Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Stuff

I posted earlier about Reagan, and then I happened to find this - I always thought this was hilarious, by the way, showing off, among other things, the genius of the late, great Phil Hartman...

...and hopefully it will dry out enough around here for us to enjoy the weekend - we'll see.

The Day The Amnesia Attack Began

(Posting will probably be sporadic early next week, by the way.)

In addition to the eve of the 41st anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, today is the fifth anniversary of the passing of a certain R. Reagan who once inhabited the White House.

As noted in “Tear Down This Myth” by Will Bunch (here), the code phrase for the Reagan sendoff was “Operation Serenade,” and the moment that phrase was spoken via phone to a member of the team designated to assist with the funeral arrangements, that person knew it was their duty to drop everything and head towards to Bel-Air, California Reagan home and do his or her part in the “last rites.”

I would like to leave it at that, saying only that the “Reaganalia” that started with the death of our 40th president was a masterpiece of ceremony and the most meticulous planning imaginable. However, the wretched excess of the historical revisionism that followed was often too much for your humble narrator to take (I was nearing the point of taking a ball peen hammer to the TV if I heard one more time about Reagan’s “optimism” – hell, I’d be an optimist too if I were a fracking millionaire!).

I thought of this as I read this “sour grapes” post from Victor Davis Hanson today at National Review Online, who apparently is lamenting the end of empty-headed American triumphalism (I would say that President Obama’s speech yesterday put an exclamation point on that, so to speak). And I realized how funny it was for him to be criticizing what he thinks is the mindless acceptance of everything associated with Number 44, when that was definitely the mood of the country towards Mr. “Morning In America” in 2004 as our corporate media acquiesced in zombie-like compliance in the memory of a president who, after claiming a victory in his 1981 tax cut, then raised taxes like no other throughout the rest of his presidency.

Also, in Bunch’s book, he makes the case that Reagan’s passing was fortunate for Dubya, coming right in the middle of his re-election campaign and thus throwing the Kerry campaign off kilter once more (which is something they definitely didn’t need, as we know, having had to right themselves a few times over missteps and RNC/media-manufactured controversies).

And in a related story as they say, this survey tells us that conservatives are more easily disgusted than liberals, even though a similar survey from a few years back (here, when Dubya and his cronies were in charge) tells us that conservatives were happier than liberals.

What a difference an election makes.

Thune “Sings” The Same Old “Bad Government” Tune

(And I also posted over here.)

There’s no congressional summary today, since our elected officials returned from their break last Monday, and a summary of their activity this week isn’t available yet.

But in the matter of “activity under the dome,” The Hill (here) tells us that South Dakota Repug Senator John Thune has introduced a bill…

…the Freedom from Government Competition Act (S. 1167), that would require the federal government to rely on the private sector when providing services that are readily available. This legislation does not mandate the privatization of any federal service, but instead codifies the “Yellow Pages” test, which says that if a federal service can also be found in the Yellow Pages, that service or product should be subject to market competition.
And of course, Thune tells us that “studies” have found that such legislation could save $28 billion.

Yeah, sure.

I’m in favor of saving tax dollars as much as the next person, but if Thune is going to act in an intellectually lazy manner like this and not even go to the effort of spelling out which “services” he’s talking about (and I quickly scanned the summary of the bill, which was also short on details), then I don’t see why this bill should receive one iota of support (and the fact that Thune’s cosponsors are David Vitter, Jim Inhofe, Pat Roberts and the departing Sam Brownback should be a clue).

But of course, Thune has a natural antipathy to government jobs anyway, telling the “Morning Joe” talking heads that “government jobs don’t stimulate the economy” (here).

And before his election to the Senate, Thune made big bucks as a lobbyist. I realize there’s nothing illegal about that, but I would ask that you keep that in mind when reading about this from 2006…

Last year, his first in the Senate, Mr. Thune wrote language into a transportation bill expanding the pot of federal loan money for small railroads, enabling his former client to apply for $2.5 billion in government financing for its project. The loan (had) yet to be approved; Mr. Thune said he was trying to promote economic development in his home state.

"I don't apologize, and never will," said Mr. Thune, a Republican, "for working for South Dakota companies that are creating South Dakota jobs."
As long as they’re not government jobs, that is.

And did I mention that Thune, in addition to being a craven Repug capitalist, is also a social conservative?

This tells us that he tried to pass an amendment forbidding the reinstitution of The Fairness Doctrine (OK, wingnuts, I’ll tell you this once more, and I’ll say it slowly for your benefit; the…fairness…doctrine…is…never…coming…back…because…nobody…wants…it. Have you got that?). Also, Thune said a gay Supreme Court justice would be “a bridge too far” here.

Yep, a “social conservative” who owed his 2004 election victory in large part to a smear campaign perpetrated by Jeff Gannon against Dem (and Senate Majority Leader at the time) Tom Daschle (here) (and if Bushco hadn't kept Ellsworth Air Force Base open for him - it was originally slated for closure under Daschle - Thune would be toast by now).

Given all of this, tell me why I should trust Thune’s legislation to “codify the ‘Yellow Pages’ test.”

In fact, tell me why I should trust Thune on anything at all.

Update 6/22/09: More "Department Of The Obvious" musings from Thune here...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Thursday Stuff

"Worst Persons" (Wingnut U.S. House Rep Lamar Smith of Texas says that "liberal media bias" is the greatest threat to America - yeah, I'll remember that while I'm enduring Tweety and Joe Scar on MSNBC, with more on the latter in a minute or two; Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View" and someone named Michael Rubin of NRO said that Obama didn't mention democracy in his speech today - uh, no...and why exactly should anyone take Hasselbeck's word for anything anyway? What else did she do but appear on "Survivor" a few years ago, without even winning; but Jill Stanek of World Nut Daily takes it for publishing personal information on doctors who, like the slain George Tiller, also perform third-trimester abortions...and as Keith tells us, Stanek ends up promoting something she opposes - intolerant AND stoo-pid, people)...

...and speaking of "Morning Joe," Jon Stewart quite rightly takes them to task for fluffing their high-profile sponsor (God, I wish I could track down a good video of that Mike Doughty song for this)...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Corporate SynerJoe
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

...suddenly for some reason, I watch this video and I'm consumed by a need for orthodontia...

...and by the way, I wonder how many people knew that Keith Carradine appeared in the opening montage also (between brother David and one-time child actor Radames Pera)?

Today's Moment Of Absurdity From Dana Perino

Via Wonkette, it seems that the former Bushco mouthpiece is now collecting a paycheck for the National Review Online, where she tells us (in response to Obama’s speech today, where he reached out to Muslims in particular)…

In all of my time working for him, I noticed that President Bush did not see people as “Muslims” any more than he saw them as Jews or Christians or Buddhists or atheists. He saw them as individuals, each with God-given value, each deserving the universal gift of freedom. The people of the Middle East should be treated with dignity not because they are Muslims, but because they are human beings. And it was on that premise that President Bush reached out to them.
Funny, but using that Google thingie to search for “Hebrew fascism,” “Christian fascism,” “Buddhism fascism” or “I-Don’t-Believe-In fascism” doesn’t yield any results.


The Day Democracy Died...Almost

The Washington Post (here) and New York Times (here) published reflections of Chinese citizens as to how their lives were affected by the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which occurred 20 years ago today (the remembrance by Times’ columnist and one-time Beijing bureau chief Nicholas Kristof was, I thought, particularly good).

What strikes me as I read all of this is that many of those sharing their thoughts and experiences who are now about 60 years of age or older seem to chide the protestors for “rocking the boat,” while those very young (elementary school age to high school) have no recollection of the events of that day at all (and by the way, the crackdown extended throughout Beijing, not just in the Square).

The age group falling between those loose parameters seems to include those who truly paid the price for their protest in years of imprisonment, to say nothing of denial of jobs, benefits including health care, and various other ways that The State seems determined to persecute them until the end of their days.

All of this is particularly poignant given that the memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party, were released a month ago, in which he states that “the decision to impose martial law around Beijing in May 1989 was illegal and that the party's leaders could easily have negotiated a peaceful solution to the unrest.”

However, since we’re talking about the utterly closed society of China, perhaps the oldest civilization on earth, we can all be assured that there will be no investigation into the murderous conduct of that country’s leadership up to and including the tragic day we note here.

(Also, at the time of Zhao’s death, the results of a poll of U.S. high school students was released in which one in three of those polled said that press freedoms “went too far,” with others saying the government should approve news stories before we read them; this only proves that, aside from those of “a tender age” in China telling everyone don’t worry, be happy more or less, some of us in this country of comparable years can be a bit callow also.)

And in a coincidence that I consider to be more than a little odd, CNN tells us here that actor David Carradine was found dead in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel room; I say that because one of his most famous roles was that of Kwai Chang Caine, the Shaolin Temple priest in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. The story in brief: Caine travelled the Old West in search of his half brother while “on the run” from a Chinese warload whose son Caine had killed (Caine responded to the son's killing of one of Caine's Temple masters).

Product of “Baby Boom” T.V. generation that I am, I can tell you that that show represented my introduction into Chinese culture, such as it was. However (for the purposes of disclosure), I should tell you that I have no other personal insights to offer on that subject aside from courses in school, but only whatever observations I have and analysis I can provide from news reports. I have never travelled to China, and I cannot see that happening any time in the future.

As Wikipedia tells us about the show, it delved into what some might consider now to be a bit of a schlocky brand of self-reflection on the part of Caine, through which he was able to help other characters on the show see inside themselves as well. And one of the many lines in that spirit offered by the show is as follows:

"To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance."
And it is my heartfelt wish that those who either cannot recall the Tiananmen Square massacre because of that country’s frighteningly effective efforts to eradicate its memory, or those who forsake it in favor basking in the glow of China’s vast new wealth, commit that line to memory once and for all.

Update: Kudos to Kin Cheung in particular here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

So you're wondering what the House Repugs think of trying to develop "green" jobs to help rebuild our economy? Well, think no more (can't come up with a word to describe the hypocrisy of these asshats pretending to care about "taxpayer dollars" when they spent us into a deep, dark hole during 2000-2006 from which we're still trying to climb out)...

...K.O. talks to Chris Hayes of The Nation about more revelations concerning "Darth" Cheney and torture...

...and I thought this was a good interview of Dan Rather by Rachel Maddow on much the same subject...

...and RIP, Koko Taylor.

Automakers “Creamed” Over “CAFÉ”? No Way!

(And I also posted here – sorry I couldn’t work something to do with sugar into the attempted pun of the post title to make it even more obnoxious…and I’ll address the CAFÉ standards later).

This Murdoch Street Journal editorial by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. criticizes President Obama for not having the courage of a president who once championed deregulation (contrasting Obama’s treatment of the automakers with another president’s deregulation of our railroads many years ago).

And if you guessed that the president Jenkins refers to besides Obama is Jimmy Carter and not The Sainted Ronnie R (and yes, I know he got his statue here – I’ll eat a jellybean tonight in his honor, OK?), then you get to line your bird cage with the next edition of The Weekly Standard.

What Jenkins somehow fails to tell us is that (as noted here), the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 was one of a bunch of acts aimed at effectively neutering the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was formed in 1887 under President Grover Cleveland. The law that formed the commission (as Wikipedia tells us here)…

…was the result of widespread and longstanding anti-railroad agitation. Western farmers, specifically those of the Grange Movement, were the dominant force behind the unrest, but Westerners generally — especially those in rural areas — believed that the railroads possessed economic power that they systematically abused. A central issue was rate discrimination between similarly situated customers and communities. Other potent issues included alleged attempts by railroads to obtain influence over city and state governments and the widespread practice of granting free transportation in the form of yearly passes to opinion leaders (elected officials, newspaper editors, ministers, and so on) so as to dampen any opposition to railroad practices. Some behavior was presumably less common; the reporter Charles Edward Russell claimed that the railroad that served his hometown had refused to ship newsprint to a newspaper editor because the editor had attacked the railroad in print.
So basically, the ICC was formed to keep primarily the railroads in line. And that worked arguably for, oh, maybe a hundred years or so.

Yes, President Carter was trying to loosen the railroads from excessive regulation, but there’s no ICC-type governmental body currently encumbering the automakers.

But since Jenkins needs a boogeyman here – well, along come the CAFÉ standards for improving fuel economy. However, as Think Progress notes here…

…improving fuel economy is not difficult for the Big Three. As the Sierra Club explained in 2006, “The technology exists today to make all new vehicles average 40 miles per gallon within ten years.” A 2002 report by the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems of the National Research Council found that technologies existed then that “would significantly reduce fuel consumption within 15 years” — technologies that manufacturers were “already offering or introducing” in overseas markets.

What’s more, those existing technologies would hardly bankrupt the auto industry. NPR reported that technologies to raise fuel-efficiency “to around 33 mpg across the fleet pay for themselves within three to four years.” Indeed, Tom Cole of the Center for Automotive Research, said that with only about $1,000 worth of changes, “a conventional, gas-powered car could go 25 percent farther on a single gallon of gas.” The Union of Concerned Scientists designed its own highly efficient SUV comparable to the Ford Explorer that doubled its fuel economy (from 17 mpg to 30 mpg). The lifetime fuel savings paid back the additional technology cost of $2,560 in less than three years.
And as far as CAFÉ standards supposedly crippling the automakers – well, these guys seem to be doing just fine.

More Lowlights From The Andrew Malcolm Comedy Show

The former press secretary for Laura Bush and LA Times opinionator is back to provide more blogging fodder, from here (on the matter of President Obama’s opposition to the nominations of both Hangin’ Judge JR and “Strip Search Sammy” Alito to the High Court, which Malcolm contrasts with Obama’s support for Sonia Sotomayor)…

Of additional significance is Obama's outrage over Alito's outright dismissal of some ordinary complainants' appeals without a court hearing (discovered in rulings prior to Alito’s confirmation). Which, of course, is precisely what Obama's nominee, Judge Sotomayor, did to the white firemen's appeals in the increasingly famous New Haven reverse discrimination case. Hmmm.
Uh, no.

This tells us that, in the case of Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania (1991), Alito “disagreed with the majority who concluded a woman could sue the state for allegedly failing to accommodate her disability from a car accident. His fellow judges said Alito used an overly strict legal standard in dismissing the woman's claims.”

Whereas, as noted here in the Ricci v. DeStefano case (currently being heard by the Supremes), New Haven, CT firefighter Frank Ricci claimed race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but he didn’t argue against the Act itself, which the city of New Haven was legally obligated to honor (again, though, I’m sure Hangin’ Judge JR and his pals will make every effort to dismantle it).

So…we have Alito dismissing a case by a woman who claimed the state would not support her disability from a car accident (owing to Alito using “an overly strict standard”) versus Sotomayor, who, by the way “joined a brief opinion rejecting Ricci's appeal and then voted to deny rehearing of his case” as opposed to dismissing it, as Malcolm claimed.

I report, you decide.

Also, here, Malcolm presents some unflattering approval numbers on other members of Obama’s cabinet and the Democratic congress based on a recent Harris poll. I’m not going to get into a pissing contest with him over his data, though I will point out that Malcolm con-vee-niently forgets to include any information on congressional Republicans (this Daily Kos poll provides that information here, with some truly unflattering figures also – if Malcolm has more favorable numbers to support his argument, let’s see them).

And by the way, Malcom, two can play the “showing pix of women in politics wearing head scarves when traveling to Muslim countries” game (see the above photo of Malcolm’s old boss).

Finally (and perhaps, worst of all), Malcolm tells us the following on the matter of Obama’s sports preferences (here)…

The new president has developed some sports creds in recent months, cheering openly for an NFL team from some nowhere Pennsylvania city in the Super Bowl and picking North Carolina to win the NCAA college basketball championship in March. He was correct in both cases.

Currently, the Detroit Red Wings are in the process of annihilating a team from that same NFL Pennsylvania city, despite Tuesday's outcome.
Malcolm actually dissed the city of Pittsburgh, people!

Now I’ll admit that I really couldn’t give a fig about the Stanley Cup Finals (and the Pittsburgh Penguins won last night, by the way), but it takes something between stupidity and an almost suicidal degree of chutzpah to call out the Steelers like that (definitely rooted for them over Arizona, partly because the Cardinals beat the Eagles to get to the “big show” – though, if the defense had managed to hold Larry Fitzgerald to under three touchdowns…ugh!).

And more of Malcolm’s wankery has been chronicled by Media Matters here (and for the record, I’m definitely going against the prez and rooting for Orlando; it would be truly sweet to see Jameer Nelson of St. Joe’s holding the trophy, injury or no).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday Stuff

The first "Worst Persons" following the K.O. pledge not to play Billo The Murder Encouraging Clown for laffs (George Jackson of the Detroit Economic Development Corporation decides to bulldoze Tiger Stadium and, with it, over 100 years of baseball tradition in the process, and depriving inner-city kids of the chance for some diamond fun, as it were; Stuart Taylor of The National Journal says that Sonia Sotomayor's incredibly obvious observations about women and minorities while at Princeton should be held against her, but anything along those lines by "Strip Search Sammy" Alito should be ignored - Atrios is always after this guy, and I'm starting to find out the reason; but the owners of Burger King stores in Memphis, TN get the nod for their "Global Warming Is Baloney" signs...uh, I've eaten their food in the past, and sometimes I wondered if that was the substance they snuck into the bun, covering it with the condiments so as not to give it away)...

...and in honor of the 68th birthday of Charlie Watts today - strange not to hear the sitar from Brian Jones that usually opens this song on the "classic rock" station.

Tuesday Mashup (6/2/09)

(And I also posted here.)

Not a lot going on today in Doomsy land, but I did manage to come across a few items of interest:

  • From here…

    WASHINGTON — The Senate took a step Tuesday toward giving the government some controls over the tobacco industry, bolstering the chances that a long-sought goal of anti-smoking advocates will finally be realized.

    The 84-11 Senate vote to consider the bill came a month after the House overwhelmingly passed a similar measure giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products.
    Why exactly is this necessary? Well, as the New York Times told us a few days ago (from here)…

    (A recent) unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld major elements of a 2006 lower court decision that found big tobacco companies guilty of racketeering and fraud as part of a prolonged campaign to deceive and addict the public. That 1,742-page opinion, rendered by Judge Gladys Kessler, laid out in painstaking detail how the tobacco companies made false statements and suppressed evidence to deny or play down the addictive qualities and the adverse health effects of smoking.

    Judge Kessler found that the companies manipulated the design of cigarettes to deliver addictive doses of nicotine, falsely denied that secondhand smoke caused disease and falsely represented that light and low-tar cigarettes presented fewer health risks.

    The appeals court not only upheld her decision as legally sound, it seemed deeply impressed by the “volumes of evidence” and “countless examples of deliberately false statements” underlying many of Judge Kessler’s findings. It also upheld some but not all of the marketing restrictions and other requirements she imposed to prevent the companies from making future false claims and engaging in additional fraudulent activities.
    And as Daily Kos blogger DemFromCT tells us here, regulation of tobacco is part of a program called Healthy People 2010, from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with one of the goals of the program being the reduced consumption of tobacco.

    But in case anyone has any doubt as to the bipartisan influence of Big Tobacco on Capitol Hill, all you need do is read this story about the opposition of both North Carolina senators, Dem Kay Hagan and Repug Richard Burr (I realize any regulation on tobacco is going to impact their economies, but somehow I think the health of this country trumps those concerns).

    And as far as a potential new "cure" is concerned, this tells us about the so-called “electric cigarette” created by a man named Hon Lik, which…

    …turns the adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire” on its head.

    It doesn’t burn at all. Instead, it uses a small lithium battery that atomises a liquid solution of nicotine. What you inhale looks like smoke, but it’s a vapour similar to the “stage fog” used in theatrical productions. It even has a teeny red light at the tip that lights up with each drag, just like the ember of a real cigarette.
    So what’s the reaction to the electric “ciggies” here? Well, according to the Times (here)…

    The reaction of medical authorities and antismoking groups has ranged from calls for testing to skepticism to outright hostility. Opponents say the safety claims are more rumor than anything else, since the components of e-cigarettes have never been tested for safety.

    In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has already refused entry to dozens of shipments of e-cigarettes coming into the country, mostly from China, the chief maker of them, where manufacture began about five years ago. The F.D.A. took similar action in 1989, refusing shipments of an earlier, less appealing version, Favor Smoke-Free Cigarettes.

    “These appear to be unapproved drug device products,” said Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the agency, “and as unapproved products they can’t enter the United States.”

    But enough of the e-cigarettes have made their way into the country that they continue to proliferate online and in the malls.
    The issue appears to be whether or not the electronic cigarettes help to curb a cigarette addiction or feed into it.

    I’m not a smoker, but if they help at least one person kick the habit, then I see no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed.

  • My better instincts tell me to ignore this, especially because it will probably generate another angry comment thread, but alas, I cannot.

    On the eve of President Obama’s trip abroad, Armstrong Williams over at The Hill tells us this…

    The Obama administration is globally known for appeasement to despot countries that will only betray them in a matter of time.
    In addition to being poorly written (the “appeased” countries will betray…themselves?), any sentence with the words “Obama” and a variation of the word “appeasement” sets me off.

    And hmm, Armstrong Williams…why does that name sound familiar?

    Oh, I remember. It’s because he took nearly a quarter of a million dollars from Bushco to generate press releases about how great No Child Left Behind supposedly was (here).

    Yeah, I guess Williams would know about “appeasement,” wouldn’t he?

  • And in another long-delayed triumph of justice, we learn the following (from here)…

    PITTSBURGH — The criminal case against celebrity pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht ended Tuesday when federal prosecutors, citing a judge's ruling that threw out much of the government's evidence, dropped all the remaining fraud and theft counts against him.

    Prosecutors originally indicted Wecht, the former Allegheny County medical examiner, on 84 counts in January 2006. The case was whittled down before trial, which ended in a hung jury, and trimmed again after trial. Wecht had 14 counts remaining, but the government's case was undermined when a judge threw out two search warrants.

    "The district court's May 14th ruling suppressed crucial evidence in the case," U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said Tuesday. "This impacted our ability to present our evidence at any future trial and to sustain our burden of proof."
    No, it wasn’t because of reports that jurors were interviewed in Wecht’s trial after they couldn’t reach a verdict on what were once 41 counts (from the original 84) against Wecht, in a case so bad that even Repug “made man,” former PA governor and Reaganite Dick Thornburgh told Buchanan to give up (all noted here).

    No, it was because a judge threw out two search warrants pertaining to the 14 remaining charges.

    Sure it was.

    And by the way, I wonder if this means that Buchanan will now relinquish her position?

    As I said earlier, if she doesn’t, she should be lead handcuffed out of her office by U.S. marshals.

    Update 6/4/09: Nice digs by Wecht here (and I forgot to note earlier that Buchanan hired Monica Goodling - sheesh).

  • And finally (as noted here), let us bid adieu to The Philadelphia Bulletin - again…

    Employees of The Bulletin say they were informed Monday afternoon by Publisher Thomas Rice that the paper couldn't afford to operate any longer. Rice told The Philadelphia Inquirer by e-mail Monday night that he didn't want to comment. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Rice by phone and by e-mail were not immediately successful.

    Another paper called the Bulletin had long been Philadelphia's dominant newspaper but shut down in 1982. Rice got permission from the family that published that paper to use its name.
    (By the way, when the original ceased operating in 1982, it was truly a sad occasion – the original was an afternoon daily that was a staple of our household, among many others.)

    And what kind of fare did the most recent incarnation of The Bulletin offer?

    I’m not sure you want to know…

  • Noted Clinton hater and onetime confidant Dick Morris on how Hillary Clinton has supposedly been marginalized in her role as Secretary of State (here – and by the way, “Dick,” her name is Samantha Power, not Powers).

  • “Why (An Israeli-Palestinian, of course) Two-State Solution is Insane,” by former local TV consumer affairs reporter Herb Denenberg (here)

  • Sotomayor: Obama’s Divisive, Race-Baiting Nominee (here – ‘nuff said).
  • Shed no tears, people.
  • Monday, June 01, 2009

    Monday Stuff (updates)

    I have to tell you that I have ideas for videos that I usually put here, and I will get back to that stuff soon, but I don't want any of that stuff to detract from what Keith Olbermann has to say here in response to the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

    And this is game, set and match in the matter of Fix Noise and their foul influence here. If I may turn the McCarthyite phrase "jackal pack" the other way towards them, I think it fits for the ravening, inhuman hyenas that these life forms truly are.

    And by the way, I'm sure it goes without saying here that, inasmuch as Fix Noise deals in facts (not much, I know), they're wrong on the matter of Tiller performing third-trimester abortions for any woman seeking one. And far be it for them to deal with that pesky fact that Tiller was acquitted by a jury on charges of performing abortions illegally (not deal with it honestly, I mean - that and more is noted here).

    And as you watch Keith's segment, you realize that, though O'Reilly (with an assist from Beck and Laura Ingraham, as well as others) didn't pull the trigger that killed Dr. Tiller, he is culpable all the same.

    Like a few of you I'm sure, we know a couple where the would-be mother underwent what amounts to a third-trimester abortion. Without dealing with it ourselves and knowing merely what we know from a distance, I can only say that you can't imagine how wrenching the circumstances are. It took place because something went catastrophically wrong with the pregnancy, to the point where the baby was barely viable and the mother's health was in ever-increasing danger (and by the way, don't even imagine that you're going to pass moral judgment on these people).

    Basically, if anyone had both a conscience and even the remotest knowledge of what goes on in a circumstance like that, they would know enough to shut their goddamn mouths about it and stay the hell out of the discussion. And it was a blessing - yes, a blessing - that skilled health care providers like Dr. George Tiller existed for those needing this procedure.

    And now he's dead. Murdered.

    In a house of worship.

    And more health care providers who could assist women and families in need will be deterred by murdering cowards trying to inflict their insane notion of morality on all of us.

    With the encouragement of Bill O'Reilly and his gleeful stooges, all part of Rupert Murdoch's empire.

    So that's why I don't want to put up any music videos or anything else to detract from what Keith Olbermann tells us here.

    And I think he's right in his idea about how to respond to this. Certainly not through acts of violence, since that would vindicate O'Reilly and his fellow freaks, which would be a whole other level of tragedy.

    Let me end this boring little pseudo rant by telling a brief story.

    There is a dry-cleaning establishment near where we live that I frequently patronized. I would speak with the individuals working there, making nothing more than idle chit chat. No big deal, I know.

    However, one day, I walked in, and a lady I'd never seen before was working behind the counter, checking on orders and generally tending to business.

    And she was listening to Rush Limbaugh, who was speaking about Al Gore in typically derisive language and saying things that I knew were patently untrue (typical).

    Before she could write up my order and take my garments, I said, "No thanks," took my stuff, left the store, and never returned.

    It's good for the soul, people.

    Update 6/2/09: This, most definitely, is wrong on a whole bunch of levels (presumably in response, though I hope not).

    Update 6/4/09: What Atrios sez here...

    Update 6/12/09: It’s not worth it to try and manufacture an entire post over the latest nonsensical ravings from Christine Flowers in the Philadelphia Daily News here, so I’ll just merely stick this in as an update to what I said above.

    Basically, she tells individuals such as myself and other pro-choice people to stop blaming her, Bill O’Reilly, Randall Terry, and Pope Benedict - ??? – for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, saying that “the myth that the pro-life movement bears any responsibility for Tiller's death is on par with the fairy tale that most abortions are performed to protect a woman's health.”

    And it’s interesting that Flowers and the Daily News have disallowed online comments to her column – yet another instance of bizarre editorial judgment at

    For full disclosure purposes, though, I should note that I’ve also disallowed comments at the Wordpress site for a little while.

    And that’s because after getting deluged by “gunbloggers” and their attempts to engage me in online arguments about 1873 court decisions that supposedly enshrine the right to own a gun in the Second Amendment, as well as their recitations about how relaxed gun laws in England supposedly have made people safer, as well as a study by somebody named Gary Kleck that I debunked (and this was before the inevitable ad hominem attacks against yours truly…and by the way, none of this had anything to do with what I posted about, linking to two stories full of statistics about gun violence), I decided to disallow comments on a couple of posts only. However, soon afterwards, I received an unrelated comment that implied a threat against the president, and that’s when I decided to disallow comments on all new posts for a little while.

    However, there’s at least one difference between me and Flowers; she is a paid professional, and I do this pretty much as a hobby. Even with their budget woes, I’m sure the Daily News could find an assistant or an intern to help Flowers with researching issues that are brought up in comments (I know there would be a lot of angry noise to sift through first, though). Shutting off comments completely in an opinion column over a hot-button issue like this (again, considering that we’re talking about a metropolitan news site with probably ten times my hit count, at least) is pretty chicken.

    Three Monday Idiots

  • This Op-Ed piece in the New York Times from James (The Dow Is On Its Way to 36,000; Yes, He Really Predicted That) Glassman impugns Obama in the G.M. bankruptcy proceedings because, to hear Glassman tell it, Obama is hosing the bond holders.

    Funny thing, though – as firedoglake tells us here concerning the bankruptcy code…

    (e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the debtor in possession, or the trustee if one has been appointed under the provisions of this chapter (hereinafter in this section “trustee” shall include a debtor in possession), shall timely pay and shall not modify any retiree benefits….
    So the retirees come first, and then it’s up to the bondholders to negotiate with the only entity with cash on hand at the moment (if they haven't already done so), which happens to be the U.S. Government. And if they don’t like the deal they got…well, boo-freaking-hoo, people! I’ll hand them the crying towel.

  • Not to be outdone, Indiana Repug Governor (and Bushie) Mitch Daniels, in his party’s response to Obama’s weekly address on Saturday, stated as follows (here)…

    Daniels criticized a Democratic climate-change proposal endorsed by President Barack Obama, calling the House’s climate bill “a classic example of unwise government.”

    The legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions would fail to measurably reduce global warming and would burden Americans with high energy costs, he said.

    “(The) system known as ‘cap and trade’ . . . will cost us dearly in jobs and income, and it stands no chance of achieving its objective of a cooler Earth,” Daniels said.
    A point-by-point takedown from Media Matters is here.

  • Update: I think the Media Matters link is hosed, so try this instead.

  • Finally, I should note that reporter Peter Baker of the New York Times wrote a great profile of former President Clinton in the Sunday Magazine, as well as an “analysis” piece on Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in which he states…

    The selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor brought (so-called “identity politics”) to the fore again for several reasons. Mr. Obama’s selection process was geared from the beginning toward finding a female or minority candidate, or both. Only one of the nine vetted candidates was an Anglo male, and all four finalists he interviewed were women. One of Judge Sotomayor’s most prominent cases involved an affirmative-action claim. And her comment on her Latina background shaping her jurisprudence provided fodder for opponents.

    “He didn’t pick a post-racial candidate,” said Abigail Thernstrom, a leading conservative scholar on race relations and the author of a book called “Voting Rights — And Wrongs: The Elusive Quest for Racially Fair Elections.” “She’s a quintessential spokesman for racial spoils.”
    This tells us, among other things, that Thernstrom, the vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under Dubya, launched into a pretty mean-spirited (to say nothing of pointless) attack on former CCR chairwoman Mary Frances Berry last January; we also learn that Thernstrom issued “a thundering denunciation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Public Interest magazine in 1978. She ‘distinguished herself with her hostility toward any method of promoting black and minority representation’.”

    As far as I’m concerned, Thernstrom is about as qualified to comment on racial issues as Dick Cheney is on matters pertaining to human rights; unfortunately, though, as noted here by Jack and Jill Politics (and Jeffrey Toobin recently in The New Yorker), a case involving Section 5 is indeed before the Court of Hangin’ Judge JR, whose animus towards it is so obvious that you can cut it with the proverbial knife – I’m a bit fearful of the outcome, to be honest.

    Update 6/4/09: Let’s see, Sotomayor’s approval rating remains high (check), Repugs divided on how to handle her nomination (check), so what’s left to do? Why, play the “I’m-an-aggrieved-white-person-who-can’t handle-a-minority-so-I-yell-‘identity-politics’” card, of course (here – I’ve already pointed out that Thernstrom is shooting dirty pool in prior posts).
  • J.D. Needs A "Stimulus" Of Common Sense

    (I know I’ve used this pic a lot lately, but it always seems to fit – and I also posted over here.)

    I realize I’ve spent a good while now trying to ascertain tiny, fragile segments of reason and common sense lurking into the jingoistic, right-wing drivel of Bucks County Courier Times columnist J.D. Mullane, but I feel that I must continue in this exercise because I find it harder to locate those segments with each passing day.

    And based on what he concocted yesterday, I should tell you that I seriously believe he has gone “around the bend” (here) in yet another round of criticizing the economic stimulus plan (with stimulus in quotes, as always)…

    So how much of President Obama’s “stimulus” cash will come to Bucks County, and how will it be spent? It’s $156 million — including the generous $400 “individual tax credit” most of us receive in $8 increments each paycheck.

    There are a few dozen public works projects, including $100,000 to refurbish of (sic) the Sellersville Armory. So if Sellersville is invaded by a foreign power, we’re set.
    Before I begin, I should note that, except for the armory funding, I have no idea whatsoever as to how Mullane arrived at these numbers. I checked here (for total PA projects), here (for PA-related news releases), and elsewhere, and I can’t verify this (of course, heaven forbid that he cite his information properly).

    But speaking of the Sellersville Armory, the following info comes from this link…

    The money will be used for renovation and repair – including painting and repaving – for the Sellersville Readiness Center. This money comes at a time when repairs and jobs are badly needed in Pennsylvania. The money for these much-needed repairs will be part of the Department of Defense’s efforts to include energy conservation measures. In fact, $300 million of the $7.4 billion in Defense funds from the Recovery Act will go toward energy conservation and research so that the Department of Defense can continue our national effort to declare energy independence.

    This will be a large project, covering the three-acre Sellersville facility, and will also include replacing windows and doors with energy efficient options. Readiness Centers – like the one in Sellersville – are vital to the operation of the PA National Guard. They serve as the home base for Guard soldiers and the local community at large. Sellersville Readiness Center is the headquarters for the PA National Guard’s 228th Forward Support Battalion, which is a component of the Guard’s 55th Brigade which has been active in helping the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    “If Sellersville is invaded by a foreign power”…smartass.

    Back to Mullane…

    Other items:

    $56 million for spy cameras on I-95, although the feds prefer to call Big Brother technology an “Intelligent Transportation System.” The cameras will, among other feats of snoopiness, snap the license plates of vehicles exceeding the speed limit, sending the owner a ticket via snail mail.
    From here…

    About 13,000 U.S. deaths per year result from speeding-related accidents, a total that represents about one-third of all traffic fatalities. "Despite progress in so many other areas of highway safety, as a nation, little success has been shown at addressing the speeding challenge. There is little public recognition of the problem," GHSA said, "and . . . law enforcement faces numerous obstacles enforcing speed limit laws." GHSA said its survey found that jurisdictions believe increased enforcement of speeding-related laws has become very difficult because of uncertainty in highway safety funding and a smaller number of officers because of retirements, as well as an increased emphasis on homeland security issues.
    The story also tells us that the Governor’s Highway Safety Association has found conclusively that speed cameras reduce speeds on our roadways (and while I don’t have exact traffic volume numbers at this moment, I can assure you that, if there is one place where traffic should be monitored, it is I-95 in PA…not a bad thing for NJ either).

    And this is another gem from Mullane…

    The Department of Ed states that “in exchange” (for the $48.6 billion in grants to schools from the stimulus) school districts must commit to “advance essential education reforms to benefit students from early learning through post-secondary education, including: college- and career-ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students; development and use of pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems; increasing teacher effectiveness and ensuring an equitable distribution of qualified teachers; and turning around the lowest-performing schools.”

    So, for a few measly bucks public schools must cede local control to the feds, although how much control is unclear.
    See how quickly J.D. makes the flip from “accepting stimulus funds” to “ceding control” (with Mullane knowing at least as well as I do that you’d have better luck trying to “cede control” of a picnic lunch from a black bear in this state than you would funding and control thereof from our local school boards).


    I called the Department of Education in D.C. to find out, and was told a “specialist” would call back, but never did.

    However, I was able to hear Gov. Ed Rendell speak about the issue last week. Rendell was in Philadelphia making an appearance on Dom Giordano’s talk show on WPHT, to discuss how much Obama stimulus cash the commonwealth will bag.

    The governor said that 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s high school graduates fail reading and math, but are awarded graduation diplomas anyway.

    “We are handing them diplomas that are, essentially, meaningless,” the governor said.

    The stimulus money headed to Pennsylvania schools will help resolve the “meaningless” diploma issue, he said. But that presumes giving the feds a larger role running schools.
    I would sooner impale myself on a fondue fork than actually waste one second of my life listening to Dom Giordano on WPHT in these parts, and I was not able to find a transcript so I could fill in the context on Rendell’s remarks which I’m sure J.D. fails to provide here (sorry I’m having a bit of a tough time with that Google thingie on this post, but I’ll actually worry if and when I ever get paid for this; pretty pathetic that J.D. can churn out this drivel and get remunerated for it).

    However, Mullane is the last person in the world who can criticize others for acquiring “meaningless” diplomas (I know for a fact that he’s written at least one column arguing that a college degree is unnecessary, but thanks once more to the technological marvel that is, I cannot locate it at the moment - I know he wrote it because someone wrote a Letter to the Editor in response to it).

    The rest of what passes for his opinion column is pointless dreck owing to RNC-approved propaganda.

    Once again, I apologize for the lack of linked material here. But if the Courier Times columnist in question (to say nothing of his editor – does Mullane even have one?) would actually bother to substantiate his information, then I would be able to refute it more thoroughly.

    But then again, if Mullane’s commentary could actually be substantiated by information from the real world, then there probably would be no need to refute it at all.

    Sunday, May 31, 2009

    Sunday Stuff

    Aside from the utterly repugnant and insulting notion that Dr. George Tiller's "notoriety apparently cost him his life" (uhh...gee, maybe he lost his life because of a MURDEROUSLY DERANGED WINGNUT, and there's no equivalency between his "notoriety" and whether or not he deserved to die...ugh - more from Hunter here at The Daily Kos...and if anyone thinks Operation Rescue isn't at least tangentially involved here, think again).