Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday Stuff

Maybe you should spend a little less time hitting that little white ball and more time trying to master the concept of constituent service, Representative Man Tan...

...and speaking of clueless white people, I'll bet you're wondering what happens when the executive board of the Valley Swim Club decides to "let its hair down" - wonder no more.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Stuff

Aw, c'mon Newt! Can you imagine how many lap dances Ms. Rizos had to perform and how many drunken, rowdy teenage boys she had to dry-hump in order to earn 5 grand? The LEAST a serial philanderer like you is pony up and give her the damn award already!

And just listen to her agent Mr. P(r)ecker tell the story if you don't want to believe me (heh)...

Update 10/9/09: Oooooh - Snap!

..."it goes off," indeed! Happy weekend, one and all.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/2/09)

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 (and once again, except for highlighting another particularly awful vote by Joe Pitts, I got nothin').


Extended jobless benefits. Voting 331-83, the House passed a bill (HR 3548) providing 13 more weeks of jobless checks for those in high-unemployment states whose current allotments have expired or soon will expire.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

Not voting: Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.).
At this point, I need to back up a bit (and I'm sure Gerlach was busy trying to raise money so he could run for governor - heh, heh).

I’ve been doing these writeups on congressional votes for better than three and a half years (don’t mean to pat myself on the back here), and I’ve catalogued all kinds of bad votes by the mistake from PA’s 16th U.S. Congressional district.

However, this is in a wholly other league from the other awful “No” votes.

And that’s because (as noted here)…

There have been plenty of signs the recession is beginning to loosen its grip on the country: Consumer spending is up, new-home sales have risen sharply and orders for durable goods surged at their fastest pace in two years.

Just don't tell that to folks looking for work in Lancaster County.

The jobless rate here crept to its highest level in more than 26 years, to 7.4 percent in July, a new report shows.

That's up from June's 7.3 percent.

Nearly 20,000 people are out of work here, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry report.

"Things are still continuing to get worse," said Ryan Horner, an analyst with the state's Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.
And this is Lancaster County, Joe. Lancaster freaking County!

You lose Lancaster County, you’re done!

We can only hope.

Medicare premiums. Voting 406-18, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 3631) to freeze Medicare premiums in 2010 at the current level of about $96 per month. Medicare premiums are deducted from Social Security checks, and the rationale of this bill is that since there will be no Social Security inflation adjustment in 2010, there should be no rise in Medicare premiums.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.


National park system. Voting 79-19, the Senate tabled (killed) an amendment to shift $420 million in the 2010 Interior Department budget (HR 2996) from land acquisition to maintenance in the national park system. The $32.2 billion appropriations bill was later sent to conference with the House.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

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

Offshore drilling. Voting 56-42, the Senate tabled (killed) a Republican bid to speed implementation of a law to expand offshore oil and gas drilling. Although approved last year, the new drilling cannot begin until 2012 for contractual reasons. In part, the expansion authorizes Outer Continental Shelf drilling 100 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific shorelines and beyond. This vote occurred during debate on HR 2996 (above).

A yes vote was to kill the GOP motion.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
This week, the House took up nonmilitary aid to Pakistan and energy and water spending, while the Senate debated the 2010 defense budget.

Friday Mashup (10/2/09)

(And I also posted here.)

  • This has been in my “in” box for a little while, so I thought I’d better get to it; the following article recently appeared on, telling us the following.

    (You have to think about the pic for a minute, I know, but trust me – when mentioning Cawley, it fits.)…

    Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley will start raising cash after the announcement Tuesday afternoon that he is forming an exploratory committee for lieutenant governor.

    "I want people to be aware that I am taking this decision very seriously, it's something I am being very thoughtful and reflective about," he said. "And I want to continue to go out and talk to more people across the state about their concerns."

    Cawley has already crisscrossed the state as what he called a "surrogate speaker for the statewide judicial team," and specifically Supreme Court candidate Joan Orie Melvin.

    Last week Attorney General Tom Corbett announced his candidacy for governor in 2010 and Cawley said he was there. Corbett plans to bring his campaign message to Spring Hill Manor in Ivyland tonight and Cawley said he'll be there as well.

    This summer Cawley and fellow GOP Commissioner Charley Martin hosted at cocktail party for Corbett at the Temperance House in Newtown and raked in $75,000.
    As I’ve said before, I admire the heck out of Joe Hoeffel (the likely Dem PA gubernatorial candidate), but with the state budget problems in this country due to no help from whatsoever from Washington over the last eight years until Obama took over, I cannot see how many incumbent Dem governors (to say nothing of the party itself) won’t end up paying a price for it (considering the “through the looking glass” world of our politics in general). And barring some major flubs and/or odious revelations on the campaign trail (always a possibility), I cannot see how we will avert the coronation of Tom Corbett as PA governor next year (definitely pains me to say that).

    So if Jim Gerlach is somehow reading this, he’d better hurry up and lose his party’s nomination so he can compete for the lieutenant governor spot as well, though Cawley, having raised all that dough for Corbett, definitely has a “leg up” at this point.

    Personally, in the event of a Corbett win (ugh), I’d love to see him take Cawley along with him to Harrisburg, thus making Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin sweat out his re-election prospects just a little more.

    And maybe if Cawley goes, I wonder if he could take “independent” Bucks County Commissioner candidate Jay Russell along also (and that would REALLY make things interesting for Martin).

  • Update 1/7/10: Looks like Gerlach is getting smart for a change (here).

  • I happened across this item at The New Yorker from the blog of writer George Packer, on the matter of President Obama supposedly running his administration as if he is still campaigning for president (to which I ask, who doesn’t do that anymore?)…

    In a campaign, which is a battle for nationwide perceptions, this kind of control is understandable, and it has a better track record than the alternatives (compare the Obama press operation with Hillary Clinton’s or McCain-Palin’s and you have at least one part of the reason for his victory). But government is something entirely different. For policies to work, they have to be explained to the country, not once but again and again, and not just by the President in infrequent speeches but by the senior-level officials who helped establish them and are charged with carrying them out. Otherwise, public confidence can turn to dust in a hurry. Afghanistan is a case in point.

    My November worry has now become a September alarm. I want the President to succeed in Afghanistan, and I don’t think he’s well-served by a philosophy that treats policy as one more variation on stratcom, and that fears a few slips more than an unexplained war.
    “Stratcom,” by the way, is pundit-speak for “strategic communications” and message discipline in general, as noted by Packer.

    However, I cannot imagine how Packer can assume that Obama has conducted “infrequent” media appearances. I suppose Packer’s point is that Obama needs to more clearly define the objectives in Afghanistan and line up the generals in accordance with that overall policy, which is well taken. But Packer doesn’t mention Afghanistan until after he makes the “infrequent” claim. If anything, the claim can be made (but not by me) that Obama has made too many appearances, primarily in the urgent matter of health care (among other urgent matters, including the climate crisis).

    But this appears to be another case, ultimately (putting aside the pretext of Obama’s supposed “infrequent” appearances), of Packer cheerleading for Afghanistan just as he did for Iraq (noted here).

    And he was every bit as wrong then as he is now, by the way.

  • Finally, this being Friday, I should take note of another print appearance by Christine Flowers. However, I don’t wish to comment on her Daily News screed about Roman Polanski today (red meat for “values voter” simpatico columnists like Flowers, I realize – and I thought this was an interesting development with Flowers’ employer).

    Instead, I’ll note her Letter to the Editor that appeared in the New York Times today (have to scroll down a would seem like a strange venue for her, given her frequent ridicule of the paper, until you realize what it is that she’s whining about)…

    The traditional mantra of the pro-choice movement has always been “If you don’t like abortions, don’t have one.” I always felt that to be a simplistic and somewhat arrogant characterization of the moral stance held by most abortion opponents — that abortion is intrinsically evil. But I could live with the idea that not all Americans share that view.

    What I can’t accept is the philosophy, expressed in your editorial, that “in a rational system of medical care, there would be virtually no restrictions on financing abortions.”

    Mandating that my tax dollars be used to finance someone else’s abortion forces me to underwrite what I consider an immoral act, and also violates my First Amendment rights.

    So to paraphrase that other ubiquitous abortion-rights slogan, “My body, my choice,” my response would be “My wallet, my choice.”

    Christine Flowers
    Philadelphia, Oct. 1, 2009
    The Times editorial with which Flowers takes issue points out the following, linked to her letter (the real “takeway” here which Flowers, true to form, misses completely, probably on purpose)…

    In an effort to defuse the issue and allow health care reform to proceed, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, have backed a proposal that follows the spirit of the federal restrictions while allowing some leeway for people to choose plans that cover abortion on the exchanges.

    This proposal would prohibit the use of federal tax subsidies to pay for almost all abortions. Health plans could provide abortion coverage provided they used only the premium money and co-payments contributed by beneficiaries and kept that money segregated from the subsidy. In every state, there would have to be at least one plan that covers abortions and one that does not.
    And I thought the Times made an excellent point here…

    This compromise is still far more restrictive than the rules for other tax-subsidy programs. The subsidy for employees’ contributions to their health coverage at work, for example, can be used to buy insurance that covers abortion. Roughly half of the employer-provided policies cover the procedure. Nor are there any restrictions on paying for abortions with the tax-favored health savings accounts so beloved by conservatives.
    Ah yes, those “health savings accounts” so favored by the prior ruling cabal (of use to the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd that constituted Dubya’s beloved base, and practically no one else, as a GAO report noted here).

    As the Murdoch Street Journal tells us above, funds in health savings accounts are used primarily as a tax shelter for those who can afford it. And these funds should of course be restricted from use for abortion-related medical services (or does Flowers’ professed concern for the unborn extend only to the limit of her bank account?).

    And I’ll go further than that; if an employer makes a contribution to a health savings account for an employee, and those funds are used for an abortion, not only should the employee be criminally liable, but the employer should be also.

    Hey, do you care about the unborn or don’t you, Christine? Isn’t abortion “intrinsically evil,” as you put it? And how about the holders of those accounts incurring additional tax penalties for using their HSA for abortion-related services?

    “My wallet, my choice,” huh? How about “their wallet (and no one else's) or NO choice”?
  • Thursday, October 01, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    Consider yourself "called out," Sen. Kyl (AP photo by Evan Vucci)...

    ...and yep, Jon Stewart is right again, sadly (and speaking of Ensign, his puddle of doo-doo just got a lot deeper)...

    Democratic Super Majority
    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorRon Paul Interview

    ..."Worst Persons" (Flush Limbore tries to malign Obama schools adviser Kevin Jennings - tell ya what, Flush: when Jennings starts abusing OxyContin and flies to Puerto Rico in search of underage hookers, let me know, OK?; Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari - now there's a mouthful! - gets the "silver" for trying to funnel money to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan - he admitted charges of terrorism financing and conspiracy to commit wire fraud...quite a plumb that Bushco would have crowed about had he not also made about $35 K in contributions to Repug political committees..."just say 'oops' and get out, Abdul Tawala et cetera, et cetera, et cetera"; but Michael Steele gets the top nod here for making a video in commemoration of "National Hispanic Heritage Month" that managed to exclude Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Cesar Chavez AND fellow Repug Mel Martinez - no hablarás en serio, Mike!)...

    ...and I just have one thing to say in response to this - woof!

    Deciphering The Spin On A Bushie’s Money-Mad Musings

    (And I also posted here.)

    This New York Times story from last Monday tells us the following…

    WASHINGTON — The president of the World Bank said on Monday that America’s days as an unchallenged economic superpower might be numbered and that the dollar was likely to lose its favored position as the euro and the Chinese renminbi assume bigger roles.

    “The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency,” the World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, said in a speech at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. “Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar.”

    Mr. Zoellick, who previously served as the United States trade representative and as deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush, said that the euro provided a “respectable alternative” for financing international transactions and that there was “every reason to believe that the euro’s acceptability could grow.”

    In the next 10 to 20 years, he said, the dollar will face growing competition from China’s currency, the renminbi. Though Chinese leaders have minimized their currency’s use in international transactions, largely so they could keep greater control over exchange rates, Mr. Zoellick said the renminbi would “evolve into a force in financial markets.”

    Mr. Zoellick criticized President Obama’s plan to put the Federal Reserve in charge of reducing “systemic risk” and to regulate institutions considered too big to fail. Saying that Congress had become uneasy about the Fed’s exercise of emergency powers to bail out financial institutions and prop up credit markets, Mr. Zoellick argued that the Treasury rather than the Fed should get more power because the Treasury was more accountable to Congress.
    Hmm, sounds like the head of the World Bank wants to be the next treasury secretary in a (gulp) Repug presidential administration, people.

    And as far as how we got to where we are in our current economic difficulties, Zoellick told fellow traveler Larry Kudlow the following here…

    Well, I think across different administrations, across different times, you know, we haven't been able to get the discipline over the budget deficit across parties, different Congresses, different parties.
    Different Republican administrations, Bob; President Clinton didn’t have any trouble balancing a budget (funny how “Zoely” is trying to deflect blame now that he and his pals are out of power).

    And on the subject of the decline of the dollar mentioned by Zoellick (this stuff is legitimate Page One news, by the way, as opposed to a certain Polish film director who may be extradited to this country over 32-year-old rape charges), economist Nouriel Roubini told us the following in the Times last May (here)…

    Traditionally, empires that hold the global reserve currency are also net foreign creditors and net lenders. The British Empire declined — and the pound lost its status as the main global reserve currency — when Britain became a net debtor and a net borrower in World War II. Today, the United States is in a similar position. It is running huge budget and trade deficits, and is relying on the kindness of restless foreign creditors who are starting to feel uneasy about accumulating even more dollar assets. The resulting downfall of the dollar may be only a matter of time.

    If China and other countries were to diversify their reserve holdings away from the dollar — and they eventually will — the United States would suffer. We have reaped significant financial benefits from having the dollar as the reserve currency. In particular, the strong market for the dollar allows Americans to borrow at better rates. We have thus been able to finance larger deficits for longer and at lower interest rates, as foreign demand has kept Treasury yields low. We have been able to issue debt in our own currency rather than a foreign one, thus shifting the losses of a fall in the value of the dollar to our creditors. Having commodities priced in dollars has also meant that a fall in the dollar’s value doesn’t lead to a rise in the price of imports.

    Now, imagine a world in which China could borrow and lend internationally in its own currency. The renminbi, rather than the dollar, could eventually become a means of payment in trade and a unit of account in pricing imports and exports, as well as a store of value for wealth by international investors. Americans would pay the price. We would have to shell out more for imported goods, and interest rates on both private and public debt would rise. The higher private cost of borrowing could lead to weaker consumption and investment, and slower growth.
    And when the opportunity to reduce our deficits presented itself under our prior ruling cabal, I have no evidence that Zoellick acted with the required urgency for that purpose.

    Because (and let us not forget this) Zoellick is a neocon through and through, an original PNAC signatory as noted here.

    And this tells us of the time he preached his free trade mantra in Darfur (hardly an economically self-sufficient area of the world – the post also noted that Zoellick was a paid consultant on Enron’s advisory board); this tells us that he pursued North Korea over counterfeiting, which ended up getting the UK PO’ed at us and driving Kim Jong Il away from nuke talks; this tells us that Dubya nominated him to head the World Bank in the wake of another neocon, Paul Wolfowitz (even though Zoellick didn’t have “extensive development experience”); and this tells us that he called for aid to China along with developing countries (which looks particularly ridiculous now especially considering that the renminbi, as Roubini notes, could one day supplant the dollar as the world’s reserve currency).

    As I contemplate all of this from Zoellick (given that he could have acted when he had the chance under Bushco), I cannot help but feel that the matter at hand is not so much a matter of the diminishing stature of certain financial instruments so much as his own prestige.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    The right-wing nutso drumbeat is getting louder every day, people, as K.O. (Welcome back!) tells us tonight with Chris Hayes, who I think is a little too flip with this stuff (I had a feeling Keith was out to help with his dad, and he confirmed it tonight)...

    ...and here's about two and a half minutes of fun (and congrats to DA' PHILS! Video later).

    Update 10/1/09: And what a stroke of luck that, by the time Lidge threw the pitch, it didn't matter.

    "BoBo" Discovers Economic Populism - Film at 11

    David Brooks opined as follows in the New York Times yesterday (trying to draw a parallel between our current economic difficulties and our country’s history)…

    When economic values did erode, the ruling establishment tried to restore balance. After the Gilded Age, Theodore Roosevelt (who ventured west to counteract the softness of his upbringing) led a crackdown on financial self-indulgence. The Protestant establishment had many failings, but it was not decadent. The old WASPs were notoriously cheap, sent their children to Spartan boarding schools, and insisted on financial sobriety.

    Over the past few years, however, there clearly has been an erosion in the country’s financial values. This erosion has happened at a time when the country’s cultural monitors were busy with other things. They were off fighting a culture war about prayer in schools, “Piss Christ” and the theory of evolution. They were arguing about sex and the separation of church and state, oblivious to the large erosion of economic values happening under their feet.
    (Actually, in the matter of TR, he “ventured West” in response to the grief of losing both his first wife, Alice, and his mother, the former Mittie Bulloch, within hours of each other on the same day in February 1884; though he grew up sickly, there was no “softness” in his upbringing…amazes me that Brooks actually gets paid to concoct this drivel, particularly the part about the “trusts” – think Goldman Sachs, AIG, Skank of America, and Shitty Group for Roosevelt’s time – being “not decadent.”)

    However, it is beyond pathetic for Brooks to claim that “financial values” were somehow ignored while those sheep-like “values voters” preoccupied themselves with being hoodwinked by Bushco, particularly given that BoBo was one of the biggest cheerleaders for Dubya’s “ownership society.”

    As noted here…

    In his (2004) State of the Union address, the president will announce measures to foster job creation. In the meantime, he is talking about what he calls the Ownership Society.

    This is a bundle of proposals that treat workers as self-reliant pioneers who rise through several employers and careers. To thrive, these pioneers need survival tools. They need to own their own capital reserves, their own retraining programs, their own pensions and their own health insurance.

    Administration officials are talking about giving unemployed workers personal re-employment accounts, which they could spend on training, child care, a car, a move to a place with more jobs, or whatever else they think would benefit them.

    President Bush has a proposal to combine and simplify the confusing morass of government savings programs and give individuals greater control over how they want to spend their tax-sheltered savings. Administration officials hope, in a second term, to let individuals control part of their Social Security pensions and perhaps even their medical savings accounts.
    Yeah, well, I think we know how that turned out; as Joseph A. Palermo of HuffPo noted here…

    I just wish David Brooks and Richard Stevenson and Steve Moore and Grover Norquist and George W. Bush and the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform and the Cato Institute and the Wall Street Journal and all of the other class warfare enthusiasts will have the guts to finally admit that their economic forecasts and predictions were wrong. I wish they would admit that their radical privatization, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthiest people and corporations, and all of the other neo-liberal claptrap they've rammed down our throats in recent years -- from Reaganomics and Rubinomics to Bush's kleptonomics -- have resulted in huge budget deficits, record national debt, scandals and rip-offs, trade imbalances, stock market sell offs, and inflation.

    Welcome to the world of the George W. Bush recession!

    Hey, David Brooks, What happened to your "ownership society?"
    And from here (where Brooks claims that conservatives are "epistemologically modest" and “liberalism will suffer a grievous blow” if Obama fails and “conservatives will be called upon to restore order and sanity”)…

    There was no "epistemological modesty" involved when Bush placed loyalty above competence and let lobbyists and other special interests loose in Washington, or when he launched a foolish and ill-planned war in an attempt to transform the entire Middle East. And let us not forget that Brooks himself was an enthusiastic supporter of these policies; I guess he forgot his Burke back when his party was in power.
    As noted here, though (h/t Atrios), I suppose this is part of “backwards week” by the Times, with not only Brooks now pretending to care about economic equality, but a certain Tom “Suck. On. This.” Friedman now claiming that “the Right” hounded Former President Clinton mercilessly over the supposed Whitewater scandal (true, I know), forgetting his newspaper’s role in that whole inquisition.

    (Also, I suppose this is somewhat amusing, though I didn’t get the whole “Put Kids On Bus” thing.)

    More Rather Wrangling Over Dubya’s Military Disservice

    (And I also posted here.)

    As many of us know, Dan Rather’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS was tossed out by a New York Supreme Court appellate division recently (here, which Rather plans to appeal).

    At issue is Rather’s claim that “CBS News broke his contract and committed fraud by sidelining him in the wake of a controversial story he reported about President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard,” as the story linked above tells us, with Rather also claiming that “CBS sought to curtail reporting on the story because of pressure from its then-parent company, Viacom.”

    And leave it to “Z on TV” to shade all of this as follows (here)…

    All of Rather's troubles at CBS stemmed form his disastrous report in 2004 on "60 Minutes II" about the tretment (sp) of George W. Bush in the National Guard. The report by Rather claimed that Bush received preferential treatment during the Vietnam War.

    But the report was based on a documents (sic) that Rather did not verify, and when the authenticity of the documents was challenged, the CBS anchorman could not prove their validity. The affair became known as Memogate and led to the end of Rather's career at CBS News.
    I think “Z” should stick to posting about “Jon and Kate Plus Eight,” since I’m not sure he knows a whole hell of a lot about anything else.

    To me, there were always two issues here, the report and its aftermath. Concerning the latter, Rather is trying to prove that corporate pressure ended his career at the network and hurt his financial prospects. That most definitely happened, though trying to establish that through a paper trail is a Quixotic prospect at best (Rather and his team are trying to get ahold of internal network memoranda which he believes will prove his case).

    The former issue, though, is the story from which the latter issue arose (the “disastrous report,” as Zurawik puts it). And concerning it, former CBS News producer Mary Mapes (who was involved with the Bush/National Guard story also) tells us the following (here)…

    We reported that since (a cache of documents allegedly written by Bush's former commander were) copies, not originals, they could not be fully authenticated, at least not in the legal sense. They could not be subjected to tests to determine the age of the paper or the ink. We did get corroboration on the content and support from a couple of longtime document analysts saying they saw nothing indicating that the memos were not real.

    Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the "a," the dip on the top of the "t," the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.

    It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.

    These critics blathered on about everything but the content. They knew they would lose that argument, so they didn't raise it. They focused on the most obscure, most difficult to decipher element of the story and dove in, attacking CBS, Dan Rather, me, the story and the horse we rode in on -- without respite, relentlessly, for days.

    Soon, traditional media began repeating some of the claims and joining in the attack on the story. They didn't do any real work on the substance of the story; they just wanted to talk about typeface. And that was an empty, unsolvable argument that did nothing but serve the purposes of the Bush administration, which had been fanning the flames of the controversy and hoping to avoid any hard questions.
    Mapes’ post details a lot more of the interference with which she and others at the network had to contend as a result, such as former PA governor and Repug honcho Dick Thornburgh (part of a supposedly impartial “panel” appointed by the network to review the story) grilling her on using the word “horseshit” in an internal Email.

    Actually, I think that word perfectly sums up the reaction to the very authentic story reported by Rather and CBS, which tells us of one of many travesties perpetrated by our 43rd president. However, the greatest travesty of all may be the chilling effect generated by the interference brought upon Rather, Mapes, and those associated with the story; it will be a loooong time before the network chooses to hold someone to account who is friendly with network management again (to say nothing of other networks following suit in their own organizations).

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    Some last-minute stuff caught up to yours truly today, so no posting (hopefully tomorrow, though I did make a contribution over here).

    And speaking of that, the people depicted in this Rachel Maddow segment are the ones that Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, Bill Nelson and Tom Carper sided with today by voting not once, but twice, to defeat amendments for a public option to the odious Baucus bill (OK, so Nelson and Carper voted for Schumer's amendment, but they all voted against Rockefeller's)...

    ...and I'm going to hold you to this, Tom, along with many other people I'm sure...

    ...and I thought this was kind of a catchy little tune...

    ...and based on this story about another pal of The Sainted Ronnie R, I'd like to dedicate the following video to Andy Williams (kind of reminds me that I also need to work on a follow-up post to the Valley Swim Club story).

    Update 9/30/09: In a related story, as they say, I understand that this cartoon hits a raw nerve with some people, and I respect that, but I still think it should have been published since its point is well taken (and as E&P notes here, cartoonist Keith Knight is African American).

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    To do something on behalf of the public option (which is being considered during the back-and-forth over the "blow job to the insurance industry" otherwise known as the Baucus bill - hey, complain about that potty mouth Bill Maher, who rightly characterized the bill as such), click here.

    (And as always, the "Republican-lite" wing of Baucus, Conrad, Mark Pryor, Tom Carper, etc. isn't giving Dean the time of day - a "huge backlash" without the P.O. indeed)...

    Update 9/29/09: Baucus, Conrad, Bill Nelson, Lincoln, Carper - scum, the whole sorry lot (it should be noted, though, that Nelson and Carper voted for Schumer's amendment allowing for the public option, though both amendments failed...and Olympia "Lucy Holding The Football" Snowe did exactly what anyone with a brain thought she would do).

    ...and just as a reminder, here is what we're up against (is it my imagination, or does Bob (Screw The UAW) Corker ring the sanctimony bell as loud as Joe "The Last Honest Man" Lieberman here?)...

    ...and I know this is news, and I usually stay out of legal matters since it's not a specialty of mine, and it's not for me to say what should happen one way or the other, but I just think the verdict of the victim, who has expressed forgiveness (and my guess is that it's because she's tired of living with the whole sideshow) should be taken into account (this of course is from "Chinatown" - a fine film from perhaps U.S. film's greatest era, it too weird of a twist, after watching this, to know that Polanski committed his act 31 years ago in Nicholson's house?)...

    ...and RIP Lucy Vodden (here - I read somewhere long ago that the Fab Four weren't happy about the movie at first, but they "changed their tune" when it started making money...also, hopefully this will focus more attention on lupus).

    Some "Terra"-ble Bushco Style "Justice"

    (And I also posted here.)

    This news story tells us the following…

    WASHINGTON -- The government is prosecuting only about one out of four of those charged in connection with terrorism, according to a study that suggests federal agencies don't agree on who is a terrorist. People charged with terrorism often go free because the evidence wasn't strong enough to bring them to trial, says the study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research group at Syracuse University.

    Since 2002, the percentage of terrorism cases that federal prosecutors declined to pursue has grown from 31 percent to 73 percent, the TRAC study found.

    Nearly 6,000 of the close to 8,900 cases referred for prosecution by federal investigators between 2004 and 2008 were closed without action. Of the remaining cases, 2,302 people were convicted and 1,245 went to prison, the study found, and just 52 were sentenced to 20 years or more.
    And by the way, in case anyone is keen to do the “ciphering” on this one, I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that 2,302 convictions divided by 8,900 cases gives you a conviction rate of barely 26 percent.

    How exactly could this have happened under Bushco? I think this gives us more than a bit of a hint…

    The Justice Department admitted yesterday it botched a high-profile terrorism prosecution in Detroit, the latest in a string of setbacks in post-Sept. 11 terrorism investigations.

    In an unusually self-critical filing, Justice Department attorneys asked a judge to throw out the June 2003 convictions of three men in the so-called "Detroit sleeper cell The Detroit Sleeper Cell is a group of men of Middle-Eastern descent who the United States Department of Justice believed were plotting an attack on Disneyland. The members of the alleged cell were Farouk Ali-Haimoud, Ahmed Hannan, Karim Koubriti, and Abdel Ilah Elmardoudi. " and to permit a new trial on lesser, nonterrorism-related charges.

    The department's retreat came in the midst of an all-out push by Republicans at their convention in New York New York, this week to portray President Bush as an unflinching and successful leader in the war on terror.

    The 60-page filing is filled with blunt language more common to an attack on an opponent's case.

    "In its best light, the record would show that the prosecution committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights that deprived the defendants of discoverable evidence ... and created a record filled with misleading inferences that such material did not exist," it states.
    And brings us another reminder (here – yep, “water wet, sky blue” time, I know)…

    The Bush administration brought the same mentality to locking up suspects after 9/11 that the Soviet Union used for the potato harvest from collective farms. It didn’t matter how many bushels of potatoes were rotten, or how many bushels were lost or pilfered along the way, or how many bushels never really existed except in the minds of the commissars who burnished the official reports. All that mattered was the total number. In the same way, the success of the immediate federal response to 9/11 was gauged largely by the number of people rounded up, regardless of their guilt or innocence.
    One such case of a bungled arrest involved an Oregon lawyer named Brandon Mayfield, held for his alleged involvement in the March 2004 Madrid train bombing that killed 191 people and injured 2,000 (James Bovard provides the details here in his second of two articles)…

    Though the FBI never possessed anything on Mayfield aside from a misidentified fingerprint, it did not hesitate to cast him in sinister colors. The FBI informed a federal judge: “It is believed that Mayfield may have traveled under a false or fictitious name.” But Mayfield, whose passport expired the previous year, insisted he had not left the country. The FBI apparently never bothered to check whether Mayfield had been absent from the U.S. before making one of the most high-profile terrorism arrests of the year.

    On May 20, after Spanish authorities announced that they had found a clean match with the fingerprint, the Justice Department acquiesced to Mayfield’s release. A few weeks later, Attorney General Ashcroft informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that his case vindicated the American system of justice: “As a matter of fact, the pride of our system is that people are found innocent because we adjudicate these things.” But there was effectively no adjudication in this case because Mayfield was classified as a “material witness”— which meant that the feds could hold him as long as they chose, or at least until his detention became too embarrassing. Ashcroft also testified, “When we learned that the reservations of the Spanish were so substantial, we went to the court, asked for the release of Mr. Mayfield.” In reality, the Justice Department did not acquiesce until the Spanish government announced that they had arrested the Algerian whose fingerprint matched that on the bag.
    I don’t think we should despair completely, though; this story tells us that Attorney General Eric Holder has praised the Justice Department’s use of terrorism laws to disrupt the illegal distribution of human growth hormone (hGH…sooo, will we have better luck detecting those trying to kill us by the their enlarged neck and head sizes? Does this mean there’s a lucrative new intelligence consulting industry awaiting former major league baseball players?).

    However, given our prior regime’s previously stated conviction rate, I’d be more concerned about those “bad apples” out there who beat their rap due to Bushco bungling (as well as those radicalized by the process itself) than I’ll ever be about, say, anyone at Guantanamo who may yet end up at one of our supermax prisons, as noted here.