Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Stuff

Oh by the way, Dr. Rand Paul cancelled his appearance on “Meet The Press” this week; the Paul campaign released this official statement…

…”Worst Persons” from last Thursday on “Countdown” (Flush Limbore compares President Calderon of Mexico to Senor Wences, the caricature that we all laughed at on the old Ed Sullivan Show of course…the puppet, that is – nah, no ethnic stereotyping there; Dana Perino accuses Obama of not taking questions on immigration – sure, he only took one from the fourth or fifth most popular Spanish language network in this country, that’s all; but Karen Schoenfeld and the bar she owns (and the cheering patrons) get the nod today for setting a bust of President Obama on fire – I sure hope the Secret Service scares the fertilizer out of her)…

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

…”Worst Persons” from yesterday (John Stossel of Fix Noise breathes new life into the Rand Paul stuff just when the Repug senatorial candidate was hoping it would die a natural death; Newt Gingrich continues to compare Obama to the Nazis – you know, at what point does our corporate media finally say, “You know what, Newt? You’re an utter buffoon, and you have zero chance of being elected president, so we’re not going to take you seriously any more.” – next question, I know; but “Chicken Lady” Sue Lowden of Nevada gets the nod for possibly committing an act of campaign fraud – that would apply if she’d accepted the RV in question as a gift, since such donations can’t exceed five grand)…

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

…and after reading this Paul Krugman column yesterday, I found myself thinking of this song (and yes, I know what it’s really about...sorry the ending got chopped off; thanks loads to EMI for being total bastards about embedding the original).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Stuff

(MSNBC’s site is majorly fracked up at the moment, so this is what I’ve got...and I also posted a video here.)

Jack Conway takes the softball tossed to him by Wingnut Rand Paul and hits it about a mile here...

…and with everything going on concerning Paul in the Kentucky U.S. Senate race, this song has been running around in my head a bit (Paul’s an ophthalmologist).

Friday Mashup (5/21/10)

1) From last week’s Area Votes In Congress (here)…

Clean-energy dispute. Voting 254-173, the House added a clean-energy section to a bill (HR 5116) authorizing $86 billion over five years for science and technology programs run by federal agencies, universities, and the private sector. The proposed Clean Energy Consortium would use federal and university resources and venture capitalists to develop and market technologies not being adequately addressed by the private sector. The focus would be on renewable energy from sources such as the sun, wind, oceans, earth, and agriculture.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.

This is the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that the Repugs tried to stall by sticking that ridiculous anti-porn amendment into it, which, as noted here, is a typical tactic that they pull to try and gum up the workings of government (which, as The Sainted Ronnie R told us, of course, is the problem…government, that is – more on him later). And the party-line BS is totally reflected in this vote, of course.

On the Senate side, the bill to audit the Federal Reserve sponsored by Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont passed 96-0. A Repug-sponsored amendment “requiring the government to phase out its control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within two years” was defeated (as far as I’m concerned, that was a “solution” to a problem that never existed in the first place…I know Fannie and Freddie have issues, but they can still be resolved in their current disposition IMHO).

Also, the Senate voted to keep new rules on derivatives in place, outlawed “no doc” home mortgage loans, and defeated a GOP scheme to “sunset” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after four years. The Senate also voted 64-33 to regulate fees that firms such as Visa and MasterCard charge merchants for debit-card transactions (as tall as Ted Kaufman has stood on “too big to fail,” that’s how low he shrunk by opposing this amendment – Tom Carper did also, but that’s about what I would expect).

2) Also, I found the following at Fix Noise yesterday (here)…

A George Soros-funded, Marxist-founded organization calling itself Free Press has published a study advocating the development of a "world class" government-run media system in the U.S.

A newly released book, meanwhile, documents Free Press has close ties to top Obama administration officials.

"The need has never been greater for a world-class public media system in America," begins a 48-page document, "New Public Media: A Plan for Action," by the far-left Free Press organization.

"Commercial media's economic tailspin has pushed public media to the center of the debate over the future of journalism and the media, presenting the greatest opportunity yet to reinvigorate and re-envision the modern U.S. public media system," argued the Free Press document, which was reviewed by WND.

WND, by the way, stands for World Nut Daily, and if you guessed that that’s a far-right web site pretending to be a news organization, then you win a free photo of Dr. Rand Paul posing next to two drinking fountains, one labeled “White” and one labeled “Colored.”

This takes you to the About Us page of the Free Press web site. I don’t know which one, if any, of the individuals at this site has “close ties” to the Obama Administration, and I don’t know which “Marxist” founded the group (Groucho? Chico? Harpo? : -).

As noted here, though, Free Press has collaborated across the ideological spectrum with the Parents Television Council (including Brent Bozell) and the Gun Owners of America on the issue of Net Neutrality. And I think it’s more than a little ironic for a Repug-simpatico operation like Fix Noise to be complaining about a plan that emphasizes local media coverage since, as noted here, those zany teabaggers have been relying on that in part to get the word out whenever they have those charming little dress-up parties where they parade their ignorance for all the world to see.

But hey, why pass up on a chance to propagate wingnut nonsense when the truth is apparently so much harder to comprehend?

3) And I think that is an appropriate segue to this item from yesterday’s New York Times by Zev Chafets – a paean to Flush Limbore timed ever so conveniently with the release of a book by Chafets on the “hillbilly heroin” addict…

Mr. Limbaugh has played an important role in elections going back to 1994, when he commanded the air war in the Republican Congressional victory. This time, however, he is more than simply the mouthpiece of the party. He is the brains and the spirit behind its resurgence.

How did this happen? The Obama victory in 2008 left Republicans dazed, demoralized and leaderless. Less than six weeks after the inauguration, in a nationally televised keynote address to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Limbaugh stepped into the void with a raucous denunciation of the new president’s agenda and a strategic plan based on his belief that real conservatism wins every time. He reiterated his famous call for Mr. Obama to fail and urged the party faithful to ignore the siren song of bipartisanship and moderation and stay true to the principles of Ronald Reagan.

You mean, the “principles” of huge two tax hikes (the largest in peacetime history, as Paul Krugman tells us here), expansion of government (he did so by 61,000 employees, as noted here) and nuclear deterrence (here)?

I’m not entirely sure why the Times decided to let itself be used so Chafets could spread such right-wing flatulence like this, but then again, I also don’t know why they decided to run with a story on Richard Blumenthal, the Dem senatorial candidate of Connecticut, and some quotes where he claimed to have served in Vietnam when he in fact served stateside during the war (I thought kos had a good response to that here, and as noted here, somehow I don’t recall a similar dustup when a Repug politician misspoke along similar lines).

Also, the paper chose to run a column by Buzz Bissinger on its Op-Ed page yesterday about LeBron James, and I have two responses. One, the place for sports commentary is the Sports section, not the Op-Ed section (Is there a shortage of editorial content out there that I don’t know about?). Two, Bissinger writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, which routinely does this stuff with Bill Lyon – I’d really hate to see the Times now practicing this same bad habit.

Update 5/24/10: This is probably the soundest analysis of the Blumenthal mess that I've read to date in response to scribblings from Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt yesterday (h/t Atrios).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Stuff

Looks like Dr. Rand Paul is going to be "the gift that keeps on giving" (funny that an eye doctor apparently can't perceive what's going on just a few feet in front of his own face and beyond - and to do something about it, click here)...

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

Update 5/21/10: I'm sure the campaign of Jack Conway is keeping a careful record of this stuff (h/t Atrios).

...and come what may, this song still tells it like it is.

Some Thursday Bucks County Courier Times Follies

(By the way, this is my 5,000th post, and no, I can’t freaking believe it either – my thanks to all of you out there reading this who have stuck with me for any period of time, putting up with my admittedly partisan rants…probably appropriate that I use the occasion to go after one of my favorite targets.)

And now, time for some crack(ed?) political commentary from J.D. Mullane (here)…

Mark Critz, an aide to the late Pa. Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Porkulus), won a special election in the state' 12th district on Tuesday to fill Murtha's unexpired term. The two square off again in the fall.

The GOP loss there is no surprise.
Really? That's kind of a startling observation to say the least, particularly given the following from Dave Weigel (h/t The Daily Kos)…

The NRCC has spent $958,897 -- one tenth of their cash on hand -- and nine (9) shady outside groups have spent more than $445,000 to defeat Democrat Mark Critz. Republican Committee Chairman Michael Steele guaranteed victory for Republican Tim Burns.

PA-12 is the only district in the country that Senator Kerry won and President Obama lost. According to non-partisan political independent analysts, PA-12 is exactly the type of district that House Republicans need to win this cycle.
(Also, J.D., and I’m sure this was a Freudian slip, the last name of the Dem winner is Critz, not “Crist.”)

And by the way, as long as I’m on the subject of Bucks County, PA’s conservative newspaper of record, I have to point out two hilarious editorials.

The first appeared today (here) in which the local Repug Party was criticized for disallowing the sample ballots of the “Tea Party” candidates on Tuesday, particularly Gloria Carlineo, who was running for the Repug nomination for U.S. House Rep (won by Mikey Fitzpatrick, which, given his fundraising edge, really wasn’t a surprise).

Far be it for me to defend the Bucks Republican Party, but I really don’t know what else the Courier Times could have expected them to do, given that a judge ruled that the ballots were bogus because they didn’t identify the organization that originated them (and really, given the fact that voting generally in PA is – if you’ll excuse the word – liberal in the sense that you can be handed anything and bring anything into the polling place with you when you cast your ballot, I don’t know how the teabaggers could have screwed this up…I’ll admit, though, that there’s very little about them that I understand anyway).

The second appeared last Friday (sorry I’m a little late) in which the paper criticized President Obama for not traveling to the Gulf states while the BP spill approached ( give the paper credit, they at least gave a “Thumbs Up” to PA House Rep Steve Santarsiero for not taking “per diems” as compensation).

So what exactly should Obama do, then? Stand in the middle of the Breton Wildlife Refuge and say “See all these species of wildlife around me? Well, guess what? Environmental scientists tell me that the spill is going to kill off most of them, that’s what.”

Is he supposed to go to fishermen and say, “Really sorry you won’t be able to go out on your shrimp boats any more”? Is he supposed to stand on the coastline and say, “See what BP is doing out there to try and disperse the oil? That’s only going to make the water more toxic.”

What we’re seeing unfold in the Gulf is a slow-motion ecological and economic disaster of catastrophic proportions (and that doesn’t even take into account what could happen if the oil is pulled into the Gulf current and dispersed through the Florida Keys, to say nothing of working its way up the Atlantic coast). It’s not a story of immediate impact (which probably explains this ridiculous episode with Brit Hume). Conversely, in the case of Katrina, the environmental damage was done for the most part by the time Number 43 decided to stop doing his fly-bys, so the process of putting everything back together could proceed.

The BP spill and its fallout, however, will be with us for a long, long time.

Thursday Videos

I meant to include this last night but I forgot - K.O. interviews Dem U.S. House Rep Luis Gutierrez of Illinois about this country's lack of an immigration policy in light of the interaction First Lady Michelle Obama had with the little girl whose mother faces deportation...

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

...and here's a seasonal meditation from the funniest math professor who ever lived (hope the show is doing well).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

I got a kick out of this...

...and the prior video was an intentional parody, but this was an unintentional one; I don't know anything about Tim Burns, and fortunately it doesn't matter now - he deserved to lose for this, and he did...

..."Worst Persons" (Yep, Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin turned out to be dead right about PA-12, as noted previously, didn't she; Sue "Chicken Lady" Lowden in Nevada tries to walk - cluck? - back her legendary political gaffe, with no luck; but Phil Hammonds, the superintendent of schools in Jefferson County, Alabama gets it for ignoring a "practical math" example from one of his teachers, Gregory Harrison, about shooting a certain 44th President of the United States...his state must truly be The Land That Time Forgot - good question by Keith at the end)...

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

...and I'm not exactly sure what's going on here, but I admit that I have a thing about zebra masks in indie rock videos.

Wednesday Mashup (5/19/10)

(And I also posted here.)

  • Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone has an really well done – and disturbingarticle in the latest issue on Republican fundraising efforts (basically, Michael Steele isn’t anywhere near the real money since the real party “base” is ignoring him, with the LA nightclub spending spree noted here the proverbial last straw).

    And you'll just never guess who's in the middle of it all...

    The linchpin of Rove's coup is American Crossroads – a shadow version of the RNC for the party's richest donors. Organized under the same part of the tax code that gave us Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the fundraising group can collect unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. Before the Citizens United decision rewrote the rules of campaign finance, these so-called "independent expenditures" could only be used to support issues, not candidates. But now groups like American Crossroads can use their funds to openly back GOP candidates – or quietly work to destroy Democratic opponents by investing in the dirty tricks of which Rove is a Jedi master.

    The group is intended, (senior Repug strategist Ed) Gillespie tells Rolling Stone, to become a fixture in GOP politics for 2010 and beyond: "The idea is that there needs to be an institutional entity – a transparent, professionally run Republican operation – that will be there every cycle." The strategic logic behind the group is simple: to narrow the fundraising deficit that has daunted the GOP since Democrats discovered how to raise megabucks online. "Obama had $1.1 billion in 2008," says Gillespie, who chaired the RNC under Bush. "John McCain and his supporters spent $634 million. That's a sizable gap." American Crossroads, he boasts, will be the place where the real money goes to "play."

    In the weeks since its secretive launch in March, the group has already secured commitments of more than $30 million. That's halfway to the $60 million it plans to spend by November – nearly equaling the $80 million that the RNC itself spent in 2006. That startling sum, according to one lobbyist, can be chalked up to the formidable one-two punch of Gillespie's salesmanship and Rove's Rolodex. Officially, the two men are described only as "advisers" to American Crossroads. But party insiders reveal that Rove is calling the tune, just as he controlled the RNC from the White House as an adviser to Bush. Even the cast of deputies is the same: The directors of American Crossroads are all former top officers whom Rove installed to run the RNC. "American Crossroads is not the return of the old RNC," confides one prominent committee member. "It is the return of Rove." (Through his chief of staff, Rove refused to comment.)

    Gillespie maintains that American Crossroads isn't meant to displace the RNC. "I've urged people to give money to American Crossroads, but I believe their first dollars should go to the RNC," he says. And what about the timing of the group's launch, just as top party donors like billionaire Richard Melon Scaife have been abandoning the RNC? "Coincidental," Gillespie insists.
    Oh, sure (continuing)…

    With the RNC a shadow of its former self, (Rove and Gillespie’s) shadow party is now ascendant. Though Steele is likely to keep his post, he has been excluded from top strategy sessions on the GOP's plan to take back Congress. One of the RNC's top fundraisers quit in April, and large contributions have dried up: An audit leaked to The Washington Times revealed that the party is actually losing money on its major-donor program, spending $1.09 for every $1 raised. The RNC has devolved into the small-donor arm of the party. The average contribution: $40.
    And I got kind of a perverse kick out of the statement that “(Rove and Gillespie plan) to raise $25 million for its campaign efforts this fall – expenditures that will be directed by a former chief of staff to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor,” thus taking the dead RNC carcass, if you will, completely out of the fundraising equation.

  • I also had just a few random observations from the elections last night:

    Once more, congrats to Joe Sestak for defeating Arlen Specter in the PA Dem senatorial primary. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t say I thought it was a boneheaded maneuver on Sestak’s part to provide grist for the right-wing echo chamber about Obama supposedly offering him a job for dropping out. Even if that’s true, shut your mouth about it next time (or have a ready response when either Toomey or some Repug “Astro turf” group brings it up again, since you know they will).

    Also, with the victory by Bucks County Commish Jim Cawley in the Repug Lt. Gov. Gubernatorial Primary, I find myself in a bit of an odd position, secretly hoping for a Tom Corbett victory since that would get Cawley out of Bucks for good (just kidding – I’m for Dan Onorato, of course).

    The last observation (not mine, I’ll admit) is that, for all the talk of a Repug resurgence in November, how many people have noticed that, with the victory by Mark Critz in PA-12, keeping John Murtha’s old seat in the “D” column, the Dems have won their seventh special election in a row? That streak may end this weekend in Hawaii, but it definitely works for now.

  • Finally, as a bit of a follow up to the first item here yesterday, I’ve decided to put together a teabagger quiz of sorts, since they’re supposed to be so knowledgeable about the Constitution and the workings of our government, to say nothing of participating in a public forum (some of the questions may be duplicates from the citizenship quiz, but I’ll try to be original - I'll start off easy)…

    Who is the President of the United States?

    Who is the Vice President?

    Can you tell me the order of presidential succession in the event that the president either leaves office or is temporarily incapacitated? Which Constitutional amendment stipulates this?

    Can you tell me which presidential election was decided by a ruling of the Supreme Court?

    Can you tell me a presidential election that was decided by the U.S. House of Representatives?

    Who was the only president who served longer than two terms?

    Who was the only president who served two non-consecutive terms?

    What was the shortest term in office for a president, and whose term was it?

    Did a president ever hold office with a vice president from his opposition party? Who were the two?
    Now to Congress:

    Who is the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives?

    Who is the House Majority Leader?

    Who is the House Majority Whip?

    Who if the House Minority Leader?

    Who is the Senate Majority Leader?

    Who is the Senate Minority Leader?

    Do you currently depend on any type of federal government assistance?
    Now for state and local questions:

    Who is your U.S. House Representative? Which party does he or she belong to?

    Please name at least one of your U.S. senators and his or her party (what is the maximum number of U.S. senators per state? Which Article in the Constitution tells you this?)

    Who is your state representative?

    Who is your state senator?

    Is your municipality or township governed by a board or council? If a council, please name your councilman or woman. If a board, please name at least one member.
    Media time:

    Do you read a newspaper? Daily? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?

    Have you ever written a Letter to the Editor or submitted an opinion to that paper’s editorial page?

    How do you learn about politics? Television? Radio? Print? Online news sites? Online social media, including blogs, wikis, or other collaborative forms of communication? Democratically oriented? Republican oriented? Third party-libertarian-other oriented?
    Now for the good part (here):

    Which Article of the Constitution tells you that only a “natural born Citizen” may be President?

    Which Article details the judicial power and duty of the Supreme Court?

    Which Article tells you that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”?

    What fractional amount of the House is required to agree in order to amend the Constitution? Which Article tells you this?

    Which Section of Article II stipulated the conditions for impeachment?

    amendment to the Constitution tells us that a warrant is required before a search of someone’s property?

    Which amendment allows for the Federal Income Tax?

    Which stipulated the right to trial by jury in civil cases?

    Which amendment stipulated the voting age at eighteen?
    I’ll tell you what – if I hear of a “teabagger” out there who has taken this test or something close to it and either passed or come close, then no matter how forcefully I may disagree with them, I can assure you that I will respect their opinion.

    And if somehow this test were administered to a teabagger and an illegal immigrant and the illegal got a better score…well, that sure would be a hoot, wouldn’t it?
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    Exuent, Arlen - this was the well-deserved fatal blow (congrats to Admiral Joe)...

    ...and congratulations to Jack Conway also in the Kentucky Dem Senate primary (I always thought Mongiardo was a creep - by the way, Blanche Lincoln vs. Bill Halter is headed to a runoff)...

    Update 5/19/10: All class, Dan (and on the wingnut side in KY, teabagger and winner Rand Paul wouldn't take the concession call from Repug challenger - and fave of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao - Trey Grayson; something in the water?)...

    ...and K.O. gives us more proof of what those zany teabaggers think of the Constitution; some nut jobs in Idaho want to repeal the 17th Amendment - for real...

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

    ...and RIP, Hank Jones.

    Tuesday Mashup (5/18/10)

    1) Chuck Norris has the answer to the illegal immigration debacle (here – and why exactly didn’t I think of this, I wonder to myself)…

    …our Founders enforced four basic requirements for "enrollment and acceptance" into American citizenry. We still utilize them (at least in policy) to this day, but we desperately need to enforce them. The Heritage Foundation summarizes: "Key criteria for citizenship of the Naturalization Act of 1795 remain part of American law. These include (1) five years of (lawful) residence within the United States; (2) a 'good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States'; (3) the taking of a formal oath to support the Constitution and to renounce any foreign allegiance; and (4) the renunciation of any hereditary titles."

    You hear that, you illegals trying to get over the danged “fence” (as “Straight Talk” McCain calls it here) from Mexico into Arizona and New Mexico? Start renouncing those hereditary titles PDQ!

    Actually, anyone applying for citizenship already has to take a test, as noted here (I don’t know if Norris knows that or not). And I’d really like to see how the teabaggers would do if they had to take it as a condition of their citizenship as well.

    Another thing – Norris is, as you might expect, a teabagger also (here), and I’m more than a little fed up with this notion that, somehow, people of his political ilk can claim to either be knowledgeable in or supporters of the U.S. Constitution, particularly when, as noted here, some of them don’t know that that confers on the U.S. government the right to collect taxes. The Constitution also stipulates, under Article I, Section II, that the government shall conduct a census every ten years, and as noted here, there are teabaggers who have a problem with that also.

    And just wait until next week, boys and girls, when Chuck “will lay out his plan, drawing inspiration from our Founders, for dealing with the 12 million-plus illegal immigrants in our country today.”

    Somewhere, I have a feeling that our founders are glad they can deny any knowledge of Norris whatsoever.

    2) Also, the AEI’s Danielle Pletka is all up in arms over the recent statement from the U.S. and U.N. Security Council member nations about Iran (here)…

    There was a collective sigh of relief in D.C. about the U.N. resolution—after all, it’s taken the administration months on end to dilute the thing down enough to get the Chinese and Russians to sign on. Some had even feared that the president would take up the lousy deal cut by (Brazil and Turkey) and restart negotiations with Iran toward a fuel swap. Wow, I was told, lucky the real men in the administration—Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice—won that internal squabble.

    Oh, please – as noted here

    TEHRAN, Iran — Iran agreed Monday to ship much of its low-enriched uranium abroad and then rolled out a new obstacle to nuclear compromise by insisting it would press ahead with higher enrichment – bringing it closer to being able to make atomic warheads.

    The deal forged with Turkey and Brazil appeared to be another attempt to stave off U.N. sanctions – a doubtful endeavor judging by reactions from the United States and other Western powers.

    The White House showed deep skepticism about the pact, warning it still allows Iran to keep enriching uranium toward the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

    "Given Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran's nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

    Western nations insisted Monday they remained on the sanctions track.

    "Our position on Iran is unchanged," said Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman, Steve Field. "Iran has an obligation to reassure the international community, and until it does so, we will continue to work with our international partners on a sanctions resolution in the United Nations Security Council."

    French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero agreed, saying the world was awaiting "credible answers from Iran" on its nuclear agenda.

    For his part, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cautiously welcomed the agreement but said it may fail to fully satisfy the international community. He alluded to Iran's intention to continue its higher-enrichment activities as a cause for concern.

    Yes, Iran is a bad actor, and there’s really very little we can do aside from diplomatic maneuvers unless (God forbid) the shooting starts for real, as they say.

    Which I think would be fine with Pletka, by the way, based on this

    Danielle Pletka, born in Australia, is Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policies at the neocon American Enterprise Institute.  Andrew Sullivan, who once worked for her, has described the integrity of her scholarship in an article she wrote urging Washington to tighten the screws on Iran:  "The form is set by the neoconservative agenda and she mobilizes a narrative that fills in the blanks to serve that agenda.  Unwilling if not incapable of producing an article any other way, she is more than content to reverse engineer her position …  Her final statement is telling.  ‘…Iran neither needs nor wants accommodation with the West,’ and it is clear to me this would have been her conclusion regardless of what the preceding 800 words had been."  Pletka supported the Iraq war, was a leading cheerleader for Ahmed Chalabi, believes in torture, and wants to go to war with Iran.

    Of course, given her raging aggression, maybe we should call Pletka “Daniel” instead.

    3) Finally, I have a bit of a “two-fer” of current and former Repug politicians in action, beginning with Jim DeMint (here) and ending with a co-author of the “Contract on America.”

    Basically, it turns out that DeMint’s track record as a supposed Tea Party “kingmaker” isn’t so hot; his support of Marco Rubio in Florida drove out Charlie Crist, to the point where Crist, as an independent, stands much better odds of winning the general election (actually, what DeMint really did here, as opposed to outing Crist, was to really throw a monkey wrench, as they say, into the campaign of Dem Kendrick Meek – I would guess that that was DeMint’s plan all along, but that gives him way too much credit).

    Also, DeMint supports Chuck DeVore in the Repug senatorial primary in California (DeVore is last), and DeMint also supported Sen. Marlin Stutzman who was defeated by former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats in the May 4th Repug primary in Indiana.

    So I’m starting to wonder if the Tea Party really isn’t The Club for Growth in disguise, wearing funny hats and carrying misspelled and often racist signs.

    Still, this doesn’t prevent a certain Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich from trying to curry the favor of the teabaggers, as noted here (another tempting quote from the disgraced former speaker, another dig at Obama, and another plug for another book, with appropriate commentary from Jed L. here, who astutely notes that Gingrich isn’t winning over the teabag crowd by endorsing Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao).

    But just returning to the Politico story on Gingrich, I want to point out that this is nothing but rote Beltway stenography by Mike Allen. And I’ve been trying to find a way to reference this profile on Allen by Mark Leibovich of the New York Times a little while ago, and I finally have the opportunity (here).

    It is exhaustively researched, and, while reporting thoroughly and dispassionately, Leibovich wants to cast Allen as a sympathetic figure. And in many ways, he does. However, there are some personal tidbits cast about concerning Allen’s personal life that, while not creepy, are certainly odd…

    …even Allen’s supposed confidants say that there is a part of Mikey they will never know or even ask about. He is obsessively private. He has given different dates to different friends for the date of his birthday. I asked three of Allen’s close friends if they knew what his father did. One said “teacher,” another said “football coach” and the third said “newspaper columnist.” A 2000 profile of Allen in The Columbia Journalism Review described his late father as an “investor.”

    It is almost impossible to find anyone who has seen his home (a rented apartment, short walk to the office). “Never seen the apartment,” volunteered Robert L. Allbritton, Politico’s publisher, midinterview. “No man’s land.” When sharing a cab, Allen is said to insist that the other party be dropped off first. One friend describes driving Allen home and having him get out at a corner; in the rearview mirror, the friend saw him hail a cab and set off in another direction. I’ve heard more than one instance of people who sent holiday cards to Allen’s presumed address only to have them returned unopened. One former copy editor at Politico, Campbell Roth, happened to buy a Washington condominium a few years ago that Allen had just vacated. She told me the neighbors called the former tenant “brilliant but weird” and were “genuinely scared about some fire-code violation” based on the mountains of stuff inside.

    Allen deserves credit for working tirelessly and establishing himself as an “influential,” to use the Beltway parlance. And he is portrayed in good measure as a kind, decent person in Leibovich’s story.

    However, when whoever or whatever comes after us writes the story of our current life and times, one theme that will emerge will be undue deference to authority by our corporate media in the face of catastrophic political decision making. And as far as I’m concerned, Mike Allen is one of the most culpable people on that score, no matter how many people read his “cross platform” missives.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    Time to “leave it all in the road” tomorrow, people (click here)…

    …and RIP, Ronnie James Dio.

    Monday Mashup Part Two (5/17/10)

    (Part One is over here.)

  • Having recently emerged from its bankruptcy restructuring, The Philadelphia Inquirer nonetheless gave column space again to Bushco torture architect John Yoo yesterday (here), who dutifully concocted more fiction on the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan…

    Another example comes from her views about her future coworkers. In a 1995 book review, she claims that Clarence Thomas' "substantive testimony" in his confirmation hearings was "a national laughingstock." The "weakness of Justice Thomas' objective qualifications and the later charges of sexual harassment" deprived him of a solid confirmation (and rightly so, she suggests). Elsewhere, Kagan praises Justice Antonin Scalia for his brainpower, and she considers Justice Thurgood Marshall, the liberal black justice for whom she clerked, her hero. She adopts the lazy but standard liberal prejudice that conservative minorities are stupid, while liberal ones are heroic.

    By the time of his appointment, Thomas, for whom I clerked, had served on the federal appeals court in Washington for two years, headed a major federal agency for eight years, and served as an assistant cabinet secretary for two years. Kagan will have been solicitor general for about a year, a deputy White House official for four years, and a law school professor for the rest. Whose qualifications are "weak"?
    I’m not sure it’s very wise on Yoo’s part to recall Thomas’s days chairing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), since, as noted here, he left a backlog of approximately 42,000 cases after eight years. Also, during his term as assistant cabinet secretary (given both jobs in the administration of The Sainted Ronnie R), he first encountered Professor Anita Hill; this is a link to her statement during Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing (and I never heard Thomas say that Hill was wrong; all I heard was Thomas’s cries about a high-tech lynching and similar expressions of supposed victimhood).

    And speaking of the testimony by Anita Hill, a certain one-time Republican senator from PA figured prominently in her questioning. Can you guess who? I’ll give you a hint – he’s trying to win a primary tomorrow (and to do something in response, click here).

  • Also, the recent rule change by the National Mediation Board (which I posted about here) was criticized in this post, including the following…

    Airline and railroad employees will soon be forced into joining labor unions thanks to a shocking decision by the National Mediation Board (NMB). The decision was conveniently announced the same day President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court so it received much less media coverage than it might have otherwise.
    In the prior post on this, I noted that a benefit of the NMB decision is that a “not-voting” vote would no longer count as a “no” vote, which tilted the odds more against the “yes” votes. Also, employers would no longer decide who would vote on the question of joining a union; in the past, this excused employers from providing a list of workers seeking collective bargaining.

    Heaven forbid that Katie Packer of the Workforce Fairness Institute would admit that, however (and with a name like that, you can almost smell a Repug front group, which is what the WFI is).

    When you navigate to the groups’s web site and check the About information, it doesn’t tell you who the members of the organization are, though it does tell you about allied groups, such as the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the Employee Freedom Action Committee, and of course (inevitably) the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    And as noted here, former Dubya ad man Mark McKinnon of the WFI wouldn’t say who funds the group, which was “founded by several longtime Republican operatives.” Also with its hand in the WFI, so to speak, is Rick Berman’s “Center for Union Facts,” one of Berman’s many front groups which ran print ads comparing union leaders supporting the Employee Free Choice Act to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling the bill a "scheme to eliminate workers' right to a secret ballot" (which is demonstrably untrue).

    Actually, given all of this, it’s no wonder Packer and her crowd want to maintain the secret status quo whereby employers can hold sway over workers trying to join a union. Whatever effectiveness she and her group enjoys would be greatly diminished if its own operations were likewise held up to scrutiny under the cold light of day.

  • Finally, let us return to The Hill for more wingnuttia on the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination, apart from Yoo’s latest blatherings (here)…

    Republicans introduced a new argument against Elena Kagan's nomination today, suggesting she believes in banning books.

    In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to the argument Kagan's office made before the Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. FEC, a controversial campaign finance case.

    "Solicitor Kagan's office in the initial hearing argued that it would be OK to ban books," McConnell said. "And then when there was a rehearing Solicitor Kagan herself in her first Supreme Court argument suggested that it might be OK to ban pamphlets.

    "I think that's very troubling, and this whole area of her view of the First Amendment and political speech is something that ought to be explored by the Judiciary Committee and by the full Senate," McConnell said.
    Nice try, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao; as noted here by Media Matters, Kagan specifically stated that federal campaign finance law had never banned books and likely could not do so.

    And this is funny coming from the Republican Party, which brought us Sarah Palin inquiring into possibly banning books when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska here (Palin backed off under pressure after threatening the Wasilla librarian with her job – no, the books weren’t actually banned, but it’s not as if Palin didn’t try). The party also continues to countenance the presence of “Lonesome Rhodes” Glenn Beck, whose lizard-brained followers tried to ban a book here (also, as noted here, federal prison officials tried to ban the books of a certain 44th President of the United States).

    I would seriously hope that it is unnecessary for me to spend any further words pointing out how stupid this practice is (and here is a clip listing books banned in various world countries for different reasons…I don’t think there can be any other answer to the question at the end except “yes,” to say nothing of bothering some people’s delicate sensibilities).