Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday PM Stuff

This is some of the most forthright commentary I've heard on the health care legislation to date, and why does it not surprise me at all that it's coming from Patrick Murphy (no, I'm not happy about the possibility of a "co-op" either, but I don't know what more we could ask for him - and by the way, another PA rep who Patrick has described as a mentor of sorts is truly out to lunch on this issue based on this; and click here for the facts)...

Update 8/16/09: More from Patrick here in the Courier Times and from President Obama in the New York Times here...

...and here's more indie stuff.

Saturday AM Stuff

Here is still more proof as to why no Democrat should take Sen. Charles Grassley seriously on either health care reform or the Employee Free Choice Act (and we need to remember that he was also the sponsor of the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005, the impact of which will be felt by many in this country for a long time to come; sure he "bases his decisions on town meetings" because that's where the right-wing nut jobs congregate)...

...meanwhile, Chris Hayes of The Nation gives the most sensible explanation of health care reform that I've yet heard (h/t The Daily Kos, and once more, click here for the facts).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Stuff

Rachel Maddow (from yesterday) reports on Bushco's secret prisons, featuring "Dusty" Foggo, Brent Wilkes, and a veritable cavalcade of bottom-feeders (and more revelations about FreedomWorks and some outfit called DLA Piper...Rachel explains, and sums up nicely at the end)...

...and the health care hypocrisy of Glenn Beck is on full display here (kudos to Travelocity for this, and if anyone else wants to bail on Beck or Fix Noise, click here - click here once more for the facts)...

...and for all you town hall-disrupting, Dick-Armey-and-Rick-Scott sponsored, "teabaggin'" idiots out there, this one's for you...

...and finally, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock tomorrow, here's "Soul Sacrifice" by Santana (I've put this up a few times I know, but it always knocks me out, and as a YouTube commenter notes, drummer Michael Shrieve was only 19 at the time of this performance).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (8/14/09)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week (the House has already begun its recess).

(I have absolutely nothing to add, by the way, but here's the summary anyway - I'm not going to pick on Tom Carper for a vote about milk price supports.)

Sonia Sotomayor. Voting 68-31, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the 111th justice of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor fills the seat vacated by Justice David H. Souter, who retired in June.

A yes vote was to confirm Sotomayor.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).

"Cash for clunkers." Voting 60-37, the Senate on Thursday sent President Obama a bill (HR 3435) appropriating $2 billion to extend "cash for clunkers" funding at least through Labor Day. Under the program, consumers can trade vehicles getting 18 miles per gallon or less for vouchers worth $3,500 to $4,500 to be applied to the purchase of a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle. The program exhausted its original $1 billion appropriation in less than two weeks.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.

Deficit dispute. Voting 46-51, the Senate on Thursday defeated an amendment that would have required the $2 billion cost of HR 3435 (above) to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The sum was already offset by cuts in renewable-energy loan guarantees in the 2009 economic stimulus, but critics called that a gimmick.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted no.

Farm and food budget. Voting 80-17, the Senate on Tuesday approved $23.1 billion in discretionary spending and $100.9 billion in mandatory spending for agriculture, food, and nutrition programs in fiscal 2010. The bill (HR 2997) would appropriate $2.3 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, fund a growing demand for government food aid during the recession, increase international food aid, and raise price supports for dairy farmers.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.

Milk price supports. Senators on Tuesday voted 60-37 to raise dairy price supports by $1.50 per hundred pounds of milk, adding $350 million to the cost of HR 2997 (above). The measure would help dairy farmers nationwide cut losses attributed to global recession, but it set the stage for likely increases in the retail cost of milk.

A yes vote was to raise milk price supports.

Voting yes: Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Voting no: Carper.
Both houses of Congress are now officially in recess until the week of Sept. 7.

Friday Mashup (8/14/09)

(The kid in the pic ends up capturing what I think of Whole Foods based on the following information - also, I pretty much "phoned in" a post over here.)

  • I’m a little late on this I realize (another item tied to health care reform), but HuffPo tells us the following (from here)…

    Whole Foods CEO John Mackey penned an op-ed on health care reform in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal in which he pressed, amidst more standard conservative talking points, a "simple" solution.

    "Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat."

    As TPM's Brian Beutler put it: "Translation: Whole Foods is the solution to all of America's health care woes."

    However, for those of you who are tempted to follow Mackey's advice (and can afford it!) be warned: not all of the foods found at Whole Foods will actually make you healthy. As Mackey himself admitted last week, "Basically, we used to think it was enough just to sell healthy food, but we know it is not enough. We sell all kinds of candy. We sell a bunch of junk."
    And in addition to fighting the Obama Administration and the Democrats on health care reform, Whole Foods and its CEO John Mackey have also opposed the Employee Free Choice Act.

    As Young Philly Politics blogger Dan U-A notes here… is worth remembering a few things for when you have a choice of where to shop. First, in an industry that is largely unionized, Whole Foods stands out as being anti-labor. This is a comment from their CEO:

    The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.
    My, what a charming sentiment.

    What to do in response? Click here to find out how you can join a boycott of Whole Foods.

    I don’t know if doing so would “stop someone from becoming your lover,” as Mackey puts it, but at the very lest, we could make it “unpleasant and inconvenient” for him.

  • And on the subject of boycotts, I give you the first of two media pundits; here's a column by Brian Stelter in the New York Times today…

    ABOUT a dozen companies have withdrawn their commercials from “Glenn Beck,” the Fox News Channel program, after Glenn Beck, the person, said late last month that President Obama was a racist with a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

    The companies that have moved their ads elsewhere in recent days included ConAgra, Geico, Procter & Gamble and the insurance company Progressive. In a statement that echoed the comments of other companies, ConAgra said on Thursday that “we are firmly committed to diversity, and we would like to prevent the potential perception that advertising during this program was an endorsement of the viewpoints shared.”

    The campaign against Mr. Beck is rooted in an advocacy group’s objection to the commentator’s remarks on July 28. Given the number of advertisers that have pledged to remove their spots, it appears to have been unusually successful.
    And by the way, if anyone else wants to bail on Beck (or anybody else on Fix Noise), click here.

    Further down in the column, though, Stelter tells us the following…

    Past efforts to put pressure on cable news advertisers have met more resistance. In the spring, when the liberal group ThinkProgress protested Bill O’Reilly of Fox News by contacting corporate sponsors, most wrote back by blandly thanking them for taking the time to write. One Ford Motor employee even suggested they abandon the petition tactic, writing, “the silly form letters are just annoying and easy to delete.”
    It would have been nice of Stelter to point out (as noted here) that UPS withdrew as a sponsor from O’Reilly, and that, while not withdrawing support, Capital One said it “did not endorse O’Reilly’s views” here, and Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer called O’Reilly “hopelessly pig-headed” here.

    However, I should emphasize that Ford’s director of corporate communications was quick to disavow Schirmer (another reason not to buy Ford as far as I’m concerned); unfortunately, I can only point out exceptions here – Stelter is basically correct, though the exceptions are important to note.

    Update: Better and better (here - and here is a link)

  • Also, I should note that I haven’t checked in with David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun for a little while, but I did today, and he uncorked a real doozy here, as they say…

    One of the huge puzzlements to me as I watch the rising tide of angry town hall meetings on healthcare is why the clear link between the rancor in meeting halls across the country to what passes for political conversation on so-called all-news cable TV isn't being more discussed.

    The mock-your-opponent, shout-'em-down, insist-lies-are-truths style of discourse seen in the rancorous exchanges in town halls this week from Maryland to California is on display every night five nights a week on our shiny new flat screens. It has been for years, and not just on the Fox News Channels with Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

    Now we have Lou Dobbs trying to drag the muck of his radio show into the CNN newsroom on some nights, while Keith Olbermann at MSNBC has become one of the ugliest, nastiest, most dishonest character assassins in American political life since Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. And NBC News lets him get away in violation of almost everything that once proud brand stood for.
    See, according “Z on TV” (cute), the town hall meeting disruptions aren’t just the fault of the right-wing propagandists (and by the way, this is fine reporting on the subject today in the New York Times by Jim Rutenberg and Jackie Calmes) or Dick Armey or Rick Scott’s “Astroturf” groups.

    Naah, it’s Keith Olbermann’s fault too.

    Sure it is.

    Seriously, now, if that were true, would I link to so many videos from the “Countdown” home page?

    Name me one example where Olbermann has baselessly accused someone without proof. Name me one instance where he has charged someone without facts to back him up. Provide for me a single example where he has smeared someone to the point where that person’s career was utterly ruined.

    Go ahead, “Z,” take your time. I’ll wait.

    You can’t, can you?

    So maybe it would be a good idea for you to actually know what you’re talking about the next time you accuse someone of being dishonest, wouldn’t it?

  • Finally, I’ve had a little more time to process the news of the Philadelphia Eagles’ signing of quarterback Michael Vick, and I’d like to share some thoughts.

    To be fair, I should note here that he intends to work with the Humane Society in an effort to try and keep people away from dog fighting (here), though, as noted here, there wasn’t much of a response to his initial effort, commendable though it was (and this tells us that dog fighting is actually a problem in the Philadelphia area, so he could really act in a beneficial manner to try and stop it).

    However, to me, nothing else about this situation makes sense.

    From purely a football standpoint, the Eagles’ offensive line needs to get its act together. This is partly due to injury and partly due to new personnel, which is no one’s fault. It is also partly due to the fact that Winston Justice is no longer trying to do his impression of a human revolving door. Also, I haven’t read anyone who knows exactly what’s going on with Shawn Andrews.

    Defensively, aside from Trent Cole, there are questions up and down the defensive line. Their best linebacker is now out for the year, and their secondary has some skilled players, including a disgruntled (rightly, I think) cornerback and a lot of guys who are also learning to play together.

    There are a lot of questions. And Michael Vick can’t help answer any of them.

    And this from an organization that doesn’t like controversy?

    You thought T.O. was an issue (off the field, anyway)? Assuming Vick will be a “solid citizen,” he’s going to have to fend off a sh*tstorm like this town may never have seen before.

    Also, I actually tuned into some of the talk radio stations after the news broke, and I heard one late-night host on WIP who said he thought the Eagles did this out of jealousy because the Phillies were getting all of the sports headlines (it is to laugh, truly). I should note, though, that the latest polling at is pretty close, with about 47 percent currently in favor of the move (the Eagles often act as if they believe the fans will go along with anything they do, and that arrogance is usually vindicated).

    Another thing…I heard the press conferences from Andy Reid and Donavan McNabb last night, and I think Reid was pretty forthright. However, though McNabb may at heart be a good guy, he often comes across as the most arrogant guy on the planet (laughing at his own jokes, cutting off reporters’ questions, cracking remarks about how he doesn’t pay attention to the media…the sports press in this town is hardly innocent, but neither are our athletes). Also, McNabb said something like, “oh, I’ll be happy if I run 60-65 plays a game, and Vick runs about 5” (or words to that effect), and I’m thinking “they’re going to pay Vick $1.2 million with an option for about $5 million a year to run five plays a game??!! Are you serious??!!”

    And as far as I’m concerned, if I’m backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, I’ve got about a 10-foot-by-10-foot piece of poster board that I’m writing on with a Sharpie making three big letters, and they would be “WTF?”

    So welcome to Philadelphia, Michael Vick.

    You can imagine how hard the road ahead is going to be.
  • Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    RIP Les Paul...

    ...and Bob Clarke of the Flyers turned 60 today (this is to commemorate his success as a player; I won't comment on him as a G.M. - footage of his playing days ends at about 3:07...much has been said about some of his cheap shots, but I watched him for his first few years on the team when it was just a bunch of little French-Canadian guys and washed-up veterans and he got the crap beat out of him, and there's no way in hell we would've won Cups way back when without him or Bernie Parent)...

    (And by the way, speaking of home-team sports, this is absolutely ridiculous - these numbskulls didn't have enough money to sign Brian Dawkins or Tra Thomas, but they have enough to sign this dog torturer...AND HE CAN'T EVEN READ NFL DEFENSES!!! THAT'S WHY THE EAGLES BEAT HIM IN THAT PLAYOFF GAME WHEN HE WAS WITH ATLANTA!!)

    (God, I'm pissed about this...I'll try to calm down.)

    ...back to politics - never underestimate the ability of the Democratic Party to cave when they have the upper hand (and K.O.'s explanation of Section 1233 should be required reading for J.D. Mullane, among others - and this surely proves that Sarah Palin is the stupidest person on the planet; Dr. Dean appeared also tonight and acted like the Senate Dems will do the right thing anyway...God, I hope he's right...more here)...

    ...and here's a little tune for the newest Eagle (proof that truth is stranger than fiction).

    Thursday Mashup (8/13/09)

    (And also posted over here.)

  • Remember back when Commander Codpiece was taking up space in An Oval Office and our corporate media was bending over backwards to propagate RNC-approved narratives and talking points to make him look more “presidential” than he ever was or would be? And remember how one of those talking points had to do with how Dubya was such a good reader (as noted here), even though Timothy Noah of Slate (via Kitty Kelley) recalled a famous story here of how New Yorker writer Brendan Gill once stayed over at the Bush manse in Kennebunkport and searched for something to read one night, but all he could locate was a book of fart jokes?

    Well, with that in mind, I now present the reading list from President Barack Obama (here), which includes “Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age,” by Larry Bartels; “Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope,” by Jonathan Alter; “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001,” by Steve Coll; and two books about another former member of Congress from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (hat tips to Kevin Drum and Mother Jones for this information).

    And somehow, I think that if our current president were called upon to give a report on any of the entries on his list, he would have no problem whatsoever.

  • I haven’t had much to say about PA’s 8th District U.S. congressional representative lately aside from the wingnut ambush he dealt with at the two “Congressman In Your Corner” sessions a couple of Saturdays ago, but this tells us that Patrick Murphy…

    …was part of a congressional delegation that traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq last week.

    The Congressman for the 8th District made the trip at a difficult time in the Afghan war. At least 41 U.S. troops were killed in July, easily surpassing the previous highest monthly toll of 26 in September last year. At least 71 foreign troops were killed in July.
    The Courier Times story also tells us that violence has increased in Afghanistan timed for the elections in that country on August 20th.

    Also, the following letter recently appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times…

    Commendations to Congressman Patrick Murphy for his continued efforts on behalf of our employees and our organizations.

    Beginning with our initial meeting in June, Murphy has shown a commitment to making the process GM is using to eliminate dealers more fair for all parties involved. The immediacy with he cosponsored HR 2743, the Automobile Dealers Economic Rights Restoration Act, was impressive, and the loyalty he has shown to protecting the jobs of our 1,500 employees and the 10,563 dealership employees located around Pennsylvania is admirable. In total, the personal attention he has given our cause has renewed our faith in the political process.

    We also appreciate the time and attention the congressman's staff has given us. Beginning with our first appointment, which Larry Glick helped expedite, the guidance offered by Murphy's office has been invaluable. His district director, Nat Binns, spent a great deal of time taking our calls and shepherding us in the right direction. In addition, Chief of Staff Scott Fairchild and Legislative Assistant Marc Boom provided important counsel during our two visits to Washington and helped us to be more efficient in our lobbying efforts.

    As everybody knows, the problems with GM's plans to close dealerships relate to jobs and fairness. The jobs at stake are important to many families and the local economy in Southeastern Pennsylvania, especially in these tough economic times. And the lack of fairness and transparency in GM's process of eliminating dealerships is unacceptable, especially in light of the taxpayers now owning 60 percent of the company. These issues need to be addressed, and we are grateful that our congressman is on our side as the legislative process surrounding them continues to unfold.

    Fred Beans
    Beth Beans Gilbert
    Fred Beans Dealerships
    For more information, click here.

  • This post from Repug U.S. House Rep Mary Fallin of Oklahoma tells us the following (God, I feel like I'll be posting about health care forever)…

    Mandating abortion coverage and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill of this procedure in a public plan option is an affront to millions of pro-life Americans. If the Obama Administration was serious about passing health care reform that is focused on improving the health of Americans, abortion coverage mandates would not be included in their proposal.
    Uh, no – as noted on Item #2 from this list…

    only the most extreme antiabortion reading of the legislation would say it does that. The words "Planned Parenthood" and "abortion" don't appear anywhere in the text, despite conservative buzz that it would funnel millions of dollars to killing babies. (A proposal in the Senate version of the reform legislation would require insurance plans to cover preventive care and screening visits to community health providers, which could include Planned Parenthood.) Even an AP story that Matt Drudge was hyping on Wednesday as proof that the government would be funding abortions didn't go quite that far -- instead, the story detailed a fight over whether women who buy government-subsidized private insurance through a proposed exchange system should be able to have abortions covered by their plans. Pro-choice lawmakers are trying to craft a compromise that would require insurance companies to pay for abortions out of premiums paid by patients, not out of tax dollars. Pro-choice Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., amended the House version of the legislation to state that abortion is not part of an "essential benefits package" that all insurance plans must provide -- meaning someone could offer a special "pro-life health insurance" plan that doesn't cover abortions, even under the reforms.
    And this prior post on Fallin tells us that she aided and abetted the “teabaggers,” who went nuts over a report on extremist groups from DHS, even though left-wing extremists were also noted; helped propagate the rumor that Obama supports a global currency; and, to top it off, she “kissed and had inappropriate conduct” with an Oklahoma state trooper who later resigned, though Fallin was “punished” by winning a seat in Congress (and by the way, many women in this country are covered for abortion through their own insurance, though not if Fallin had her way I’m sure).

    So given this, Rep. Fallin, I believe President Obama is quite serious about passing health care reform.

    You, on the other hand…

  • And finally, in today’s example of false equivalency, I give you the following from Bill Sammon of Fix Noise…

    News outlets that are focusing on the incendiary rhetoric of conservatives outside President Obama's town hall meeting Tuesday ignored the incendiary rhetoric -- and even violence -- of liberals outside an appearance by former President George W. Bush in 2002.

    When Bush visited Portland, Ore., for a fundraiser, protesters stalked his motorcade, assailed his limousine and stoned a car containing his advisers. Chanting "Bush is a terrorist!", the demonstrators bullied passers-by, including gay softball players and a wheelchair-bound grandfather with multiple sclerosis.

    One protester even brandished a sign that seemed to advocate Bush's assassination. The man held a large photo of Bush that had been doctored to show a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

    "BUSH: WANTED, DEAD OR ALIVE," read the placard, which had an X over the word "ALIVE."

    Another poster showed Bush's face with the words: "F--- YOU, MOTHERF---ER!"

    A third sign urged motorists to "HONK IF YOU HATE BUSH." A fourth declared: "CHRISTIAN FASCISM," with a swastika in place of the letter S in each word.

    All the while, angry demonstrators brandished signs with incendiary rhetoric, such as "9/11 - YOU LET IT HAPPEN, SHRUB," and "BUSH: BASTARD CHILD OF THE SUPREME COURT." One sign read: "IMPEACH THE COURT-APPOINTED JUNTA AND THE FASCIST, EGOMANIACAL, BLOOD-SWILLING BEAST!"

    Yet none of these signs were cited in the national media's coverage of the event. By contrast, the press focused extensively on over-the-top signs held by Obama critics at the president's town hall event held Tuesday in New Hampshire.
    I have a feeling what Sammon is referring to was covered in this Common Dreams article, which states as follows…

    PORTLAND, Oregon - Riot police used pepper spray and struck some demonstrators with batons after ordering hundreds of people to leave a protest near a hotel where President George W. Bush attended a fund-raiser.

    Protesters hammered on the hoods of police cars as pepper spray wafted through the air. Protesting Bush's foreign policy, they chanted "Drop Bush, Not Bombs."

    Bush supporters in formal attire were jostled and taunted by protesters as they arrived for a fund-raiser for the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith. After elbowing through the demonstrators, they were checked by Secret Service agents before they were allowed inside the hotel.

    Riot police wearing helmets…walked into the area, pushing activists with their batons. Some activists fell. Police then fired aerosol canisters of pepper spray at the protesters.
    Also, given the thuggery of the St. Paul, Minnesota police force at the Republican National Hate Fest last year (here), aimed at people like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (whose only “crime” was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time), the best thing Sammon can do if he wants to be treated like a grownup is to shut his proverbial pie hole.

    When the “teabaggers” are gassed, beaten with batons or summarily arrested at any of these town hall gatherings, then Sammon will have something legitimate to complain about, instead of perceived faults against a bunch of WATBs.
  • Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    You're BUSTED, Karl! Yep, that image of you in an orange jump suit is becoming clearer and clearer...

    ...and as you watch Republican health care whore Sen. Charles Grassley sucking up to the "lizard people" at this public forum here, keep in mind what Down With Tyranny pointed out here; namely, that "during the height of the debate over health care, Grassley pulled in $165,100 from health and insurance PACs. At the same time, Grassley’s language turned from the cautious but open words about reform in 2008 to the abrasive Twitter rants of 2009"...

    Update 8/13/09: Paying no price, bearing no burden here (h/t Atrios)...

    ...meanwhile, there are some out there who actually are not taking the path of least resistance like Grassley, and with some truly courageous reporting, Rachel Maddow tells us about them (oh, and by the way, "dead tree media," one reason you're becoming more and more irrelevant is that, with the possible exception of the New York Times, you don't have a clue about any of this stuff - as usual, you refuse to "connect the dots" as Rachel does)...

    ...and I hereby dedicate this to all of the "lizard people" out there still disrupting town hall meetings on health care reform (ordinarily I'm not big on drug references in songs, but for those cretins I'll make an exception).

    What's Black And White And Dead All Over?

    If this story is any indication, then the answer to that question will be the two main newspapers of the city of Philadelphia, something I point out with no joy whatsoever (and I also posted over here.)

    As we learn from the E&P link above…

    PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Newspapers hopes to use $35 million in new capital to settle nearly $400 million in debt and emerge from bankruptcy.

    An opposing creditors' plan would leave the newspapers saddled with up to $85 million in debt, making it difficult for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News to survive, a company lawyer said Tuesday.

    Lawyer Larry McMichael offered broad outlines of the competing reorganization plans after a hearing Tuesday, but neither has been filed in court.

    A new judge handling the case chided various parties involved Tuesday for offering ''untenable'' options to resolve the company's finances, which McMichael described as ''under water.''

    ''To one degree or another, everyone involved ... is overplaying their hand,'' Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich said.

    He ordered all sides -- the company, creditors and the union representing writers and photographers -- to stop bluffing or risk having the city's two largest dailies fold.
    In anticipation of this story, former Inquirer writer (and current New York Times correspondent) Michael Sokolove wrote this feature article for the Sunday Times Magazine. He recounts the history of both papers, from their treatment as Walter Annenberg’s “poor stepchildren,” to their sale to the Knight Ridder chain (which subsequently ushered in the Inky’s “salad days” of 17 Pulitzer Prizes from 1975 to 1990), to their present calamitous state under the ownership of Philadelphia Newspapers (and the company’s most visible presence, Brian Tierney, pictured).

    Sokolove continues…

    Tierney is the central figure in Philadelphia’s newspaper drama today — an imperfect, improbable savior who in his previous role as the city’s most prominent public-relations executive was hyperaggressive, and often bullying, in his interactions with reporters. No one would compare him with (Ben) Franklin, except perhaps in his self-confidence. But he has taken to newspapering with a convert’s devotion. In one of our conversations, he had to stop talking for a moment as tears came rolling down his cheeks. He was telling me about a speech he gave to an adult-education group, a routine appearance until the moderator asked everyone to join hands and pray for The Inquirer and The Daily News. “It was unbelievable they would say a prayer for us,” Tierney said as he reached under his glasses to dry his eyes. “But they care. You know, it’s not like we’re some radio station thinking about switching from Top 40 to a salsa format. This is the people’s work, a public trust.”
    Cue the tinny violin (a little late in the game to play for sympathy, Tierney).

    Bankruptcy proceedings in which the parties do not amicably come together on terms for restructuring debt are fluid and unpredictable. The Philadelphia newspaper case has been particularly rancorous. A possibility exists, probably remote at this point, that the papers could just fold, making Philadelphia the winner of a dubious sweepstakes: first major American city to be left without a daily newspaper. Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, which finances journalistic innovation, told me, “It’s going to happen somewhere.”

    (Tierney) has taken his public relations mind-set to newspapering. He says he thinks the industry shares too much bad news about itself — “The audience for TV news is tanking, but do you ever hear them talk about that?” — and he was an early advocate for the idea that newspapers ought to begin charging for online content, a notion that has recently gained momentum.
    As far as TV news “tanking,” as Tierney put it (and I’ll get to the content-charging argument in a minute), this tells us that, though the Internet has taken away some of the TV news audience…

    …give the broadcast networks credit: they've been much quicker to implement changes to address viewership declines than their print compadres of the twentieth century, and the changes encompass both the form and content of the nightly news broadcast. Viewers now are invited to log-on to the network's web site to post their comments, view/read side-bar stories, download the broadcast to their iPod or view it on another mobile device. In many cases, the broadcast networks have allocated air talent to create a nightly newscast tailored for and distributed on the web, above and beyond the bonus coverage that's so often available on news stories broadcast on television.

    Does all this mean that nightly newscasts on TV will end any time soon? Hardly. There is this thing called "reach." For all their attrition, particularly among viewers ages 18-34, the network newscast still reaches more than 20 million households on a typical night. Second, as for June 2008, 57% of the 113.3 million U.S. television households have cable television, but 43% do not, according to National Cable Television Association data, and these cable-less viewers rely more on TV than on the Internet for news. Hence, it appears, at least for the next decade, the network newscast will retain a sizable audience.
    Sokolove also spends part of his feature discussing the whole “business model” issue, which of course is critical…

    …parts of the system are actually not broken at all (referencing a prior quote about “old systems breaking before new ones are formed,” in this case pertaining to news gathering). Journalists still know how to gather news. And the Internet is a step forward in disseminating it. What’s broken is the pipeline that sends money back to where the content is created. Most of it is available to readers online, free, including on newspapers’ own Web sites, where it is not sufficiently supported by advertising.
    What to do (or, more precisely, not to do)?

    Well, as far as charging for online content is concerned (thus perpetuating some long-discredited business model), I would say that kos makes some interesting (if profanity-laced) points here about how newspaper executives want to make money basically from search engines purposely directing users to newspaper sites to drive up the sites’ hit counts so they can charge as much for advertising online as they would in print (with user subscriptions making up the difference).

    Uh, yeah…let me know how that works for you guys, OK?

    Continuing with Sokolove…

    “We do the brawny work,” Tierney said, sounding like the C.E.O. of some smokestack industry. “The Web efforts, they add something. I congratulate them. Let a thousand flowers bloom. But if somebody thinks in any short term, or even medium term, that the answers are those things, they’re kidding themselves. I know I sound like a heretic in that I won’t come out and say, ‘They’re the future.’ But they’re not. The brawny work is what we’re doing, and the brawny vehicle to carry it is the printed product.”
    Once more, I give you kos here (who might as well be talking to Tierney)...

    If you're in such a bubble that you haven't seen the dozens of news operations online that are producing "detailed responsible empirical journalism", then you are hopeless. (The news exec’s) biggest problem? They continue to act as though their medium is inherently superior when news is medium agnostic.
    And on the subject of arrogance, Sokolove briefly makes reference to the fact that Tierney awarded himself a $350,000 bonus last year as the company’s unions voted to postpone $25-a-week raises for each of its members at the request of Philadelphia Newspapers (noted here).

    Also, if Tierney were serious about “letting a thousand flowers bloom,” then as I said here, he (along with just about every other “dead tree media” exec) would have realized that online news/commentary sites are not the enemy, and that a rising tide could float all boats (or at least, the most worthy ones), as they say.

    In addition to the points raised by Sokolove, though, I would like to offer my own peculiar insight here.

    It’s all well and good that there are people crying and praying for Philadelphia’s two major metropolitan newspapers (not a bad thing if it saves jobs), but I think Sokolove does a disservice here by ignoring the recent editorial controversies stirred up by Tierney, notably his decision to offer Bush torture memo architect John Yoo some prime editorial real estate (here). I have no hard data on the impact of those decisions (in concert with the general right-wing slant of most corporate media) on circulation, but my somewhat educated guess is that it is not beneficial (I will readily admit that the economy looms larger as a factor in whether or not people subscribe to newspapers).

    I realize that people read newspapers for different reasons – perhaps the stock ticker, the comics, local news, obituaries, movie listings – but to me, the life blood of any newspaper is the Op-Ed page (any “newspaper” without it might as well be a nuisance direct mail solicitation or a supermarket circular).

    And the Op-Ed page of the Philadelphia Inquirer (and their Sunday “Currents” section – always thought that was a stupid title), on balance, has been so uninteresting and so hopelessly biased for so long that I can’t remember when it was actually good. And a big reason why I haven't said anything for a little while about Smerky, Ferris, Little Ricky, etc. is because, though what they say is often controversial, at least it was timely, but now it isn't even that (they just end up rehashing something I've already posted on, so what’s the point of repeating myself – I should note that Dan Rather called here for a presidential commission on our media, which is a good idea, though it would likely lead to the much-needed examination of conservative dominance embodied in our news organizations with initials for names which is not desired by way too many in this country).

    At least the Bucks County Courier Times, in addition to its steady diet of right-wing hackery, publishes Gene Lyons or someone from Media Matters on occasion (and David Sirota a couple of times) to at least give a nod to the fact that there’s more in the “brawny vehicle” of a newspaper than Tierney thinks there is (though, as long as I’m mentioning the Courier Times, an editorial this morning said that a supposed “issue” in the health care debate is “will (health care reform) snuff out granny”…pathetic).

    (And that, once more, drums home the point to me that newspapers don’t realize that their editorial content is now more obsolete than ever before, since an entire web-savvy audience would know the answer to that ridiculous question – and have probably known for some time – before it was ever posed in print.)

    Most of us lament the loss of traditional, iconic realities in our lives (in this region, consider the night club Ripley’s, the Budd Plant in Northeast Philadelphia, and the Horn and Hardart restaurant chain). But if somehow the prayers and entreaties on behalf of the Inquirer and Daily News fail to forestall their demise (as well as that of papers in the past and potentially in the future), it will be in large part because of market forces beyond the grasp of the management of these organizations, as well as their failure to innovate in both the generation and distribution of content.

    And it will also be the fault of individuals who thought so little of that content that they refused to seek it, support it, or demand that it meet a standard of excellence required for us all to make informed decisions concerning our own lives, that of our families, our communities, and ultimately, our country.

    Update 8/21/09: Sounds like a band-aid solution (re, a second "local group" is trying to save the first "local group") when what is needed is something radical, but we'll see (saving jobs is always a good thing).

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Tuesday PM Stuff

    I definitely want to see him knocked off in the PA Dem Senate primary next year by Joe Sestak, but I have to give Snarlin' Arlen credit here for handling this wingnut in a health care town hall today...

    ...and here's more reality (not screaming, bloviation or threats) on the health care debate (more facts here)...

    ..."Worst Persons" (and if anybody else out there wants to dump Glenn Beck, click here...speaking of health care propaganda, enter Billo, as a break from other self-promotion, of course; Niall Ferguson compares Obama to Felix The Cat and raises the possibility that our president should drink himself to death, or something..??? - a shame, actually; I saw him recently on "Real Time," and I thought he was pretty good; but Dick Morris takes the prize for stating that our lawmakers should be "terrorized" at town hall forums...what the hell is it going to take for one of these media asshats to get arrested for this stuff?)...

    ...and given what I said in an earlier post today, I thought this song was appropriate once more.

    A Voinovich Vent Over A Dixie "Dustup"

    I was awaiting a pundit smack down of Sen. George Voinovich for saying there are “too many Southerners” in the Republican Party (with Voinovich citing Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma by name, strangely adding an “err, err” for emphasis).

    Well, “Diaper Dave” Vitter took up the challenge about a week or so ago here and said the following…

    "He's a moderate," the Louisiana senator said, "really wishy-washy."
    Kind of a tepid attack there, I must say (not hard to imagine what would spew forth if Voinovich’s words had come from a Democrat).

    And Kathleen Parker, in so many words, agreed with Voinovich here (color me shocked)…

    Whatever Voinovich's sound effects were intended to convey, his meaning was clear enough: Those ignorant, right-wing, Bible-thumping rednecks are ruining the party.

    Alas, Voinovich was not entirely wrong.

    Not all Southern Republicans are wing nuts. Nor does the GOP have a monopoly on ignorance or racism. And, the South, for all its sins, is also lush with beauty, grace and mystery. Nevertheless, it is true that the GOP is fast becoming regionalized below the Mason-Dixon line and increasingly associated with some of the South's worst ideas.
    I find it hard to accept anything approaching wisdom from someone who got at least as much mileage over John Edwards’ haircut as any other pundit, but that saying about the blind squirrel finding the nut does have a ring of truth.

    Indeed, the severest criticism I’ve heard of the Ohio senator came from Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post (from here)…

    Somebody please buy Ohio Sen. George Voinovich a ticket to the real South, preferably on a slow-moving train, so he can observe the country he helps govern. Last month, Voinovich charged that Southerners are what's wrong with the Republican Party. "We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," he told the Columbus Dispatch, talking about his colleagues from South Carolina and Oklahoma. "It's the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, 'These people, they're southerners. The party's being taken over by southerners. What [the] hell they got to do with Ohio?' "

    Let's set aside the fact that Oklahoma's panhandle is closer to Santa Fe than the South and dwell on what Voinovich meant: The GOP is overpopulated by unrepresentative white fire-breathers isolated from the rest of America. When Voinovich refers to "southerners" with such Gone With the Windiness, he conjures images of backward, angry rednecks who scream at black schoolchildren, drive pickup trucks emblazoned with Confederate flags and believe the Civil War was about declaring independence from northern aggressors. These stereotypes all mislead in the same way: They define a unified, homogenous South, with virtually no trace of diversity or dissent.

    You'd never know from these references that the Southeast has become the fastest-growing destination for foreign-born immigrants and Americans on the move. Or that most white southerners opposed secession and that thousands of them fought for the Union, from the Alabama hill country to Arkansas, including a band of guerrillas in Jones County, Miss., who effectively seceded from the Confederacy. Or that the white men and women who taught in the first desegregated classrooms had crosses burned on their lawns, too. Or that 5 percent of the population of Biloxi is Vietnamese American, just one more cultural influence in a town built by Poles, Slavonians, French Acadians and Italians. Same with New Orleans.
    And from this point, what we get is basically a travelogue from Jenkins with lots of interesting historical anecdotes that really doesn’t represent anything along the lines of a smack down that would surely be provided with gusto if a non-Repug had dared to give offense to the “land of secession.”

    No charges of “elitism” aimed at the departing Ohio senator? No accusations about Voinovich not understanding the “real America” (or something – his views are said to be “unrepresentative and regionally isolated,” according to Jenkins…pardon me, but do you have some Grey Poupon, Sally)?

    As a contrast, let me give you an idea of some of the dreck that people of my political persuasion had to endure when the Repugs were “riding high” in the middle of this decade, particularly right after a certain presidential election in 2004, and maybe you’ll understand why I find the relative silence in the face of Voinovich’s remarks so ingratiating.

    This is a post from someone named Cynthia Sneed, who participated in a “Red State, Blue State” series with two “blue state” posters, Tim Horner (who I once communicated with – nice guy) and Terri Falbo. And as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, Sneed was a “red state” poster, along with a gentleman named Joe Franklin, who at least showed some class in the aftermath of the Bush/Kerry contest.

    What Sneed said, however, was something wholly other…

    The Democratic Party leadership and political pundits want to believe this election was all about homosexuality and gay/lesbian marriage. Typical liberals, they confuse morals and values.

    I do not know if it is ignorance or naiveté that leads the Democratic Party today. They still believe that they lost this election because of right-wing, Bible-believing, flag-waving, gun-toting, brain-dead, homophobic Christian morons.

    No: The Americans who held hands, cried in church, wept with neighbors, flew their flags, and gave hundreds of millions of dollars to the victims of 9/11, wear their little American flag pins proudly and still get misty-eyed when the National Anthem is played. Those are the people who voted Tuesday.
    As opposed to us hedonistic, atheistic, blue state misfits…

    We are disrespected, loathed and ridiculed by vainglorious, aging baby boomers, washed-up rock stars, and Hollywood celebrities languishing in the glory of their "revolution" movement - now in complete control of the party of FDR and JFK.

    Democrats politicized a war that my generation is committed to winning. Humiliated by Iran in 1979, frustrated by the numerous attacks during the 1990s, and infuriated by 9/11, we see that the war on terror must be prosecuted into regions and against enemies far beyond the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and Osama bin Laden.

    The attack that apparently had little effect on the Democrats' golden child is our Pearl Harbor. This is our opportunity to combat evil, saving future generations from the horror, grief and humiliation we suffered on that fateful day - just as we saved countless Jews, homosexuals, Catholics, and mentally challenged people from Naziism.
    This is what we had to deal with from a geographic demographic choking on its own pride and self-absorption, for whom George W. Bush was their anointed one, an individual who commanded nothing less than unquestioned loyalty in their minds. This is what we had to deal with from people spoiling for a fight, their lizard-brain functions apparently having kidnapped their capability for rational thought, with those in the Democratic Party (at least Sneed got our name right) guilty of nothing except trying to make sense of insanity.

    Whereas Voinovich comes along and says something much more provocative than anything we could have conjured up and faces nothing comparable in response?

    Oh, and just for the record, at the time she wrote this, Sneed lived in Alabama (no word on her present whereabouts).

    Well then, let’s remind Ms. Sneed and others who “look away,” you might say, when faced with same-party criticism, of the dwindling role their region plays in our political life (here also).

    As noted here, Tom Schaller, author of “Whistling Past Dixie,” tells us…

    What Democrats shouldn't do, Schaller says, is continue their obsession with regaining the electoral advantage in Southern states that they lost thirty years ago. The South is now solidly Republican and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

    Wooing back the disaffected social conservatives of Dixie, Schaller advises, only distracts Democratic candidates from cultivating a majority in more fertile territory, particularly the post-industrial Midwest and swelling Southwest.

    ``In a country divided 49-49,'' Schaller said last week, ``you have to go to the places where you get a high rate of return. For Democrats, that's not the South.''

    (According to Schaller) population growth in several Southern states is stagnating.

    ``The South today,'' he writes, ``wields not much more electoral power nationally than it did a century ago,'' when it formed the solid base of the (minority) Democratic Party.
    I will only say in defense of the South's overrated (I believe) political clout that Obama benefitted from some voting trends that could prove to be aberrations (though hopefully not, at least not all of them): 1) A huge increase in African-American voter participation; 2) A palpable discontent with the Repugs over our cratering economy; 3) A recognition of speaking to “values voters” in language they understood; and 4) The presence of Sarah Palin on the Republican presidential ticket.

    Also, as noted here in the comments here, I think the Repug political strategists figured out that there is actually a bit of economic populism in the South where there isn’t as much “big gumint” opposition as one would think. However, that gets crowded out of the picture when “values voter” issues such as gay marriage and abortion are all that people particularly of that region hear about from their news sources and their political leadership.

    But in terms of “the big picture,” let us not lose sight of the following from Nate Silver (here)…

    Self-described conservative Republicans represent only about 20 percent of the population. This base is not necessarily becoming smaller; it's still alive and kicking. What is true, however, is that the (1) base has never been sufficient to form a winning electoral coalition, and (2) that there are fewer and fewer non-base (e.g. moderates, libertarian Republicans, Republican leaning-independents). As these moderates have fled the GOP, the party's electoral fortunes have tanked. But simultaneously, they have had less and less influence on the Republican message.

    Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base -- but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.
    What this also points out is the importance of the southwest as an emerging regional political base, with Hispanic immigrants making up the largest growing segment of the population (though health care reform affects everyone in this country, it affects Hispanics the most, along with African Americans, as noted here).

    Oh, but the South does “lead” in some categories, as noted here, which would be divorce, teenage pregnancy, and consumption of online porn (and, as noted here, the “birthers” are overwhelmingly from the South).

    I honestly think that a lot of what I noted above would have been expressed by Voinovich if he’d been a bit more lucid; he was going in that direction anyway (though, experienced pol that he is, he probably realized that he had a “short leash” here).

    And had people like Cynthia Sneed managed to rein in their triumphalism back when it would have mattered, perhaps our present political, economic and foreign policy outcomes would be just a bit better than they are now (with, subsequently, less crankiness from yours truly).

    And don’t preach to me about “the fluidity of American society” until, for starters, our countrymen (and women) below the Mason-Dixon line articulate something approximating the Christian concept of forgiveness for past intolerance (starting with some contrition for the benefit of these ladies whose only “offense” was speaking their minds at a time when everyone who dissented from conventional wisdom was told to sit down and shut up).

    Tuesday AM Stuff

    Rachel Maddow turned over more seamy rocks last night to expose the health care propagandists...

    (And by the way, click here to find out the facts instead of the lies.)

    ...and Isaac Hayes passed a year ago yesterday.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Here's another "Special Comment" from K.O. on the health care wingnuttery out there, particularly from Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin and her "death panels" (actually, J.D. Mullane of the Courier Times was waxing insane about that last week, so Palin is already "behind the curve").

    For a moment, I thought Keith's inclusion of some of Lincoln's inaugural speech at the end was a little "over the top," but then again, I realize that it may be prescient; a month after our 16th president spoke those wonderful words in March 1861, The Civil War and its carnage began in earnest...let us all do our best (and pray) to ensure that past isn't prologue here...

    ...and now, for a bit of fun.

    Hey Everybody, It’s Time For Bill Orally’s “Obamathon”!

    After reading this article, I don’t know what makes my skin crawl more: the almost laughable pretense of Fix Noise’s premier talking head as a modern-day fabulist, or his immediate proximity to so many kids as seen in the photo (and by the way, I also posted here).

    Let’s get right to it, shall we…

    While high-tech can be a tremendous educational tool, explicit images and conversation easily found in cyberspace can rob children of their innocence and, in some cases, put them in actual danger. Even if parents are vigilant in monitoring the machines, kids can still get the bad stuff at school and on the playgrounds, as computer access is just about everywhere.
    “Explicit images” and “bad stuff” like this, maybe (here)?...

    OCTOBER 13--Hours after Bill O'Reilly accused her of a multimillion dollar shakedown attempt, a female Fox News producer fired back at the TV star today, filing a lawsuit claiming that he subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies.

    The disruption of the traditional American family is also adversely affecting millions of children. Right now, almost 22 million American kids are living with one parent; more than 80% of those are being raised primarily by Mom. Just 50 years ago, a child living without a father was somewhat of a rarity. Now it’s an epidemic.
    Jeremy Glick doesn’t have a father either, Bill. At least, he doesn’t any more; he died on 9/11.

    You remember Jeremy Glick, don’t you, Bill? Here is a transcript of your last conversation with him…

    O'Reilly: "Shut up. Shut up."
    Jeremy Glick: "Oh, please don't tell me to shut up."
    O'Reilly: "As respect—as respect—in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians—"
    Glick: "By radical extremists who were trained by this government—"
    O'Reilly: "Out of respect for him—"
    Glick: "—not the people of America."
    O'Reilly: "—I'm not going to—"
    Glick: "—the people of the ruling class, the small minority."
    O'Reilly: "Cut his mic. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father. We will be back in a moment with more of The Factor."
    Glick: "That means we're done?"
    O'Reilly: "We're done."

    Thus, our modern age presents vast challenges to children, and they need to learn lessons quickly in order to prosper. And who better to teach them than the President of the United States?
    I have to admit that Bill is being surprisingly deferential to a guy who, as noted here, suffers from a “lack of religion,” and is a “secularist” who rejects public spirituality, as O’Reilly puts is.

    Billo then goes on to recount some of President Obama’s personal history, telling us the following…

    As for his absent father, the President says the void he left motivated him to succeed. So, it is obvious that he is not wallowing in past pain. He does not harbor bitterness toward his parents. Instead, he accepted his situation and saw it as a challenge. He forgave his folks and embraced a positive outlook.
    Even though I don’t believe he needed to seek it, how about “forgiveness” for Dr. George Tiller, you clown?


    Even though his mom and dad apparently put their needs ahead of his, he speaks of them in mostly affectionate terms. He finds a way not to demean them.
    Typical arrogance from O’Reilly to presume to speak for another person’s parent whom he never met (though I grudgingly admit that he’s partly right, but only a bit); as this article in Time from April 2008 tells us…

    "She cried a lot," says her daughter Maya Soetoro-Ng, "if she saw animals being treated cruelly or children in the news or a sad movie—or if she felt like she wasn't being understood in a conversation." And yet she was fearless, says Soetoro-Ng. "She was very capable. She went out on the back of a motorcycle and did rigorous fieldwork. Her research was responsible and penetrating. She saw the heart of a problem, and she knew whom to hold accountable."

    Ironically, the person who mattered most in Obama's life is the one we know the least about—maybe because being partly African in America is still seen as being simply black and color is still a preoccupation above almost all else. There is not enough room in the conversation for the rest of a man's story.

    But Obama is his mother's son. In his wide-open rhetoric about what can be instead of what was, you see a hint of his mother's credulity. When Obama gets donations from people who have never believed in politics before, they're responding to his ability—passed down from his mother—to make a powerful argument (that happens to be very liberal) without using a trace of ideology. On a good day, when he figures out how to move a crowd of thousands of people very different from himself, it has something to do with having had a parent who gazed at different cultures the way other people study gems.

    It turns out that Obama's nascent career peddling hope is a family business. He inherited it. And while it is true that he has not been profoundly tested, he was raised by someone who was.
    Update 8/11/09: By the way, I thought this was an excellent column on Anne Dunham Soetoro.

    At the conclusion of his blathering, an author’s credit tells us that Billo is a “contributing editor” of Parade Magazine.

    All the more reason why, despite some interesting “Intelligence Report” features, I continue to be grateful for the fact that it is a free supplement, since I surely would never pay for anything that grants column space to such egomaniacal musings.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    Sunday Stuff

    Hey, here's a nutty idea; instead of listening to the shouters and the lunatics paid for by Rick Scott and Dick Armey on the subject of health care reform, try listening to the doctors (here)...

    ...and RIP, Willy DeVille.

    A Dubya “Deficit” Of Common Sense

    I may have stumbled across the single stupidest moment of corporate media punditry this year, my fellow prisoners; I give you Andrew Taylor of the AP from here…

    A president’s signature accomplishment typically occurs in his first year in office, before the August congressional recess. It was tax cuts for President Ronald Reagan and deficit reduction for President George W. Bush, though health care proved elusive for President Bill Clinton.
    (Now, to be fair, I should note that this could have been a case of sloppy editing, since had this reading “tax cuts for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and deficit reduction for Bill Clinton,” but as of this moment, the “ljworld” link has not been updated, and the text appeared as above in today’s Bucks County Courier Times.)

    Which, to me, begs the following question to Andrew Taylor…

    How many box tops did you have to save before you were awarded your journalism degree?

    As noted here (a CNN story from September 2000; kind of painful to recall this given our present state, but I must...I also took note of the sidebar story, "Analysis indicates many Gore votes thrown out in Florida")…

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton announced Wednesday that the federal budget surplus for fiscal year 2000 amounted to at least $230 billion, making it the largest in U.S. history and topping last year's record surplus of $122.7 billion.

    "Eight years ago, our future was at risk," Clinton said Wednesday morning. "Economic growth was low, unemployment was high, interest rates were high, the federal debt had quadrupled in the previous 12 years. When Vice President Gore and I took office, the budget deficit was $290 billion, and it was projected this year the budget deficit would be $455 billion."

    Instead, the president explained, the $5.7 trillion national debt has been reduced by $360 billion in the last three years -- $223 billion this year alone.

    This represents, Clinton said, "the largest one-year debt reduction in the history of the United States."
    Oh, and concerning the present White House occupant (back to Taylor)…

    If and when (Obama) does tackle the deficit, he’ll be hard-pressed to keep his promise not to raise taxes on couples making less than $250,000.
    Proof? Anywhere in sight? Hello???

    Go ahead and deny me access to such “sterling” content, AP (here). As I said before, it would be a triumph for informed discourse.