Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday AM Stuff (update)

"Worst Persons" from yesterday (Murdoch The Younger accuses a Brit newspaper competitor of violating an unwritten law when it comes to criticizing a rival - uh, K.O. is right, but there indeed are rules, and that's why he, Maddow and Ed Schultz don't call out "Morning Joe"; Repug Congressman Brian Bilbray of Arizona thinks he can recognize illegals by their footwear...God, is the heat getting to the people in that state on this issue?; but Deadeye Dick Cheney gets it for believing his “f-blast” against Senator Patrick Leahy was probably the best thing he ever did, or something – there’s a lot I can say in response, but all I’ll note is that Leahy, legally blind in one eye, has done a lot to advocate for people with this disability, whereas Cheney has only advocated for himself first, last and always…and concerning Dennis Miller, I would ask that you consider this)…

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…and here’s an upbeat little number that’s also a little dark too.

Update: And by the way, good stuff from Bill Maher here (never seen him work with a prop until now)...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday PM Stuff

Yep, Repug Gov. Jan Brewer has earned herself a spot in the wingnut Hall of Shame for this (two things: Bill Richardson's D-Backs are currently beating the Phillies - grrrrr - and also, I wish to God any Dem out there would mention not only the border violence with Mexican drug gangs, but the unholy deal of us sending them guns and money and they send us drugs and illegals, and more violence by the minute)...

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...and here's some Indie stuff to start the weekend.

Friday Wingnut Roundup (4/23/10)

(By the way, here is last Sunday’s Area Votes in Congress writeup from the Philadelphia Inquirer. I really don’t have much to say about it except that it featured two typically awful No votes by Joe Pitts, one against extending jobless benefits and one against protecting our estuaries; to do something about it, click here…and I also posted here.)

1) I really try not to waste time with the ravings of a certain OxyContin addict in particular, but sometimes Flush Limbore says things that are so utterly ridiculous that an immediate comment is demanded; here, he wrote in The Murdoch Street Journal today that he was “not inciting violence” (and just because it’s in the Journal doesn’t give it the imprimatur of respectability, it should be noted).

In response, I give you the following:

- Here, he tells us that campaign contributions to Obama from the big financial firms “bought the rope (Obama) is using for their hanging.”

- Here, he says, among other things, that Obama is “overthrowing” the country.

- Here, he says supposed ties from President Clinton to Waco are “tangible.”

- Here, a 1995 quote is recalled in which Limbore predicted a “second American revolution.”

- Here, he says Obama thinks bankers are “far more evil than the biggest mass murderer of Americans in our nation's history.”

And these Media Matters entries are only from this month, people!

If I had the time and/or the desire to go back for a period of years (and I assure you that I don’t in either circumstance), I have no doubt that I would take me hours and hours to compile every instance of violent rhetoric from Limbore.

He’s almost pitiable, really…almost.

2) Also, I came across a recent item from Bernie Quigley; I wanted to find a way to highlight the recent story of how SEC investigators were cruising porn sites when they should have been trying to prevent our economy from doing “the big swirl into the hopper” that kick-started The Great Recession.

And in this post, Quigley tells us…

Is one-size-fits-all, nationalist, globalist centralization finding its endgame? This week's Newsweek, featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) in his "Come and take it" boots on the cover, looks at Texas and sees behind the veil a different economic paradigm. "Texas has always been something of a separate country when it comes to politics and culture," they write. "Lately, the state seems to be functioning as its own economic republic." And as its federally dependent neighbor California unravels, it appears to be a quite successful model, but one that could well be destroyed by ObamaCare, the bailouts and centralization. Perry was the first to oppose.

We might ask in New England why this can't be said about us. Because our governors were first to flock to the rhetoric of Obama and the last, perhaps, to see ourselves with the kind of independence that Perry and Texas today represent. We need to go back to our Emerson and brush off in particular, his essay "Self-Reliance," which gave Yankee independence its independence. Today
Perry embodies it.

Uh, I’m not at all sure that “Goodhair” Perry “embodies” anything except craven opportunism and demagoguery; to compare him to Ralph Waldo Emerson is truly the stuff of comedy.

One reason why, as noted here, is because Emerson had some interesting stuff to say about religion…

On July 15, 1838,[53] Emerson was invited to Divinity Hall, Harvard Divinity School for the school's graduation address, which came to be known as his "Divinity School Address". Emerson discounted Biblical miracles and proclaimed that, while Jesus was a great man, he was not God: historical Christianity, he said, had turned Jesus into a "demigod, as the Orientals or the Greeks would describe Osiris or Apollo".[54] His comments outraged the establishment and the general Protestant community. For this, he was denounced as an atheist,[54] and a poisoner of young men's minds. Despite the roar of critics, he made no reply, leaving others to put forward a defense. He was not invited back to speak at Harvard for another thirty years.[55]

Emerson's religious views were often considered radical at the time. He believed that all things are connected to God and, therefore, all things are divine.[111] Critics believed that Emerson was removing the central God figure; as Henry Ware, Jr. said, Emerson was in danger of taking away "the Father of the Universe" and leaving "but a company of children in an orphan asylum".[112] Emerson was partly influenced by German philosophy and Biblical criticism.[113] His views, the basis of Transcendentalism, suggested that God does not have to reveal the truth but that the truth could be intuitively experienced directly from nature.[114]

(And oh yeah, Rick, there were also rumors that Emerson was “AC/DC,” if you know what I mean, and I’m not talking about the bandnot that theres anything wrong with that.)

Perry, on the other hand, has said the following (here)…

In what was described as a "God and country" sermon at the Cornerstone church in San Antonio, attended by Perry and other mostly Republican candidates, the Rev. John Hagee stated, "If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God Almighty through the authority of Christ and His blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket." Perry was asked if he agreed with those comments and said, "It is my faith, and I'm a believer of that."[25] Perry went on to say that there was nothing in the sermon that he took exception with. Kinky Friedman, the Jewish independent candidate for governor said, "He doesn't think very differently from the Taliban, does he?"

Good point (and if Quigley persists in his belief, then he could just relocate to The Lone Star State and help it secede along with Perry, if he really wants to be self-reliant).

3) Finally, I give you the following from Christine Flowers in the Philadelphia Daily News today (here)…

SHORTLY after Sen. Barack Obama won the 2008 election, I wrote a column titled "My Big Fat Patriotic Promise" in which I vowed to do what every proud American has an obligation to do: exercise my right to criticize the government when I thought it had veered off course.

Way back in that somewhat more innocent time, before tea parties and the health-care battle, I reminded readers that we were privileged to live in the "Home of the free, land of the critics."

Many agreed, filling my in-box with praise for saying something that is patently obvious: Dissent is patriotic.

There were a few naysayers who tried to interpret any criticism of Obama and his policies as evidence of racism, or at the very least a suspicious unwillingness to give him the benefit of the doubt before even 100 days had elapsed.

But on the whole, responders agreed that calling your critics evil was the first step on a dangerous path that tended to end up with people being sent to "re-education" camp.

Soo…Flowers is trying to say that she felt a duty to dissent more with Obama’s election, but that supposition on her part led others to think – in her mind, anyway – that that made her “evil”?

I cannot imagine any self-respecting media outlet anywhere on earth that would allow such delusional comments from anyone of a contrary political opinion (and if you guess that this is nothing more than a setup for more ad hominem attacks by Flowers against Bill Clinton in particular for rightly calling out the Tea Klux Klan, you win a free subscription to The National Review, the paper of which can be used to line your cat’s litter box).

This provides an occasion to revisit some instances of Flowers’ particular brand of dissent:

- Here, she said that Obama State Department lawyer nominee Harold Koh would “apply Sharia law” (uh, no).

- Here, she said anyone who voted for Obama wasn’t a “real Catholic.”

- Here, she either spun or merely regurgitated a variety of falsehoods on then-Illinois state senator Obama’s voting record on that state’s “born alive” legislation.

- Here (and this was particularly charming), she said she believed that Obama is trustworthy because he was “largely raised by white grandparents” in a column where Flowers criticizes Obama for labeling his opponents as “bigots” (Proof? Anywhere in sight??).

And I have to laugh when Flowers blames “the mainstream media” for supposedly propagating the narrative that the teabaggers are a fringe (uh, check this out, Christine).

Because it is owing to the very moral bankruptcy of the “mainstream media” that Flowers claims to detest that she even has a platform to spout her bile to begin with.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday AM Stuff

(Big-time Blogger/ISP issues last night...)

Whether it's the stimulus, health care reform or financial reform, always count on the Repugs to chant the same tired script (here)...

...and by the way, April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so here's a memorable number for the occasion.

More "Taxing" Cowen Defecit Carping

(And I also posted here.)

In yet another column by a self-styled economic pundit about how our spending in this country is allegedly the biggest threat we face, Tyler Cowen told us the following in the New York Times last Sunday (using the deficit as an excuse to regurgitate right-wing talking points…late getting to it I know, but a few things have gotten stacked up, as it were)…

Consider the tax burden on high earners once the Bush administration’s tax cuts expire next year. Add up the federal, state, city and sales taxes for a lawyer in New York City who earns $300,000 a year. Depending on the circumstances, this individual could be facing marginal tax rates in the range of 60 percent. Higher income tax rates would discourage hard work and encourage tax avoidance, thereby defeating the purpose of the tax increases.
You can tell how disingenuous Cowen’s argument is in that he lumps all of these taxes together for a “high earner,” but doesn’t present a similar scenario for someone of considerably lesser income (my suspicion is that, were Cowen to do that for someone making less than $100K and add in a percentage for payroll taxes, where people of this income level endure the biggest bite from their paychecks, that 60 percent figure he cites for his hypothetical NYC lawyer – hmmm, I’m thinking Harold Ford, Jr. here, hardly a typical case – wouldn’t seem so oppressive).

Besides, as noted here…

When one looks at the highest tax rates on the wealthy throughout the past century, one discovers that the tax rate was above 60 percent from 1932 to 1980 and reached a peak of 90 percent in the Eisenhower (Republican) Presidency! It was only 40 percent or lower since 1988, even being 50 percent in the Reagan years. The only time it was in the mid 20s was in the Coolidge-Hoover years in the 1920s.

So, in other words, the only times it was really low was when poverty grew, the middle class shrunk, and corporate corruption and greed and materialism prevailed, the 1920s and the years since 1988. Is that not enough evidence of the need to raise the rate to try to address the horrible inequities that have developed in the last generation? Realize in the two periods just mentioned, the result of the low tax policy on the elite was the coming of the Great Depression in the 1930s and the coming of what is now called by many the Great Recession that we are suffering right now.
Cowen continues…

Higher levels of government spending and taxation would also soak up resources that might otherwise foster innovation and new businesses. And sentiment would most likely turn ever stronger against those immigrants who consume public services and make the deficit higher in the short run. Current residents might feel more secure in a larger welfare state, but over time the loss of commerce and innovation takes a toll.
Ugh…so blame those “living off the public teat” immigrants in their “welfare state” for this country’s lack of investment in basic infrastructure, right Cowen?

In response, I give you the following from Fareed Zakaria (a guy who is hardly a liberal, I might add), in a Newsweek column from last November…

With the end of the Cold War, Americans stopped worrying about the Soviet threat and, as a result, R&D funding for applied science plummeted, dropping 40 percent in the 1990s. It has picked up since then, but the government's share of overall R&D spending remains near its all-time low. And while corporations still spend on R&D, they do not fund the kind of basic research that leads to breakthroughs.

America's decline is most evident in the one realm of high technology where the U.S. government has, until recently, seemed most uninterested: energy. The three most important areas where current technology could yield big results are solar, wind, and battery production (the latter because the energy has to be stored somewhere). According to the investment bank Lazard Frères, the world's largest wind-turbine manufacturer (by revenue) is a U.S. company: General Electric. But the other nine companies among the top 10 are scattered around the world, including Germany (Nordex), Denmark (Vestas), India (Suzlon), and Spain (Acciona).

American culture is open and innovative. But it was powerfully shaped and enhanced by a series of government policies. Silicon Valley did not arise in a vacuum. It grew in the 1950s in a state that had created the world's best public-education system (from kindergarten through Ph.D. programs), a superb infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment that attracted defense and engineering industries. Today California builds prisons, but not college campuses. In 1976 it spent 18 percent of its budget on education; that figure now is about 10 percent. The state is permanently bankrupt, saved only by massive, continual borrowing. Are these the foundations for future scientific achievement?
To be fair, Zakaria also mentions tax rates as Cowen does, but Zakaria isn’t nearly as dismissive on the matter of government investment (and speaking of tax rates, I thought this was interesting).

In addition, Cowen tells us the following about how other countries have weathered our current financial storm supposedly by spending cuts by themselves…

The received wisdom in the United States is that deep spending cuts are politically impossible. But a number of economically advanced countries, including Sweden, Finland, Canada and, most recently, Ireland, have cut their government budgets when needed.

Most relevant, perhaps, is Canada, which cut federal government spending by about 20 percent from 1992 to 1997. The Liberal Party, headed by Jean Chrétien as prime minister and Paul Martin as finance minister, led most of this shift. Prompted by the financial debacle in Mexico, Canadian leaders had the courage and the foresight to make those spending cuts before a fiscal crisis was upon them. In his book “In the Long Run We’re All Dead: The Canadian Turn to Fiscal Restraint,” Timothy Lewis describes Canada’s move from fiscal irresponsibility to a balanced budget — a history that helps explain why the country has managed the current global recession relatively well.
In response, I give you the following from Paul Krugman about how Canada has managed the current economic meltdown…

Canada’s experience also seems to refute the view, forcefully pushed by Paul Volcker, the formidable former Fed chairman, that the roots of our crisis lay in the scale and scope of our financial institutions — in the existence of banks that were “too big to fail.” For in Canada essentially all the banks are too big to fail: just five banking groups dominate the financial scene.

On the other hand, Canada’s experience does seem to support the views of people like Elizabeth Warren, the head of the Congressional panel overseeing the bank bailout, who place much of the blame for the crisis on failure to protect consumers from deceptive lending. Canada has an independent Financial Consumer Agency, and it has sharply restricted subprime-type lending.

Above all, Canada’s experience seems to support those who say that the way to keep banking safe is to keep it boring — that is, to limit the extent to which banks can take on risk. The United States used to have a boring banking system, but Reagan-era deregulation made things dangerously interesting. Canada, by contrast, has maintained a happy tedium.

More specifically, Canada has been much stricter about limiting banks’ leverage, the extent to which they can rely on borrowed funds. It has also limited the process of securitization, in which banks package and resell claims on their loans outstanding — a process that was supposed to help banks reduce their risk by spreading it, but has turned out in practice to be a way for banks to make ever-bigger wagers with other people’s money.
So it’s not as simple as our neighbors to the north merely tightening their belts and finding their way clear in a manner that we have not, eh?

Cowen’s bio tells us that he is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Good for him. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of concocting some utter dreck, plainly on display here, in an area of thought and discourse where he is allegedly an expert.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

Mark Twain left us 100 years ago today, by the way (no sign of Halley's Comet)...

...and I'm sure Twain would have had a thing or two to say about John Ensign and Sue Lowden (and I can't think of a word to describe how pathetic it is that Harry Reid could actually lose to this hairdo)...

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...and yeah, GEICO overreacted, but the smart thing would have been for the guy to never sink to the same level as the teabaggers to begin with...

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...and I don't know about you, but I've been wondering what Madonna was up to these days (she just lives to shock us, you know).

Wednesday Mashup (4/21/10)

1) It seems that our corporate media is swooning all over the place for Dem U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas for her Agricultural Committee vote in favor of regulating derivatives (here – not sure how that falls under the “Ag” Committee, but there you are). Indeed, Michael Scherer of Time saw fit to chastise the AFL-CIO and for staging “a political charade” against Lincoln here, wondering if these groups “didn’t think their audience read the papers.”

(Funny, but I’ve never heard any of those teabaggin’ wingnuts charged with staging “a political charade,” though, at best, that’s what they’re doing.)

I will acknowledge that Lincoln looks good on this for the moment, but let’s recall that she also voted for health care reform before voting against it in reconciliation, as well as the fact that she steadfastly opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (yes, that’s still out there also). Basically, she was due to get a big issue right one of these days.

It also bears repeating that, as Think Progress notes here, “Derivatives is the tail on this dog,” (a derivatives industry) lawyer (explained). “It’s not what’s going to drive the (financial reform) bill through Congress. Nor is it the filibuster point. Other stuff makes a lot more noise.”

And as FDL tells us here (disagreeing a bit with the filibuster assessment)…

…nobody has asked Blanche Lincoln if she’ll support the underlying bill, and the kind of things necessary to really protect the taxpayer. Has she made a statement on whether she favors defined capital and leverage requirements for the large financial firms? Does she favor Sherrod Brown’s amendment to cap the size of the largest banks? Does she support the resolution authority in the bill?

Moreover, according to observers on Capitol Hill, this won’t even make the final bill, in all likelihood. It’s an effort to change the subject and maybe force a confrontation for political purposes, but that has little to do with policy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that this strong effort on derivatives represents a poison pill that would actually kill the bill entirely.

In which case, Lincoln will still be able to say “don’t blame me” (and by the way, to do something about Lincoln, click here – and I would say that this is good news).

2) The New York Times profiled what has been going on in Crawford, Texas recently with the departure of a certain 43rd President of the United States for his cushy new digs in Dallas, along with Laura of course (here)…

Most people in Crawford figure that having Mr. Bush as a neighbor has improved property values. Plus, a bank built a branch in town during his time in office.

But few people miss the peace activists who camped out and marched here when he was in office. And there are few permanent marks of his decision to buy a home here.

“Crawford has never really gained anything from him being president,” said Bill Bregan, 69, a retired woodworker. “The only thing we got out of it was that bank.”

And I happened to come across this item about the film of Crawford by David Modigliani from 2008, in which Modigliani attempted to let the people of the town tell their stories; the post is a Q&A with the filmmaker…

Your film does a nice job of presenting multiple viewpoints, but one gets the sense that the overwhelming majority of Crawford residents are strong supporters of Bush. Or at least they were. Has Bush's support fallen in Crawford the way that it has across the rest of the country? Or is it still a stronghold, more or less, of uniform allegiance?

Bush's ascendancy in 2000 was thrilling for the people of Crawford. The high school band played at the inauguration, every store on Main St. was bought in a day, and the Baptist pastor called it a miracle. He says early in the film that not all of [his] members voted for Bush, but probably out 99.9 percent. By now, most of the people in Crawford feel a bit used; they were put at the center of a story that's gone wrong, and they're ready to move on. Bush's popularity has plummeted there, just as it has across the country. It doesn't mean the Crawfordites won't vote for John McCain, but overall, they're finished with this particular Republican.

I got a particular kick out of what Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History in particular thought of Modigliani and his film…

One thing we don't see much of in the film is Bush's ranch. I can't imagine they're open to having filmmakers wander the property. Did you attempt to get permission to enter the premises? Did you have any interaction at all with Bush administration officials?

Through an aide to Condoleezza Rice, I actually got an early five-minute assembly of the project passed to Harriet Miers, and then on to the President. This was July of 2005, before the protests began. I got an email that said he'd watched it on the treadmill one morning and said he thought it was great. I followed up with the aide to Rice and had my crew on alert to go out to Crawford for a chance to visit the ranch. Two weeks later, I'd heard nothing. I emailed twice more. Crickets. Finally, an email came back; no text, no subject heading, just an embedded picture of me at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, standing in the crowd. And then I heard nothing more.

Typical spoiled little pissant…

3) Finally, I found this item from fired former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg; he’s responding to what Jon Stewart said in a recent video criticizing Fix Noise, particularly Goldberg and a certain Bill Orally.

Goldberg, remarkably, ceded some points to Stewart, though Goldberg also said the following…

"Jon, if you have an ounce of introspection, you may want to take this seriously," Goldberg said. "If you just want to be a funny man, who talks to an audience that will laugh at anything you say, that's okay with me, no problem. But if clearly you want to be a social commentator, more than just a comedian and if you want to be a good one, you better find some guts because even though you criticize liberals as well as conservatives, congratulations on that, when you had Frank Rich on your show, who generalizes all the time about conservatives and Republicans being bigots, you didn't ask him a single tough question. You gave him a lap dance. You practically had your tongue down his throat."

I thought it was hilarious of Goldberg to criticize Rich, whose columns are usually models of thorough research and analysis (hey, is it supposed to be Rich’s fault that reality, as they say, has a liberal bias?)

The reason I’m saying anything about this, though, is that Goldberg claims that the worst thing he said is that liberals basically think people who watch Fix Noise (and take it seriously) are dopes. Well, even though Goldberg is right in that statement, that’s not the worst thing he said.

No, that would have to be this (in a clip Stewart recently played in his criticism of Fox and Goldberg that originated last November about Sarah Palin)…

She has 5 kids. Liberals don't have 5 kids. One of them has Down Syndrome. Liberals certainly don't allow that to happen.

That’s the money quote, as they say, Bernie.

And I found it in this HuffPo article by a man named Harold Pollack, who tells us that he takes care of “a cognitively disabled man,” among other observations including this excerpt…

You (Goldberg) assert that we liberals disdain Palin because of her small-town roots or her unusual biography. Plenty of liberals come from similar circumstances. We are dismayed by her intolerance. We are dismayed that she aspires to high office without pursuing the expertise or the sustained record of achievement appropriate to these ambitions. We are dismayed because she peddles crude untruths about death panels. I am especially dismayed that she quit her day job as Alaska governor, when she could have used that platform to help many other Alaska families who face the same challenges her family does, yet lack her family's resources.

You owe many of us a simple and straightforward apology. More than that, I hope that you reconsider your willingness to peddle sweeping and malicious stereotypes about people with whom you disagree. The politics of abortion and cultural resentment poisons everything it touches. Can't we argue about Iraq, health care, tax policy, and the rest without poisoning this, too?

And as usual, Billo The Clown remains safely (and cowardly) silent (to date on this, anyway).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Stuff

Say hello to a new generation of leadership; to learn more, click here...

...and K.O. proves that those teabaggin' wingnuts have nothing to do with supporters of Ross Perot in the '90s (also nothing to do with basic common sense)...

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..."Worst Persons" (I hadn't planned to do this for three nights in a row, but Chris Christie gets the "bronze" for almost doubling the number of six-figured staffers in his administration from that supposed spendthrift Jon Corzine...note to progressives - this is what happens when you sit on your hands in an election cycle; a Muslim group tells everyone they aren't threatening "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, when it sounds pretty much that they are, and a Maryland organization that places kids in adoptive homes won't help a mother who benefited from them because she doesn't have Oscar Mayer in her house, or something; but Glenn Beck gets the nod again for telling us that "The Plan" is, in fact, a word from our sponsor...???)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Update 4/23/10: K.O. based his number of Christie's people making $2 mil more than Corzine's people on an AP story which, it turns out, was incorrect. Christie's people are making about $440 grand more, which is still way too damn much.

...and you kids shouldn't be watching this, you should be asleep by now (and on a school night too...)

Tuesday Mashup (4/20/10)

1) I should point out again that I read the Bucks County Courier Times so you don’t have to.

Today’s lowlights? Well, for starters, I give you J.D. Mullane (here)…

A rare moment. My wife and I found ourselves alone in a quiet house. The kids were out, and we had an hour or two to kill.

"What do you want to do?" Mrs. Mullane asked.

"Don't know," I said. "Hey - how about we go to the unemployment office and count the Obama/Biden bumper stickers in the parking lot? Nah. Take too long."

Read this, asshat (And gosh, what happened to the new-found tolerance of Mullane towards those out of work that he showed in that column recently about the two ladies applying for jobs? Guess as far as J.D. is concerned, they’re all just a bunch of “pony-tailed, hippie dudes” and “dudettes,” I guess.)

Update 4/21/10: Here is more required reading for J.D., by the way.

Oh, and in the paper’s “Vent” section, some fellow wingnut claimed that the only success from Obama’s recent nuclear summit was the declaration that Canada won’t attack us, or something (click here for the reality point of view), and a Guest Opinion writer did his best to propagate the lie that IRS agents will be added as a result of recently-passed health care legislation (uh, no).

No wonder our discourse is stupid.

2) And that’s probably an appropriate segue into this item (you can always count on to add some hilarity to your day; they tell us the following about former Repug U.S. House Rep Richard Pombo of California)…

In California, Pombo is looking to reclaim a seat he lost in 2006, as the wars' popularity waned and Republicans faced ethics accusations. Democrats painted Pombo as an associate of the toxic lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and he lost with 47 percent of the vote in 2006.

How dare those dastardly Dems actually turn over some seamy rocks hiding Pombo’s business dealings, including the following (here)…

Pombo asked the Department of the Interior to suspend guidelines for wind-power farms that protect endangered species of birds from being killed in the turbines.[16] Pombo did not disclose that his parents receive payments for the wind power turbines on their ranch – in 2001 they received $125,000 in royalties.[17]

In 2004, Pombo paid his family members more money out of his political action committee than his opponent spent on his entire campaign. Pombo paid his wife $85,275 and his brother $272,050 for services ranging from bookkeeping, fundraising, consulting, and unspecified services.[18] Pombo's wife and brother received a total of $357,325 from his political fund over the last four years for the aforementioned duties.

Pombo has supported the construction of two freeways in his district that run through land that he and his family own. Pombo has obtained $21.6 million in federal taxpayer dollars to study the freeway projects. Critics claim that neither freeway project address the needs of the community, although it certainly would increase the property value of land owned by Pombo and his family.[19]

On January 8, 2006 the LA Times reported, "Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show" [20]. Furthermore, "When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered protégés of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Committee on Resources to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz" [21]. Consequently, "the investigation was ultimately dropped" [22].

And this Daily Kos post tells us, among other things, that Pombo once “traveled across the country holding hearings on what he considers the excesses of the Endangered Species Act, and even advocated for continued hunting of elephants in Africa for their ivory tusks.”

I will acknowledge that the Dems have work to do for this fall, but I cannot imagine that they could be in straits dire enough to open the door for characters like Pombo to seep into office once more, with he being a reason why the Repugs were voted out of power to begin with.

3) And finally, the New York Times tells us the following (here)…

WASHINGTON — The court-appointed examiner who dissected the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy is expected to criticize the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday for its decision to “stand by idly” as the investment bank veered toward collapse.

The S.E.C. knew that Lehman did not have adequate liquidity and had exceeded its own limits on risk-taking but in essence did nothing, the examiner, Anton R. Valukas, will say in testimony released in advance by the House Financial Services Committee.

One of the most damning findings in Mr. Valukas’s 2,209-page report last month — that Lehman used accounting gimmicks to hide the extent of its indebtedness — was not known to the S.E.C. He wrote: “I saw nothing in my investigation to suggest that the S.E.C. asked even the most fundamental questions that might have uncovered this practice early on, before Lehman escalated it to a $50 billion issue.”

The S.E.C. chairman at the time, Christopher Cox, told Mr. Valukas that he believed that the agency’s jurisdiction “was limited to Lehman’s broker-dealer subsidiary and that it was not the regulator of Lehman itself.”

This is typical for Cox’s “hands off” management of the SEC; as noted here from 2005, he was brought on in the first place to replace former chairman William Donaldson, who (came) under pressure from Republicans who objected to his hard-line reforms.”

And as noted here from December ’08…

In March, a few days before Bear Stearns nearly collapsed into bankruptcy, Cox told reporters the agency was closely monitoring the five investment firms and had "a good deal of comfort" in their capital levels. Then, as federal officials orchestrated the rescue, Bear Stearns was bought by rival JPMorgan Chase (JPM) with a $29 billion government backstop.

Oh, and as noted here from 2004, Cox “called for a congressional investigation of the validity of documents that CBS News obtained for a story questioning Bush's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.”

Would that he had showed the same initiative in the matter of investigating actual fraud when it mattered as opposed to a manufactured one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Stuff

"Worst Persons" (something called "Right Network" claims to be supported by Comcast and the Robertses, Brian and Ralph I mean...liked the dig at Kelsey Grammer and babysitters - I liked "Frasier" for a time until Grammer turned into a right-wing nutjob...when Comcast officially doesn't - I don't mind taking a shot at Arlen Specter's favorite campaign donor, but fair is fair; Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin provides a rather interesting breakdown of her finances in her FEC filing, spending more money to de-ice private planes than to support her "target" races - way too damn funny; but Flush Limbore gets it again for his predictable garbage in response to the events of this day in know, I only wish ill against bin Laden at this site, but one of these days, I may just make an allowance for Flush also)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and in response to this story, I give you Dr. Brian May in his earlier occupation.

Monday Mashup (4/19/10)

(I also posted some videos and stuff here.)

1) In a column about former President Clinton recalling the awful events of this day in history (Waco, Ruby Ridge, and of course the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City), Mark Halperin tells us the following…

The atmosphere today may be less poisonous by some measures, but it still should cause grave concern. The combination of the nation's severe joblessness, an incumbent President who has, in some ways, become more polarizing than his two predecessors

(Oh, and by the way, concerning Clinton, the wingnutosphere, with typical rhetorical jujitsu, is blaming him here for connecting the dots as opposed to those who have actually threatened or carried out acts of violence.)

I realize the whole bit about Obama supposedly being a divisive president is an old right-wing talking point, but as long as Halperin has tried to breathe added life into it, I thought I should link to this TPM post, which tells us the following…

Much has been made of the new Pew Poll that seems to find President Obama as polarizing figure, with a 61-point differential between the 88% approval among Democrats and the 27% approval from Republicans.

Pew associate director Michael Dimock told Greg Sargent that the amazing part here is the 88% approval among Democrats, which would seem to guarantee a differential high enough to be termed "polarizing."

But here's another theory I have, that I called Dimock up to ask about: That Republican approval of Obama is so low because the number of Republicans is so low -- only 24% self-identification in this survey, in fact, compared to 33% in 2004. Here's how it would work: If the number of Republicans has shrunk, then the people who peeled away would have been the more moderate GOP respondents, the type of people willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt in the form of an approval answer.

"That is reasonable, I think," Dimock told me. "There is no doubt that there have been fewer Americans describing themselves as Republicans, and the ones that are no longer describing themselves that way, compared to say four or five years ago, are the more moderate or middle-of-the-road ideologically, segment of the party. So those who still use the term Republican when we ask them are potentially more conservative and rock-ribbed Republicans than might have been three years ago."

And Halperin also tells us the following…

Back in 1995, though, it was the response of the people of Oklahoma after the bombing that healed the wound and reset the tone for a time. The world witnessed moving and remarkable individual acts of heroism in the wake of the disaster. Survivors faced the grief and horror of an unthinkable attack and, like the people of New York City six years later, responded with courage, faith and a belief that America can ably withstand the assaults of terrorists, whether homegrown or foreign. In addition, Clinton, a Democratic President, worked closely with Frank Keating, Oklahoma's conservative Republican governor, to present a united team of public leadership and human compassion. "There was," as Clinton said at an anniversary event this past Friday, "this sense that this is something we had to do together and that's exactly what happened ... We didn't stop our political fights. Everything didn't turn into sweetness and light ... [But] it changed something in us. We sort of got over the idea that our differences justified our demonization of one another."

No sane person wants to see a repeat of the awful events of fifteen years ago today, but if that tragic outcome were somehow realized, I am not at all sure that people who claim that President Obama is really from Kenya, hid his birth certificate and is trying to take over our government would suddenly grow up and realize that they had to execute the public offices they’ve been entrusted and work with our federal leadership to help heal the wounded, bury the dead, and provide aid and comfort to everyone who needed it.

And if that isn’t a damning indictment of our politics, I don’t know what is.

2) Also, the New York Times told us the following on Saturday (here)…

Roger J. Stone Jr. has more than a bit of a thing for Eliot Spitzer.

In 2008, he reveled in the disclosure of the governor’s dalliance with prostitutes from a pricey escort service called Emperor’s Club V.I.P. He delighted in Mr. Spitzer’s downfall — and continues to do so. He even claimed credit for bringing Mr. Spitzer’s penchant to the attention of the federal authorities, however unconvincingly.

So it has been little surprise that the self-proclaimed Dark Prince of political dirty tricks has placed himself squarely behind the unorthodox campaign for governor — and grand décolletage — of one Kristin Davis, an erstwhile madam for another escort service.

I could really care less about Kristin Davis, who, as the story tells us, “served a three-month jail sentence on Rikers Island in 2008 after pleading guilty to promoting prostitution.” I give the Times credit, though, for trying to connect the dots between Stone, Davis, and Ashley Dupre, perhaps the most famous prostitute to come along since Heidi Fleiss operated her ring in the ‘90s (no, I’m not calling Fleiss a prostitute since, by all appearances, she wasn’t, and I’m trying really hard to avoid snark on Rielle Hunter, by the way). Times writer William Rashbaum points out that Stone, Davis and Dupre all share the same address of 55 West 25th Street in Manhattan.

However, Rashbaum really doesn’t tell us why Stone is referred to as the “Dark Prince,” so please allow me to do so.

As noted here (nested link), Stone visited X-rated sex clubs with his wife in Florida and “placed ads and pictures in racy publications and a website seeking sexual partners for himself and his second wife, Nydia although he does enjoy frequenting ‘Miami Velvet’ a swingers club in Miami.” Stone denied the report.

Stone also denied having anything to do with the Willie Horton ad that Lee Atwater ran against Michael Dukakis on behalf of Poppy Bush in 1988, and Stone also denied having anything whatsoever to do with the infamous “Brooks Brothers Riot” that halted the Miami Dade vote recount in Florida in November 2000 (I guess this is typical for a guy who says, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack”).

Also, Stone chaired a 1995 presidential bid by Sen. Arlen Specter (then a Repug, of course – he admitted that much anyway), and in 2004, Stone was responsible for distributing “Kerry/Specter” signs in a successful effort to defeat Dem Joe Hoeffel, who was challenging Specter for his Senate seat at the time (interesting company Arlen keeps, isn’t it?).

Oh, and remember the awful Citizens United ruling by the High Court of Hangin’ Judge JR? Well, Stone founded the group in its original form in 2008 under the name “Citizens United Not Timid” against Hillary Clinton (I’ll let you, dear reader, determine the meaning of the acronym).

Yes, New York Times, Roger Stone is indeed the “Dark Prince.”

And if you mention that in another story, please tell us why.

3) Finally, Michael Smerconish revisited Marcus Luttrell yesterday here, author of the book “Lone Survivor” about Luttrell’s experience after three of the four members of his squad were killed in Afghanistan, and he very nearly was also.

Smerky tells us the following…

As Luttrell detailed in his book, he and his teammates - Lt. Michael Murphy and Petty Officers Matthew G. Axelson and Danny P. Dietz - were hiding in broad daylight in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistan border when the unarmed goat herders stumbled upon them.

The SEALs were faced with an unenviable dilemma: Let the herders go - and risk that they would reveal the SEALs' location to the Taliban - or kill them.

Luttrell described the ensuing deliberation and vote. He wrote that Axelson wanted to kill the herders and Dietz was noncommittal. Murphy voted to let them go, a call with which Luttrell ultimately agreed - and later came to regret. He wrote that his decision was "the stupidest, most Southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life."

(By the way, Smerky’s story tells us that the father of Lt. Murphy, Daniel, has worked together with an author on a book about his son, which “sheds additional light” on the story of the four men.)

Yes, as it turns out, Luttrell did say that in Smerky’s story three years ago. And he also said the following (here)…

"It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I'd turned into a f--ing liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit."

And as I pointed out at the time, maybe if our prior ruling cabal had decided to pay attention to the “f-ing liberal(s)” who were yelling all the while about wasting our precious military resources in Iraq instead of investing them in a battle that actually mattered, maybe Luttrell’s teammates wouldn’t have died.

Think about that while you’re counting up your earnings in book royalties, Luttrell.