Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2008

Melissa Hart on KDKA

Looks like they'll be discussing this bill. It's called the "Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007. Here's the text:
`Notwithstanding section 303 or any other provision of this Act or any other Act authorizing the Commission to prescribe rules, regulations, policies, doctrines, standards, or other requirements, the Commission shall not have the authority to prescribe any rule, regulation, policy, doctrine, standard, or other requirement that has the purpose or effect of reinstating or repromulgating (in whole or in part) the requirement that broadcasters present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance, commonly referred to as the `Fairness Doctrine', as repealed in General Fairness Doctrine Obligations of Broadcast Licensees, 50 Fed. Reg. 35418 (1985).'.
9:11: The conversation begins (all these are paraphrased - I'm doing this live).

Steigerwald: If Obama wins, do we get the Fairness Doctrine again?
Hart: I think we do.

Hart: Altmire is trying to have it both ways. He supports the bill but won't sign a discharge petition forcing the bill to the floor.

9:14: Steigerwald Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer both say we need the fairness doctrine.

This whole argument seems to be based on this:

Conservative critics have been very concerned that Congress had supported a one-year moratorium on the return of the Fairness Doctrine, but has not supported the Broadcaster Freedom Act (BFA), which would permanently prevent these regulations from returning.

Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.) introduced the BFA last June, where it is still awaiting a vote. As of June 25, 200 Members have signed a discharge petition which would force the House to make an up or down vote on the legislation, but an additional 18 signatures are needed.

“And so far, not one single House Democrat has signed our petition for an up-or-down vote on broadcast freedom...and now we know why,” announced Pence in response to Pelosi’s comments. “I say to Speaker Pelosi with respect: Defending freedom is the paramount interest of every Member of the American Congress.”

9:20: Now they're talking about off-shore drilling.

9:23: The drilling is stopped because the Democrats are dependent on radical environmental groups, like

9:25: Steigerwald: What about Conservatives' criticism of Bush on spending?
Hart: Bush should have vetoed more than he did.

Steigerwald: Was that about Bush "getting along" and going a little too far?
Hart: I think he should have been stronger.

9:27: Steigerwald: McCain has gained 5 points in the recent Quinnipiac poll. From 12 points down to 7 points down in Pennsylvania, so that should be good news to Republicans in the state.

9:29 Steigerwald: Biggest differences between Altmire and Hart?
Hart: I say what I believe in and act on it. He does a lot of flip-flopping. He says he's pro-live but he's voted pro-abortion.

Submitted for your approval.

My Commentary:

I'm always amazed at the "fairness doctrine" argument. It seems that everyone and his uncle on the right is screaming about how liberals are looking to bring the fairness doctrine back. Their panic is palpable. It'll be the end of the republic if those lib'ruls get their way and reinstitute the fairness doctrine, they rant. Then they complain about how the mainstream media is silent about the issue - thus proving the conspiracy to reinstate it.

Hart's and Steigerwald's argument seems to be that Pelosi and Altmire want to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine because they're not fighting tooth and nail to bring the "Broadcaster Freedom Act of 2007" to the floor. Altmire in particular because while he cosponsers the bill, he won't sign the discharge petition to force a vote.

So that proves he's in favor of reinstatement.

Can someone explain the logic to me?

The thing is, if nothing happens, then the Fairness Doctrine is still inert, right? So explain to me how keeping something inert actually supports reinstating it?

Especially when Senator Obama is NOT in support of reinstatement?

Conservative logic - an oxymoron if ever there was one.

But, of course to the wingnuts, since Bill Clinton cheated on his wife and then lied about it, that invalidates "Democrat Logic."

If You're Near A Radio Tonight

Melissa Hart will be on John Steigerwald's KDKA Radio show in a few minutes.

I'll try to live blog.

RAND Corporation's View

This is from last night's Countdown:

Well, this is the all-time winner. The all-time low low. For seven years, we have heard about how terrorism hit this country, 20 percent of the way into Mr. Bush‘s first term, by the way, because of the, quote, “law enforcement approach employed by President Clinton, Max Cleland, the Democratic Party, John Kerry, Europe, England, France, Barack Obama, me, you.”

Let me just read this verbatim by the study done by the conservative Rand Corporation which concluded that, quote, “Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaeda has not been successful in significantly undermining the group‘s capabilities.” So the Rand people go on to write, “In looking at how other terrorist groups have ended, the Rand study found that most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members.

Police and intelligence agencies rather than the military, should be the tip of the spear against al Qaeda in most of the world, and the United States should abandon the use of the phrase ‘war on terrorism.‘”

So, one of the think tanks the Pentagon loves best, has deduced that President Bush has done it exactly wrong, that the war on terror is a bunch of crap, that local authorities have the best chance of stopping al Qaeda, that what John McCain is still quoting as if it were the revealed word is exactly the opposite of what we need to do if we want to put terror groups out of business, that the correct strategy is—the law enforcement approach.

Again, please note that this is not from some "committed to defeat" anti-war group. It's the frickin RAND Corporation.

So let's flesh out Keith's quotations a bit.

If you want to play at home, here's the RAND report. On page 110, in a section called The Return of al Qa'ida there's this:

Indeed, the evidence since September 11, 2001, strongly suggests that the U.S. strategy was not successful in undermining al Qa’ida’s capabilities in the long run. Al Qa’ida remained a strong and competent organization. Its goals were the same: uniting Muslims to fight the United States and its allies (the far enemy) and overthrowing westfriendly regimes in the Middle East (the near enemy) to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate.

Al Qa’ida was involved in more terrorist attacks in the first six years after September 11, 2001, than it had been during the previous six years. It averaged fewer than two attacks per year between 1995 and 2001, but it averaged more than ten attacks per year between 2002 and 2007.

So even after the war in Iraq began, al Qaeda has gotten stronger and committed more terrorist attacks? And what does it say about the war that in pursuing it, we've actually made the group that attacked us on 9/11 stronger and more successful?

And this is found in the Summary (page xiii):
All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers tothis question have enormous implications for counterterrorism efforts. The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because (1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members. Military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory. This has significant implications for dealing with al Qa’ida and suggests fundamentally rethinking post–September 11 U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
Again, from the RAND Corporation.

Anyone remember this? It's from a rally of some sort on March 20, 2004:

THE PRESIDENT: Some are skeptical that the war on terror is really a war at all. Senator Kerry said, and I quote, "The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation."


THE PRESIDENT: I disagree. I disagree. Our nation followed this approach after the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. The matter was handled in the courts and thought by some to be settled. The terrorists were still training in Afghanistan. They're still plotting in other nations. They're still drawing up more ambitious plans. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. (Applause.) With those attacks, the terrorists and supporters declared war on the United States of America -- and war is what they got. (Applause.)

But according to the RAND Corporation, he was wrong. And there's 4 thousand American troops dead because of it.

Very Scary Quinnipiac Poll!

If you're like me, when you hear anything about a new poll you naturally assume presidential, right?

Well, so did I when the folks from Quinnipiac called yesterday evening to ask me some questions. As it turns out, however, this poll was all about good old PA. There were lots of questions about the Legislature, Rendell, Casey and Specter (I had to assist the caller with the pronunciation of "DeWeese").

The scary part came right upfront. After screening me in, the first real question asked how familiar I was with this guy:

UGH! (Tweety captured mid-harass)

Then they asked how likely I would be to vote for Chris Matthews as the Democrat vs. Senator Arlen Specter the Republican in 2010, when they said Matthews would be the likely candidate.

Talk about frightening!

Yes, by all mean let's have another Center Right On Social Issues Dem in PA. And, this one a huge pig to boot!

On the other hand, I find Specter horribly frustrating. He often talks a good game when it comes to our rights under the Constitution and the Rule of Law. He acts like he'll stand tall and be fair and independent, but inevitably he backs down and votes the good ol' Republican line. He's full of hot air.

So I guess Specter vs. Tweety would make it the Chickenshit Hot Air Balloon vs. the Sexist Gasbag race.

Lord help us all!

July 30, 2008

From The Nation

I wish I'd written it. But alas, it was written by Christopher Hays:

If I were a right-wing blogger, and I found out that Barack Obama was wearing Ferragamo loafers that cost $520, I would spend about 50% of my waking hours making sure everyone knew this. I would mock him for being an out-of-touch elitist and make jokes like, "If you think that's a lot, you should see how much his purse costs " I would send the link to Drudge and wait for Instapundit to pick it up, and then watch gleefully as Fox News ran segments about how Barack Obama's $500 loafers vitiate his entire economic platform.

But of course, I'm not a right-wing blogger. And the $520 shoes belong to John McCain. And frankly, I don't think how much his shoes cost matters one whit for how he'd govern the country.

Add to that his wife's worth tons of cash - and tell me again which one is an elitist?

More On McCain's False Attack Ad

This time from the Washington Post. The headline of the piece puts it, shall we say, diplomatically:
McCain Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence
Another way of saying it's false (i.e. a lie). The WaPost begins:
For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true.

The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. They come despite repeated pledges by the Republican that he will never question his rival's patriotism.
Note that last part. If we can't trust a candidate to keep his own pledge not to smear his oppo -- wait a minute, this is the guy who'd lie about his own POW experience in order to pander to Pennsylvania voters, so we can't expect much dignity from now on.

The WaPost has (lots) more:
The essence of McCain's allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage, including television cameras, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during his week-long foreign trip, and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not do so. "I know that, according to reports, that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers," McCain said Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."
A little bit down the page:
Asked repeatedly for the "reports," [McCain spokesman Tucker] Bounds provided three examples, none of which alleged that Obama had wanted to take members of the media to the hospital.
Caught in another lie.

Then there's this:
The McCain campaign has produced a television commercial that says that while in Germany, Obama "made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." The commercial shows Obama shooting a basketball -- an event that happened earlier in the trip on a stopover in Kuwait, where the Democrat spoke to troops in a gym before grabbing a ball and taking a single shot. The military released the video footage.
Now THAT'S some chutzpah. The film the campaign they used was from the DoD!

Bottom line, there was never (NEVER) a plan to take the media to the hospital. Here's Obama himself:
"We got notice that [Gration] would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn't on the Senate staff," Obama said. "That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political, and the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not, or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns."

Obama's explanation, which came after more than a day of controversy, was the clearest in noting that it was Pentagon concerns about Gration accompanying him to the hospital that forced Obama to reconsider and, ultimately, cancel the visit.
Of course this won't satisfy the wingnuts who still believe that Senator Obama:
  1. Is a secret Muslim
  2. Was sworn into office with a Koran
  3. Is connected to the Weather Underground
  4. Won't recite the pledge of allegience
  5. Refuses to wear a flag pin
  6. Isn't a Christian
  7. Isn't a US citizen
  8. Is married to a woman who hates America
  9. Isn't American enough.
There are still people who believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old so we shouldn't be too surprised.

Funny, I've had contempt for him for years . . .

Karl Rove Held In Contempt By House Judiciary Committee

Around the Burghosphere

1) T&A bring teh funny:

You can view episode two here.

2) Agent Ska is back to blogging at her own place (she can also still be found at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society).

3) DfP has photos from "The Goals We Share" potluck in the park.

4) Who wants to read Bob Mayo write about some boring old ethics news when you can read his review of the new X-Files movie instead?

5) While, not a blog, PennFUTURE is a great group that wants you to support Pittsburgh's Climate Action Plan. Go there RIGHT NOW and email Pittsburgh City Council RIGHT NOW -- there's a preliminary vote today!


July 29, 2008

New Policy on Comments

OK, OK! Because so many of you have requested it, and because some people are pretending to be others, and because it is sometimes difficult to follow along when so many comment as "anonymous," you now have to be registered (Google/Blogger/Open ID) in order to comment at 2pj.

Let's see how it goes... CORRECTS McCain Ad

First the ad. Here's the text:

Announcer: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hadn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. And now, he made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops.

McCain. Country first. John McCain: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

McCain's facts are literally true, but his insinuation – that the visit was canceled because of the press ban or the desire for gym time – is false. In fact, Obama visited wounded troops earlier – without cameras or press – both in the U.S. and Iraq. And his gym workouts are a daily routine.The Obama campaign canceled the visit with wounded troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Obama says, when he learned that the Pentagon would not allow him to bring along a retired Air Force major general who is serving as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign. Obama says that "triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political."
And didn't McCain promise to run a dignified campaign?

Lying about his opponent doesn't seem so "dignified" to me.

Department of Injustice Scandal Roundup

Here's my list:

  • US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales denies that there's a right to writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. Constitution.

  • The DOJ approves the unlawful detainment of terrorist suspects and argues for the legality of extraordinary rendition.

  • The DOJ authorized the CIA to torture prisoners in its custody.

  • The DOJ's investigation into eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without proper warrants was shut down to protect AG Gonzales.

  • The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has ruled in every case on the side of Republicans as "part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens."

  • The DOJ's selective prosecution of Democratic political figures.

  • DOJ job applicants were made to pass a political test ("What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?").

  • Even if a DOJ job applicant was a Republican, one could be rejected merely because they were married to a Democrat.

  • Of course even a rumor that you might possibly be gay could cost you your job at the DOJ.

  • And, even if you were a good Republican who was able to secure a job at the DOJ as a US Attorney, you would be fired if it was deemed you weren't acting sufficiently Republican enough.

  • All of which led to DOJ lawyers talking in code because they were afraid of being wiretapped by their own government and fired.
  • I'm sure I must have missed some -- hell, there's been nearly eight years of this shit.

    Help me out!

    What is your favorite Department of Injustice scandal?


    July 28, 2008

    Tomorrow Night

    In the book of Malachi, there is a prophecy about a forerunner who would prepare the way for the Gab:
    "See, I will send my messenger, St. John the Macyapper, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the one you are seeking will come to this Comedy Club; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the GAB Almighty. - McIntire 3:1 (DMD translation).
    This prophecy, my friends, will be fulfilled tomorrow night at the Improv:
    And there were in the same country bloggers abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their blogs by night. And lo, the angel of the GAB came upon them, and the glory of the GAB shone round about them, and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is brought in the City of Rooney, a Savior ette, which is GAB. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in wrinkled clothes with a gentleman's tie for a belt and speaking into a microphone in a comedy club at the Waterfront. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising GAB, and saying, ‘Glory to GAB in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men (wymyn, too)'”. Ravenstahl 2:8 (DMD translation)
    That’s what Comedy is all about, Charlie brown.

    Can I get an amen!


    PS The Roches will NOT be performing tomorrow - but I am sure they're just as enthused about John and Gab's gig.

    McCain's Got Some Work To Do


    He's gone and annoyed The Club for Growth.

    Looks like the Senator Straight Talk is looking to flip-flop on taxes, and that's shocked the fiscal conservatives over at Toomey's club. Take a look-see:

    We listened with concern yesterday to your interview with George Stephanopoulos on Social Security. When asked if you would be open to raising the payroll tax, you refused to rule out a tax increase, saying “There is nothing that’s off the table.”

    This statement was particularly shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances. In a March 2007 interview with Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, you ruled out accepting tax increases as part of a compromise to entitlement reform. And on February 17 of this year, you told George Stephanopoulos, “No new taxes . . . In fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT.”

    Once it was "no new taxes" and now it's "There is nothing that's off the table."


    Who Says No Domestic Terrorism?

    From the AP:
    An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire at a Unitarian church, killing two people, left behind a note suggesting that he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays, authorities said Monday.
    How different is this from this?
    Suicide bombers struck Shia pilgrims in Baghdad and a Kurdish rally in northern Iraq yesterday, killing at least 57 people and wounding nearly 300, police said.
    The only difference is that the bombers used different weapons and killed more people.

    Another AP story, this time via MSNBC:

    Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said a letter had been been recovered from the SUV of Jim D. Adkisson, 58, by investigators seeking clues about the motive behind the attack. Authorities said he was an apparent stranger to the Tennessee church where gunfire punctuated a children's performance based on the musical "Annie." Two people were killed and seven wounded Sunday.

    "It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that and his stated hatred of the liberal movement," Owen said at a news conference.

    Who said we ain't got no domestic evil-doers?

    July 27, 2008

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Must've been a slow news week for our friend Jack. He's writing about Al Gore and climate change. Again.

    Thing is, Jack doesn't have a very good track record when discussing Climate Change. Remember this column when he got the date of an important document he quoted wrong by 5 years and was forced to issue a correction? THIS correction:
    Jack Kelly's July 2 column conflated references to two different Wall Street Journal op-ed articles by MIT professor Richard Lindzen. The first quote from Dr. Lindzen was from a June 11, 2001, piece, but it was incorrectly identified as being published last week. The second Lindzen quote was correctly attributed to his commentary last week (June 26). In addition, the Kelly column referred to a National Academy of Sciences report on climate change and a quote from CNN reporter Michelle Mitchell; they were both from June 2001, not this year. The column should have addressed the NAS report on climate change released June 22, 2006.
    Jack should be careful when discussing Climate Change - that might include judging the sources he uses, just to see if they might be, you know, biased in some way.

    That might be a good idea to do with this week's column. Paragraph ONE:

    Former Vice President Al Gore and his entourage arrived at Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C., July 17 for his speech on global warming in a caravan consisting of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevrolet Suburban -- not the most fuel efficient vehicles Detroit ever made. "The driver of the Town Car that eventually whisked away Gore's wife and daughter left the engine idling and the AC cranking for 20 minutes before they finally left," noted Mark Block of Americans for Prosperity.

    Hmm. Who's this "Americans for Prosperity" then? According to their website:
    Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation) are committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels. The grassroots members of AFP advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.
    Ok. Seems to be a straight forward libertarian think tank. But who funds them? According to the website Media Transparency, they've been the recipients of a little under $1.2 million dollars in grants over the years 2004-2006. The source of a million of that $1.2 is the Claude Lambe Foundation, which is one of the Koch Family Foundations.

    And who are the Kochs?
    David and Charles Koch, sons of the ultraconservative founder of Koch Industries, Fred Koch, direct the three Koch family foundations: the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. David and Charles control Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company and the largest privately owned energy company in the nation
    So you know they're going to be giving millions away to think tanks that will be completely fair and balanced when it comes to energy issues.

    Something Jack didn't tell you.

    Paragraph TWO:
    Al Gore wants you to do as he says, not as he does. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported last month that Mr. Gore used as much electricity last year at his mansion in Nashville -- one of four homes he owns -- as 19 average American homes do. Mr. Gore frequently travels between his homes and to speaking engagements by private jet -- which, on a per passenger basis, emits four times the greenhouse gases of a commercial jet.
    This part is true. However, it's also misleading. I am sure, for instance, my efficiency apartment uses less energy than the average sized house, but it's NOT an average sized house. And the Gore's house isn't an average sized house either. From

    A spokesperson for the Gore family responded by noting some mitigating factors, such as the fact that the Gores' Nashville residence isn't an "average" house - it's about four times larger than the average new American home built in 2006, and it essentially functions as both a residence and a business office since both Al and Tipper work out of their home. The Tennessean also noted that the Gores had been paying a $432 per month premium on their monthly electricity bills in order to obtain some of their electricity from "green" sources (i.e., solar or other renewable energy sources). Other factors (such as the climate in the area where the home is located and its size) make the Gore home's energy usage comparable to that of other homes in the same area.

    The former vice-president maintained that comparing raw energy-usage figures is misleading and that he leads what he advocates, a "carbon-neutral lifestyle," by purchasing energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance out the carbon emissions produced in generating the electricity his home uses:

    They use a lot of energy, reality shows, and they purchase it from green sources. So the amount is, and you should know this Jack, irrelevant.

    Paragraph THREE:
    In his speech at Constitution Hall, Mr. Gore called for a crash program to convert the entire U.S. electric grid to carbon-free sources of energy within 10 years. That's "ridiculous," said Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
    No surprise that Senator Voinovich would be skeptical. He's the current Republican on the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Given the lockstep attitudes of Republicans in Congress, his use of the word "ridiculous" is hardly surprising.

    Now let's do some fact checking. Jack's next paragraph (plus a little):
    To get an idea of how ridiculous, consider this data from the Energy Information Administration. In 2006 (the last year for which complete data is available), 49 percent of our electricity was generated by coal-fired plants; 20 percent from natural gas, and 1.5 percent from oil. That is, more than 70 percent of all the electricity we have now is generated by the fossil fuels Mr. Gore wants to get rid of.

    Of the remainder, two thirds is generated by nuclear plants (19 percent).
    Now I'm confused. I checked the EIA and found this chart. It carries the title "Renewable Energy Plays a Role in the Nation’s Energy Supply (2006)" so presumably it contains data from 2006.

    For the life of me I can't make heads or tails out of Jack's numbers. They have little if anything to do with what I was able to find at

    Can someone explain it to me? Or is this another one of Jack's Climate Change columns that he has to correct later?

    And even if I got the wrong data, shouldn't Jack Kelly, in his zeal to educate the public about issues in the public interest replicate that zeal to make it easy to check his work?

    Bush Vs. Batman

    More ways in which Bush is like Batman

    (h/t to Atrios)

    (h/t to Shakesville)

    Personally, I have to say that I have always thought of Bush more as The Boy Blunder.


    July 26, 2008

    Cpt Jeffry S. Porter Story - False

    Something bubbled up in a comment today that was so egregious that I had to address it.

    It's the letter that hit the New York Daily News yesterday from a Cpt. Jeffrey S. Porter describing Senator Barack Obama's recent visit to Bagram Airbase. They said that the story "went viral" on Thursday. Curiously, in their initial reporting, they describe Army brass as "debunking" the story.

    But obviously it lived on.

    The letter was posted to this blog at 11:03 this morning. By 11:51, another commenter posted that it was false.

    Here's the general debunking at Indeed Cpt Porter has written to the Daily News to pull the story down:

    Now the Bagram captain is dialing back, having signed the viral e-mail with his name, rank and unit - a possible violation of military regulations barring political statements. This morning, he sent The Mouth a new statement (punctuation corrected):

    “I am writing this to ask that you delete my email and not forward it. After checking my sources, information that was put out in my email was wrong. This email was meant only for my family. Please respect my wishes and delete the email and if there are any blogs you have my email portrayed on I would ask if you would take it down too. Thanks for your understanding.”

    It's also at the Army Times.

    I guess that settles things. No guarantee that it won't bubble up again of course. As we all know the authoritarians (John Dean's term) on the right aren't interested in facts - just winning.



    July 25, 2008

    A PAIR of Double Standards

    First off there was the criticism the McCain campaign leveled on the Obama campaign for not visiting those hospitalized troops.

    From the AP:

    Sen. Barack Obama scrapped plans to visit wounded members of the armed forces in Germany as part of his overseas trip, a decision his campaign said was made because the Democratic presidential candidate thought it would be inappropriate on a campaign-funded journey.

    A campaign adviser said the U.S. military saw the visit as a campaign stop.

    The McCain folks criticized:
    "Barack Obama is wrong. It is never inappropriate to visit our men and women in the military," said Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the Republican contender.
    Turns out that it was the DOD's rules that precluded Senator Obama from visiting with his campaign staff. From TPM Election Central:

    A Pentagon spokesperson confirms...that because of longstanding Department of Defense regulations, Pentagon officials told Obama aides that he couldn't visit the base with campaign staff. This left Obama with little choice but to cancel the trip, since the plan to visit with campaign aides had been in the works for weeks.

    The Obama campaign yesterday announced that it had decided to cancel the visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, saying that it would be "inappropriate" to make such a visit as part of a campaign trip.

    Note the spin from the McCain folks. They conveniently left out the "campaign" part of the "inappropriate" stuff.

    But it's not like the McCain folks didn't know about the rules. Via Huffingtonpost, here's CNN:

    With Department of Defense rules prohibiting political campaigning on military bases, it was determined that in some cases McCain could visit the installations as a senator but could not engage in any political activity or have news media present.

    McCain campaign officials said Thursday they intentionally did not campaign on military property.

    "We follow the rules," said senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt.

    They follow the rules? Really? Double Standard #1.

    Moving on. I read with some mild interest this story about that huge rally in Berlin:

    The U.S. Embassy in Berlin has instructed Foreign Service personnel stationed there not to attend Sen. Barack Obama's public rally today, which the State Department this week labeled a "partisan political activity" prohibited under its regulations for those serving overseas.

    Government employees serving in the United States are permitted to attend such events under the Hatch Act, which bars other partisan activity, such as contributing money or working in behalf of a candidate.

    But "we always maintain that no U.S. government Foreign Service person overseas should be seen to be advocating one side or the other," State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy said, adding that "it has nothing to do with who" the candidate is.

    But remember when I wrote about McCain's speech to the Canadian Economic Club? Take a look at this from
    The event was reportedly organized in part by U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, whom President Bush appointed in 2005. But more than that, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa confirmed to ThinkProgress that Wilkins also attended the event.
    So it "has nothing to do with who" the candidate is.

    Unless it does.

    Double Standard #2

    Rep. Doyle: ‘If Mr. Savage wants to find someone acting like a moron, he should simply look in the mirror.’

    Pittsburgh's own Rep. Mike Doyle responding to wingnut radio shock jock Michael Savage's claim that autism is "A fraud, a racket. ... In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out"

    Media Matters' Savage/Autism archive here.

    (h/t to Think Progress)

    July 24, 2008

    William Russell

    Last night on KDKA I heard John Steigerwald interview Peg Luksik, William Russell's campaign manager. Russell's running against Representative John Murtha (D-PA).

    They raved at this news:

    A JAW-dropping political miracle may be on the horizon. No, I'm not talking about the second coming of the Obamessiah. I'm talking about the long-deserved comeuppance of troop-smearing, pork-feasting, scandal-tainted Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.

    The 18-term congressman's challenger, staunch conservative Republican newcomer William Russell, raised nearly $670,000 in the second quarter. Earmark king Murtha scraped together a measly $119,000.

    And they danced the standard anti-Murtha dance; Abscam, Haditha, Congressional Pork and so on.

    Turns out that the numbers might not be as peachy as Frau Malkin ranted. According to Talking Points Memo, Russell's been using a firm called BMW Direct for its fundraising.

    The Boston Globe had a good piece on BMW Direct. The piece is about a candidate running against Barney Frank, a guy named Charles Morse.

    Yet the political fund-raising firm that ran Morse's campaign finances reported that it raised more than $700,000 for his race, much of it from GOP contributors across the country eager to help defeat a Massachusetts liberal - and some of it donated well after Morse abandoned the race.

    A review of campaign reports shows that, rather than spending that money in the Fourth Congressional District, 96 percent of the funds raised in Morse's name were used to pay a politically connected direct-mail firm in Washington, BMW Direct Inc., and a coterie of BMW Direct's affiliates and contractors. The firms specialize in national fund-raising appeals on behalf of conservative Republican candidates and right-wing causes.

    Talking Points Memo has a rundown on Russell's finances:

    In the most recent quarter Russell raised $669,534, almost all from out-of-state donors who presumably are on BMW Direct's list of self-styled conservatives with a good track record of responding to direct-mail fundraising.

    At the same time, he spent $442,990, almost all of it on expenses related to the direct mail effort and paid to BMW Direct and its affiliates (some of which share the same downtown Washington office).

    The only expenses that appear to be spent on an actual campaign totaled about $20,000 for Web site design, a low-budget video and a campaign consultant based in Pennsylvania rather than Washington.

    He reports having $269,953 in cash on hand. But he also reports debts totaling $242,521 -- almost all for direct mail expenses to BMW Direct and its vendors.
    So that leaves him only about $27,431 ahead -- not much for a guy who's raised a total of nearly $1 million this election cycle.

    It also turns out that Russell failed to get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot as a Republican. From the Post-Gazette:
    Mr. Murtha had faced a challenge from former Army Lt. Col. William Russell, who moved to the Johnstown area so he could run as a Republican. But Commonwealth Court ruled last week that he failed to file the required 1,000 signatures on his nominating petition and removed him from the ballot, clearing the way for Mr. Murtha to run uncontested for his 18th term.
    A million dollars raised for a candidate not on the ballot. SOP for BMW Direct


    Go See John and Gab.

    They're funny.

    And Gab promised me some trumpet lessons if I posted the poster.


    By police estimates, 200,000 people (Fox "News" says more than 200,000) showed up to see Senator Barack Obama speak today in Berlin.



    Meanwhile Senator John McCain, political tin ear in fine tune, had an appearance at Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus a German Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. According to Fox "News,"
    He jabbed his opponent for his speech on foreign soil while he is still a candidate, “Well I’d love to give a speech in Germany to– a political speech –or a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in,” McCain told reporters, “But I would much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for the office of the presidency.”
    Forgetting, I guess, his own speech in Canada (for those who don't know, that's foreign soil, too!) this past June 20:
    However, on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada -- to the Economic Club of Canada -- in which he applauded NAFTA's successes. An implicit message behind that speech was that Obama had been critical of the trade accord. Also, McCain's trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign.
    The Washington Post even covered it. And with the first paragraph, we know McCain's trying to BS us. Remember, this trip was paid for by the campaign. And yet:
    Calling it "not a political campaign trip," John McCain emphasized the importance of Canada's relationship with the United States in a speech here.

    Hmm. Paid for by the campaign and yet it wasn't a campaign trip. I wonder how that works.

    A Tale of Two Photos



    July 23, 2008

    John Steigerwald Spreads the Rumor

    Got an email today by someone who says she heard KDKA Radio guy John Steigerwald spreading the rumor that Senator Obama's birth certificate "might be proven fake."

    I didn't hear him last night so I can't comment specifically. Tonight just after 9pm he said that he DIDN'T say that the birth certificate was a fake - only that someone else said it was.

    I took a look at this rumor today. Sheesh the wingnuts have been busy.

    My guess is that since it hasn't been settled (though no one will possibly challenge it) that John McCain is a Constitutionally defined "natural born citizen" they're working like the dickens to have something when/if that ever comes up. No one is saying that McCain isn't a citizen, let me be clear. The argument is whether he's a "natural born citizen" like the Constitution says is necessary to be president. Governor Schwarzenegger is a citizen but not a "natural born citizen" so he can't be president. See the difference?

    Now that the certificate has been posted on the web, their response?

    It's a fraud. And they have the photoshop evidence to prove it. As I scrolled through the page I wonder why no one has bothered to call Hawaii and actually ask whether the certificate is real.

    Oh wait, someone has. Amy Hollyfield in the St Petersburg Times did. She wrote:

    To verify we did have the correct document, we contacted the Hawaii Department of Health, which maintains such records.

    "It's a valid Hawaii state birth certificate," spokesman Janice Okubo said after we e-mailed her our copy.

    Ok. But the wingnuts counter that that Okuba must be wrong.

    As Politifact notes:

    At, we’re all about original sources. We don’t take anyone at their word or take the reporting of other media organizations as proof. We go to the heart of the story, the source of the truth — original, corroborating documents.
    When the official documents were questioned, we went looking for more answers. We circled back to the Department of Health, had a newsroom colleague bring in her own Hawaii birth certificate to see if it looks the same (it’s identical). But every answer triggered more questions.

    And soon enough, after going to every length possible to confirm the birth certificate’s authenticity, you start asking, what is reasonable here?

    Because if this document is forged, then they all are.

    If this document is forged, a U.S. senator and his presidential campaign have perpetrated a vast, long-term fraud. They have done it with conspiring officials at the Hawaii Department of Health, the Cook County (Ill.) Bureau of Vital Statistics, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois and many other government agencies. [emphasis added]

    That last part is the important part. IF the document's a fraud, then the conspiracy has to include all those various and separate bureaucracies.

    Or the document is real. Which is the more reasonable position?

    I know the wingnuts will continue to cling to their goofy conspiracy theories regardless of, you know, REALITY.

    From Our Friends At The Trib

    Interesting (and selective) use of the Wall Street Journal today from our friends on the editorial board over there at DickieCougarMellonScaife's little paper that could.

    First the editorial. It's yer basic "The Democrats want to tax the ecomony to death" or something. The only real economic facts are here:
    Those earning more than $108,904 paid 71 percent of all incomes taxes. The top 50 percent of earners paid 97.1 percent. Those with incomes below the median income paid 2.9 percent of all income taxes -- a record low.
    And they took them from this editorial. Take a look:
    The top 10% in income, those earning more than $108,904, paid 71%. Barack Obama says he's going to cut taxes for those at the bottom, but that's also going to be a challenge because Americans with an income below the median paid a record low 2.9% of all income taxes, while the top 50% paid 97.1%. Perhaps he thinks half the country should pay all the taxes to support the other half.
    Today, however, there was another piece in the Wall Street Journal. One I am sure the guardians of all things conservative at the Trib would probably just chalk up to "whining."

    Let's begin:
    In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.
    Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The group's share of the tax burden has risen, though not as quickly as its share of income.
    As the wealthiest Americans' share of income has risen, so has their share of the income-tax burden. The group paid 39.9% of all income taxes in 2006, compared with 27.6% in 1988. In the most recently reported five years, however, the share of income reported by the very wealthy has risen faster than the group's share of income taxes.

    Republican Policy: Keep Women Barefoot and Pregnant


    When Republicans say they want to reduce/stop abortions in this country what they seemingly want to do is to reduce the number of non-pregnant women.

    I don't know how you can conclude anything else when you take a look at their policies.

    First Up: Paying, or rather, not paying for birth control

    Surely one way to reduce the number of abortions is to increase access to birth control. (How many times have you heard a Rethuglican harp that women use abortion as birth control?) And yet we see that Republicans just can't stomach the idea that insurance companies would be required to cover birth control prescriptions. The most recent examples of this is Republican nominee for President, John McCain stumbling and bumbling over whether he believes insurance companies should cover birth control when they cover Viagra. Along with an excruciating eight-second pause, he remarks that he hasn't really considered the question and doesn't want to think about the question (despite already voting twice against any such protections.) Then, we have Bill O'Leilly insisting that while erectile dysfunction is a medical condition, pregnancy is not a medical condition -- it's a choice (whereas, of course wanting to get a boner is not a choice, it's a god given right).

    Next Up: Limiting access to birth control

    The current Republican administration now wants to enshrine in law the "right" for medical professionals to refuse to give information about/give prescriptions for/ fill prescriptions for birth control. So even if you can pay for it, someone can tell you: "No thank you, I don't feel like letting you have access to a legal substance." Yes, screw you if they're the only pharmacy in town, or if your secular hospital has been bought up by a religious hospital. And, while Republicans are quite clear that each state should be allowed to decide their own laws on access to abortion, they want to refuse the right for each state to mandate that medical professionals actually do their jobs As Feministe puts it:
    "This proposal’s hiring section seems designed specifically to allow people to apply for jobs they don’t want to do per the job description, but which they don’t want others to do either. The goal then of this proposal is to help people and organizations deny patients their legal rights."
    Last Up: Redefining abortion so that it includes pretty much everything except "Honest, honey, I promise I'll pull out"

    A proposal that was circulated in the Department of Health and Human Services last week defines abortion as follows:
    "...any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”
    Guess what folks, that means they want to reclassify oral contraceptives and emergency contraception, among other birth control methods, as abortions.

    So, to recap...

    Republicans, while decrying abortion, want to make it as difficult as possible for women to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. These are the folks, after all, who want all women between the time they get their first period and the time they enter menopause to consider themselves pre-pregnant and to be treated by the health care system as pre-pregnant.

    The Republican Party seems to be suffering from a mass case of Madonna-Whore Complex. On the one hand, their prominent members have no problem making jokes about women enjoying being battered and raped by gorillas, or spinning tales about bears being trained to rape little girls, or calling the wife a trollop and cunt in public, while on the other hand, they come up with uber creepy Purity Balls wherein girls as young as six pledge their virginity to their daddies until daddy transfers their purity over to their husbands (while simultaneously making sure they have no real Sex Ed to even know what human sexuality is).

    Yes, women are scary creatures who will bang a gorilla and fuck everything else in sight because they know they can just abort!abort!abort! so you gotta wrest control of them as young as possible and make sure you keep them barefoot and pregnant by any means possible.

    Or something like that.


    If you actually want to cut down on the number of abortions, watch the video and sign the pledge

    If you agree with Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray that:
    "This is a gratuitous, unnecessary insult to the women of the United States of America. … It is an end-run around the rights of women to make choices about our own health, and we are not going to stand for it. … We will fight you every step of the way."
    Then sign the petition to Secretary Michael O. Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services here.

    Let the Pro Life Forced Birth Republican Party know that The Handmaid's Tale was a novel and not an owner's manual.

    (Full transcript at Shakesville)


    In Contempt

    Send Karl Rove to Jail

    The video:

    The petition:

    July 22, 2008

    More From The Wingnut Fringe

    From the HuffingtonPost.

    Did you know there's someone in New York selling this t-shirt?

    The Huffington Post has the story:

    Apollo Braun is selling the shirt emblazoned with the words "Obama Is My Slave" from his Manhattan boutique. The shirt was designed by Braun.

    Some design. I wonder which fashion design school he went to.

    Then there's this:

    "For a lot of people, when they see Obama, they see a slave. People think America is not ready for a black President," he said.

    Braun says he believes Obama is Muslim and that Obama also "reminds [him] of Adolf Hitler." "I can't stand Obama," says Braun, although he adds that none of his dislike for the candidate has anything to do with ethnicity.

    Obama is a muslim who reminds Braun of Hitler? That can't be right. No one (I mean NO ONE) could be that much of an idiot. But I googled the guy's name (you can do it for yourself - I don't want to send this guy any web traffic) and found the website for his boutique. At the website I found this:

    God, I hope this is a hoax. If not, this election is going to get ugly!

    Still hoping it's all a hoax.

    Bad News For Jack Kelly

    Not for him personally, but bad news for his choice for Senator McCain's Veep, Alaska Governor Palin.

    First here's what my friend Jack wrote:

    There is one potential running mate who has virtually no down side. Those conservatives who have heard of her were delighted to learn that McCain advance man Arthur Culvahouse was in Alaska recently, because they surmised he could only be there to discuss the vice presidential nomination with Gov. Sarah Palin.

    At 44, Sarah Louise Heath Palin is both the youngest and the first female governor in Alaska's relatively brief history as a state. She's also the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating that has bounced around 90 percent.

    If you'll recall, this was the column Jack quoted quite easily (to put it nicely) from Fred Barnes.

    Here's the issue at hand - this from the Anchorage Daily News:
    Alaska Senate leaders want an investigation of whether Gov. Sarah Palin pressured and then fired the public safety commissioner because he wouldn't get rid of a state trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce with Palin's sister.
    Here's more from the Newsminer:

    The governor has come under some criticism after a political rival — fellow Republican Andrew Halcro — alleged Palin fired Monegan after unsuccessfully trying to use her position to push for the firing of a state trooper. Palin has called the suggestion “outrageous.” The trooper, Palmer Trooper Mike Wooten, is involved in a custody battle with Palin’s sister.

    Monegan has said he found his firing a surprise and that he did come under pressure from the Palin family and administration.

    I have no position about the details of this story, but for someone touted (as Jack does) as a "ferocious fighter of corruption," this possible investigation could not happen at a worse time.

    On the other hand, a Republican abusing a seat of power?

    That couldn't possibly happen here. Never! Perish the thought!

    July 21, 2008

    The Latest From The Right Fringe

    I found this little bit of satire by way of The Hill. The link leads back to this blog post from a State Senator from South Carolina, one Kevin Bryant.

    The Huffington Post has more:
    "It was meant tongue in cheek," he said, adding, "I've got some questions about Senator Obama's ties to -- such as his comment that we should negotiate with Iran. Iran's a country that would like to destroy Israel, that bothers me. But is this picture appropriate? I don't know." He let out a loud laugh. "It's gotten a lot more attention than I would have expected."

    Does he think Obama is actually has terrorist ties? "I don't think he's tied to terrorists, no. I do think he's probably more sympathetic to nations that allow terrorism than I would prefer. And that's why I posted it. Am I saying that him and Osama work together? No, I'm not saying that at all."

    And what religion does Bryant think Obama practices? "That's a good question. I don't know."

    Bryant says he's supporting John McCain for president, and that he is trying to figure out how to remove the Osama-Obama image from his website. "I may put it back up, I may not," he said. "I just thought I'd take it down and think about it."

    He added: "You know, blogs are for satire and whatnot and, um, that's why it's up. It's similar to the New Yorker picture. Maybe that's why this has gotten so much attention, because of that thing that came out a couple days ago."
    And he doesn't know what religion Senator Obama practices? What rock has be been under for the last few months?

    Ignorant, classless, and (dare I say it) ungrammatical. A typical Republican.

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Jack Kelly dives head first into a crude subject in this week's column. Crude - oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea.

    He starts, though, with a bit of a mathematical sleight of hand. Honestly, we'd be disappointed in him if he hadn't.

    His first two paragraphs:
    In the six years between President Bush's inauguration in 2001 and the Democrats' assumption of control of Congress in 2007, the price of gasoline rose an average of 14 cents a year. Since the Democrats took over Congress, the price of gas has doubled, the inflation monster has reawakened and the recession wolf is sniffing at our door.

    I know. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after, therefore because of) was the first logical fallacy they taught back when logic was taught in school. It may merely be coincidence that things went to hell in a hand basket since the Democrats took over.
    I want yinz to notice something. Our Jack is sneaky. Look how he anticipates the counter argument with a fancy schmancy "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc." His pointing out of a counter argument in order to refute it before it's raised is called , I believe, "Procatalepsis." Look it up.

    So what's the sneaky? His use of it covers up the number switch he pulls in the first paragraph. Go read it again - see if you can see what's up.

    The red flag is his mixture of two different math devices - he's adding in one place, multiplying in another. Be honest, you're thinking that gas prices rose steadily, $.14 per gallon per year, until those nasty Democrats took over Congress, aren't you? Then you're thinking that the price doubled in the time since then. You think that because Jack Kelly wants you to think that.

    He's painted you into a corner.

    Let's, however, look at the numbers. Here's the government's own data. I don't know if Jack was using this exact chart, so his numbers may differ slightly from those presented here. But in any case, there can't be that much of a difference.

    For instance, the last datum show gas at $4.10/gallon. When the Democrats (those lousy Democrats) took over the Congress, the price was $2.36. Not exactly doubling. More like one and three quartering. The price, though, has more than doubled since Bush took the oath of office the second time, in 2005 - but don't expect Jack to say that.

    January 2001, when dubya first took the Oath of Office, gas sold for $1.48.7/gallon. By January 2006, when those lousy nasty Democrats took over Congress it was up to $2.36/gallon a rise of about $.87. And as anyone with a calculator knows, $.87 rise/gallon divided by 6 years equals about $.14 rise/gallon per year.

    Pretty close to Jack's numbers. But take a closer look at the data. Does it rise consistently?

    No, it doesn't.

    It rises until the middle of 2001 where it hits a high of $1.73 and then slides down over the next few months. There's even a twenty cent drop right after September 2001 (I wonder what happened in that month?). By the end of 2001 the price is down to $1.12, $.45 cents or so lower than when dubya first stole took office.

    It seems that the price of gas rose back up to the $1.40s and then stayed there until the beginning of 2003. It jumped to $1.73 by March 2003 (Gee, what happened that month?) and stayed between $1.72 and $1.52.

    It was never that low again.

    Bottom line - look at them numbers. The price of gas has risen more or less consistently since the occupation of Iraq. Of course it's risen since the Democrats took over Congress - the occupation is still on going.

    The fact that they haven't stopped it (or dubya) only adds to their lousy dismal poll numbers.

    Hey, weren't we promised cheap gas once Saddam was disarmed?

    Just asking.

    After the mathematical sleight of hand, Jack rattles off the usual suspects of Republican blame on oil prices. Dems stopped "us" drilling in ANWR, off the Outer Continental Shelf and the Green River Formation in Colorado.


    Haven't we covered some of this before?

    Sigh - reading his post, you'd think that if it weren't for those lousy nasty stinkin Democrats "we" could just move some oil men into Colorado and start drilling. Not so. And what is this "Green River Formation" anyway? If you go to the EIA (it's labelled "Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government") and search for "Green River Formation" you'll find this:
    The Green River Formation, a group of basins in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, hold the largest know oil shale deposits in the world. Colorado’s oil shale deposits, concentrated in the Piceance Basin in the western part of the State, hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels of oil—as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves. Although this natural resource holds tremendous promise, oil shale development remains speculative and faces several major obstacles involving technological feasibility, economic viability, resource ownership, and environmental considerations. Pilot oil shale projects have been undertaken in the area, but the construction of commercial oil shale production facilities in Colorado is not permitted prior to 2010, pending the implementation of the U.S. Department of Interior’s oil shale leasing program.
    So it isn't just the lousy nasty stinkin Democrats who are keeping "us" from all that oil, huh?
    Jack doesn't mention any obstacle the government's own pages mention. Isn't that interesting?

    Notice that last part. It looks as though the Department of the Interior's "oil shale leasing program" is already in place.

    We've already covered ANWR and OCS drilling here.

    If you missed it, your loss.

    The Goals We Share (tailgate / potluck)

    The Goals We Share (tailgate / potluck)
    Sat. July 26, rain or shine, 11-3:30

    Please come to "The Goals We Share," a family-friendly, alcohol-free potluck/tailgate at West Penn Ballfield at the edge of Polish Hill.

    This was an unusual spring where the super-heated rhetoric of primary politics hit Pittsburgh hard. Lets eat together, relax together, and talk to each other, in a low-key way, to re-find our common ground. Bring a dish (optional), family, friends, "fun stuff" (soft frisbees, musical instruments) and goodwill.

    Various groups are invited, but the focus is on us…as people.

    RSVP online at or for more info & another RSVP link (requires sign-up), go to Want to RSVP for several people at once? Leave a message at (412)731-7020 (voice mail).


    July 20, 2008

    Netroots Nation 2009 - IN PITTSBURGH

    From the Daily Kos:

    Sometimes those of who focus on energy and global warming issues seem to screaming into the wind, with little attention from others in the community.

    Netroots Nation's announcement for the 2009 put those emotions to the side. The Netroots Nation staff worked hard to find a site and location that meets the types of standards that are hoped to from us.

    To be held at the nation's leading edge LEED Green convention center,
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is close to major US cities, with a good rail network providing options to get there from New York, Washington, DC, and Chicago.

    Bram, did you do this???

    This is too cool.

    July 19, 2008

    Uh, This Might Be Important

    From Talking Points Memo:
    I've spent a couple hours now trying to process the probable impact of Prime Minister al Maliki's explicit endorsement of Barack Obama's 16 month timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. My first instinct is always to try not to overstate the impact of momentary developments. But I don't think it's enough to say this is a huge development. It's huger than that. In a stroke, I think, al Maliki has cut McCain off at the knees in a way I'm not sure his campaign strategy can recover from.

    Consider McCain's strategy, which is all bound up with Iraq.

    All understand it is a given that the war is unpopular and that the vast majority of Americans want out as soon as possible. The big of wiggle room is just what's 'possible.' McCain has invested his entire campaign in support for the purportedly nascent Iraqi democracy al Maliki represents and the claim that Obama's support for a timetable for withdrawal irresponsibly risks losing the gains we've achieved and giving Iraq back to al Qaeda.

    Here, with a brush of the hand and in so many words, al Maliki says, "No, we're good."
    Here's where TPM gets its quotations.

    That being the case, what oh what shall we make if this?
    President Bush said today if the Iraqi government were to ask the United States to leave Iraq, he would grant the request.

    "We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice,’’ the president said during a Rose Garden news conference. "If they were to say leave, we would leave."
    Now that, according to a recent poll from the LA Times, a majority (68% - a super-majority, actually) want the troops in Iraq to return either immediately (25%) or within a year or so (43%) and the Iraqi government actually agrees with Senator Obama's general outline to bring the troops home in 16 months or so, I wonder how many times we'll hear the Republicans regurgitate the line about how the Democrats support "surrender"?

    Yea, you're probably right - the answer is "just as often."

    Facts don't mean squat to them.

    July 18, 2008

    Senator McCain's Sense of Humor

    On rape:
    Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, 'Where is that marvelous ape?'
    This got me thinking about the joke itself. First off, why would a gorilla rape a human being? I have read about people getting too close to a gorilla exhibit at a zoo and being injured so the "beaten senseless" part didn't seem so far fetched. But why would the gorilla be on the street? If a gorilla had escaped from a gorilla exhibit at a zoo, wouldn't the authorities be out looking?

    Unless the "gorilla" part of the joke is a metaphor.

    Hmm, now what sort of metaphor would a gorilla be?

    A few commenters at crooks and liars point out that in some parts of the country, "ape" or "gorilla" is racial code. And in that setting, the joke is not about a victim of interspecies violence, but about a woman who's raped, beaten and left for dead by an African-American male.

    The recent Lebron James cover of Vogue sparked a bit of a discussion of the "ape=black male" racial metaphor (especially in King Kong imagery) which led me here. At the beginning of a lengthy discussion of the 1933 RKO film King Kong, David Rosen writes:
    It doesn't require too great an exercise of the imagination to perceive the element of race in KING KONG. Racist conceptions of blacks often depict them as subhuman, ape or monkey-like.
    Now go back and reread the joke with the translation of its (possible) codeword in mind.

    I'm not saying that Senator McCain (who doesn't claim to have never said the joke - only that he doesn't remember ever saying it - a non-denial denial if ever there was one) told a racist joke or even thought of the joke as a racist joke.

    Just saying that someone growing up in the middle of the 20th Century would probably know the codeword and knowing that, shouldn't have told the joke in the first place.

    July 17, 2008

    Santorum Spins

    Former Senator Rick Santorum is at it again.

    This time Santorum is spinning about Current Senator Barack Obama.

    Senator Man-on-Dog begins:

    Over the past weeks much has been made of Barack Obama's hard right turn toward the center of the political spectrum. There's been no greater about-face than his embrace of the Bush Doctrine on the next likely foreign policy crisis - Iran.

    The Bush Doctrine refers to the strategy of preemptive warfare that President Bush set forth in 2002. It's the idea that the United States will not wait for menacing enemies to attack us; we will attack preemptively in certain cases

    And then quotes Obama to back up his assertion:
    Last month, Obama declared, "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything."
    And then connects the dots:

    When a would-be commander in chief says "everything" three times in one sentence - and says so publicly - he is not just talking about continued diplomacy and sanctions. He's saying that he has not taken the military option off the table.

    With that statement, Obama, the definitive antiwar candidate, ended any serious debate over preemption in the post-9/11 world.

    And so if we were to take Lil Ricky seriously (and I mean really does ANYONE take Rick Santorum seriously these days? Apart from the wingnuts, I mean), could we actually conclude that Senator Obama has "embrac(ed) the Bush doctrine" of "preemptive warfare"?

    Uh, no.

    Let's take a look at what Obama actually said when he said what Rick quoted. It was June 4, 2008 and the Senator was speaking before American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Annual Policy Conference. Here's a fuller context. This transcript can be found at the New York Times:

    Now, there's no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran. This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that, regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment to Israel's security.

    So while I don't want to strike too partisan a note here today, I do want to address some willful mischaracterizations of my position.

    The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists.

    Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.

    But just as we are clear-eyed about the threat, we must be clear about the failure of today's policy. We knew in 2002 that Iran supported terrorism. We knew Iran had an illicit nuclear program. We knew Iran proposed a great threat to Israel.

    But instead of pursuing a strategy to address this threat, we ignored it and instead invaded and occupied Iraq.

    When I opposed the war, I warned that it would fan the flames of extremism in the Middle East. That is precisely what happened in Iran. The hard-liners tightened their grip, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005. And the United States and Israel are less secure.

    I respect Senator McCain, and I look forward to a substantive debate with him these next five months. But on this point, we have differed, and we will differ.

    Senator McCain refuses to understand or acknowledge the failure of the policy he would continue. He criticizes my willingness to use strong diplomacy, but offers only an alternative reality, one where the war in Iraq has somehow put Iran on its heels.
    The truth is the opposite: Iran has strengthened its position. Iran is now enriching uranium, and it has reportedly stockpiled 150 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Its support for terrorism and threats towards Israel have increased.

    Those are the facts. And they cannot be denied. And I refuse to continue a policy that has made the United States and Israel less secure.

    Now, Senator McCain and others offers a false choice: stay the course in Iraq or cede the region to Iran.

    I reject this logic, because there is a better way. Keeping all of our troops tied down indefinitely in Iraq is not the way to weaken Iran; it is precisely what has strengthened it. It is a policy for staying, not a policy for victory.

    I have proposed a responsible phased redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will get out as carefully as we were careless getting in. We will finally pressure Iraq's leaders to take meaningful responsibility for their own future.

    We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything.

    That starts with aggressive, principled, tough diplomacy, without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests.

    We have no time to waste. We cannot unconditionally rule out an approach that could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    We have tried limited, piecemeal talks, while we outsourced the sustained work to our European allies. It has not worked. It is time for the United States to lead.

    Now, there will be careful preparation. We will open up lines of communication, build an agenda, coordinate closely with our allies, especially Israel, and evaluate the potential for progress.

    And contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States.

    That is my position. I want it to be absolutely clear.

    Only recently have some come to think that diplomacy by definition cannot be tough. They forget the example of Truman, and Kennedy, and Reagan. These presidents understood that diplomacy, backed by real leverage, was a fundamental tool of statecraft.

    And it is time to once again make American diplomacy a tool to succeed, not just a means of containing failure.

    We will pursue this diplomacy with no illusions about the Iranian regime. Instead, we will present a clear choice: If you abandon your dangerous nuclear program, your support for terror, and your threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives, including the lifting of sanctions and political and economic integration with the international community. If you refuse, we will ratchet up the pressure.

    My presidency will strengthen our hand as we restore our standing. Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause.
    If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States, it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation. And that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China, as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council.

    And we should work with Europe, Japan, and the gulf states to find every avenue outside the United Nations to isolate the Iranian regime, from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran, to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who Quds Forces have rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.

    Anyone reading that and believing that it supports the Dubya Doctrine of preemptive warfare has to have his or her head examined. Please note that after the section Santorum quoted, Obama follows it immediately with:
    That starts with aggressive, principled, tough diplomacy, without self-defeating preconditions, but with a clear-eyed understanding of our interests.
    That in itself is a repudiation of the Bush doctrine of shoot now and lie about it later.

    On Iran's nuclear capabilities, Rick's spinning there, too. He writes:
    International Atomic Energy Administration director Mohamed ElBaradei said last month that if Iran expelled the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, Iran would need six months to produce a nuclear weapon. Couple that with last week's test firing of missiles capable of delivering that weapon to Israel, and it is no wonder you have seen a rash of stories about the Israelis training for strikes against Iran.
    But here's exactly what ElBaradei said:

    Mohamed ElBaradei: "If Iran wants to turn to the production of nuclear weapons, it must leave the NPT, expel the IAEA inspectors, and then it would need at least... Considering the number of centrifuges and the quantity of uranium Iran has..."

    Interviewer: "How much time would it need?"

    ElBaradei: "It would need at least six months to one year. Therefore, Iran will not be able to reach the point where we would wake up one morning to an Iran with a nuclear weapon."

    Interviewer: "Excuse me, I would like to clarify this for our viewers. If Iran decides today to expel the IAEA from the country, it will need six months..."

    ElBaradei: "Or one year, at least..."

    Interviewer:"... to produce [nuclear] weapons?"

    ElBaradei: "It would need this period to produce a weapon, and to obtain highly-enriched uranium in sufficient quantities for a single nuclear weapon." [...]

    So it's not just a matter of expelling the the UN, Iran would also have to leave the NPT and THEN it would take 6 months to a year to build the thing, including obtaining the uranium needed.

    Something Lil Ricky left out.

    Now on those missiles. I found this from fellow conservative Pat Buchanan. In a column calling this a "phony crisis" Pat points out something about the missiles Rick was warning us about:

    One rocket appears twice in the same photo. The large missile, on inspection, was not the new Shahab-3b, which has a range of 1,200 miles, but a Shahab-3a, with a range of 900 miles. It is no longer in production.

    The missiles fired with the Shahab-3a turned out to be Scuds, a short-range missile that is no threat to Israel.

    Oh, and ElBaradei? He also said this in the same interview:

    "In my view, a military strike would be the worst thing possible. It would turn the Middle East into a ball of fire."

    Interviewer: "It would be worse than sanctions?"

    ElBaradei: "Much worse, because a military strike would mean, first and foremost, that even if Iran does not produce nuclear weapons today, it would implement a so-called 'crash course,' or an accelerated plan to produce a nuclear weapon, with the agreement and blessing of all the Iranians - even the Iranians living in the West."

    So a preemptive attack would only hasten an Iranian nuke.

    Good thinking, Rick. Nice to see you're still on the ball.