Saturday, December 22, 2007

Highlander of the Day ~ Professor Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier, the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics plus director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Program, at Occidental College in LA (That's Los Angeles not Lower Alabama for the folks back in Bama.) is pictured to the left. Today he shares a powerful essay on HuffPo entitled Bush's Class Warfare. I'd add that this warfare is hardly Dubyah's alone as "top down class warfare" has been part of the modern GOP since at least the early 80s. Peace ... or War!

Circuit City execs take senior sales firings to bank

You'd think with their stock down 75% since earlier in the year plus having canned more knowledgeable sales floor workers to try to eke out more profits that Circuit City would have no reason to retain much less reward their "talent". You'd be mistaken. "The Post reports that Circuit City's executive vice-presidents will get retention awards of $1 million each. That's 35 years worth of pay for one of sales clerks who earned $14 an hour." Peace ... or War!

Does Family Help Rick Santorum Feed His Family?

I'd been pondering on GOP loyalty since yesterday's post working off Digby's CAF writing. Let's look at two recent Republicans to lose their Senate seats. Contrast Rick Santorum's job as Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center where he established and directs EPPC's Program to Protect America's Freedom with a one year teaching gig at Brown for Lincoln Chafee.

Of course having Rick involved with Ethics is reason enough to ponder on his nailing this position. Then again, I forget the "four sisters" (Olin, Bradley, Smith Richardson, and Scaife money) and Castle Rock and Earhart money isn't really about ethics except where "ethics" might benefit "movement conservatism". "Built to last" indeed where family looks out for family.

Finally, I know Senator Chafee is likely rich as Roosevelt so he could very well be dabbling. Rick however has some mighty big loans to pay plus he has his large traditional family to feed. Chafee left the GOP this summer and after he had to face primary challenger Steve Laffey, the choice of various true believers like The Club for Growth, who can blame him. Then again, Steve Laffey is hardly happy with the GOP either in some respects. Chafee had gotten into office on his father's name and was one of the few left of the Establishment Republicans so there is plenty of reasons to distinguish the two yet ...

Actually I'm glad Rick Santorum hasn't left the stage just yet. He's a classic and I'm sure he'll provide some great material over time. Digby's thesis certainly holds in Rick Santorum's case. Peace ... or War!

Andy Pettitte's Life of Purity and Integrity

I've no problem with Andy Pettitte encouraging young folks to keep their britches on until they are married yet his taking HGH tarnishes his witness a tad. His Strike Zone: Targeting a Life of Purity and Integrity was a favorite of some of the fundy set and they are now having to scramble about in damage control. HGH seems to me to not be as bad as straight Vitamin S yet given Andy's title there's surely some irony. I'd also wonder about the "I only took twice" excuse as my understanding is that sustained use is the only way to get results. We'll see how many wins the Yankees get for their 16 million come 2008. Peace ... or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Ashley Tartar and her "Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign"

The Anniston Star rightly supposes that if there is a "War on Christmas" it is hardly about "which greeting a retailing giant offers". It could relate to how many Iraqi Christians live now in the "ever-expanding and ever-dangerous Islamic theocracy in Iraq" that Bu$hCo's reckless adventurism unleashed. Alternatively, the "the millions of Americans who live on the margins" could be true casualties.

The editorial referenced a "The Attack on Christmas 2007:
How Retailers Rate"
that I located in PDF format. I also found Doctor Dobson's November 26, 2007 audio The Attack on Christmas 2007 where he examines "our culture's ongoing attempts to remove Christmas from the Christmas season".

Eventually I located Ashley Tarter, the founder of and campaign manager for the Wish Me a Merry Christmas Campaign. Somebody actually liked John Gibson's book. Back home I'm between two of her charter churches, namely First Baptist Church of Pelham and Teaver Road Church in LaGrange. I'd go with the 50 button lots for merely $75, plus S&H. For the Dobsonites there's nothing like a little capitalism with your Christianity. Peace ... or War!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Digby thinks GOP has "a movement built to last"

Toiling over at Campaign for America's Future, Digby ponders why the GOP pols are remaining so closely aligned with Dubyah. Up front I'll offer that I think he's being both too narrow and too broad in certain respects, details to follow, but I'll provide a big chunk of what he posted. It's that good! He writes:

... The modern Republican party has somehow managed to create movement loyalty that supersedes not only the national interest but their own political self-interest.

And that's probably where money comes in. In a system where people are aware that historical narratives are being written to spec and where they are rarely held accountable for past political misdeeds, there is little downside to putting party before country or even before your own public career.

There is no such thing as disgrace, and if you lose an election, when you leave office you immediately become a well paid director or executive of various firms you used to regulate, a television commentator or "motivational speaker" and just wait a bit before becoming a high priced lobbyist. There are not only second acts in conservative politics, there are third and fourth acts, well paid and guaranteed.

This is true to some extent in the Democratic Party as well, but the conservative movement is a much more organic, full service organization that offers cradle to grave welfare for loyal soldiers at all levels (and a lonely wilderness for apostates.)

They don't fear losing. As individuals, they stand to benefit handsomely from their association with the Business Party and no matter what happens they remain comfortably ensconced in the vast array of conservative organizations and affiliations that have been created over the past 30 years.

The conservative movement is built to last --- even when it suffers electorally, the individuals within it pay no price, and the movement itself is reinforced. They believe, with good reason, that they have a solid minority at least that will always vote for them and whose regional and political prejudices they will always represent well. They know they will win the presidency as often as not. They are very good at political campaigning and manipulating the media.

Their movement is sustained by wealthy individuals and business interests who will make sure they have an endless supply of money. So while Karl Rove may have had the personal ambition to create a permanent majority, it really isn't necessary. ...

The founders worried a lot about the power of political parties or factions. In Federalist 10, Hamilton defines a faction as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." Ironically his major concern was that the rubes would use the power of faction to take away the property of the Big Money Boyz. Obviously, he needn't have worried. When it comes to common impulse and passion, nobody has it over the conservative movement in service of its wealthy benefactors.

I'd suggest a good number of even the chattering class is staying with Dubyah. There's where Digby seems almost too narrow. Maybe that's another topic for another day? Pundits, "journalists", "academics", ... on the right wing, or even in some of the middle of the road locales, are often still remaining in line. They criticize and lament their fortunes, often complaining that Bu$hCo isn't truly conservative, or at least not enough, yet considering the disaster of this administration they are rather restrained.

Where's he gets too broad is the idea that the "Big Money Boyz" don't expect to win. While they can perhaps count on the centrist weenies of the Democratic Party to stop Progressivism from ever breaking out, the Corporatists need and expect results from their people in DC and statehouses across the land. Plenty of Democratic Party pols are out there and all to eager to harness up for the Big Mules when the GOP stumbles every so often. Additionally, another generation on the right is being identified and then nurtured every single day. The idea of Tom DeLay 2.0 is scary enough plus I expect they'll make this model a little less flabby and evil looking.

Finally, Goopers surely do value loyalty, perhaps even to the point that it is partially a psychological trait. I'm not sure which is more frightening between their calculating why to remain in line or just being so inclined. I'll ponder some more on all of this and might revisit as time allows. Damn fine post Digby. Peace ... or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Wall Street Bankers

Something is bass ackwards it seems with AP's Joe Bel Bruno reporting Bonuses on Wall Street Surge 14 Percent. While some of the swells might be due some slight credit for turning down their bonuses, I'm stunned by these amounts of money. I know they are handling gazillions and have huge pressures and ... but their compensation is obscene. And their tax burden, thanks to Bu$hCo, will be light. Peace ... or War!

Highlanders of the Day ~ Congressional Quarterly

Congressional Quarterly is due a tip of the tam for placing this super cool resource up on the internets. Congressional Quarterly is surely about profits and products yet poor folks like me appreciate the free stuff. I'd perhaps enjoy CQ's Guide to the 2008 Elections by Greg Giroux pictured to the left yet doubt I'll purchase. I must ask, Where's John Edwards? And Huck is leading in several polls now and you've left him off. Perhaps in any amended versions you can replace the fading Rudy with the Huckster? Peace ... or War!

Ben "Cooter" Jones Supports John Edwards

This is a good twelve minutes long yet plays well. Growing up watching Ben Jones on the Dukes of Hazzard and then seeing him serve North Georgia in Congress makes it all the better. It's Ben not Bob Scott Lehigh of the Boston Globe. Damn Yankee!

Wallace and Bobbie Edwards, John's parent, plus Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, John's "Senior Advisor & Rural Liaison" also appear in the video. I'm not sure if the dust has settled with Saunders and Thomas F. Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South or Mudcat's disastrous start at Time's Swampland or ... but I'm still thinking he has plenty of wise things to offer both John Edwards and others in the Democratic Party. I surely enjoyed his and Steve Jarding's Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out.

Show John Edwards some love if you are able. His ideas on Rural America are worth a visit while you are there. Peace ... or War!

Merry Christmas East Alabama Textile Workers

Russell Hubbard of the B'ham News reports 1,300 job losses expected in closing of east Alabama textile plants. This is impacting Valley, Eufaula, Piedmont, ... He writes:

It has been a bloody year in Alabama's textile belt. So far this year, textile makers have notified state regulators of their intent to eliminate 3,600 jobs, mostly through permanent plant closings. There were about 36,000 textile-related jobs in Alabama at the end of October, according to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which opposes free trade pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, says more than 1 million textile jobs have been lost in the United States since 1994. That's when NAFTA, which eliminated tariffs on goods flowing between Canada, Mexico and the United States, went into effect.

While I'm the first to accept Alabama's future isn't in textiles, I'm also a long proponent of "fair trade" rather than so called "free trade". Fair trade helps regular folks on both sides of the American border. It is not so good for the fat cats and of course that's why neither party, although the GOP is far worse, is doing right. One can hope that these workers and the thousands of others (You know it gets exponential on the consequences don't you?) impacted with these losses will begin to demand policies that work for the little man. Then again, it may come down to boys not marrying boys or something of that sorts which helps corporatists distract people into voting against their own economic interests?

The Economic Policy Institute is a good place to start as to a better trade policy. Peace ... or War!

Mitt Romney caught a fish that was as big as ...

Back home in Alabama we could get away with stretching the truth a little over some things yet hardly about Dr. King or the NRA. Peace ... or War!
UPDATE - Mitt was lying about he and his daddy marching with MLK, Jr. all the way back to 1978.
UPDATE #2 - December 22, 2007 - Perhaps Mitt is sorta kinda telling the truth on the marching with Dr. King claims.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Captain Plaid's Posting Plans Over the Holidays

If Captain Plaid goes dark it is not because I'm on strike. I'll post as able but flying back to Alabama on Sunday morning and possibly earlier. While I'm "home" I hope to be with family and friends rather than ranting here. I go into posting DTs at times so I might cheat just a little. I'm heading back to the Left Coast on Friday in Raoul, my trust Honda CRV. I plan to get back here before or on Tuesday the 1st. Even then, my ability to post might be limited for a few days. Here's wishing all of you, there's at least a few that reliably visit aren't there, a Merry and Happy. And a Peace ... or War!

DOJ Delayed NH Phone Jamming Investigations

Bu$hCo was and is politics. 24/7! And the departure of Karl Rove off our payroll changes nothing. Greg Gordon via McClatchy Newspapers, using an "an official with detailed knowledge" as an anonymous source, and I'll admit that's hardly ideal, reports Official: Justice Dept. slowed probe into phone jamming. He writes:
The Justice Department delayed prosecuting a key Republican official for jamming the phones of New Hampshire Democrats until after the 2004 election, protecting top GOP officials from the scandal until the voting was over.
Back in April of 2006, AP revealed Records show phone jammer-White House link: Phone data show people in election scheme had Republican Party contacts. That reporting contained:

The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 — as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was “preposterous” to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Preposterous indeed. And I couldn't help but note the White House continues to refuse comment "on an ongoing legal matter". Even when it is not ongoing I reckon that holds. Peace ... or War!

Bu$hCo EPA Doesn't Like States Rights

I'm actually no fan either of "state's rights", at least that form of the doctrine which is often argued by the right wing when it proves convenient. Conservatives often don't hold the line on much of what they claim to believe. Daryl Cagle's take on Scalia voting against medical marijuana is just one example. Here they go again ...

EPA Chief Denies Calif. Limit on Auto Emissions: Rules Would Target Greenhouse Gases came out today from the WaPo's Juliet Eilperin yet the coverage was everywhere. At the start of her reporting we learn EPA head honcho Stephen L. Johnson overruled "the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs." In her piece I noted much yet this surely stands out:
The auto industry had also lobbied the White House and EPA to block the California regulation, and the Detroit News reported that chief executives of Ford and Chrysler met with Vice President Cheney last month to discuss the issue.

Mark Clayton and Daniel P. Wood of the Christian Science Monitor report After EPA rejects California, emissions court battle looms: The agency's legal argument on greenhouse-gas emissions is weak, analysts say. Sue the bastards! Bu$hCo might claim they learned their lesson in April when the Supremes, at least five of the nine, ruled the feds should regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Now they are trying to stop states from doing their own thing. Not sure that dog will hunt Dubyah.

Let's see if the Courts will force Dick to share these notes contrary to what they did when Big Energy wrote Bu$hCo's energy policy. California's Henry Waxman is already demanding that no records be destroyed. Good luck on that front Congressman given this administration's record. Peace ... or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney turns to to attempt a twofer against She Who Must Be Stopped and Mike Huckabee. He uses a piece labeled America's President Deserves Thanks And Respect to show some love to Bu$hCo. Heading over to Townhall seems to be part of a strategic move for Mitt to look toward Bu$hCo's base in Iowa to stem the Huckster's rise.

Some of Mitt's points ... with ellipses and emphasis and parenthetical comments being wholly mine) follow:
"It was disheartening when Senator ...Clinton ... questioned ... General David Petraeus ...on the success of the surge. A disbelieving Senator Clinton said reports of progress require "the willing suspension of disbelief." We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that Senator Clinton was wrong and General Petraeus was right, and ... she has refused to apologize for her unwarranted attack on the integrity of one of our finest soldiers."

(Here's what Senator Clinton asked General Petreaus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Read it and see if an apology is necessary. Mitt, she's on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Isn't she merely doing her job? She points out that they are trying to implement the President's policy. She says that "you, and certainly the very capable people working with both of you, were dealt a very hard hand." She's hardly disrespectful. Where'd she attack his integrity Mitt? Google "Clinton Petraeus willing suspension disbelief" and you'll see much of the right's message machine at work on this theme but again where's the beef? And what's this about "we now know beyond any reasonable doubt" as to "The Surge"? On the issue of civilian Iraqi death each got one Pinocchio from the WaPo. As to the statistics, it depends on the measurement. Even within the White House there's been fussing about how to proceed. And let us not forget the 2004 Wa-Po op-ed General Petreaus penned on the eve of the election.)

"In the wake of 9/11, the President took unprecedented (illegal in some case!) steps to keep us safe and defend Americans at home and abroad. We revamped our homeland security apparatus (Don't forget Dubyah resisted creating DHS for a good while), passed new laws that allowed us to listen in when al-Qaeda (and then ignored FISA at other times to just listen. And then lied about it. Repeatedly!) was calling, cleared out terrorist training camps in Afghanistan (Mitt, they were hardly cleared out!) and successfully (How much success can we and they stand Mitt?) toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein."

"our soldiers ... have overcome early strategic mistakes to make progress in Iraq ... This progress has come as America's heroes and their families have made unequalled sacrifices. They have done this in the face of extended and repeated tours with aging equipment as a result of military troop levels and funding that were cut far too deeply in the 1990s." (Mitt and the Townhall crowd surely recall that from 1994 forward Congress was controlled by the GOP. We know that Rumsfeld and other neo-cons contolling Bu$hCo ignored and actually ridiculed those that warned we'd need more boots on the ground in Iraq to do the job. Rummy was going to transform the military Mitt. Was he asking for more folks?)

Finally, don't you just love for an example of the right's coordination and content? With money from Joseph Coors and then the various Scaife foundations plus others, The Heritage Foundation was born. They supposed built for about a million bucks. Although they've sorta kinda cut loose now (This helps with the 5019c)(3) issues perhaps?) we'll see if they ever turn a profit. Free enterprise can be a real bitch can't it? I also love how on you can get both anti-Hillary shirts and a book by Charles Koch on success. That the Koch family radicals have funded their own own gaggle of right wing organizations is just too rich.

Heck of job George says Mitt. Hugh Hewitt, via Townhall says The Smart Money Is On Mitt, so perhaps your strategy will work. Not sure the American public will buy it yet those that regularly visit at this point probably don't add up to too many votes come November of 2008. I'm sure you and yours will have time to hone the message even more by then and indeed I know the right's machinery is impressive. Still, I'm thinking plenty of Americans are realizing we've had about all the conservatism we can stand Mitt. Peace ... or War!

Highlander of the Day ~ Alabama Corrections Commissioner Richard F. Allen

Dana Beyerle of the T-town News reports Mental patients crowd prisons: Official blames lack of services on lack of state resources and darned if I'm not pleased to see some honest talk from the Riley Administration. While they don't lay the blame on conservatism I'd argue it is clear enough. You've got a doctrine that all too often closes all the doors except one for certain people. While I'm all for cuffing and stuffing several remarks by Commissioner Allen ring true. Mental Health and Retardation Commissioner John Houston also was featured in the piece. We'll hope the folks down on Goat Hill are willing to put the resources out there for changing this tragic reality. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Highlanders of the Day ~ Former DOJ career attorneys J. Gerald Hebert and Joseph Rich

Hans von Spakovsky is pictured to the left. He's one nasty dude. And he has no place on the Federal Elections Commission. J. Gerald Hebert and Joseph Rich use TPM Cafe to tell us why. The WaPo Editorial Board, reckon why, wouldn't let them reply to George Will's foolishness but they soldiered on. Let's hope their points get picked up somewhere in the alleged liberal media. Peace ... or War!

Bu$hCo's Lawyers Discussed CIA Tapes Before ...

NPR reported Bush Doesn't Recall Destruction of CIA Tapes back on the 7th yet today's NYT piece from Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane tells us Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of CIA Tapes. The White House is pushing back something fierce and apparently the Gray Lady will remove the subheadline that read "White House Role Was Wider Than It Said." They are standing by the story however. I suppose the Bu$h press shop is reduced to arguing that Clueless George isn't expected to know what is going on with his administration? Peace or War!

GOP Learning Governing as Senate Minority

Eric Lotke, Alex Carter, Molly Swartz, Chris Rasmussen present BLOCK AND BLAME: The Conservative Strategy of Obstruction in the 110th Congress via The Campaign for America's Future. Per CAF the "new report shows how conservative minority rules by filibuster, preventing up or down vote on a record number of bills". Truly this is a "historic level of obstruction" and yet we're only halfway through the 11oth. I'm all for the minority party having a role in crafting legislation yet lets not forget the Rubber Stamp Congress of our recent past. With Bu$hCo and ... the GOP was simply incapable of playing fair then, certainly in the House at least. Peace ... or War!

Wingnut Welfare - The Philanthropic Foundations

I'm well into David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy yet for the time being I'll point you to something I just stumbled across today. Media Transparency's The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations is a great look at just a brief period from 1992-1994 of 12 core conservative foundations.

The level of wingnut welfare they alone provide is simply staggering. The reality that you've got "writers"and "academics" and ... promoting the free enterprise markets when they are on the dole is supremely ironic. The fact that so much of it is provided via 501(c)(3) "non profits" that in turn provide a nice tax deduction for the already rich is downright disgusting. Peace ... or War!

The Anniston Star Shares Solid Health Care Op-Ed

Linda P. Campbell of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram appears in the Anniston Star today with 'Is this what America stands for?' and delivers what I hope more than a few Bubbas down there in my hometown might actually read. Bless The Star for reliably providing at least some Progressivism to the masses of East Alabama. Eventually they'll see past the distractions and distortions of the "movement conservatives".

Ms. Campbell discusses some increasingly rare bipartisan activity up in DC. Senators Ron Wyden, D- Oregon, and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, have their "Healthy Americans Act" rolling along. While I, like Ezra Klein and David Sirota, am not yet convinced this is the way to go, I am nevertheless thrilled to see the legislation. It seems to be an honest examination of a problem that isn't even on the radar with most of those on the right. After January 20, 2009 we might have a chance to actually solve some problems for a change.

I also note that Ms. Campbell, to help her pen this work, appears to have attended the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism Seminar "Paying for Health Care". Maryland's Knight Center exists due to the John S. and James L Knight Foundation. Both the Terrapins and this organization are surely due a tip of the tam for their work.

Lets look toward a day when good, affordable health care is provided for all Americans. Peace ... or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ AVALA's Skip Tucker

ExxonMobil's former CEO Lee Raymond is pictured to the left. He was seemingly very happy when the image was captured, and who wouldn't be earning $686 million from 1993 to 2005. That's $144,573 per day! Lee's smile is gracing this post as I simply can't locate an image of Skip Tucker, the Executive Director of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse (AVALA). I also couldn't find an image of AVALA's Chairman Lewis Fuller when he was my Outlander of the Day just Monday for being intentionally or merely negligently stupid.

Skip's Letter to the Editor appears is in my home town Randolph Leader today discussing the "righteous verdict" (Note how Lewis found a right wing think tank's study "righteous" in his shilling that I referenced above.) by the Alabama Supreme Court's eight "erudite and fair" Republican justices in reversing a huge judgment regarding Exxon's failure to do right by the State of Alabama in offshore gas leases they'd negotiated way back in day.

This was a simple contract dispute" claims Skip. Also, AVALA has apparently been studying up on punitive damages. They, perhaps even old Skip even, certainly didn't understand them in my only face to face contact with AVALA. I guess Skip couldn't get this Montgomery Advertiser rant into The Leader? It's not every day you get to read "socialistic" twice in the same piece.

Skip referenced a 2004 Hunt case that was the "same lease, same lawsuit, same basic facts, same outcome" yet left out the fact that the original trial in this very case filed in 1999 saw a jury verdict in favor of the State for $87.7 million in compensatory damages and $3.42 billion in punitive damages. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded on an evidence issue. The second trial yielded a verdict against Exxon of $102.8 million in compensatory damages, part of that involving interest, and nearly $12 Billion in punitives.
Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey, a Democrat, cut the punitive damages to $3.5 billion.

The court's lone Democrat, Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb dissented, saying that Exxon had engaged in "the appropriation of this state's resources by deceit." I've previously noted that Whacky Tacky Tom Parker wrote the opinion, that seven of his GOP allies joined, that saved Exxon five weeks of their profits from last year. Imagine what Alabama could have done with this money!

Joey King, a schoolteacher in Montgomery that is 100% Democrat, served as the foreman of the jury that returned the second verdict. He, admittedly goofing up as the "convict" language isn't applicable to a civil trial, said

The reason we had such a large amount was we knew we had to get Exxon's attention. We were one hundred percent sure they had defrauded the state. The evidence, letters from their own attorney's warning the company they were not paying the correct amounts to the state, that's all we needed to convict.

Please note that Exxon Mobil is alleged to have been willing to buy scientists off to help them with climate change issues. Hell, they've poured $8 million into various "think tanks" to shill their lines on climate change. Finally, Scott Horton of Harper's also weighs in The Best Justice Money Can Buy pointing out the huge contributions made to the GOP members of the court bu Big Oil and Big Business groups. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


What Steve Benen says works for me. His "Not to get too Book of Matthew on Huckabee, but Christ’s name, for the devout, isn’t supposed to be used as a campaign talking point." and "Way to swing the Jesus Bat at the electorate, Mike." are instant classics. Damned if Huck isn't going all out. Peace ... or War!

"David Horowitz? Well, I'm no fan actually."

The title of the post is I think what I said. I had the somewhat awkward experience today of talking with a David Horowitz (and Michelle Malkin) fan today. While our talk was pleasant enough, what can one offer up on either of these two opportunistic extremists.

A grand example of the "lapsed leftist" according to Media Transparency, I'm sure David Horowitz is truly useful to the right. Well paid for his efforts, perhaps that explains his conversion?

Then again it could be that he's just plain nuts. His recent Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (part of his Terrorism Awareness Project which is part of his David Horowitz Freedom Center) was surely a classic in wing-nuttery. His FrontPage webzine is always "interesting". Today for instance there's an article labeled "Islamist in the Army" and a teaser of "Thanks to the Islamic Circle of North America, our military has been infiltrated" both there and on Joe Kaufman's Americans Against Hate site. However, a closer reading reveals that Deep Thought, a.k.a. Lawrence, a.k.a. Bilal is an unknown. They've infiltrated huh?

There's a great list of articles examining David Horowitz in the Media Transparency link above but Media Matters provides plenty as well. I found "Its the teachers, stupid" perfectly illustrative of why I loathe the man. As Robert W. McChesney pointed out in examining the last screed from Horowitz, he simply doesn't know how classroom teaching works yet the main thing is how he claims "innumerable studies" support his position. They don't even come close but for folks like Jim "Conservative Tool" Wooten and David "Lapsed Leftist" Horowitz it matters not.

I hope and pray Salon culled him for just being a goober yet surely they could find somebody from the right that could bring a better game. As to David Horowitz I'm no fan indeed. Peace ... or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ FCC Chairman Kevin Martin

Could Kevin Martin look any more Republican? He and the other two from the GOP on the Federal Communications Commission outvoted the two Democrats "to allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper". So much for just thinking he was there to follow the Bu$hCo line on "indecency". With he and the wife both part of the Bu$h-Cheney team I suppose what else could have been expected?

Free Press apparently expected more from Commissioner Martin given this press release. Their Stop Big Media effort provides additional insight into the issues at stake.

I like this quote from Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps:
In the final analysis, the real winners today are businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what's happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government.
It is wise to recall where and how Americans tend to get their news yet I'm more worried about three other factors. First, from the Reverend Moon (The Washington Times) to Rupert Murdock (Fox News Channel, The New York Post, and apparently the Wall Street Journal) to ... the right is willing to put money into media, even when this results in huge financial losses. Corporate control of media is bad enough yet add in the modern GOP and we've got troubles and then some. Second, the right has built an incredible network of "think tanks", foundations, institutions and the like that know how to get their message honed and then out. The wingnut welfare rolls are full of "academics" and "journalists" on the dole even as they preach on behalf of the market. The message discipline and framing done on the right is impressive even if both frightening and illogical. Finally, the third facet of my fear relates to how ignorant the average American is when it comes to policy and the like. I fear that if I only relied on one or two sources for getting my news I'd often be often left out on true understanding of much. Often I have to work to get a handle on an issue even now.

The bottom line is that having a diverse marketplace of ideas, even when obtained via regulations, is healthy in a democracy. I'm afraid the FCC's actions today are yet one more step in the wrong direction. Peace ... or War

UPDATE ~ July 13, 2008 - The original post has Commissioner Martin identified as Kevin Marks. Beats me why I goofed but perhaps I was in the Christmas eggnog. I noted this today when I found the NYT's Saul Hansell's F.C.C. Chief Would Bar Comcast From Imposing Web Restrictions. I read a puff piece on him recently that was straight PR that made me think it was part of getting him ready for a new job after the end of the Reign of Error. However he made this decision it is the right one. Good for him!

Highlander of the Day ~ Senator Russ Feingold

Senator Feingold appears at TPM Cafe to explain where things stand on the FISA front. He also explains why further protections for the privacy of innocent Americans need to provided. As to the Bu$hCo failure to follow the FISA law, Senator Feingold wrote:

This argument isn’t about whether companies acted in good faith, it’s about requiring that companies, and the government, follow a law that has been on the books for 30 years.

Thirty years! Bu$hCo could have tried to get changes to FISA handled instead of breaking the law. It had been tweaked several times in fact before. When Dubyah got that dreadful "Patriot Act" passed his folks had that opportunity for instance. Bu$hCo got caught breaking the law and I'm thinking they now seek to shield their lawlessness from further inquiry more than simply protecting those telecoms that helped them without a court order or even AG certification.

Well done Senator. Peace ... or War!

Bu$hCo's International Family Planning Veto Threat

This Jeff Danzinger images is dated yet can apply to yesterday's news that a Bu$h veto threat forced Democrats and perhaps even other sensible Senators on the other side of the aisle to abandon efforts to have "the 2008 foreign aid budget reverse a longstanding ban on providing aid -- including donated contraceptives -- to organizations abroad that use their own money to offer abortions, counsel about abortion, or advocate to change their countries' abortion laws."

Perhaps Progressives ought to let the rascal veto something and then try to focus the coverage on the extreme conservativism that represents the modern GOP? I'm uncertain if this legislation was where that ought to begin yet it seems like sensible policy to me ... and New York's Nina Lowey. Representative Lowey said:
This dogmatic adherence to an illogical position diminishes our influence around the world and prevents us from working effectively to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions.
Marianne Mollmann, Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch's Women's Rights Division, uses HuffPo to explain the twisted logic of not only Bu$hCo but also the "Global Gag Rule" which dates back to The Gipper. Again, using the right veto to blast not only the current administration but also "movement conservatism" seems like an opportunity lost.

Finally, the quote in the first sentence was lifted from an American Progress piece from Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, and Ali Frick that covers this and other outrages from Bu$hCo. Peace ... or War!

Monday, December 17, 2007

What the hell is a Savonarola?

Now who are the elitists using a word like that? A conservative or merely a commentator perhaps "who’s been mugged by reality" that I'd still never heard of went after both Digby and Krugman today labelling them as the "Revenge Wing of the Democratic Party". Nice reply by Digby that makes his original post all the better. Air it all out! As a bonus for blogging today I learned what "Savonarolas" appears to reference. Peace ... or War!

Highlander of the Day ~ Senator Chris Dodd

Clotured on the FISA filibuster threat, Senator Dodd is still due a tip of the tam. At least now he can get back to Iowa yet I'm wondering if Majority Leader might not be where we need him after January 20, 2009. These are initial votes but I'm afraid Bu$hCo and the GOP will win on this fight. Senator Harry Reid's dual bill strategy seems to hardly help the good guys on this issue. Senator Russ Feingold has earned snaps as well. I must note my own Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III suggesting Bu$hCo get a Letter of Thanks and an Apology. Jeffy B continues to carry Dubyah's water. Peace .. or War!

Outlander of the Day ~ AVALA's Lewis Fuller

So why would I have Bernie Marcus (Home Depot co-founder and Daddy Warbucks behind many, many philanthropic efforts such as the Georgia Aquarium for instance) over to the left? That rascal Lewis Fuller (of Fuller Medical Supplies in Gadsden, Alabama and the Chairman of Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse or just AVALA) is why. Let me explain ...

Mr. Fuller has managed to get a Letter to the Editor into the B'ham News titled Economic Policy Institute study kowtows to greed of personal injury lawyers that has to be one of the classics for even Alabama.

Lewis is upset with a "prettily written" article from the Economic Policy Institute and warns us that "pretty words are not always truthful, and truthful words are not always pretty." He claims "the study ... has more holes in it than a bag of doughnuts" and tells us that EPI ... "is stuffed like a Christmas turkey with ultra-left-wing business haters and trial lawyer collaborators". Look out Alabama, "its directors contain ... union directors". The use of the "big mule unions" language alone would make George Wallace proud but Lewis is going all out to channel the Governor in this effort.

Mr. Fuller then writes
Since we now know the premise of "objectivity" was untrue, we start to recognize the entire study was nothing but personal-injury trial lawyer-inspired bombast and the same-old, same-old.
Lewis, what exactly do we know and how do we know this to be so? You were writing of bombast and the same-old, same-old? Let he who is without sin ... Lewis. He continues:
The bogus EPI report attacks a bona fide and righteous study by the distinguished Pacific Research Institute that proves each American family of four is saddled with an annual "tort tax," brought about by lawsuit abuse, of almost $10,000.

That, as noted, is one of the two glaring differences in the reports: The PRI study says there is not only lawsuit abuse in America, but extreme lawsuit abuse that we all pay for. The EPI says lawsuits do not increase product and insurance costs. Here is Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot: "Every item we sell has a built-in cost for litigation expense." That alone belies the trial lawyer web of deceit.
Bernie said so! That's some research or authority for you Alabama. Bernie and Arthur Blanks seems to be doing OK, as in thirty billion worth of OK, notwithstanding last week's news of Arthur's QB going to Club Fed and his coach leaving the Falcons for the Razorbacks.

Alternatively, the PRI study is "righteous". Is Lewis a surfer dude? Or merely an authority on morality? PRI's "righteous research" has also attracted the attention of Public Citizen. Mr. Fuller would perhap blow a gasket over Ralph Nader's organization criticising PRI.

And the idea that a glaring difference between the two studies is that each entity did their own study is an especially odd way of Mr. Fuller ranting.

Lewis continues:
The other glaring difference in the two reports is that EPI says the "transfer of funds," money going from business to pay for lawsuits, is not a cost. Eh?
Here is Lawrence McQuillan, author of the righteous PRI study: "A good economist knows transfers are not a social cost. But the PRI study correctly notes that tort transfers are an accounting cost to individual businesses that negatively influences decisions on jobs, investments, innovation and health care."
The blighted EPI study also claims the tort tax might be "only" $82 billion per year, and one portion of the study calls a $14.5 billion part of the cost "insignificant." Nice to know trial lawyers and their dupes are rich enough to call $14.5 billion
Predictably, wealthy personal- injury trial lawyers continue to troll out the old line that if there were no unsafe products, it would not be necessary to hire trial lawyers in the first place. Words fly from their mouths. It is blather. If it were not for lawsuit abuse, there would be no need for tort reform.
Blather? Dupes? Troll the old line? Web of deciet? And do you merely focus on unsafe products for a logical reason Lewis?

The actual EPI work from Ross Eisenberry, an obvious "pointy headed intellectual" controlled by his union masters, is labeled Tort costs and the economy: Myths, exaggerations, and propaganda. Lewis found so "prettily written" and I'd just offer that it is relatively clear given its complexity and scope. However, it is hardly easy to quickly distill, and I've gone on too long anyways with this post. So I'll let the thing go by with just a link and offering that I found it "righteous" and hardly "blighted". Nice graphics also make it worth a visit. If you're looking for "bombast" I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.

You've got to buy the PRI's study "Jackpot Justice" unfortunately. Dr. Lawrence J. McQuillan has I'm sure pounded out a stellar piece of scholarship. His ideas on Social Security privatization followed the agreed upon language and selling points of the right. McQuillan earned his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University and has been a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Nuff said if we reverse Mr. Fuller's arguments? His colleague Anthony P. Archie earned his degrees from Pepperdine. Reckon if he ran across Special Persecutor now Dean Kenneth Starr while he was earning his paper? He's also working for a right wing "paper" to boot. Right wing welfare at work out way out on the Left Coast making its way to Alabama. Who'd have thunk it?

I also found it interesting that Lewis has been a favored LTE source for the PRI. Over the summer he managed to get a LTE in the T-Town News that was worthy of note, at least for the distinguished PRI. They've also linked to one he got into the Montgomery Advertiser this summer. Maybe Lewis Fuller could help them out on other causes? After all, by visiting Pacific Research Institute you can get a book on why the middle class needs school choice. Also, there's the obligatory climate change denial. PRI is a true friend to Big Oil. PRI is "distinguished" certainly Lewis, if only for their funding by big business and right wing foundations.

Finally, I've previously posted some of the "reasoning" of AVALA's partner in crime, the Alabama Policy Institute. I'm still unsure if the AVALA official that came to a Lions Club meeting in Roanoke some years ago and tried to tell the poor Lions that Workermen's Comp cases involved runaway punitive damages was their current Executive Director Skip Tucker. I caught whomever was there from AVALA in so many lies that he pretty much started a combination of attacking and distraction. I guess he figured if he could get away with lying he'd try it.

If it was Skip then bless his heart and I must note that he definitely married up. Skip's lovely and apparently very capable bride Lissa Astilla Tucker is the Director of Governmental Relations of the Alabama Association of School Boards where she is advertised as an "experienced lobbyist". She previously was a high roller with the Washington-based American Tort Reform Association. I've surely scolded Skip before and Barbara Evans, late of the apparently defunct or at least struggling Alabama Watch, isn't too happy with him either for his recent attacks on Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and ... in relation to the ExxonMobil reversal by "the erudite and fair members of the Alabama Supreme Court".

Corporate funded "scholarship" and advocacy get parroted by a small time medical supplies salesman from Gadsden Alabama. How the right wing's message machine works is truly impressive. And scary. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

No posting on Sunday and ...

I'll be working a long, long, long ... 24 hour duty starting Sunday morning so no posting for at least tomorrow. I'll be back ASAP. Peace ... or War!

Bu$hCo Seeks to Control JAG Promotions

The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports Control sought on military lawyers: Bush wants power over promotions. Bu$hCo, apparently troubled by the "independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House's policies toward prisoners" has taken a typical assertive stance. Savage writes:
The administration has proposed a regulation requiring "coordination" with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps - the military's 4,000-member uniformed legal force - can be promoted.
This administration knows no shame. Bu$hCo has people like the Pentagon's William "Jim" Haynes ready to control a promotion policy that ought to be removed 100% from politics. We've already seen how Mr. Haynes handled a retired JAG officer so one can only imagine how his type might handle folks still in uniform. Peace .. or War!

Science Intrudes on Baptist vs. Morman GOP Race

The Brits are rightly amazed by our politics. The Economists reports The Republican battle for the religious vote gets rough and The Telegraph's Toby Harnden provides Mike Huckabee apologises for Mormon 'smear' and ... This recovering Southern Baptist is rather amazed as well. I'd like to also see some serious discussions about how a future Republican administration might address science but figure immigrant bashing sells better for the GOP's average voter. Science Debate 2008 (with further information provided by Wired's Sarah Lai Stirland) might pressure even some of the lizard brains into speaking on a vital issue for the 21st Century. After Bu$hCo's often hostile stance against science we've got lots of ground to make up. Of course that holds true for much facing this next administration. Peace ... or War!

Is the GOP panicking over Mike Huckabee?

John Cole assembles a nice summary of some on the right that appear to be having a fit over the rise of The Huckster. Buy something, like THE END OF AN ERROR shirt or pretty much anything celebrating January 20th, 2009, from Betty Bowers, "America's Best Christian". Another reason to visit Betty is to see the Huckabee's "Heavy Hillbilly" Christmas card from back in the day. Peace ... or War!

Highlander of the Day ~ Joseph L. Galloway

From McLatchy (formerly Knight Ridder as referenced by the Anniston Star in carrying the piece) Joe Galloway pens The disgraceful treatment of our veterans where he lays into "the politicians who start every speech by thanking the troops and veterans and blessing them" and then "turn up at military bases and the annual conventions of veteran's organizations and use troops and veterans as a backdrop for their photo-ops." He closes with "The next smarmy politician who shouts, 'God bless our troops' ought to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of Washington on a rail for sheer hypocrisy." Well put Sir! Peace ... or War!

Where's My Christmas Card George and Laura?

Perhaps hoping to shore up the base, Dubyah and Laura use what seems like a creationism themed Christmas card, a Hallmark from Lawrence, Kansas no less, this year. The composite to the left did not grace the front but inside Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV) provided the text:

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Bu$hCo, and the RNC I suppose as they paid for thousands of the things, ends with "May the joy of all creation fill your heart this blessed season." I reckon they learned from at least one of their many, many mistakes. Some might recall this flap over the card from 2005 and questions raised in 2006 by WorldNut Daily's Les Kinsolving. When the true believers aren't happy Bu$h dips into or even below the low thirties. This ought to keep some in his corner just a little longer. Peace .. or War!

Outlanders of the Day ~ Senators Southern Company

Mooncat gives us the details on their votes back on the 13th. Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III surely delivered on the Energy Bill for the Southern Company. A "watered down" bill, as described by Forbes' Brian Wingfield, might have included stronger CAFE standards yet with renewable credits out and subsidies still in Big Energy did rather well. Of course in 'Bama, Southern's Alabama Power has been doing rather well. Peace ... or War!

Judge Kennedy asked to trust DOJ on CIA tapes

After telling Congress that DOJ doesn't need their "help" in getting to the bottom of the destruction of the CIA "torture tapes" they tell District Judge Henry Kennedy that the investigations of DOJ and Congress would be interfered with if he gets too involved. Huh? Additionally, they claim that Judge Kennedy's Order on preservation of evidence didn't apply to these tapes because by the time the two got to Cuba the tapes had already been destroyed. The ACLU surely doesn't concur with this line of "reasoning" as they've asked the Court to hold the CIA in contempt. My guess is Bu$hCo is simply stalling on the other two branches but with this administration's track record, plus their radical view of Executive power, one never knows. Peace ... or War!

Friday, December 14, 2007

DOJ to not share with Congress in CIA Tape Inquiry

I'm shocked, shocked that Attorney General Michael Mukasey will neither share information his DOJ learns regarding the CIA's destruction of those torture tapes with our Congress nor appoint a special prosecutor. Perhaps in due course he'll do the right thing if the facts then warrant but given the Bu$hCo record I'll not hold my breath. Who needs three branches after all? Peace ... or War!

Italia Federici Sentenced in Abramoff Scandal

I'd posted on former Interior Department official John Griles, pictured with Dolly to the left, previously. He got ten months back over the summer for helping out Black Jack. His "Gal Pal" Italia Federici scored two months in a halfway house and four years probation today. For the record she's an "environental advocate" NOT! Finally, here's hoping Abramoff and the whole K-Street mess will not be forgotten come the 2008 cycle. Peace ... or War!

Some Sanity in the Fed's "War on Drugs"?

NPR provides a good summary of this week's developments. The Federal Sentencing Commission allowing these changes to operate retroactively is rather stunning to me as I'm seldom expecting anything reasonable from the current administration. In Bu$hland not much may change but here's hoping this is a start. Peace ... or War!

Ed Rollins Saddles Up with Mike Huckabee

I'd forgotten the story of Ed Rollins suppressing the African-American vote in the 1993 Christina Todd Whitman Gubernatorial campaign in NJ. DHinMI reminded me with Huckabee: Building a Bridge to the 19th Century and also pointed out that the reason Ed has been hardly involved in GOP campaigns since was not due to outrage of his using "walking around" money to buy off these "pastors". "Dammit Ed you're not supposed to tell!"

Huck has him a real scrapper in Ed. Finally, that there's no booze or donuts on the Huckabee campaign makes it certain this man ought not to be President. I've usually enjoyed seeing and hearing Ed interviewed. He seems like a smart and capable operative. Until the GOP has their horse in the gate I'm wishing him happy hunting. Peace ... or War!