as noted here (near the bottom)...

“...(the) real problem (with South Carolina’s budget) is not runaway spending, but a deeply flawed tax system. Among the tax policy challenges that South Carolina must address are limitations on property tax growth and property tax assessments, wasteful tax breaks for profitable corporations like Michelin, and an excessive reliance on a sales tax that fails to tax services adequately.”
And it doesn’t help when someone like Sanford is prone to publicity stunts (as noted here), but doesn’t know that, when handling a state’s finances, there are times when it doesn’t pay to be a tightwad (such as when you refuse to spend on infrastructure or even something as elemental as tourism marketing).

But hey, maybe Sanford can hit up his pals Rick and Sarah for some dough if the day ever comes when it dawns on the South Carolina guv that his state is sinking into the abyss (at least the state comptroller knows it’s time for a special budget session, as noted here).

However, when it comes to the rest of the states, I think it’s pretty safe to say that they all need help (and our incoming president, as opposed to the half wit who is about to depart, thoroughly understands that).

Update 12/22/08: Yep, Sanford's got a problem, all right (here).

Update 1/1/09: Looks like reality has finally set in for the governor of South Carolina (here).

Pardon My Boredom

Yes, I think it has been pretty thoroughly established that Obama Administration Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder screwed up in the case of the Marc Rich pardon, if for no other reason than the fact that he allowed himself to be “lobbied” by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on the matter in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, as noted by Richard Cohen of the WaPo here (h/t The Daily Kos – registration required).

However, I think the following should be noted about the Rich pardon from today’s story in the New York Times (to recap, Rich was charged with 51 counts of tax fraud and accused of owing $48 million in back taxes; he fled the country to Switzerland during his prosecution in 1983)…

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were unwilling to negotiate with Mr. Rich’s lawyers while he remained a fugitive. Mr. Holder told (Rich lawyer Jack) Quinn in one phone call in November 1999 that he believed the prosecutors’ refusal to meet with the Rich lawyer was “ridiculous,” according to notes by Mr. Quinn obtained by House government reform committee investigators as part of a three-volume report on (President) Clinton’s pardons.
And who I wonder was one of the U.S. attorneys who originally brought the case against Rich (which, Rich’s lawyers argued, should have been handled as a civil and not a criminal matter)?

Why, that would be Rudy 9iu11ani; as the New York Daily News noted here as the news of the Rich pardon broke in January 2001 (with typical understatement, of course)…

Mayor Giuliani used to keep a photocopy of a $200 million check on his office wall.

It was written by Marc Rich's former company to settle criminal charges of tax evasion and lying to government agencies.

But the check was all Giuliani got for bringing the biggest tax-evasion case in U.S. history. What, or whom he really wanted - Marc Rich - got away. When Rich was pardoned last week by President Bill Clinton, Giuliani was angry.
Sure he was, losing such a high-profile "perp" (and as Wikipedia tells us here, Rich “was required to pay a $100 million dollar fine and waive any use of the pardon as a defense against any future civil charges that were filed against him in the same case”).

So, basically, Rich was required to waive the pardon as a defense so he could be prosecuted ad infinitum over this matter. Tell me who in their right mind is going to agree to terms like that?

I agree that Rich is a bad apple; CNN reported in 2005 that he was a “middleman for several suspect Iraqi oil deals involving over 4 million barrels of oil,” as in the “oil for food” scandal.

But given the fact that he made restitution to some degree, to say nothing of the fact that his case was originally brought by an extremely politically minded prosecutor, I would say that it’s not fair to weigh this matter too heavily against Holder (who, it is generally acknowledged, is a fine candidate otherwise).

Oh, and by the way, as long as the Rich case is generating so much attention (probably because of the combination of the Holder circumstances and the fact that these are the dying days of Bushco, lending themselves to last-minute pardon coverage anyway), can our corporate media at least devote a fraction of its time to the Poppy Bush pardons, namely those involved with Iran-Contra? I care a hell of a lot more about them than I ever will about Marc Rich (particularly because Elliott Abrams, one of the five, emerged as a “player” once more under the foul reign of Poppy’s progeny).

One more thing: on the matter of Obama’s appointees, this Daily Kos link takes you to the musings of none other than The Rude Pundit, who (in his inimitable style that I dare not try to replicate) captures my sentiments perfectly.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Videos

Here's more on the "friends" of Saxby Chambliss, all you Georgia folk; they all chipped in on a portrait of their hero (to help Jim Martin, click here - tomorrow is the day!)...

...more Bush scandals (God, he even screws up an interview conducted by his sister, and we sure want the "klieg lights" to go ANYWHERE else too; and for the record, he and his fellow crooks were warned in January 2006 about the mortgage meltdown - actually, The Eternal Molly Ivins had been warning that Long-Term Capital Management, as bad as it was, was only a drop in the bucket, and somehow I think she knows what we're dealing with now; and we know now for certain that this regime's torture policy has cost American lives - and kudos to K.O. for dropping this right in the lap of "Kristol Mess," among others)...

..."Worst Persons" (I knew George Will would show up eventually, and he does so here from spinning more of his delusional economic fairy tales, and Billo takes the silver AND the gold tonight; the silver because Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes hate him, though he's still scraping enough of the bottom of the barrel to get decent ratings - let's see where he is in five years or less, OK? - and the gold for proclaiming "I'm a secular guy" now, though he decried "secular" judges earlier and has made a way-too-profitable living decrying the separation of church and state - oy...if video doesn't appear, just refresh until it does; an MSNBC thing)...

...and as a reminder of World AIDS Day once more (the 20th anniversary, which I neglected to mention earlier), here's Freddie Mercury and Queen ("The Show Must Go On," kind of a double shot since some of "You're My Best Friend" played in the Chambliss clip).

Could Tweety Be "The Man"? (updates)

(And by the way, I also posted over here today – also, don’t be surprised if posting is a bit flaky as we get closer to the holidays.)

It seems that left blogostan, as it were, is all abuzz over the possibility that Chris Matthews, currently the host of “Hardball” on MSNBC, may be mounting a Senate challenge in our beloved commonwealth against Snarlin’ Arlen Specter (with Phil Singer of HuffPo noting here that Matthews has put together an exploratory committee; Singer also points out that Matthews really shouldn’t be on the air if he’s running for the Senate, which is a good point – if this becomes official, then Matthews would have to relinquish his job with the network anyway; also, I’ve seen some “buzz” over at Open Left to the effect that Matthews is trying to recruit Chris Bowers to help in some type of capacity).

I have to admit that I’m torn a bit here (again, assuming this is all legitimate, and I have a feeling that it is, if for no other reason than because of Matthews’ consummate egomania; what role, if any, Bowers would play is all conjecture, and I don’t have any “inside dope” on that).

On the one hand, if I were to think of anyone out there who embodies progressive values and could run for high office in this state, Matthews is definitely not the first person who would come to mind; as you can read from this post in April, he embodies everything that is wrong with the Beltway media culture. I think we as progressives would all have to become afflicted with a case of selective amnesia to think he would be an advocate for any cause that we hold dear.

On the other hand, Matthews is a great candidate because (thinking worst case), if he is unable to pull this off, then we wouldn’t have wasted more prime political talent in this state upon a quest that would be ultimately fruitless (as I noted here not too long ago, Specter can be beaten like any pol, but the strategy and the execution will have to be flawless, and I’m sorry, but I don’t see Matthews as someone who can pull this off – love to see him prove me wrong, though).

So we’ll see; hopefully Matthews thinks he has a shot and isn’t just “tilting at a windmill” because he got another “thrill going up (his) leg,” as he did here.

Update 1 12/02/08: Toomey '10...YEAH BABY!!

Update 2 12/02/08: I forgot about Joe Scar here, who went the "anti-Matthews" route (he was in politics first).

Update 3 12/04/08: Usually I bow and grovel in homage to the almighty kos, but I think he's flat, dead wrong here (and whoever conducted that Rasmussen poll must have done a tab of acid).

I sincerely hope Patrick Murphy doesn't even consider running against Specter unless Pat Toomey declares; I know kos is mad because Patrick is a "Blue Dog" ("Bush Dog," but not on the war), but Murphy has positioned himself to compete in the "T" of PA better than any other Dem (which, with all due respect, I STILL think isn't good enough for now).

For what it’s worth, I envision any of these scenarios (which automatically means they’ll never happen):

  • Specter is knocked off by Toomey in the primary, and Matthews knocks off Toomey.

  • Specter knocks off Toomey, but Mathews fools everybody, emerges as a seasoned, skilled campaigner, and somehow beats Specter (and then I woke up).

  • Specter knocks off Toomey and Matthews, with Patrick Murphy sitting it out; meanwhile, Bob Casey decides to run for PA governor in 2010, opening up his Senate seat, which Patrick Murphy runs for and wins in a special election (no word on who would get PA-08; maybe Joe Conti runs against a Dem – paging Mike Diamond – and Diamond gets it? And Specter’s seat finally opens up when he dies in office sometime in the year 2020).
  • (And by the way, I am not an expert in PA election law; I’m merely assuming all of this could happen.)

    Remember, you heard all of this here first (and by the way, though I like her personally, Allyson Schwartz would be a disaster of a choice).

    The Final "World AIDS Day" For Lame-Duck Dubya

    This VOA News story tells us that..

    More than a thousand people living with HIV and their allies (were) expected to gather near the White House (on November 20th) in a preemptive public demonstration for AIDS advocacy. They are staging a pretend inauguration ceremony to urge President-Elect Barack Obama to improve the way the United States fights AIDS domestically and globally.

    The rally comes one day after former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle accepted Mr. Obama’s offer to become Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and implement a campaign pledge to deliver comprehensive universal health care to Americans. Associate director Michael Swigert of the group Africa Action is coordinating today’s simulated inaugural ceremony near the White House, which takes place two months before the actual swearing-in on January 20. He says that President Obama’s first 100 days in office will be crucial in setting priorities for fighting HIV/AIDS.
    I would be remiss if I didn’t note here that Dubya actually did something right on this issue, namely, the fact that $48 billion has been pledged on funding for PEPFAR, which stands for The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (and as the VOA News story tells us, Joe Biden, as former head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helped with allocating the $48 billion, which is a big increase from the $30 billion committed to PEPFAR as I noted here last February).

    However, since we’re talking about Bushco, of course, the following should be noted (from here)…

    "The passage of (the Hyde/Lantos bill, which contained the $48 billion in funding) is a huge step forward for people with AIDS worldwide," said Paul Davis, Director of U.S. Government Affairs for Health GAP. "However, there are still US policies that stand as serious barriers to AIDS prevention and sexual and reproductive health, and we will continue to challenge these harmful policies."

    The Hyde/Lantos bill overturns a previous requirement that one-third of all prevention funding must go to abstinence and fidelity programs, but it now requires a report to Congress if countries spend less than half their prevention funding on such programs. The new law also still requires aid recipients to avow their opposition to commercial sex work.
    By the way, the “What Not To Wear” post from February explains why it’s ridiculous to try and impost “abstinence only” requirements in Africa; mainly, because many of the men are so barbaric that they won’t observe anything resembling monogamy.

    I also wondered why Dubya even established PEPFAR at all when you realize that it was just another bureaucracy; we could have just contributed to the U.N. Global AIDS Fund, but I think part of what drove that decision was our preznit’s desire to impose the “abstinence-only” restrictions and also make sure as few generic drugs as possible were used for treatment to ensure Big Pharma’s profitability here (pretty unconscionable, but typical for this bunch).

    Health GAP specifically lauded the bill's emphasis on training and retention of doctors and nurses in resource-poor countries, as a "brain drain" of health care workers has been a serious barrier to scaling up HIV/AIDS programs.

    In an opinion piece in the July 30, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a co-author of the legislation, called its passage "a landmark achievement that will save millions of people from certain death and prevent millions of new HIV infections in the developing world." However, she added, "Sadly, our commitment to fighting AIDS globally has not extended to the fight against AIDS here at home."
    Indeed, as this tells us…

    The Center for Disease Control announced at the International AIDS Conference this year that the annual number of new HIV infections in the United States is 56,000-plus. This figure is 40 percent higher than the CDC's estimates for the previous 12 years. We live at the national epicenter of the HIV epidemic as 17 percent of all persons who are HIV-positive in the United States live in New York state.

    This year, the governor and our state legislators have cut funding to local providers of HIV/AIDS services twice, a total of nearly 10 percent. These cuts have already led to a reduction statewide in HIV prevention education services, including at Southern Tier AIDS Program. Is this a wise choice in the state with the highest rates of HIV infections in the country?
    This link to the Kaiser Family Foundation web site takes you to a full page of downloadable fact sheets on HIV/AIDS in this country and throughout the world. Also, this link takes you to the World AIDS Day page from the web site of the Centers for Disease Control.

    Knowledge is power, and I don’t think that’s ever been truer than now in the fight against this scourge.

    And by the way, remind me never to give Rick Warren credit for anything again (so, two million AIDS victims helped here versus a minimum of two million Iraq war refugees, to say nothing of casualties - not even a “wash”).

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    "Shuck N' Jive Saxby" Is At It Again

    After reading this, I honestly can't figure out if Repug Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss is a moron, an arrogant egotist, or an unholy combination of both.

    He tells us here that...

    “There were an awful lot of African-Americans that voted for me (in the general election),” he said. “I’ve reached out to the African-American turnout, and I continue to do that.”
    And how exactly does Chambliss “reach out to the African-American turnout”? Well, as noted here (h/t Think Progress), he warned his Cro-Magnon supporters prior to the general election that “the other folks are voting” (and if you figured out that that was code for Obama supporters in general and African-Americans in particular, then you win a free lawn jockey).

    Yeah, I guess that counts for “reaching out” as far as Chambliss is concerned, the same way you “reach out” to an opponent before you try to flatten them with a right hook.

    Oh, and just to refresh our memories, here is Chambliss in action…

    And to do something about it, click here (Martin will need GOTV help if you’re able to assist on Tuesday; it’s now or never, people).

    No Room For A Sinner At The Table?

    It appears that some sort of deal has been worked out allowing Hillary Clinton to be nominated as Secretary of State in the incoming Obama Administration based on this Canadian Press story, contingent on husband and former president Bill Clinton “vetting” a wide array of activities related to his presidential foundation (which probably would be standard procedure for a spouse accepting a cabinet position were we not talking about the Clintons; the very mention of their name seems to send our corporate media into hysterics). And based on the LA Times blog post, it seems that Obama will also “roll out” the rest of his national security team early next week also.

    To learn more about the individuals composing the Obama transition team, click here to read their names from (a figurative army of people, which is about what it will take at the very least to undo the damage wrought by Bushco).

    But as I look down the list of individuals on the Obama team who could possibly end up holding cabinet positions, there is one name that is missing for reasons we all know about, and it would be this guy (I thought of him after reading a Daily Kos diarist a couple of days ago whose name escapes me at the moment)…

    Yes, he’s never going to live down the Rielle Hunter thing, and yes, I turned on him also over the lies about the affair (for president, but I didn’t mean to rule out everything else). And yes, announcing him as a nominee would suddenly turn up the “klieg lights,” as it were, for a process that, except for the business with Hillary Clinton, has largely played out behind the scenes.

    But does the Edwards flameout last summer mean that he’s disqualified from doing anything?

    I’ve seen the names of product safety lawyer Pamela Gilbert and Dem U.S. House Rep. Jan Schakowsky floated around as possible nominees for the Consumer Product Safety Commission here; both are worthy choices, but Edwards definitely has experience with product liability issues from the cases he handled before he served in the U.S. Senate. Also, though it appears that James Lee Witt may return to FEMA for a brief period to ease the transition to his business partner Mark Merrick (I read that Friday but I can’t find the link at the moment – sorry), Edwards has worked with Ninth Ward residents to rebuild their homes and their way of life (and considering that Mike Brown’s “experience” prior to FEMA was selling Arabian horses, I can hardly see how Edwards would be worse).

    Also, this tells us that Dem U.S. House Rep George Miller was approached by the Obama team to head the Department of Labor replacing “Dragon Lady” Elaine Chao; Miller would be an enormous improvement, but he chose to stay in the House. I believe Edwards would be a good fit overseeing this agency also.

    And while I know what the likelihood is of John Edwards resurfacing once more in the Obama Administration (if all else fails, perhaps he could head up a poverty task force; I can think of no one else better suited for the job), I would ask that you watch this “New Rules” segment by Bill Maher, particularly at the end, to get an idea of how silly it is to exclude Edwards outright from doing anything at all (sorry the volume isn’t what it should be – may have to crank the speakers a bit).