Monday, June 30, 2008

Not that there's anything wrong with that


This hilarious story has to be read to be believed.

What history shows, or We're all gonna die!


According to Connecticut's junior senator.

UPDATE — Matt Yglesias has more on Holy Joe's remarks.

Counting to sixty


[Senate] Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) gave a bleak outlook on the prospects for a Republican-led Senate in 2009.

During an interview with CNN’s Late Edition, McConnell told guest host Candy Crowley that the numbers were not in the GOP’s favor.

“We are not going to be back in the majority in the Senate next year,” said McConnell. “The numbers make that impossible.”
One thing that has to be remembered is that, thanks to the idiotic rules of the Senate, as long as the Repubs have a mere 41 members, which they're sure to have, they'll be able to filibuster all kinds of bills to death. Thus, the Grand Old Party may not "be back in the majority in the Senate next year," but it's a lock that its members will continue to block any rescinding of the hideous bills that the 108th and 109th Congresses foisted on the American people.

No one could have predicted this


When, back in 2003, General Eric Shinseki opined that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, the Bushies fell all over themselves stating that this simply wasn't true—that a mere 100,000 would certainly suffice, and that, anyway, in Rummy's deathless rationale, "You go to war with the army you have."

Well, it took more than five years to figure this out, but, unsurprisingly, Shinseki was correct in his assessment:
A nearly 700-page study released Sunday by the Army found that "in the euphoria of early 2003," U.S.-based commanders prematurely believed their goals in Iraq had been reached and did not send enough troops to handle the occupation.
I'm shocked—shocked!—that Wolfowitz, Rummy, and all the rest of the Vulcans have been proved wrong in their appraisal of the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation. Who would've guessed that that would turn out to be the case?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An epiphanous moment


In writing a post last week, I realized perhaps more than ever that the entire notion of a democratic republic in these United States has pretty much gone the way of the buggy whip. (It was using the Lincoln quote that got to me.)

That is, the idea of a government made up of members of the society that it's supposed to serve—perforce acting upon the ideals of that society—seems absolutely lost. I know that many manifestations of this state of affairs exist—Kevin Drum's wife's statement of five years ago that she felt disaffiliated from the country, Michelle Obama's lack of pride in the US, voter indifference, torture as polity, and on and on. I don't believe at any time in my lifetime I've felt so alienated from the federal government. Even during the hideous Nixon years the feeling existed that policy could be changed through assembly and redress of grievances.

Now these strategies of a bygone era seem to be worthless (quaint, if you will): It's essentially impossible to sue the government and certainly impossible (even through FOIA petitions) to look at documents that the feds have determined are "secret" (read "treasonous").

I hope the situation gets better. Indeed, Barack Obama's entire campaign revolves around the idea that improvements will occur, but it will no doubt take the country a long time (longer than I have left to live, I suspect) to recover from this state of affairs. As long as presidential candidates are so far removed from the hoi polloi that they don't know the price of gasoline and don't even think that such ignorance matters, it's 1789 all over again.

And, like 1789, it's turned into a situation of "us" and "them."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Vote or else


The news from Zimbabwe is extremely bad and sad.
Residents said they were forced to vote, threatened by violence, arson or roving bands of government supporters searching for those without an ink-stained finger.
It's certainly not surprising that this perversion of democracy is occurring. It was, after all, predicted.

Meanwhile, the Bushies continue to sit on their hands.
The United States will bring up the issue of further sanctions against Zimbabwe in the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said [today].

Rice said after a gathering of Group of Eight foreign ministers in Kyoto that there were those in the international community who thought the Security Council should take up sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"We intend to bring up the issue of Zimbabwe in the council and we will see what the council decides to do," she said.
This sure is a less aggressive stance than the US took in early 2003 regarding another totalitarian state. But, then, of course, the offending country had oil.

Senator Sanctimony strikes again


Greg Sargent directs me to this interview with Connecticut's junior senator. It's pretty much more of the same mewling nonsense we've come to expect from Holy Joe. Of the many money quotes, here's but one:
"[T]he big difference for me is, McCain will actually get something done. It’s one thing to say where you are on a policy and give a good speech, but McCain as president will actually get something done."

That's because of McCain's willingness to take political risks to hammer out bipartisan compromises, Lieberman argued.
Ah, there are the magic words again: "bipartisan compromises," a phrase that appeasing Joe has defined repeatedly as "complete capitulation."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another name for the "On Notice" board


Princetonian and National Review economics editor, Mr. Free Market himself, Lawrence Kudlow.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a [presumptive] crown


I blogged about the Democrats and FISA before, but now the chickens are really starting to roost.

Moon over Briarcliff Manor


Having held my breath at a number of graduation exercises, wondering if any untoward activities would surface, I suppose I can rest assured that something like this will never occur at any graduation exercises I attend.

Perhaps the worst part of the story is the moron's defense of his action by someone who's obviously his mother. Given her mindset, it's obvious that Mr. Turano is genetically cursed.



I can't for the life of me understand why the Red Sox manager last night took out his starting pitcher after seven innings after the knuckleballer had given up only two hits via a mere 94 pitches. To be sure, Manny DelCarmen had his usual exemplary eighth, but then the human volcano, Craig Hansen, couldn't throw strikes, and it was left to Papelbon (who really should've had the night off) to get the final out.

All of this could've been avoided if Wake had been allowed to play out the string.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On Notice


Through the magic of the interwebs I was able to envision what the "On-Notice" segment of the Colbert Report would look like if Monocle were in-charge.*

*disclaimer: Actual results may vary. The author of this post has no actual knowledge of Monocle's feelings about the British Empire, business casual attire, Barbara Streisand or for that matter ponies.

Boomers Go Bust


A study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research painted a bleak picture of retirement prospects for baby-boomers:
“The median household headed by those between 45 and 54 in 2009 will have about 25% less wealth than the median household of that age in 2004, according to the report. That household's wealth will decline to $113,268 in 2009, from $150,113 in 2004.”
The study alleges the culprit has been a lack of savings plus a willingness to tap home equity. Even without further housing declines, for a number of boomers getting rid of the house won’t solve the problem:
“After deducting 6 percent for transactions costs, 13.7 percent of the homeowners who were in the middle wealth quintile will have negative net equity after selling their home.”
All in all it’s a scary prognosis not only for baby-boomers but the subsequent generations. The combination of declining wealth and spiraling inflation as people enter retirement is going to mean a greater reliance on social programs; and an increase in funding for social programs and the sky-rocketing federal deficit is going to mean greater pay-roll taxes for the rest of us.

In Dodd we trust


In discussing Chris Dodd's travails this morning, the Courant's Stan Simpson pretty much puts his finger on what ails US government in general:
Time for a new rule: If you're on the banking committee, particularly if you're the chairman, you are prohibited from taking campaign money from the companies that you regulate—no matter how small the amount.
Of course, this shouldn't apply only to the Banking Committee and its chair. Too many committee chairmen, of particularly the last eight years, have been so cozy with the industries they're supposed to oversee that the relationship has been virtually incestuous. It looks like the hardly squeaky clean Chris Dodd has been no different.

The larger problem, though, is that the whole notion of banking in the US has gone awry. Ever since the evisceration of the Glass-Steagall Act in the 1970s and 1980s, financial entities have been involved in all sorts of shenanigans—from the S&L meltdown of twenty years ago (which, of course, you-know-who was involved in) to the baseless mortgages of this decade. Thus, a suspect institution like Countrywide Financial (nee Countrywide Credit) can get involved in myriad shady financial dealings—including sweetheart loans to the chair of the Senate Banking Committee.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Kevin Drum indicates that he has no tolerance for this kind of stuff, but I find it inestimably amusing when a Christianist like James Dobson tries to tell someone how to read the Bible. Dobson, let us remember, is interested only in the resurrected Jesus and not with any of his highly radical dicta (e.g., Matthew 10:34). Moreover, the pious and family-focused Dobson rarely seems to be able to get past Leviticus 20:13 in his consideration of the scriptures.

Ah, yes. I can't describe how entertaining I find it whenever these Christianofascists accuse others of distorting the Bible.

And What's Plan B?


This hardly seems worth mentioning, but lo and behold,
The administration lacks an updated and comprehensive Iraq strategy to move beyond the "surge" of combat troops President Bush launched in January 2007 as an 18-month effort to curtail violence and build Iraqi democracy, government investigators said yesterday.
So the Bushies didn't and don't have a post-surge plan. They know only how to wage war, but have no idea how to bring it to any kind of satisfactory resolution.

Like I say, this isn't exactly revelatory.

Funny but True


With gas prices sky-rocketing it seems the American auto makers will do anything to get SUVs off the lot, including subsidizing the buyer's gas. This critique of Chrysler's latest offer appeared in Salon today. Considering the average term of a new car loan is nearly 62 months and resale values are dropping, it does make you wonder what they intend to do after the 3 years is up. Or maybe if they've thought that far ahead.

Government Paralyzed


David Ignatius has a column in today's Courant wherein he opines
Take any big issue that matters to the public—from immigration to energy to health care to fiscal policy—and what you see is a failure of government. The logjam in Washington is so complete that Congress and the executive branch are paralyzed, unable to do the public's business. That problem has been growing for several decades, but now it's a national disaster.
The writer zeroes in on this situation as it relates to airlines, but, as he says, "hold off on airlines for a moment and ponder [the] larger point."

Ever since free market zealots began the era of deregulation (and I include hideous referenda such as Proposition 13 in this), state governments and the feds have thrown up their hands and essentially stated that there's nothing they can do to help solve society's problems. The Bushies, especially, have used this dodge to avoid fulfilling any kind of responsibility toward their fellow citizens. (In other words, the notion of a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" has been lost.)

What we have left, then, as Lewis Lapham so poignantly puts it in the latest edition of Harpers, is a
foreign policy that assures the profits of the defense industry, not the safety of the American people; we have financial policies that protect the creditors but not the debtors; we have health-care policies that guarantee the well-being of corporations, tax policies that shelter the holdings of the rich and multiply the burdens of the poor.
As Lapham points out, the current system is no less than an outright suppression of the liberties and seizure of the property of the American people. ("That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends ...") I agree wholeheartedly with both Ignatius and Lapham, and, given this situation, I can't for the life of me understand why we haven't seen riots in the streets.

Be that as it may, at least one government entity sees its proper role vis-à-vis corporate interests:
With one vote to spare in each chamber, the [Connecticut] state legislature voted Monday to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell's veto and guarantee a 35-cent increase next year in the state's hourly minimum wage.

The unusual override marked a significant political defeat for Rell: It's only the second time that the Democrat-controlled legislature has overturned the Republican governor in the nearly four years since Rell took office. It also marked the first override on a major policy issue.
I realize I'm grasping at straws, but at least it's something.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin


digby has a nice paean to George Carlin on her site. I wasn't a huge Carlin fan because, in addition to being a little after my time, he was a little too drug-oriented for my taste. (I just never thought the Hippy Dippy Weatherman bit was funny.) It's the same reason I never paid much attention to Cheech and Chong.

One appealing thing about Carlin, though, was that he was an unabashed atheist, and it's an interesting juxtaposition that this story came out on the day of his death:
Americans overwhelmingly believe in God and consider religion an important part of their lives, even as many shun weekly worship services, according to a national survey released today that also found great diversity in religious beliefs and practices.

Ninety-two percent of those interviewed for the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey said they believe in the existence of God or a universal spirit, and 58% said they pray privately every day.
Oh well. To everyone his own drug.

Requiescat in pace.

Uppity in everything but name


A few bloggers have picked up on Bush's Brain's comments regarding the "coolly arrogant" persona of Barack Obama. This is obviously Republicanspeak for "uppity Negro."

It's always amusing to see these Republicans casting stones. I.e., BB's boss, the veritable Smirkmeister, made an art of arrogance, but, to paraphrase Huck Finn, "that's all right because he done it hisself."

UPDATE — Steve Benen also comments on the irony of BB's statement.



Blogging will be sporadic at best until I take care of this %$#*&@ router problem I have here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Lagging Indicator

Remote Control

As the housing market peaked the airwaves were full of real estate porn - we had “Flip This House”, “Flip That House”, “Sell This House”, “House Hunters”, “Buy Me”, What You Get for the Money” and my personal favorites BBC’s “Location, Location, Location” and “Housing Ladder”. Two years later it seems TV has finally caught up. As America collectively lusted and spent on the way-up, it appears we will now engage in Schadenfreude on the way down.

The compliant Democrats


Senator Feingold calls it a capitulation. Glenn Greenwald elucidates.

The vanguard


Scott McClellan is currently spilling his guts regarding the affair de Plame and I can't help thinking that this is but the first of many such hearings. Thus far, McClellan has opined that
he does not believe Bush knew about or caused the leak. When asked about Cheney, he replied: "I do not know. There's a lot of suspicion there."
I think that as time passes—and as more hearings occur—it'll become more and more obvious that Jerry Ford wasn't the only president the US has ever had who wasn't elected.

Drivers wanted


It isn't only home mortgages that are upside down these days. David Dapice, associate professor of economics at Tufts, reports
High gas prices made SUVs and trucks less popular, and for many, the amount owed is worth more than the value of the vehicle itself.
In the last few days, both GM and Ford have announced that they're closing SUV and truck factories and even terminating development of the lines. This sounds a bit like closing the proverbial barn door, but there it is.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"A broad, cultural change"


The latest Zogby poll pretty much answers a question I raised a few weeks ago, and it's not necessarily the answer I was hoping for.

Obama and Hijab


The latest Obama dustup has to do with a few earnest campaign workers "who refused to let two women wearing head scarves into a campaign photo-op."

While I think this is a tempest in a teapot, I do wish the Democrats would act a little less, for lack of a better term, Republican when it comes to episodes like this. I can't help thinking of the hideous "free speech zones" (the phrase is about as oxymoronic as can be imagined) that the Dems set up in Boston in 2004 to keep any potential threats away from their fragile John Kerry.

The Obama story also reminds me of the 1963 picture to the right wherein it's clear that those behatted individuals behind Dr. King are of a particular religious persuasion. Their presence in this, one of the greatest photo ops of the 20th century, certainly didn't take away from the moment or its memory.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nothing Gold Can Stay


I've kind of been hearing this out of the corner of my ear for the past few days:
AT&T Inc., the country's largest Internet provider, is considering charging extra for customers who download large amounts of data.

"A form of usage-based pricing for those customers who have abnormally high usage patterns is inevitable," spokesman Michael Coe said this week.

The top 5 percent of AT&T's DSL customers use 46 percent of the total bandwidth, Coe said. Overall bandwidth use on the network is surging, doubling every year and a half.

AT&T doesn't have any specific plans or fees to announce yet, Coe said.
I suppose something like this could be looked upon as inevitable. I don't think it'll ever affect me because I download next to nothing and never play online games; nevertheless, it's just another way that the ideal of the Internet continues to disappear.

Taciturnity, cont'd


Chris Dodd has finally made some comments regarding his and his wife's arrangement with Countrywide Financial, and I can't say they're as forthcoming as they might be. The Courant reports this morning that
Dodd admitted Tuesday that he and his wife were told during their 2003 loan process with Countrywide Financial Corp. that they were being included in a special VIP program, but the senator—one of the most powerful congressional voices on the regulation of the mortgage industry—didn't ask what that meant.

In two news conferences, Dodd said he interpreted his inclusion in this program as a "courtesy" for being a longtime Countrywide customer—not as special treatment because of his Senate position.
Needless to say, the paper betrays a certain tone in its coverage. It's as if the senator is being asked, "Just how stupid do you think we are?"

Obviously, this is a story that's not going to go away any time soon as
[t]he Senate ethics committee has begun a preliminary investigation of the special treatment a mortgage lender afforded Sen. Christopher Dodd and [Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota].
Because many people may not be aware of this, the Courant points out that
using one's political position to personal advantage is sensitive for the senior Democratic senator from Connecticut. Such accusations are what ended the political career of his senator father, Thomas Dodd, to whom Dodd devoted a recent book. The book—focusing on the elder Dodd's time as a prosecutor of Nazi war criminals—deals only briefly with the career-ending allegations, but the pain for Dodd's family is clear in its pages.
What I really don't like about the whole thing is the appearance of ignorance on the part of Connecticut's senior senator. This is too reminiscent of Kenny Boy's and Jeff Skilling's incredible "I didn't know what was going on" defenses of a few years ago. While I certainly affirm the notion of innocent until proved guilty, my experience has been that they always know what's going on, but come up with an incurable case of amnesia once the hearing or trial starts.

Desperate times


Posted without comment.
Call it a lemonade standoff. A young girl whose [Terre Haute] lemonade stand was robbed of $17.50 chased the suspect into a nearby home and called police, who spent nearly an hour trying to coax the man into surrendering.

"The guy came up and was, like, 'Give me your money,'" said Dominique Morefield, who was running the lemonade stand with a group of friends. "I was shocked. It was just my immediate reaction to chase after him."

Dominique dashed after the man who ran into a house, and then she called police. Officers eventually persuaded Steve Tryon, 18, to come outside after 45 minutes and arrested him on a preliminary felony charge of robbery.

Tryon was jailed and was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. The Vigo County prosecutor's office did not immediately know if he had an attorney.

"I didn't think anyone would come up to a lemonade stand and steal, that's really low," 12-year-old Fred Erstine said.

The kids said they would continue to sell lemonade, but with an adult's supervision.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008



I love different ways of displaying information, and "Wordle"is my new favorite. It takes text you enter and creates a "word cloud", the more frequent a word is used, the bigger it appears in the cloud. Here are the last couple of days from this blog:

or, more legibly here.

Just great


And it's still bound to get worse before it gets better.

Take that, Subway!


A Virginia man has lost about eighty pounds since November. Not much there except that he did it
by eating only at McDonald's. He chose the fast-food chain in part because its locations are convenient for his busy schedule ...

[To be sure, h]e eats mostly salads, wraps and apple dippers without the caramel sauce, and he has the occasional cheeseburger without the bun. He generally eats two meals a day and tries to keep his daily intake at 1,200 to 1,400 calories.
Now, I've lost a little weight myself in the same time span, and I've eaten at McDonald's frequently during that time. The dollar menu's double cheeseburger, small fries, and a small refillable Diet Coke is a satisfying meal of only 690 calories (according to McDonald's web site) and so is great when one wants to ingest only 1800 calories or so per day. (And at $3.18 it couldn't be any more economical.)

So, well done, Mr. Coleson. You're obviously a PR person's dream.



Uh, Chris?
Unlike his colleague from North Dakota, Sen. Kent Conrad, who spoke at length about the accusations he'd received special bargains on Countrywide Financial Corp. home loans because of his Senate position, Sen. Chris Dodd hasn't said much about the similar reports about his loans.
While NPR spent entirely too much time on this story this morning, it'd still be nice if Connecticut's senior senator would be a little more forthcoming about what may or may not be a wink and a nod deal.

While Senator Dodd (yet another legacy office holder!) has fought the good fight lately, his reticence on this mortgage issue reminds me too much of hot tubs and renovations at lake cottages. It's time for the senator to come clean on this—or at least, like Kent Conrad, indicate he had no idea that Countrywide was cutting him a sweetheart deal.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More of the same


At some time, American workers are going to wise up to the rigged game they're playing and do something about it, but it sure didn't happen last year.
As the American economy slowed to a crawl and stockholders watched their money evaporate, CEO pay still chugged to yet more dizzying heights last year, an Associated Press analysis shows.

The AP review of compensation for the heads of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index finds the median pay package added up to nearly $8.4 million. That's a comfortable gain of about $280,000 from 2006.
There comes a time when one makes too much money. E.g., in order to dispose of a $8.4 million annual salary, one would have to spend $23,014 per day.

UPDATED to fix math error. Obviously, I'm not smarter than a fifth grader.

A death in the family


For a school community, it doesn't get any worse than this:
Grief counselors will be back at a Durham high school this morning to help students cope with the death of a classmate.

Allyson Palmisano, 17, died last night before 5 o'clock when she lost control of her car on a curve on Route 157 near Powder Hill Road and hit a telephone pole.

As word of this tragedy spread [last night] parents brought their children to Coginchaug Regional High School, where grief counselors were on hand to comfort kids who knew the high school junior.
Requiescat in pace.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Love from a higher being


From Jesus-loving George:
President Bush on Sunday expressed concern to those affected by record flooding in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.

Bush, addressing reporters after attending a church service in Paris, said his "thoughts and prayers go out to those who are suffering from the floods in our country."
Given how a somewhat comparable situation was handled by the Bushies, I don't know how consoling flood victims will find this.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert


While I know it's impolite to speak ill of the dead, I can't help remembering this little episode wherein it became clear that NBC's Washington bureau chief was hiding what he knew regarding the unmasking of a covert CIA agent. Throughout that debacle, it was clear that said bureau chief would go to any lengths (short of serving time in jail) to shield the administration sources he'd cultivated so assiduously. This was representative of how the media let the US citizenry down in the last eight years by being more concerned with protecting their pals than presenting the truth when high crimes and misdemeanors were being perpetrated.

So while "any man's death diminishes me," I certainly won't miss the reporting strategies represented by Little Russ.

UPDATE — Atrios discusses Little Russ's death here.

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of the GOP?


A second magazine's current issue's cover article has to do with the end of the Republican Party. This time it's Harper's (link not yet available).

Perhaps it's situations like this one that have reporters hearing the death knell.

At the risk of stating the bloody obvious, it's pretty clear that those Republicans who hitched their wagons to President Petulant's star when it was ascending couldn't extricate themselves quickly enough when it became obvious to virtually everybody (as long as they didn't live in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Utah) that the policies of the Bushies were anti-middle and lower classes, anti-environmental, and essentially anti-American.

These morons truly thought that as long as they cut taxes, they could also cut veterans' benefits, environmental allotments, and any number of social programs with impunity. Polls are indicating they were egregiously incorrect.

Impeachment update


It took Dennis Kucinich nearly five hours Monday night to read his 35 articles of impeachment against the Decider in Chief into the record. Alas, the effort has come to naught.
The House has voted to send articles of impeachment against President Bush to a committee that is not likely to hold hearings before the end of his term.

By 251-166, House members dispatched the measure to [the House Judiciary Committee] on Wednesday—a procedure often used to kill legislation.
But, damn, it was good television.



So, one more time, Mr. Yale/Harvard, what is sovereignty?

All America wants to know in light of this development.

UPDATE — The Boston Globe editorializes about this issue here.

//Insert Stimulus Joke Here//


This is pure marketing genius. I do love that you have to be married to claim the grand prize.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The terrorists have won


At least, that's what the hysterical Little Antonin would have us believe in his dissenting opinion in the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al-Odah v. United States decided by the SCOTUS today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Fairfield County, they're probably like compact cars


Those of you who may have missed one of the Constitution State's big stories of the last week can get caught up here.

A writer to the Stamford Advocate gives her opinion about the episode here.

The real Americans


As I've indicated before, I have absolutely no doubt that a great number of Americans won't vote for Barack Obama this fall solely because of his ethnic background. Indeed, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum saw fit on Monday to ask if foreigners would accept a black president in order to disguise her own apparent anti-Obama feelings.

Given the times, Republicans won't exactly push this envelope, but there are bound to be not so subtle undertones regarding this issue until the election. In other words, it'll be yet another hideous presidential campaign. It won't be as overtly awful as the execrable racist Jesse Helms's 1990 Senate campaign, but it's sure to be extremely offensive, nevertheless.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bubblin' crude


If ever there was a policy that Democrats could campaign against, it must surely be the Republicans' recalcitrance regarding assessing a windfall profits tax against the oil companies.
Senators were to vote Tuesday on whether to consider a windfall profits tax against the five largest U.S. oil companies and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks the companies expect to enjoy over the next decade.
Given the fact that the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline has now passed four dollars, and the fact that the five largest U.S. oil companies earned $36 billion during the first three months of the year, it's seems like a no-brainer, in these parlous economic times, to try to get some of that money back.

But, of course, the plutocratic Republicans will have none of it. They'll filibuster, the cloture vote will fall short of sixty ayes, and the whole thing will go down the drain as so many consumer-oriented proposals have.

If the Democrats have any intelligence at all, they'll hammer away at this episode in the fall because everybody has been affected by high gasoline prices—from those who have to pay at the pump to the shoppers who have to pay more for goods because transportation costs are so high. It'll likely become an episode where Republicans once again show their utter disdain for American consumers and so is a ready-made campaign issue for those who would use it.

UPDATE — Sure enough, the Republicans blocked the measure. Let the games begin.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What a day


Beside the facts that a number of school districts in Connecticut closed early today due to the heat (and have already planned to close early tomorrow), and Dennis Kucinich is introducing an impeachment motion against you-know-who (C-Span has featured the Ohio representative's special orders speech all evening.),
Scott McClellan, will testify before a House committee next week about whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to make misleading public statements about the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.
Given the possibility that the Decider-in-Chief may try to exert executive privilege to stop his former spokesman’s testimony, it looks like the next few days could be quite interesting.

Another scare for Senator Sanctimony


Josh Marshall highlights the recent Obama-Holy Joe colloquy discussed here.

Golly, who would've thought that the spineless senator wouldn't have a response to Obama's accusations?

The compassionate conservative gets on a big airplane


The economy continues to be a concern—so much so that
[t]he stress from deepening debt is becoming a major pain in the neck—and the back and the head and the stomach—for millions of Americans.

When people are dealing with mountains of debt, they're much more likely to report health problems, too, according to an Associated Press-AOL Health poll. And not just little stuff; this means ulcers, severe depression, even heart attacks.

Take Edward Driscoll, 38, of Braintree, Mass. He blames debt—$10,000 worth—for contributing to his ulcers and his wife Kimberly's panic attacks. "Just worrying, worrying, worrying, you know, where the next payment of this is going to come from," he says.
And what's the Harvard MBA's reaction to all of this? Typically, he's going to indulge himself with a European junket.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

For the love of God, shut up


I realize that the Xanax Queen's approval rating is about three times her husband's and that she might serve as a potentially more welcome ambassador in Afghanistan than he, but surely the US can do better than this drivel:
"It's really not that fair," [the First Lady] told reporters before meeting [Afghan President Hamid Karzai]. "I think it's undermining, frankly, to blame him for a lot of the things that may or may not be his fault. He inherited — just by becoming president — a country that's been totally devastated. It is very, very difficult when you have al-Qaida and Taliban all over the borders and making incursions into Afghanistan, and it's intimidating for everyone."
Such is the level of American diplomacy these days—insights delivered with all the sophistication of a querulous twelve-year-old.

And regarding Afghanistan's "progress," which Laura the Lump is trying to promote on her Mideast sojourn, it's worth noting that
[i]n 2003, 197,680 acres of land was used to cultivate poppy. By 2007, that number had jumped to 476,900 acres. Opium production topped 9,000 tons, enough to make over 880 tons of heroin. The country now accounts for 93 percent of world production, the U.N. says.
Karzai became president in 2004. You're doing a heck of a job, Hamid.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Obama and AIPAC


Even before the fact, I'd meant to express my displeasure over the fact that Barack Obama was to speak at the AIPAC convention on Wednesday. My state's junior senator has become, in my opinion, a raving lunatic in no small measure because of his allegiance to that group. Now that the deed has actually been done, I can't say I'm encouraged by what the future Democratic presidential nominee said there. As Sandy Tolan points out, the speech demonstrates that
Obama seems to be running as fast as he can from the friendships and affinities he has developed and expressed for Arabs in the past.
Obama's insistence on an undivided Jerusalem is about as provocative a statement as can be made, and it's no wonder that the
speech sent shock waves throughout much of the Arab World, where the prospect of an African-American president with a rich international background seemed, to them, to promise a more balanced U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Although Obama's purpose in giving the speech was certainly more political than eschatological, it was still as disturbing as just about anything the crazed Christian in the White House has come up with regarding the Mideast.

I'm certainly hoping I'm wrong on this, but Obama's declaration that he will talk to anyone regarding peace in the Middle East (which his Republican opponent criticized ad nauseam) no longer seems as forceful as it did on Tuesday.

"An extraordinary performance"


Regarding Hillary's concession, Greg Sargent's post is the best critique I've seen.

Meanwhile, has anyone seen GI George lately?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Catapulting the Propaganda, cont'd


A number of bloggers got excited yesterday when a Senate report indicated that GI George
and top administration officials repeatedly exaggerated what they knew about Iraq's weapons and its ties to terrorist groups as the White House pressed its case for war against Iraq, the Senate intelligence committee said yesterday in a long-awaited report.
I suppose I'd like to think this was newsworthy, but didn't we know this at least three years ago?

UPDATE — David Kurtz at TPM ponders the same question.

UPDATE 2 — Glenn Greenwald perhaps frames this story in its proper perspective.

But ya doesn't have to call me Johnson


Even when the Tampa Bay (nee Devil) Rays weren't any good, the Red Sox had confrontations with them. My memory is that Pedro Martinez was frequently involved in various beanball episodes back in the days when the Rays were lucky to win seventy games in a season.

Now that the teams are both contending for first place in the American League East division, the confrontations have grown more meaningful and wilder. Such it was last night when the Sox and the Rays had a skirmish in the second inning. Ultimately, the Sox, diminished to a skeleton crew (and not getting along with those who were left), prevailed over the Rays and went up in the division by a game and a half over their southern opponents.

The episode and the game were fun, but disconcerting nevertheless.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Fleeting Wisp of Glory


While I'm ordinarily no fan of legacy candidates, I can't help noting that forty years ago today, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated moments after winning California's Democratic primary. Most of today's notable liberal bloggers weren't even alive for the incident, but it marked one of the low lights in my life.

Simply put, it pretty much forced the Democrats to put up the fustian Hubert Humphrey for election where, weighed down by LBJ's awful Vietnam policies, he was no match for Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to end a war in a country that had never threatened the US, had no resources the US was interested in, and was, in fact, involved in a civil war. (Those who opine that the Bushies are trying to win this war of forty years ago via their current foreign policies certainly seem to be on the right track.)

Overall, 1968 was a dreadful year. It included two catastrophic assassinations, blood running in the streets of many metropolitan areas, and an election that brought us the felonious excesses of the Nixonians.

It was the second Kennedy assassination, perhaps more than the first, that changed the US and ultimately brought us the horrid administrations of Reagan and the two Bushes. Perhaps the country can turn things around in the coming years, but it'll be—to borrow a phrase—a long hard slog.

UPDATE — dday at Hullabaloo has a great and very sobering post on the assassination's repercussions.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

... And the horse you rode in on


The most physically intimidating president in my lifetime was Lyndon Johnson, who was known to back people up against a wall and speak to them nose to nose in order to get his point across.

Steve Benen reports that apparently Barack Obama isn't unwilling to use the same strategy—and with a nominal fellow Democrat no less.

Smilin' Jack


Talking Points Memo has put together a fabulous video regarding Senator Septuagenarian's speech last night.

Many agree it was an abysmal performance and, moreover, couldn't have been given at a worse time.

The aged senator, who clearly has trouble reading the English language, frequently ended his points with what one pundit referred to as "an awkward smile." Personally, I think it's a grimace that makes it look as if the candidate is having a tooth pulled.

Continuing to be "destructive to these ends"


Needless to say, there are any number of reasons not to vote for Senator Septuagenarian in January November, but his willingness "to run his own warrantless wiretapping program against Americans based on the theory that the president's wartime powers trump federal criminal statutes and court oversight" is surely paramount among them.

The end of the line, cont'd


Needless to say, anyone who's anyone is responding to last night's final Democratic primaries wherein Barack Obama was put over the top for that party's nomination.

Meanwhile, the Naderish HRC refuses to acknowledge the truth at the end of her nose. (Who's that sound like?) She says that she'd be willing to run with Obama for veep. That's big of her. However, Obama has been able to run the entire campaign thus far without a single reference to cattle futures, White House internes, impeachment, Travelgate, and the like. With the anvil of a Clinton on his ticket he'd be vulnerable to all kinds of attacks regarding those Pandora's boxes. The moronic dittoheads would certainly come out of the woodwork.

It's time for HRC to go back to the Senate where she can truly assist the next president of the United States by promoting his legislation, his programs, and his visions.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Getting and spending


Is this the end of life as we know it? The American dream of having a nice house, a new car (and here), and the latest in consumer goods may be disappearing right before our eyes.

Uh oh


Look, I have plenty of "senior moments" myself, but I'm not running for President of the United States.

West Virginia News


I see that Deadeye Dick has apologized for the impolitic remark he made recently concerning inbreeding in the Mountain State.

Meanwhile, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (There've been Byrds in that area of the country since the 17th century, so draw your own conclusions regarding the senator's genetic makeup.) has been hospitalized yet again—this time for "lethargy and sluggishness." Perhaps his recent Senate melodrama took too much out of him. At any rate, West Virginia's tourist commission may think of the state as "wild and wonderful," but that's certainly not the condition of its senior senator.

The end of the line


Apparently, it's all over for Hillary, and the frustration is clearly weighing on the nation's 42nd president. At any rate, he sure doesn't look good in this exchange.

UPDATE — Josh Marshall writes at length on this painful episode.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kill them!


Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the onetime commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, has a new book out wherein he recounts a videoconference GI George had with his national security team and generals regarding Fallujah in the spring of 2004. During the conference, according to Sanchez, the Commander in Chief launched into what Sanchez describes as a "confused" pep talk:
"Kick ass!" he quotes the president as saying. "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! ... Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"
Who knows if this is true; so many former Bushies are now describing the error of their ways. If it is true, this episode better befits a tantrum thrown by a four-year-old than the President of the United States.