November 28, 2007

Republican family values, episode #7,429

Ya don't dip your pen in the company ink.

November 23, 2007

Greatest Hits (so far)

In light of the rather embarassing statement by a commenter recently that no matter how many perverts, criminals, and serial liars this administration contains, the Clinton administration was far worse, I present this stroll down (lack of) memory lane, again from TPM's Veracifier.

Also from Veracifier, Fred is dead, that's what I said. Painful.

November 17, 2007

The saga of Buzzie and Cookie

You may or may not have caught this story on the news, but it's just plain disheartening. Not because of the obvious lying, but because it's so damned commonplace in this administration.

Maybe Bush's fondness for nicknames gets guys named "Buzzie" and "Cookie" a ticket into high positions of authority and responsibility. (Where's Blinkie, Biff, and Tad? For that matter where's Itchy, and Scratchy, or Sneezy and Sleepy? I guess Cheney is Grumpy, but where's the other 6?)

This outfit has consistently chosen the elite, the very wealthy, and politically connected without any concern whether they're remotely qualified or competent for the jobs they fill. "Cookie" had never held a post remotely like the post he occupies in his life, much like "Brownie" at FEMA. I'm not sure, but it looks to me like "Cookie" played the part of the Tin Man just before the hearing and he couldn't get the paint out of his hair and eyebrows.

Watch Josh Marshall's report and try not to wince. (you may have to click the start arrow twice)

More from TPM on Krongard here.

November 13, 2007


At Nortre Dame the trumpet section of the marching band does something very cool prior to home games before marching to the stadium.

November 12, 2007

Too much corporate influence in government? Nah, that's a liberal fantasy.

On another tape, Pete Kott, the former Republican speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, crowed as he described beating back a tax bill opposed by oil companies. "I had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie," Kott said. "Exxon's happy. BP's happy. I'll sell my soul to the devil."

After that guy's prison sentence is over, we should give him a medal for giving us a small glimpse into Bush's America. (even though he didn't realize he was being taped.)

Republicans in Alaska got some 'slainin to do.

November 11, 2007

War loving veteran's day parade.

All vets are welcome, except those who oppose Bush's wars.

Organizers of the Denver Veteran's Day parade refused to allow several anti-war veteran groups to participate.

Even if you risked your life and made enormous sacrifices to serve, you better just shut up if you want to be recognized for it.

Iraq and Afghanistan vets were denied permission to participate in the Long Beach, California Veteran's Day parade as well. At least those who don't approve the "war".

A caption under a picture of a few anti-war vets:
James Dasinger, right, and Jason Lemieux, both members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, watch the 11th annual Long Beach Veterans Day Parade on Saturday. The group was not allowed to participate in the parade. Dasinger is an Air Force veteran and Lemieux is a Marine veteran.
Another article on this story notes that Lemieux has served three tours of duty in Iraq.

From the article:
The groups on Saturday morning approached 9th District City Councilman Val Lerch, chairman of the parade committee, in a final effort to participate. Lerch, however, said the parade line-up was set for this year.

"They stood peacefully and honored our veterans," said Lerch, whose 9th District includes the parade route. "And I thank them very much for that."

WHAT THE HELL!!!!!?????? "...stood peacefully and honored our veterans." ???!!!!!!

They ARE veterans!

Can this idiotic statement be taken in any other way than to suggest that those who weren't allowed into the parade somehow aren't actual veterans? That they're not our veterans?

Those who are patriotic enough to try to stop something they know is wrong from first hand experience aren't "our veterans"?

Lerch should be horsewhipped.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Yinn for observing that apparently it's only acceptible for Veterans Day to be about the supposed glory of war, but never about the true cost of it.

In other words, a big fairy tale for the benefit of the public to foster and continue a state of mass denial about the horror and aftermath of war. How many more years can they live on the last just war, WWII?

ADDENDUM: Another article in the Press-Telegram which touches on some pro and con arguments on denying anti-war vets the chance to be recognized. There are some EXCELLENT comments left by readers which I recomend reading (click on the "share your comments" link below the article. The level of comments in Long Beach show just how shamefully ignorant and stupid online commenters in this area are for the most part.

Within the piece is a crucial bit of information could be easily overlooked. It turns out this parade was sponsored by Paramount Petroleum Corporation, which donated $10,000. Gee. But they'd never promote sending soldiers to their deaths to secure oil-rich territory.

This lends credence to the absurd notion that being anti-war is considered being "too political", while being pro-war isn't. Why?

The piece again contains an all too telling quote from Lerch.
"They voted unanimously to exclude a group, believing it had a political agenda," said Lerch, whose 9th District includes the parade route. "And I agree with the board's actions. For 11 years, this has been a parade to honor and support this nation."

The city did offer to set up a designated area near the parade, he said, where groups can stand and hold up signs.

"They can stand on the corner with signs all they want," said Lerch, a veteran who served 24 years with the U.S. Coast Guard. "They're not honoring those people by protesting."

Are those against this misguided and costly war "honoring those people"? I certainly think so, perhaps even more than those who excluded them.

The piece also notes an inarguable legal fact.
However, City Attorney Bob Shannon on Wednesday said the parade committee is a private, non-profit organization, and therefore reserves the right to choose its participants.
Which doesn't make it any less a disgrace they decided to exclude any vets from a Veteran's Day parade.

This reminds me in a grim way of a classic from "The Simpsons" where Grandpa Simpson and other elderly vets sat at the bar and told lies about their war service at the VPW... the Veterans of Popular Wars.

ADDENDUM: One quarter of all homeless are Vets.

November 10, 2007

Obama to appear on Meet the Press

Just a headsup that Sen. Barack Obama is to be the guest for the hour on Meet the Press tomorrow. Let' see how stupid Russert can be and how he spends half the show trying to inflate conflict between Obama and Clinton.

The American Dream

...according to George Carlin, a man justly famous for his astute observations of reality.


What do you think?

November 9, 2007

Giulliani's BFF Bernie Kerik's got a few problems.

Giulliani pressed hard to get Kerick an appointment as head of the entire Homeland Security Agency.

Here's a partial list of the ethical and legal problems Kerick faces. Interesting stuff.

Couple this with Fred Thompson's top aide revealed as having a heavy drug trafficking history, and other top aides to Republican candidates revealed to be out and out crooks, and what does it mean?

I thought they were the "law and order" holier-than-thou party constantly trying to tell the rest of us how to live. Don't tell me the Republican party, by clear and overwhelming evidence, has way, way, way, way more perverts and crooks near the top than the opposition. That just can't be true.

Krugman shoots down top 5 myths about national healthcare

The United States spends far more on health care per person than any other nation. Yet we have lower life expectancy than most other rich countries. Furthermore, every other advanced country provides all its citizens with health insurance; only in America is a large fraction of the population uninsured or underinsured.

You might think that these facts would make the case for major reform of America’s health care system — reform that would involve, among other things, learning from other countries’ experience — irrefutable. Instead, however, apologists for the status quo offer a barrage of excuses for our system’s miserable performance.

So I thought it would be useful to offer a catalog of the most commonly heard apologies for American health care, and the reasons they won’t wash.
Excuse No. 1: No insurance, no problem.
Excuse No. 2: It’s the cheeseburgers.
Excuse No. 3: 2007 is better than 1950.
Excuse No. 4: Socialized medicine! Socialized medicine!
Rudy Giuliani’s fake numbers on prostate cancer — which, by the way, he still refuses to admit were wrong — were the latest entry in a long, dishonorable tradition of peddling scare stories about the evils of “government run” health care.

The reality is that the best foreign health care systems, especially those of France and Germany, do as well or better than the U.S. system on every dimension, while costing far less money.

But the best way to counter scare talk about socialized medicine, aside from swatting down falsehoods — would journalists please stop saying that Rudy’s claims, which are just wrong, are “in dispute”? — may be to point out that every American 65 and older is covered by a government health insurance program called Medicare. And Americans like that program very much, thank you.

So, now you know how to answer the false claims you’ll hear about health care. And believe me, you’re going to hear them again, and again, and again.

Click here to read the explanations for why each of the 5 are false.

November 3, 2007


And you can always add some OOOOOOOOs...

Double click the arrow

November 2, 2007

How Hillary lost me and Edwards got my vote (in 48,000 words or less)

I've been blessedly neutral when it comes to this years slate of Democratic presidential candidates. It's really no surprise considering the unique, if not historic, flavor of the 2008 election.

For one thing, it's been decades since neither party had a presumptive nominee. This creates a wide open field on both sides, and we've seen what each party has to offer.

It's no surprise that I feel that the Republican field reflects their bankrupt policies and deceitful attempts to scare the sheep into line. Really, take a look at what they have.

Rudy, a guy who has nothing to run on but fear itself, handicapped with the rabid right by the only human part of him, his so-called "liberal" stances on gays and common sense gun regulation, and his all-to-human personal life. A guy who's been aptly accused of having 9-11 Tourette's syndrome, repeating it like Rainman on a roll. A guy who has retained some of the most unhinged neocons in the country to advise him on foreign policy, including Norman Podhorotz who advocates bombing Iran as soon as logistically possible. Just what we need. Isn't insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Mitt, not an empty suit, but a Men's Warehouse model brought to life (sort of). A guy who also used to be semi-sensible but is now spouting right wing gibberish so crazy it makes sane people of both parties cringe. A guy who is injecting mad millions of his own money into his campaign in an effort to spend maybe a thousand or two for every Iowa caucus vote he gets. A guy who, deep down, NOBODY thinks would be a good president.

John, the poor guy. Found out the hard way that his party doesn't cotton to independent thinkers. Too honest and with too much integrity to pass the right-wing muster. Also prone to wildly exaggerating the threat of terror and conflating it with our disaster in Iraq.

Huckabee, the only one in the field that displays some actual humanity. A eminently likable guy who actually isn't completely full of shit. He clearly actually believes what he says, and most of what he says, you can respect him for, even if you disagree completely. And a lot of what he says is sensible and shows a good eye for some of what this country needs to do to correct itself. But even Mike has a troublesome knack for veering into la-la land with some of his Muslim boogie-man talk, and comes off a bit un-hinged in what might be presumed to be an attempt to feed the right the heavy doses of fear and loathing they've become addicted to.

Ron Paul. I admit I don't know a hell of a lot about him, but he's also a no B.S. kind of guy that isn't afraid of telling the right just where to get off. A right-winger who's no phony. He's sort of like Diogenes and his lamp, trying to warn the Republicans where they've gone so desperately wrong. Has the cojones to actually oppose the Iraq fiasco. A candidate who's amassed many fans among pragmatic, non-Bush cult conservatives. Doesn't stand a chance.

All the rest are one-issue nuts or have already dropped out, mercifully.

Not a bad field to run against, I'd say. And many Republicans openly rue the sad state of their field.

But back to the subject.

I'll limit this to the top three Dem candidates to keep it to just under novel length.

First of all, Hillary Clinton. I like her. I've vigorously defended her from years of literally insane attacks and irrational hatred drummed up and manufactured by the Mighty Wurlitzer of the right wing noise machine.

She's been portrayed, and STILL is portrayed, as some wild-eyed flaming liberal that will pass out drugs to third graders and advocate free love for everyone. She's apparently makes Dennis Kucinich look like William F. Buckley, if you believe the tripe spewed by the right.

But then as usual, this smacks into reality. Hillary, as any sentient person realizes, is far from a far left liberal. She's moderate if anything, and on many matters leans right. Of course, this fact doesn't stop the braying from the right, as facts rarely get in their way.

Early on, the more liberal, or in reality, the more centrist elements of the Democratic party faulted Clinton for her stances which often buttressed or otherwise supported and enabled the Bush agenda, as well as several other measures which were far from traditional Democratic stances. She wasn't liberal enough for their liking.

I tended to dismiss this as unnecessary carping by people who expected too much purity from any candidate to be practical. I stuck with her. I was damn proud of Clinton for both weathering the mind-bending years long assaults on her and her husband as well as persevering, surviving, and thriving in her quest for and victory in becoming a senator. Even Republicans have trouble faulting her for her performance as senator, and she's widely hailed as being excellent in that position. Now she still has the guts and fortitude to actually run for president, knowing all too well exactly what forces are aligned against her. Gotta like that.

I was all for her for primarily those reasons, and argued against those who felt she shouldn't run, would be too divisive, etc.

I think she's done fine on the campaign trail, but I was, and still am, troubled by her votes recently in favor of labeling the Iranian Republican Guard a "terrorist organization". Such B.S. measures are only neo-con tools for ginning up yet more conflict, and in light of her thoroughly non-convincing "if I had known then what I know now" defense of her voting for the Iraq boondoggle, this is even more troubling.

This created some doubt in my mind for the first time that Hilary would actually be what the country needed in this crucial time.

In other words, the messages of Edwards, and Obama to a much more ineffective extent, that Clinton represents more of the same, a change from Bush to be sure, but nonetheless, a continuation of the big-money, defence industry driven, corporate driven, agenda. And that agenda, I am convinced, bears little to no relationship to the wishes of this country's people as to the direction this country must take.

I'd been listening to Edwards, a guy who I've always liked, but never really warmed to, for years now. But when he started taking off the gloves a month or two back, I found it very refreshing. He was the only candidate that was pushing a vital neo-populist message to the forefront, highlighting what I sincerely believe to be the root problem of nearly all our national woes, namely the overwhelming corporate dominance over, to the point of merging with, our government. It has simply been taken way too far.

It was bad enough during the Reagan/Bush era, but under Bush the lesser, the keys to the store have been given away, lock, stock, and barrel. They write the laws, they own the legislators, they reap the profits, they dictate their own taxes, and on and on and on.

It's amounted to a wholesale looting of the country's treasury based on the horribly flawed idea that government should be starved to death, and who better to bleed it dry than corporations? If government no longer has any money, it can't finance any regulations or social programs, and will be limited to massive defense spending and support of business, which is just as they want.

So I've always admired Edwards for his recognition that the gap between the very poor and very wealthy is growing at an alarming rate and already stands at the greatest level since the pre-depression era '20's and that, along with the other ills of rampant corporatism such as the corruption of our political system, is a crucial issue to the future of our very democracy. But I still held an open mind about Clinton.

The press, in their supremely aggravating pack mentality and need to create a pleasing story line to make the campaigns more "interesting", demand conflict, whining if they don't get it, or trying mightily to inflating minor differences into huge eruptions, describing the mildest comments of one candidate towards another as "angry outburst"s or "the claws came out" or similar goofiness, instantly changing their stories on a dime if the pack narrative changes, and otherwise treat this momentous process as if it's some student body election complete with snarky quips about clothing and other ridiculous distractions.

Like so some group of jerks in junior high trying to get the two most popular kids to fight each other, they tried to gin up some big conflict between Obama and Clinton, then raise up en mass to DEMAND for an entire week that Obama come out and hit Clinton HARD. They demanded that their fight, damn it.

Edwards had already been thumping Clinton very well, but they barely took notice. They wanted Obama and Hillary to get into it, the nastier the better, though they stood ready to inflate even the slightest hint of conflict into a huge event.

But it was when the press pack all simultaneously decided around a week ago that the primary was already over and declared that Clinton was simply unbeatable, that I began taking a dimmer view of Clinton myself. (Of course, they instantly changed their story after the recent debate, now Clinton was on the ropes and it was the race of the century.)

Maybe it's my affinity for underdogs, I don't know. But I know I wouldn't like any of the candidates to cinch up the race anywhere near this early. It was that prospect that perhaps forced the thought of Clinton actually being the nominee into focus, and I found myself not really comfortable with it at all.

The day after the recent debate, Edwards gave an appearance that got pretty wide coverage, especially a few facts he listed about Hillary and her campaign.

He noted that Clinton had accepted more money from lobbyists than any other candidate from either party. He also noted that she'd received far more money from defense contractor employees than any other candidate of either party as this piece on Huffington post details.

I don't think I can support such a candidate. The entire economy of this country has been turned into a snake eating it's own tail, with tax dollars being funneled by the billions to defense companies to the point where our entire national manufacturing base is the production and development of weapons of destruction and death.

That is NOT what this country needs at this moment, a president who will fudge around the edges and pretend to be changing course while essentially changing nothing.

It will take a strong and determined leader who will work hard and determinedly to fight to change the very profitable system that's been erected in the bargain between corporations and politicians over the decades. And that requires one who's ascension to the White House wasn't paid for by those very interests.

While radical change isn't sound, neither is someone who only represents a little change around the edges, and I'm more convinced than ever that Clinton will represent little or no fundamental change at all.

But what about Obama?

I'm almost surprised to admit that Obama is leaving me flat.

I like him and admire him. I found his candidacy inspiring. But since the campaign has started to gel, as much as I regret to admit it, he simply strikes me as someone not yet suited to either the campaign, or the presidency.

He's far too hesitant, too unsure, too uncomfortable, and though I dismissed initial accusations that he was too green to run in favor of at least seeing what he could do, I have been led to the conclusion that he indeed is simply not hardened enough to get the job done.

His ability to connect with voters and the public appears to be waning, not getting stronger, and he suffers from the same sort of cerebral disconnect that afflicted John Kerry.

Obama is clearly brilliant, and a very attractive candidate. His buzz has translated into a ton of money, which pundits and insiders regard as the same as actual skill, but his leadership ability is wanting.

I don't think his time is now, neither as a presidential candidate nor president.

If Clinton is indeed the Democratic nominee, she'll have my support, as she's vastly superior to any of the truly out-there Republicans.

But I'm hoping that instead, John Edwards emerges as the next Democratic presidential candidate, and next President of the United States.

As Edwards puts it in his latest ad:

"If you are looking for heroes, don't look to me, don't look to Elizabeth. We have support, we have health care, we have the American people behind us. Look to them; they are the ones that we speak for. They are the ones that we stand up for. And Elizabeth and I decided in the quiet of a hospital room, after 12 hours of tests and after getting very bad news, what we were going to spend our lives doing. For all those that have no voice. We are not going to quietly go away. Instead we are going to go out and fight for what it is we believe in. It is time for our party, the Democratic Party, to show a little backbone, to have a little guts. Stand up for working men and women. If we are not their voice, they will never have a voice.”

I agree. Edwards is my guy.... as of now.

Have no fear, the Civil Justice League is here!

Who are the Civil Justice League and why do they love Sen. Mike Jacobs?

A commenter recently sent in a couple cut and paste news releases (on a post that had nothing whatsoever to do with them, of course), one of which was a glowing letter from the Civil Justice League praising Sen. Jacobs for some vote or other in their favor, evidently something Jacobs is quite proud of. (the other was about Jacobs participating in a mock political convention through WIU and giving a speech in which, interstingly enough, he urged students to "challenge the status quo".)

Illustrious blogger and commenter UMR surmised by their lofty name that the Civil Justice League must be some sort of superhero outfit out to smite evil and fight for truth, justice, and the American Way. That seemed likely to me as well, so it prompted me to do a bit of checking.

Presumed board members of the Civil Justice League.

I checked on the Civil Justice League website, where you can find out their mission, and what they're up to. (and I was hoping what their capes looked like.)

Actually, they're a lobby outfit formed by business interests to try to hamper, limit, and otherwise tamper with an individual's right to sue, well, those that they represent.

You've heard the phony complaints for years about how business and doctors simply can't survive as long as they keep being sued every time some one gets hurt or killed using their products or services. It's a miracle they've managed to not only survive, but prosper all these years with things exactly as they always have been.

But now we're told they simply can't go on without laws that place even larger hurdles in front of people who wish to sue corporations for liability and compensation. And just in case they can't stop the case from being filed to being with, and the facts are so bad that they can't prevail in court, they insist that damage awards be capped so even when they are found guilty of gross negligence and a jury awards punitive damages in an amount that will actually punish the company, they won't have to face TOO much punishment, at least not enough to really hurt.

You or I? We can be sued until we've got nothing left but a smile if we cause negligent injury. But we're told these fine companies and their owners need protection from awards that are large enough to... well... actually have an effect.

A possible Justice Leaguer on an outreach mission? "Remember kids, if you die from eating poison candy, you're not worth more than $250,000 max, no matter what, OK?"

Traditionally, Democrats have always seen these efforts as what I believe they are, attempts to infringe on an average persons right to sue for redress when they've been wronged by a company. Republicans have always sought to insulate and protect companies from the threat of being held liable and if unavoidable, then preventing the damage awards from being large enough to get their attention.

That's still the way it is, fortunately. But there is one exception.

If you think corporate interests need protection from such lawsuits, you have a new superhero. Democratic Senator Mike Jacobs.

While on the Civil Justice League website, I happened across their Legislative Scorecard for the Illinois Senate, the type that many lobby organizations issue to score legislators on how perfectly they march in lockstep on their pet issue.

As expected, the Democratic Senators had far lower scores on this matter, mostly in the low teens. Republicans were much higher, scoring often in the 80s.

But then I saw something that, while not surprising, was disappointing to say the least. While the lowest score among Dem senators was a perfect zero, the highest scoring Democrat in the entire Illinois state senate was none other than Sen. Mike Jacobs, who not only earned the highest score from this outfit, but managed to more then double the second highest Democratic score. Impressive.

Jacobs earned himself a whopping 67, while the second highest Dem pulled in a mere 33, and the third highest, a 25.

As a matter of fact, if you remove Jacobs' score, the average for all of the 36 other Democratic Senators was a mere 14.27, meaning that Jacobs scored over four times the average of his fellow Dem senators.

Sen. Jacobs score was so high in defending corporations from lawsuits that fully 9 of the 22 Republican Senators scored the same or lower than Jacobs.

I find this blatant Republican stance by Jacobs rather curious in light of the vociferous and loud condemnation hurled at his opponent Paul Rumler here not long ago.

Over and over strident comments were sent wailing and complaining that Rumler wasn't a real Democrat, that he was no good because he represented Republican issues and values. He couldn't be trusted to represent the average person, they said, over and over.

Rumler didn't support the average guy, they said, he wasn't a true Democrat, and was only out to support issues favorable to business interests.

Why? Because Rumler had worked for the Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the minimum wage increase. Jacobs supported this measure, and so claimed the mantle of defender of the little guy. Rumler=Republican, Jacobs, a true Democrat.

Yet these are the same people who slavishly support a guy who votes more Republican that nearly half the Republicans, and on a Republican issue? Who's so outside his own party that he scores over twice as high as the closest Democrat?

If you agree that protecting corporate interests from lawsuits and placing further impediments to ordinary people being able to sue when they feel they've been wronged is what society needs, then Jacobs is your man, no doubt there.

If you think voting against party line is heroic, despite championing a stance which directly benefits big business at the expense of average people, then you likely think the world of Jacobs on this issue.

But if you feel that the deck is already quite nicely stacked in favor of big business already, thank you very much, then you have to wonder just who can claim to be representing the average person and upholding Democratic ideals of fairness and justice for the "little guy". If it's not the Democrat, then who will?

One wonders if this defense of poor suffering business interests has any correlation to campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists. It would be easy enough to find out. If anyone cares to take a look, feel free to report your findings. I may take a look later.

Note to the humor impaired: The above photos are meant as satire and are not photos of, nor do they represent, actual Civil Justice League members.

November 1, 2007


Due to a rather severe and sudden illness in the family (me), I won't be able to address comments, at least until I can manage to stay out of the bathroom for more than 5 minutes at a time. Please bear with me as I experience the thrill ride of fever, chills, nausea, and other fun stuff not fit to mention.