Saturday, August 30, 2008

No. U Can't Haz.


"No way. No how. No McCain."

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin under investigation for misuse of her official powers

Although John McCain is to be commended for bringing the Republican party up to the point the Democratic party was 24 years ago by choosing a female running mate, his specific choice, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, shows stunningly poor judgement.

You'd think that if John McCain picked a running mate who has served as a governor for less than twenty months, the least you could expect is that she would be scandal-free.

But the Republican-controlled Alaska legislature has hired a private investigator to look into evidence that Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her sister's ex-husband, who is a state trooper.

If the investigator concludes she did, this misuse of her office to settle a petty family squabble could be used as grounds for impeachment. No wonder Palin wants out of Juneau.

How could John McCain screw up something this big, this badly? And what does that say about his judgement?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

NOLA Timeline:

Wednesday August 24
First alerts of a tropical storm stirring in Carribean

Friday August 26
• Most residents work a full day and take "wait and see" approach
• 5 p.m. warnings from National Weather Service show Hurricane Katrina take a turn, set New Orleans within range

Saturday August 27
• Saturday morning most residents learn that Katrina's path is set for New Orleans
• Metro-area evacuations begin en masse clogging all outbound ateries of the city for 48 hours
• St. Tammany, St. Charles, Plaquemines Parishes announce mandatory evacuations
• Orleans and Jefferson Parish both announce voluntary evacuations
• Governor Blanco sends "State of Emergency" letter to President Bush
• LSU scientists issue a projected storm surge map

Sunday August 28
• At 9:30 a.m. Orleans Parish issues first-ever mandatory evacuation
• At 10 a.m. Katrina becomes a Category 5 storm with winds of 175 m.p.h.
• At 11:30 a.m., President Bush vows to help those affected by the storm
• State puts contrflow plan into effect on interstates
• Superdome houses 26,000 residents as city's "refuge of last resort"
• Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, telephones the Times-Picayune to warn of a "worst-case scenario"
• Tropical storm-force winds close down emergency services in metro area
• At 9 p.m., Times-Picayune building loses power, generators power up

Monday August 29
• At 3 a.m., Katrina makes landfall as a Category 3 hurricane at the Southwest Pass at the mouth of the Mississippi River
• Metro-area emergency officals hold status meeting
• At 6 a.m., 317,000 households are without power
• At 7 a.m., water reported coming over the levee in the 9th Ward
• At 8:45 a.m., six to eight-foot flood waters reported in Lower 9th Ward
• At 9 a.m., winds rip hole in roof of Superdome
• At 9 a.m., eye of the storm passes to the east of New Orleans central business district. Windows in high-rise buildings blow out
• 11 a.m., NWS reports a breach in the Industrial Canal levee, emptying Lake Pontchartrain into the neighborhoods of Eastern New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward in Orleans Parish and all of St. Bernard Parish
• 2 p.m., breach in the 17th Street Canal is confirmed. Flooding of Lakeview, Mid-City, Broodmoor, Gentilly result over the next 48 hours.
• 2 p.m., flood waters in the Lower Ninth Ward reach 12 feet in some areas
• Flood waters continue to rise and it becomes apparent that it is a worst-case scenerio

Louisiana 1927
~Aaron Neville
[ 3:10 ]

Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area early morning August 29, 2005. The storm surge breached the city's levees at multiple points, leaving 80 percent of the city submerged, tens of thousands of victims clinging to rooftops, and hundreds of thousands scattered to shelters around the country. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita reflooded much of the area. The devastation to the Gulf Coast by these two hurricanes has been called the greatest disaster in our nation's history.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963
"I Have A Dream"
Speech At Lincoln Memorial

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Now we know how John McCain will answer the tough questions.

Last night on the Jay Leno show, Jay asked McCain again (in a joking way, at that) how many houses he owns.

McCain's response:

You know, could I just mention to you, Jay, and a moment of seriousness. I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, without—I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a kitchen table, I didn’t have a table, I didn’t have a chair. And I spent those five and a half years, because—not because I wanted to get a house when I got out.

And you thought Rudy was bad with answers that all invoked 9/11.

I guess we can see what McCain will say every time he gets asked a tough question.

Q: Mr. McCain, you've taken a hardline stance against the Russians in regard to Georgia, but with our army stuck in Iraq what do you plan to do about it?

A: I was a POW for five and a half years, you know.

Q: Why is it that you never talk about fixing the Social Security system, after favoring privatization for years?

A: I want social security to give me credit for the time I was in a prisoner or war camp.

Q: Mr. McCain, you've promised a high level campaign, but you've gotten nasty and negative in your attacks on Barack Obama. Why is that?

A: You should know those prisoner of war camp guards are nasty too.

Q: Do you still stand by the Paris Hilton ad?

A: Now that you bring it up, I spent five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton.

Q: Mr. McCain, why did you vote against funding research into the development of alternative energy programs for so many years?

A: I was in a prisoner of war camp, and let me tell you I didn't spend those five and a half years just so I could drive a Prius when I got out.

Q: Senator McCain, why does your tax plan give so much money away to the super-wealthy like yourself and give nothing at all to almost half of American taxpayers?

A: When I was in a POW camp for five and a half years, I didn't pay any taxes. And I spent those five and a half years, not because I wanted to pay taxes.

Q: Why did you reverse your stance on giving a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants last year?

A: When I was a P.O.W. for five and a half years, I wanted more than anything to be in America. So now I want to make sure those people have to miss being here too.

Q: Senator, you've promised to appoint conservative judges like Alito and Roberts which would give the Supreme Court a solid conservative majority. What do you say to women who are concerned it might overturn Roe vs. Wade?

A: There weren't any women in the prisoner of war camp I was in for five years.

Q: Mr. McCain, why are you promising to veto all pork projects when you yourself sponsored funding for the William H. Rehnquist Center in Phoenix?

A: We didn't get any pork when I was in a prisoner of war camp for five and a half years. In fact, we usually didn't even get enough rice.

Q: Mr. McCain, why are you so critical of the Obama health care plan when your plan can't even guarantee that everyone will be able to buy coverage at any price?

A: We didn't get very good health care when I was in a prisoner of war camp for five and a half years.

Q: Senator, one more question. The Washington Post reported on May 9 that you had pushed through legislation on a Federal land swap deal that benefitted Steven Betts, a longtime campaign contributor. At the time, Betts and his wife were listed on your campaign website as members of the financial arm of your campaign. Have you severed all ties with Betts?

A: I spent five and a half years in a prisoner of war camp.

I don't doubt that McCain suffered terribly during that time, but I want to hear what he would do as President, not have it waved in my face every time he gets asked a question he may not want to answer. Besides, remember what they did to John Kerry? At least John Kerry managed to avoid getting captured.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Flip Flopping Jukebox John

Carpet Bagger Notice, from Steve Benen, August 24th, 2008:

We’ve moved:

Effective Friday, August 22, I’m blogging exclusively at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal. See you there.

Jukebox John keeps changing his tune

Steve Benen:

"It’s obvious that the McCain campaign and the RNC have decided to go after Barack Obama as a flip-flopper. What’s equally obvious, though, that Republicans couldn’t have chosen a worse narrative.

"McCain & Co. seemed to stumble on this line of attack almost by accident. They’d experimented with a variety of memes in recent months, none of which had any real salience. The right settled on “flip-flopper,” in large part because it’s the closest available, already-written Republican narrative, and in part because McCain staffers haven’t been able to think of anything else.

"The irony, of course, is that the McCain campaign couldn’t have picked a more hypocritical line of attack. Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of reversals from the Republican nominee, numbered and organized by category for easier reference.

"Remember, McCain recently said, "This election is about trust and trusting people’s word."

"I should note that there’s nothing offensive about a political figure changing his or her mind once in a while. Policy makers come to one conclusion, they gain more information, and then they reach a different conclusion. That is, to be sure, a good thing — it reflects a politician with an open mind and a healthy intellectual curiosity. Better to have a leader who changes his or her mind based on new information than one who stubbornly sticks to outmoded policy positions, regardless of facts or circumstances.

"So why do McCain’s flip-flops matter? Because all available evidence suggests his reversals aren’t sincere, they’re cynically calculated for political gain. This isn’t indicative of an open mind; it’s actually indicative of a character flaw. And given the premise of McCain’s presidential campaign, it’s an area in desperate need of scrutiny..."

Here’s the list.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

John McCain-- too risky to be President.

I remember another summer. Probably a third of a century ago, or maybe even more. I was at summer camp.

Luckily it had been raining, so we were all soaked and miserable, not looking forward to going back to waterlogged tents and sleeping in sleeping bags that would probably be soaked through by the morning. We were all sitting around a campfire trying to get as warm and dry as we could before heading off to bed.

I did say "luckily" it had been raining real hard. Because some IDIOT thought it would be cute to bring along some fireworks that he had saved from the fourth of July and suddenly toss them into the campfire for 'entertainment.' Not just a few either. In those days you could get lots of good fireworks-- strings of firecrackers, black cats, cherry bombs, M-80's, bottle rockets.... well you know the whole list if you were a kid in the 1970's.

Well, it was "entertaining," that I will say. Nobody was bored stiff for the next several minutes. Fireworks started jumping out of the campfire and exploding all around everybody. Bottle rockets were firing off at all sorts of angles, ricocheting off the ground and chasing people across fields. Hot coals jumped up in the air and started pelting people (who quickly got the heck away from the campfire.) Even when the initial burst died down, it still went in spurts-- the odd firecracker here, the odd bottle rocket there would suddenly come shooting out of the ring of counselors who were rapidly throwing dirt and mud on the fire as soon as they could get close.

It's been a long time but if I remember right the camper who brought them was personally driven all the way home late that night by the head counselor.

I relate this story because it reminds me a lot of John McCain. He was against the Bush tax cuts, but now he favors tax cuts for the wealthy (which he needed in order to secure his party's nomination.) He's been on both sides of the drilling issue, and said earlier this year he'd veto the Farm Bill that passed "in a New York minute" if he were President because of the subsidies in the bill. This of course is popular with the conservative base. But keep in mind that for years, mindful of the Iowa caucuses (which he ended up skipping this year, but didn't decide to do so until late 2007) he not only supported but sponsored several farm bills with much more generous subsidies than this one.

McCain seems to be willing to do anything and say anything to anyone to get a vote. He roundly condemned Pat Robertson in 2000 (once even getting talk-show host Michael Reagan to hang up on him because all he wanted to do was whine about Robertson) but by last year was buddy-buddy with Roberston.

Last year he wrote an illegal immigration bill reflecting how he has always talked about it, but after it failed he quickly wheeled around to reflect the views of the GOP electorate (at least in part) and suggested focusing on securing the border first.

One day he says he will never raise the limit on income subject to the Social Security tax, but the next day he says he's willing to put all options on the table, including raising the limit.

His political grandstanding in regard to the Russian war against Georgia is a new low. His comment that "we are all Georgians" seems clear to mean that we stand with them, but then logically leads to the question of what exactly we plan to do on their behalf and to restore and guarantee their territorial integrity. McCain doesn't answer that question, because he can't. Thanks to how badly our military is strained by the Iraq war which he has been supporting and the fallout from the Bush policy of unilateralism there is actually nothing much that we can do about Georgia. His statement is likely to only give the Georgians a false sense of hope. Which is beyond cynical-- it is like selling your soul. The reputation of the U.S. is bad enough now that we don't need to add, 'unreliable ally' to it, which we will if politicians like John McCain continue going around giving false hope around the world or making threats to people like Putin that we can't back up.

Throw in McCain's notoriously explosive temper and you have to ask whether it is safe to consider him for leader of the free world (at least you know Obama will never lose his cool in the Oval office during an emergency.)

The fact is, even conservatives don't know for sure what John McCain will do if he is President. There are days when I wonder if John McCain knows what he will do.

He's just too erratic, firing off in all directions like those fireworks, to be a safe choice for President of the United States.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: Obama / Biden '08

Barack Obama introduces his VP choice, Joe Biden:

[ 1:55 ]

Excerpts from Joe Biden's speech:

And ladies and gentlemen, these are no ordinary times, and this is no ordinary election. Because the truth of the matter is, and you know it, that American dream under eight years of Bush and McCain, that American dream is slipping away. I don't have to tell you that. You feel it in your lives. You see it in your shrinking wages, and the cost of everything from groceries to health care to college to filling up your car at the gas station. It keeps going up and up and up, and the future keeps receding further and further and further away as you reach for your dreams.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, it is not a mere political saying. I say with every fiber of my being I believe we cannot as a nation stand for four more years of this. We cannot afford to keep giving tax cuts after tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans while the middle-class America, middle-class families are falling behind and their wages are actually shrinking. We can't afford four more years of a government that does nothing while they watch the housing market collapse. As you know, it's not just the millions of people facing foreclosure. It's the tens of millions of your neighbors who are seeing the values of their homes drop off a cliff along with their dreams.

Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine. You sit there at night before you put the kids, after you put the kids to bed and you talk, you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you're worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It's a pretty hard experience. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.

Folks, again, it's not political sloganeering when I say we literally can't afford four more years of this non-energy policy written by and for the oil companies, making us more and more dependent from hostile nations on our ability to run this country and literally, not figuratively, literally putting America's security at risk; we can't afford four more years of a foreign policy that has shredded our alliances and sacrificed our moral standing around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's the bad news. But there is good news, America. We don't have to have four more years of George W. Bush and John McCain. The next president of the United States is going to be delivered to the most significant moment in American history since Franklin Roosevelt. He will have such an incredible opportunity, incredible opportunity, not only to change the direction of America but literally, literally to change the direction of the world. Barack Obama and I believe, we believe with every fiber in our being that our families, our communities as Americans, there's not a single solitary challenge we cannot face if we level with the American people. And I don't say that to say it; history, history has shown it. When have Americans ever, ever, ever, ever, ever let their country down when they've had a leader to lead them?

Ladies and gentlemen, we believe that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays, and we believe we'll pass on to our children an even better life than the one we lived. That literally has been the American way, and it can be that way again. But there's a big, missing piece. The missing piece is leadership.

- - - - -

I'll say straight up to you — John McCain, and the press knows this, is genuinely a friend of mine. I've known John for 35 years. He served our country with extraordinary courage and I know he wants to do right by America. But the harsh truth is, ladies and gentlemen, you can't change America when you boast - and these are John's words - quote, "The most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush."

Ladies and gentlemen, that's what he said. You can't change America when you supported George Bush's policies 95 percent of the time. You can't change America when you believe - and these are his own words - "...that in the Bush administration we've made great progress economically." You can't change America and make things better for our senior citizens when you signed on to Bush's scheme of privatizing Social Security. You can't change America and give our workers a fighting chance when after 3 million manufacturing jobs disappeared, you continue to support tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas. You can't change America and end this war in Iraq when you declare - and, again, these are John's words - " one has supported President Bush in Iraq more than I have," end of quote. Ladies and gentlemen, you can't change America, you can't change America when you know your first four years as president will look exactly like the last eight years of George Bush's presidency.

- - - - -

And during those 18 months, I must tell you, frankly, I've been disappointed in my friend, John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and yielded to the very swift-boat politics that he so — once so deplored. And folks, campaigns for presidents are a test of character and leadership. And in this campaign, one candidate, one candidate has passed that test.

- - - - -

Ladies and gentlemen, this is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary election. And this may be our last chance to reclaim the America we love, to restore America's soul.

Transcript at

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Obama's 'clean, articulate' running mate

CNN has confirmed what they first reported an hour ago upon learning that the Secret Service was on its way, that Barack Obama will pick Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware as his running mate.

Biden is actually a great choice. When he ran for President last year I wasn't much of a Biden fan, writing him off as just another Senator who had voted for the Iraq war (i.e. John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton.) And it is true that Biden voted for the Iraq war. But unlike Hillary Clinton, he's not the kind of guy who will have trouble admitting that he made a mistake when he did so (i.e. that Barack Obama was right, back then in 2002 when he opposed it publically.)

Further, Biden is a scrapper. That much has always been clear, and it was in his political career. Remember he ran for President once before (back in 1988) and was derailed by a scandal that seems a non-issue today-- that he had lifted some lines from a British politician's speech. But he didn't quit after that. He kept doing what he was doing, won re-election to the Senate two years later, and eventually clawed his way back both to a leadership position in the Senate (Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee) and eventually to where he could again run for President. And if Republicans want to bring the whole plagiarism issue up from twenty years ago, then it's fair to go back to the "Keating five" scandal that McCain was involved in during the 1980's.

Biden also helps secure a key state. Not Delware, which he represents in the Senate (and whose three electoral votes Obama will win anyway.) But rather Pennsylvania. Remember that after a six week primary campaign (Pennsylvania being the only state with a primary scheduled in April) Hillary Clinton scored a solid win over Obama in the primary. So I doubt much if Obama is very excited about spending a lot more time in a state where he would be playing defense anyway (Kerry having won it in 2004) after having invested so much time and money there during the primary and still getting beat. However, Democrats have to put it away, and Biden will help for three reasons. The first is because Biden is a Pennsylvanian, hailing originally from Scranton (an area where he still has lots of family, strong ties and is quite popular). In April, Scranton was a Clinton stronghold. The second is that as an important Senator from Delaware, Biden gets a lot of play in the Philadelphia media market. People there have listened to everything from his commercials to reports on what he is doing for years. Philadelphia TV covers the southeastern part of the state, where Democrats have to roll up large margins to win. Obama carried most of it in April, but this is one place where at least politically Biden really does 'complement' Obama. The third reason is that Biden, who grew up in a working class family and still commutes from Delaware to Washington (as one of the poorest men in the Senate monetarily) is exactly the kind of working class Democrat that Hillary Clinton won and Barack Obama has been struggling with.

He also takes one of McCain's possible running mates off the table, or at least makes it tougher for McCain. Biden makes it very, very hard for McCain to pick Mitt Romney in particular as a running mate. McCain's $500 shoes and losing track of how many houses he owns have already allowed Obama to cast McCain as an elitist, and if McCain chooses Romney (the only guy worth more than McCain to run since, oh, Steve Forbes) then Obama would make all kinds of hay comparing Biden's working class background with Romney's multi-millionaire background, thereby amplifying the whole 'elitist' label. Further, if Romney is on the ticket then Biden's relatively mild criticism of Obama during the debates would be contrasted to some of the really negative ads that Romney ran against McCain. I can now almost see Obama thinking, "Go ahead, make my day" to a potential Romney pick (Biden is the perfect guy, especially given McCain's recent flubs, to best neutralize Romney and turn the pick back on McCain if he makes it.)

During the debates, Biden did sparkle, showing both humor and quick thinking, and offering clear answers to questions. He was so far behind that it did him little good but he will certainly have a great opportunity to show the same flair during the veep debate.

One commentator on CNN suggested that Vladimir Putin may have had as much to do with Biden's being picked as anyone else. That may be true. Events like the war in Georgia bring national security to the forefront, and if it is in people's minds going into the voting booth, they are more likely to put aside any misgivings they may have about Obama's relative inexperience if they know that an experienced guy like Biden will be among his closest advisors.

Oh, yeah. And about that 'clean, articulate' comment. I hope that Obama will have the presence of mind tomorrow to refute the people who claim he has no sense of humor and introduce Biden as his 'clean, articulate' running mate. But if he doesn't, you can be sure that Biden will joke about it. He does have a sense of humor, for sure.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

McGaffe Express

In Arizona did Kubla McCain
7 stately pleasure domes decree:
Where Abramoff and sleazebag lobbyists, ran
Through bribes measureless to a working man
Among the elitist GOP...


[ 1:01 ]


Kagro X:

Yeah, McCain. Let's "get into a debate about houses."

Are you sure you're ready for it? We won't be laughing with you.

Let's go to town, people.

McCain’s Housing Crisis Worsens; Campaign Responds With References To Vietnam, Hawaii, 9/11

Blue Texan:

It appears the McSame campaign is having difficulty, erm, managing McSame's "I have no idea how many houses I own" gaffe. The level of whining and shrieking is an indication of just how bad a day it's been for Multimansion McSame. [snip]

And finally, McSame mouthpiece Brian Rogers played always effective POW card:

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison."
Getting a little desperate over there, I'd say.

McCain Flubs it Again!

Kagro X:

Unbelievable! Those $500 loafers must taste like ambrosia, because McCain can't keep his feet out of his mouth!

What's the supposed money line in McCain's new ad?

"Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets. But we sure do."


Neither do kept men like John McNopoly!

Here's something most people with family budgets don't have to worry about, either:

That's right. The McCains pay $270,000 per year for butlers and maids--that's $50,000 more than the median value of an American home.

Ohhhh, Johnny! A quarter mil on servants?

Let me guess? P.O.W.?

Noun, Verb, POW

Trapper John:

Cloak of invincibility ON!

The McCain campaign is road-testing a new argument in responding to Obama's criticism of his number-of-houses gaffe, an approach the McCain camp has never tried before: The houses gaffe doesn't matter because ... he was a POW!

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.

Lord. McCain is Giuliani-like at this point in his single-minded determination to cling to the one positive association that his campaign retains in the public mind.

McCain response continues to be Teh Suck

Kagro X:
The McCain Dungeons & Dragons gang fails its saving throw:
Group to spend $2.8 million on anti-Obama ad

The ad was supposed to be the response to McCain getting his ass whipped over weaseling out of answering questions about his four seven eight twelve houses by pretending not to know how many he had. (A-duh. That's so much less elitist!)

But, uh... didn't work.

Organizers sought to air the ad on Fox News Channel, but a Fox spokesman said the network declined to run it.

Too sleazy for Fox. Hilarious!

How dare they suggest, ummm... something, something, P.O.W., blah-blah! Grr!

FOUND: John McCain - Get out of Gaffe Free Card (UPDATED)


In honor of the fact that every time McCain screws up, the McCain campaign predictably deflects the gaffe by using the fact that he was a POW 40 years ago to silence any criticism...

this is the card that the McCain campaign quietly slips to the media to insure that it will not be covered:

McCain's Misfire


Hoping to appeal to the middle-class voters who make $4.9 million a year and have only a single beach front vacation home in their collection, McCain rushed out an ad trying to reanimate the corpse of the long discredited Obama-Rezko real estate connection. Newsweek teamed up with to slice and dice McCain's ad, and they detected the fine odor of pure BS laced with the rancid stench of desperation. [snip]

Oversimplified, misleading, careless, and false. Hmm, that sounds like the McCain (and Bush) we know.

McCain Eats the Seed Corn

Kagro X:

With his campaign suddenly in a flaming tailspin, John McCain goes to the well one too many times, and dilutes his brand:

Time's Cox:

The McCain campaign's constant invocation of the candidate's POW past is weird bordering on irrational....

It's a head-spinning non sequitur, designed to distract us from something mildly troubling with the assertion of something impressive.

John McCain Needs to Lay Off the POW Talk

Brandon Friedman:

When John McCain revealed that he didn't know how many houses he and his wife currently own (they have at least eight properties), the Obama campaign pounced. They accused him of being elitist and disconnected and launched an ad within hours. The McCain campaign--realizing this was trouble--retorted the only way they knew how: With a truly stupefying response from McCain spokesman Brian Rogers:

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," referring to the prisoner of war camp that McCain was in during the Vietnam War.

Yes, you read that right. McCain justified not knowing how many houses he has by saying he was a POW in Vietnam, four decades ago. I have some things to say about this:

1. Being a POW is not an excuse for everything.

Using the POW Argument One Too Many Times OR When Being A POW Become THE Reason He Should Not Be President

Lauren, TPM cafe:

Clearly having been a POW has affected McCain in ways that cause him to have a poor memory, lack competence, experience confusion, have trouble keeping the facts straight, embellish the truth, be reckless in his judgement, be challenged in his ability to lead.

My friends, I am willng to accept that McCain being a POW is a reason to explain all of these things as long as the republican party and the McCain camp will accept that they have made the case for exactly why this man MUST NOT become president. Why? Because...

Yes, it's the economy, stupid

Doc Twain:

If I could write a stump speech for Obama, it would go something like this:

You want to talk about the economy? OK, let's talk about it. Let me tell you something ugly. Something people are not supposed to talk about. It's supposed to be a big secret, but you already know it all by heart. It infuriates you--it makes you disgusted at Washington. But politicians don't seem to want to do anything about it. And you figure you have a pretty good explanation why.

You might call it the elephant in the middle of the room...

It's called plutocracy. Government for and by the rich. Not for you and me--not for "we"--for the rich first and the rich only. And Republicans like John McCain are working their tail off for it. Because it pays...

McCain can't remember all his houses? The "I don't recall" routine is starting

Kagro X :

As we all know by now, McCain's really stepped in it with this nonsense about not knowing how many houses he has.

I mean, he might really not know, but what he was hoping to do with his non-answer was obfuscate the reality that he's kept and pampered by simply refusing to be the first one to put a number on it.

But could his flippancy be indicative of more than just not wanting to admit he collects houses like crazy old ladies collect stray cats? Isn't it really a sign that a McCain administration would bring us another four years of "I don't recall" governance? I mean, I know the play worked for Reagan, Bush I, and the Pretzeldent too. But haven't we had about enough of Republican "leaders" who can never recall a damn thing about anything they do? Puh-lease.

Anyway, in addition to laughing your ass off at how ridiculous McCain is, you should also take a moment to thank Brave New Films for sparking this latest round of questions for Mr. Furious. They did a lot of legwork and research that they put into a video about some of the vast real estate holdings McCain just can't seem to remember, and it's looking like that was what set off the questions that led McCain to stuff his $500 loafers in his mouth:

[ 4:09 ]

I think America deserves an answer, to borrow a phrase too often annoyingly parroted by the other side any time they can gin up something as dumb as what a candidate drinks at breakfast. Only this time, we really do deserve an answer. We have disclosure laws for candidates in this country for a reason. And given that the best his staff could come up with was, "at least four," I think it's fairly clear they don't want to give us that answer. It ought to be an question he's asked everywhere he goes, and frankly, I don't know why anyone would want to hear anything else from him until he answers it straight up. People ought to remind him of the fact that if he's hemming and hawing on a pretty damned basic question, they're never going to be able to believe him on anything else.

So why not remind him that it's time to answer the question whenever and wherever you see him? Maybe just with something as simple as what another blogger well known to you all once suggested: holding up your own house keys and jangling them at him next time he shows his face in public?

Quick! Don’t Think of an Wounded Elephant!

Bill in Portland Maine:

Okay, okay, you win, we'll think of a wounded elephant. But only for the next 74 news cycles.

And just to recap what we know about The Real John McCain:

• He doesn’t remember how many houses he owns, and even the press can't figure out if it's 7, 8, 9, 10 or 12

• He needs a 9-car motorcade to buy a Cappuccino at Starbucks

• He needs to look at notecards to "remember" the price of milk

• His household budget includes $273,000 for servants

• He thinks $5 million is the line between the middle class and the rich

• He thinks our economy is basically sound

• He doesn’t think anyone would accept an offer to pick lettuce for $50 an hour

• He plans to announce his running mate with balloons and cake on August 29 while the rest of the country is mourning the victims of hurricane Katrina on the third anniversary of its arrival

A real man of the people---the top 0.01 percent of them, anyway.

Is it possible the Republican party has found someone more clueless than George W. Bush? Now that's what I call finding a needle in a haystack.

McCain also forgets his $5 million line

Kagro X :
So yeah, let's have that debate.

Question one: How many damn houses do you have, Grumpy?

Answer: Umm, umm...

Sorry, you lose.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Poor" Old Out-Of-Touch John

It was a really bad day to be John McCain


My oh my, how quickly things can change.

From the handwringing of yesterday to the buttkicking of today. It started with the news that he couldn't keep track of how many homes he owns:


The Obama campaign put out a smashmouth ad:

[ 0:30 ]
And then Barack Obama hit him on it in person:

[ 2:31 ]

This is the same Barack Obama who yesterday made it clear he would not be pushed around by anybody: [ 5:21 ]

...As if all that wasn't bad enough, CNN became the first MSM outlet to go into depth on John McCain's extramarital affairs: [ 4:42 ]

And they also looked into his dealings on the Keating Five: [ 3:28 ] ...

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How Many Homes Does McCain Have?

He's not sure:

A housing issue: McCain not sure how many they own

Money Central, MSN:

Days after he cracked that being rich in the U.S. meant earning at least $5 million a year, Republican presidential candidate John McCain acknowledged that he wasn't sure how many houses he and his wealthy wife actually own. [snip]

Campaigning in Chester, Va., Obama told voters, "I guess if you think being rich means you've got to make $5 million and if you don't know how many houses you have, it's not surprising you might think the economy is fundamentally strong."

With most Americans feeling the pinch of a worsening economy, the remark allows McCain's opponents to suggest that he personally is far beyond its grip and cannot feel their pain.

The Fabulous Life of John McCain:

[ 1:26 ]

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rachel Maddow Gets Own TV Show!

Happy Dance!

See that girl! Watch that scene!

[ 1:08 ]

Rachel Maddow to Replace Dan Abrams on MSNBC

TV Decoder, NYT:

Just in time for the closing rush of the presidential election, MSNBC is shaking up its prime-time programming lineup, removing the long-time host –- and one-time general manager of the network — Dan Abrams from his 9 p.m. program and replacing him with Rachel Maddow, who has emerged as a favored political commentator for the all-news cable channel.

The moves, which were confirmed by MSNBC executives Tuesday, are expected to be finalized by Wednesday, with Mr. Abrams’s last program on Thursday. After MSNBC’s extensive coverage of the two political conventions during the next two weeks, Ms. Maddow will begin her program on Sept. 8.



Who is the 'elitist?'

John McCain had trouble defining 'rich' the other night in the Saddleback forum.

Not that surprising for a guy whose family fortune is in the tens of millions of dollars.

So it is also not surprising that he wears $520 imported Italian loafers by Ferragamo.

Now, he certainly has the right to spend his fortune on anything he wants to. But don't tell me that he has any clue about what life is like for people who have to count their change and take advantage of the 'buy one pair, get the second pair half off' sales at Payless Shoes.

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It's not my party (you would cry too if it happened to you)

Republican elected officials dressed to attend a GOP event without being recognized

Boy, it is sure tough to be a Republican Senator these days. They are even ditching their own party's convention so as not to be seen at a Republican event.

The good news for the GOP is that the growing list of Republican Senators who plan to miss their party's convention in Saint Paul did not go up by one today. The bad news for them is that Senator Norm Coleman admitted the obvious in explaining why he would be there and in so doing blew everyone else's cover.

Aside from two retiring Senators-- Chuck Hagel, who refused to endorse John McCain (in fact Hagel announced last week that he won't make any endorsement this year) and Larry Craig (who is not going as a service to his party) many Republicans up for re-election are not going this year. Of course they are claiming it is so they can campaign. Of course. In fact it is to campaign-- and to be NOT seen on television at a Republican event. That is how far the GOP brand has sunk by now. The Republicans who have announced they won't be there include Susan Collins of Maine, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Ted Stevens of Alaska and Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina-- all in tough re-election campains this year-- and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (who according to the last poll was up by about twenty over Congressman Jim Slattery). I guess it's such a bad year for Republicans that even a twenty point lead in Kansas isn't enough to be seen at a Republican convention. A few weeks ago Smith even ran a misleading ad in Oregon in which he falsely left viewers with the impression that he had the support of Barack Obama. About the only thing Smith hasn't called himself is 'a Republican.' Which he is, of course.

Two other Republican Senators facing tough election fights, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, still are mulling over whether they want to go.

And what was the 'good news' today? Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman finally said he will be there. But only because he can't very well escape.

Coleman told Minnesota Public Radio that he's going, but

"If the convention wasn't in St. Paul, I wouldn't be at the convention"

McCain has made a big deal about the fact that Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will be there. Well, Lieberman might as well show up. Because it looks like there will be a lot of room to stretch out in the VIP section.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Browne Sues McCain For "Running On Empty"

Jackson Browne sues John McCain


Rock star Jackson Browne has sued U.S. presidential candidate John McCain for copyright infringement, accusing the presumptive Republican nominee of using the singer's 1977 hit "Running on Empty" in a campaign ad without permission.

The suit, filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also names the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party as defendants. It seeks a permanent injunction against further use of Browne's music and at least $75,000 in damages.

The campaign spot mocks McCain's Democratic rival for the White House, Barack Obama, for suggesting the nation conserve gasoline through proper tire inflation, with Browne's most famous song, "Running on Empty," playing in the background.

The suit claims use of the song without Browne's permission is a copyright violation and a breach of the U.S. Lanham Act by falsely implying Browne is associated with and endorses McCain's bid for president.

It also says use of Browne's voice in the ad violates the performer's so-called right of publicity under California law.

Browne's lawyer, Lawrence Iser, said his client is "a well-known, lifelong liberal activist and supporter of Democratic candidates, and use of his song and his voice in a commercial bashing Barack Obama is anathema to Jackson."

[ 5:27 ]

McCain’s copyright problem: oh, the hypocrisy


In fact, McCain supporters have an unnerving habit of violating copyright, which is more than ironic; it’s hypocritical, given McCain’s technology policy:

John McCain Will Protect The Creative Industries From Piracy.

The entertainment industry is both a vital sector of the domestic economy and among the largest U.S. exporters. While the Internet has provided tremendous opportunity for the creators of copyrighted works, including music and movies, to distribute their works around the world at low cost, it has also given rise to a global epidemic of piracy. John McCain supports efforts to crack down on piracy, both on the Internet and off.

Add to Browne, violations of songs by John Mellencamp, Abba, Frankie Vallie – and Saturday Night Live. Just days ago, the LA Times reported that McCain’s campaign lifted a clip from the “Wayne’s World” sketch for a Web ad.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

McCrazy Express Lanes

Left over footage from Dazed and Confused:

[ 3:15 ]

When Are the Media Going to Talk about John McCain's Infidelity?

McCain’s ‘lobbyist problem’ manages to get worse

Did Scheunemann Engineer McCain’s 2005 Nobel Prize Nomination Of Georgian President For Financial Gain?

Rove defends McCain’s Lobbyist friends by saying Obama has them too … yea, right!

McCain: ‘In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.’

Robert Scheer: Was the War in Georgia a Neocon Election Ploy?

Before you dismiss that possibility, consider the role of one Randy Scheunemann, for four years a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government who ended his official lobbying connection only in March, months after he became Republican presidential candidate John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser.

Previously, Scheunemann was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up.

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Friday, August 15, 2008


hsuB sdrawkcaB

C and L: Write your own caption.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

McDazed And McConfused McSnooze

[ 5:51 ]

3:00 AM: ZZZzzzz... Ring... ring... ring... ring... ring...

"I'm more sharp if I get a little rest."

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gutting The Endangered Species Act

Are they really going to gut the Endangered Species Act?

CS Monitor:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service announced Monday that they are proposing major changes to the Endangered Species Act, a move that critics say will dramatically weaken federal protection of threatened plants and animals.

The announcement came after the Associated Press obtained a draft proposal of the rule changes [PDF], which seek to bypass the review process for construction projects, such as highways, dams, and mines. Currently, under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, federal agencies must consult with scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether a project is likely to affect any of the 1,353 animal and plant species listed as endangered or threatened.

The draft rules, which do not need to be approved by Congress but are subject to a 30-day public-comment period, would let each agency decide for itself whether a project would harm listed species.

Additionally, the proposed rules would prohibit federal agencies from assessing the greenhouse gas emissions from construction projects.

Bush seeks to relax rules on species protection

Boston Globe:

Parts of the Endangered Species Act may soon be extinct.

The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines, and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants. New regulations, which do not require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft first obtained by the Associated Press.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said late yesterday that the changes were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a "back door" to regulate the gases blamed for global warming.[snip]

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1986. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

It appears that we do have a Pyrrhic' victory.' But don't let the right claim it is anything more than that.

Lately, it seems that the righties want to talk about Iraq. They claim that since the surge worked, that somehow that vindicates all the crap they've thrown out there about it during these past several years. Fine, let's talk about Iraq.

I beg to differ with the standard right wing analysis. It is true that violence in Iraq is way down (especially U.S. troop casualties) and that we appear to have driven al-Qaeda out of Iraq. The Al-Maliki government has won several battles against homegrown militia groups and appears to have control over nearly all of the country.

And while the right tends to exaggerate the part of this that is attributable to the surge, there is little doubt that U.S. forces played a major role in routing al-Qaeda and in helping the Sunni militias take control of their regions of Iraq, and also in supporting the government's offensives against the Sadrist militia and other similar groups. If the right is guilty of exaggeration by failing to acknowledge the contribution of former Sunni militias that we bought by the payment of cash as being very important to the overall success as the surge, then often we on the left are guilty of failing to acknowledge the plain fact that the surge worked.

But where the righty argument falls flat is when they try to extrapolate from that back to justifying the original invasion of Iraq. Several months ago I anticipated this argument in a post I wrote entitled, The BEST case scenario in Iraq: A Pyrrhic victory.

Now, as an American I'm glad that starting where we were we have achieved this best case scenario.

However if we add up the costs and gains of the Iraq war we find the following:


1. Saddam Hussein is gone. Of course there are still many bloody dictatorships in the world including the leaders of the country right now hosting the Olympics and we cannot get rid of them all but certainly we got rid of one. In any case, Saddam was gone by six weeks into the war, and had been captured by nine months into the war, so this still doesn't justify the nearly five years we've been fighting since the capture of Saddam.

2. Iraq is now a democracy. And the first thing they did with the democracy we gave them was to ratify a Constitution that states that the official religion is Islam and that Sharia is a source of the law, and elect a parliament full of fundamentalists that immediately passed restrictions on the legal rights of women so that in matters like divorce, inheritance and custody disputes they have even less rights than they had under Saddam. Democracy is like anything else-- it has to be earned to be treasured, not handed down. That is why Poles value their democracy while Iraqis have elected a majority of members of their parliament who are committed to establishing Sharia. Luckily, the political gridlock in Iraq has had the effect of preventing their parliament from getting much done.

3. There are now at best a handful of al-Qaeda members in Iraq. Which is exactly how many there were back in March 2003 when we invaded (Saddam knew who he could trust, which was nobody.) So we've beaten al-Qaeda all the way back to where it was in the first place.

4. We now know for sure that Iraq was no longer making WMD's or stockpiling them. If Bush had waited for Hans Blix to finish doing his job then we'd have learned that for free.


1. The five year detour into Iraq have al-Qaeda, almost destroyed (along with their Taliban allies) in Afghanistan by January 2003, a second chance-- and they have come roaring back. They now have far more power in both Afghanistan and in Pakistan than they have had at any time since we put that war on the back burner and went after Iraq instead in March 2003. Righty likes to compare their present status to where they were on September 11. But that is not a valid comparison. Bush could have made the final push in early 2003 to end the earth of the Taliban and rid their Afghan center of power of al-Qaeda (including bin Laden and al-Zawahri) but he chose to relax the pressure and go after Iraq instead. So the nature of our conflict against the Taliban and AQ changed fundamentally in early 2003 from one of offense to one of essentially attrition and guarding certain selected strongpoints (mostly cities and military bases.) This is exactly the strategy the Soviet Union pursued in Afghanistan and it failed then, and it has slowly been failing us over the past five years. Further, the next American President will get to deal with a weak government in Pakistan which is even less willing to support operations and go after al-Qaeda and the Taliban than the Musharraf government was-- and we now have evidence that the Pakistani intelligence service itself is full of Taliban sympathizers, making Pakistan an unreliable ally at best.

2. We have lost the support of the world that we enjoyed virtually unanimously after 9/11. Most righties tend to blow this one off, suggesting that unilateral action is better anyway, but in fact we are overstretched right now militarily (one reason Iran is so belligerent-- they know darn well that as long as we have 150,000 or so troops tied down in Iraq we lack the ground force to seriously threaten to invade them.) Thanks to the poor planning of what to do after the invasion and the years we stayed fighting in Iraq it's a safe bet that next time we need a coalition, be it for political or military reasons, we'll find lots of cheerleaders but very few willing to go out onto the field with us. And incidents like Abu Graib and the use of torture have destroyed a well-earned reputation and given us a black eye that will take decades to fade, even if they are not ever repeated.

3. 4,000 American lives. Yes, this is less than a tenth of the casualty total in Vietnam and only 1% of what we lost in World War II. But then we have to ask: 4,000 lives for what? It's not an insignificant number (for example it is more Americans than died on 9/11) and is it really inconsequential to ask why we had to lose them when there were opponents of Saddam who were willing to fight and die to overthrow him themselves (such as those who rose up in 1991) if we had just supported them?

4. The myth of American military invincibility. There was a time when the armed forces of small countries like Grenada, Haiti, Serbia or even Iraq (during the first Gulf War) would either drop their arms and surrender at the news that the Americans were on the way, or if they fought would be systematically run over and destroyed pretty much at the same rate as if they had dropped their arms. American military casualties from all conflicts that we fought, in total between the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and the start of the Iraq war in 2003 were less than a thousand (and the majority of those were killed in either the Beirut bombing or the First Gulf War.) Because of the perception of American invincibility, we rarely had to use the 'big stick' to get other countries to do what we wanted to. We just had to tap on it a time or two, and they'd get the message. But that is no longer true. Iraq has made it not true. We've had to fight hard for five years just to win a war in a country no bigger than California, so it is little wonder that countries like Iran and Venezuela have become emboldened. In the movie, "Predator," Arnold Schwarzeneggar's character is emboldened when he discovers that he has wounded the alien creature. He says, "If it bleeds, we can kill it." Thanks to Bush's reckless misuse of the finest military machine in the history of the world, other countries will now have that attitude. Even the small wars in the future, we will have to fight them, not be able to win anymore just by showing up.

5. A trillion dollars at least, once all the costs of Iraq are tallied up. Even if our economy was sound, a trillion dollars of new debt (because it was all borrowed from the future) would be a big hit. But in the sick economy we have now, the trillion dollars of new federal debt (and corresponding drop in the dollar) is more than a big hit. It's more like a crippling hit.

6. Geopolitical winners: 1. Iran. Saddam (their biggest enemy) is gone. They have a friendly government in power in Baghdad (and just in case that changes the Badr brigades they had trained for years in case they needed to push an uprising against Saddam, has seamlessly melted into and put on the uniform of the Iraqi army.) The United States (their most powerful enemy) is no longer able to do more than bomb them, because we played the 'invasion and occupation' card. 2. China. As we decline thanks to Iraq (see #4) we should remember that history always shows us that as one power declines, another invariably rises to challenge its place. Just as we rose, reached parity with, and eventually eclipsed the power of a declining Great Britain. Anyone have any doubt as to what the next superpower will be (or maybe already is?)

As I said several months ago, the best outcome that was possible in Iraq was a Pyrrhic victory. Of course that is better than an outright loss (we've got the trophy, right?) but it in no way vindicates or justifies the stupid and poorly thought out decision to go to war in the first place.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Water Tapped

Bottled Water: The Height of Stupidity

Bottled water is a joke, one of the biggest consumer and taxpayer ripoffs ever.


Not only do society and the environment pay an unfair price for this consumer hoax, but consumers are being hoodwinked. They are paying from 300 to 3,000 times more than the cost of tap water without any benefit.

An estimate by a University of Toronto geology professor Andrew Miall, who took a picture of a grocery store skid of bottled water and calculated the extent of the ripoff, found the stack of bottles:

  • Contains 24,192 bottles, each containing 500 ml of water, a total of 12,096 liters of water, in 314.5 kg of plastic

  • Purchase price of the $4.99 per 24-bottle pack is $0.42 per liter for a total retail value of $5,029.92

  • To purchase the same volume of water in bulk through Toronto's domestic water supply would cost $16.93
  • The scam

    The water is usually not superior to "city" water or tap water, and is merely a big branding hoax by soda makers. In some cases, this "designer" water is drawn from tap water and labeled for suckers to buy as though it is a superior product.

    Dasani in Britain was caught doing this. There are not regulations or proper labeling requirements governing bottled water as there is involving tap water. Some water may be contaminated. [snip]

    There are indications that the plastic may contain harmful carcinogens.

    Bottles of water are mini gas guzzlers

    One expert estimated that the amount of petroleum -- used to make the bottles, transport, refrigerate, collect and bury them -- would fill one-third of each bottle.

    These plastic bottles are creating landfill problems worldwide, and are washing up on beautiful beaches around the planet.

    Bottled Water's Shocking Impacts and the Growing Opposition

    Here are two stories that show the huge impacts of bottled water and the pressure the industry is receiving lately from consumers and officials.


    Editor's Note: We've been following the rising grassroots movement against the bottled water industry. And it looks like the hard work is paying off. According to one group working on the issue, "In May, Nestle reported that its bottled water profits had dropped, acknowledging 'criticism of bottled water' as a factor in decreased sales.

    Also related:

    Nestle Targets Aquifers and Springs in New England for Bottled Water

    Leaders in government, business, religious, and spiritual movements across America are increasingly rejecting bottled water because of its indefensible environmental costs. It is time that this state also calls a halt to the aggressive intrusions of the bottled water industry into the vulnerable water sources that supply small-town homes, farms, and public conservation lands.

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    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    Over The Rainbow

    Pull Up A Chair…

    By egregious:

    "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
    And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true"

    I love this photo with the combination of dark skies, calm lake, and stunningly bright rainbow -- a double rainbow for good luck.

    It's tempting to get trapped in the dark and think it will be like this forever, whether politically or personally. To get beyond that it helps to reconnect with your dreams -- your childhood dreams, your young adult hopes, your current vision for the future.

    To be at a point of transition, when one set of dreams has come to fruition, but the next set are waiting for the muse, is a special challenge. I think a lot of us are experiencing this disequilibrium politically if not personally. Our ideas about the way things are supposed to be have been shaken. Developing new ideas, new dreams, takes time and creative thought and way more patience that I can find sometimes.

    Photo by Nicholas_T at Minsi Lake, Northampton County PA


    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Keeping Them Dogies Rollin'

    You don't roll out a new product in August.

    Kagro X:

    But that's OK. This isn't a new product.

    August 1, 2008:
    Citing Stability in Iraq, Bush Sees Troop Cuts

    Published: August 1, 2008

    One year ago:
    US may reduce forces in Iraq by spring

    By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
    Fri Jun 22, 6:52 PM ET

    Two years ago:
    U.S. general in Iraq outlines troop cuts

    Michael R. Gordon The New York Times
    Published: June 25, 2006

    Three years ago:
    U.S. Signals Spring Start for Pullout
    General Restates Position, Noting Contingencies, During Rumsfeld Visit to Baghdad

    By Ann Scott Tyson and Ellen Knickmeyer
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, July 28, 2005; Page A18

    Four years ago:
    Building Iraqi Security Forces Must Continue, Sanchez Says

    By John D. Banusiewicz
    American Forces Press Service


    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Lessons For Bloviating Bill

    Send Bill O'Reilly Back to School

    Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films:

    It's back-to-school time! Parents are starting to shop for their children's school supplies: notebooks, pencils, crayons, and of course, Bill O'Reilly's book, "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids." Talk about one of these things being NOT like the others!

    O'Reilly thinks he can teach our children proper behavior, and we can't think of a worse father figure than an angry, hate-filled shock jock notorious for telling guests to "Shut up!" We wondered what would happen if kids read O'Reilly's book and then saw the real O'Reilly for themselves. So we put together a video to illustrate O'Reilly's duplicity.

    [ 2:43 ]

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    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    "Broken" Fact Checking

    John McCain claims Washington is "broken" and that he is "the one" who can "fix" it?

    [ 1:14 ]
    • McCain hasn't been to his job in the senate since April.
    Big tobacco:

    • McCain has taken in nearly $100,000 in tobacco industry contributions.

    • McCain senior campaign aide Charlie Black was a lobbyist for Philip Morris before joining the campaign.

    • McCain voted with the tobacco lobby against higher cigarette taxes to fund children's health insurance.

    Drug companies:

    • McCain took donation from Billy Tauzin, president/CEO and top lobbyist of Big Pharma.

    • Despite his tough talk... McCain has raised much cash from pharmaceuticals.


    • McCain wrote "improper letters to FCC on behalf of campaign donors.

    • McCain violated law by breaking federal spending limits.

    • McCain took low-cost trips on corporate jets, despite sponsoring legislation to crack down on the practice.

    Wall Street:

    • McCain stands for deregulation of insurance markets.

    • Former McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm was lobbyist for banking industry on subprime loans.

    Big Oil:
    •McCain gave oil executives what they needed to get... solidly in his corner.

    • McCain has taken over 1.3 million in campaign contributions.

    • McCain opposes taxing windfall profits of oil companies.
    What the Hell?! He helped break it!

    [ 1:42 ]


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    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Fuelish Antics

    Friday: The elephant bull show...

    Congress exits after impasse on gas prices


    Senate Republicans blocked a bill aimed at curbing speculation in oil markets, while a similar bill and several others by House Democrats — including a plan to encourage drilling in already available coastal areas and in Alaska — failed to advance after party leaders brought them to the floor under procedures that required supermajorities to pass.

    House Conservatives Engage In Political Stunt, Demand A Vote On Gas Prices After Obstructing A Vote

    Think Progress:

    House conservatives engaged in political theater today, storming the floor after Congress was adjourned “to attack Democrats for leaving town without doing something to lower gas prices.” Politico reports, “At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark.”

    Turn out the lights, the party’s over (or perhaps not)

    C and L:

    There’s probably a general impression among voters that the House of Representatives is a silly, dysfunctional institution, made up of a few too many people who love to hear themselves talk, but aren’t especially fond of governing.

    - - - - -

    The point of the spectacle is … well, it’s not quite clear what the point is. Republicans apparently want some tourists to know that they support drilling the coasts for oil. It wouldn’t lower the price of gas, and wouldn’t help consumers in any way, but darn it all, they really want to talk about drilling anyway.

    - - - - -

    It’s hard to overstate how truly ridiculous these unhinged fools really are. One wonders how long it will take for the Republican Party to rediscover the value of acting like grown-ups.

    - - - - -

    Today is perhaps the single best example in recent history of lawmakers going out of their way to prove that caricature right.

    Since when do Republicans oppose routine auto maintenance?

    C and L:

    Barack Obama reminded an audience yesterday that American consumers can save money and improve fuel efficiency by keeping their tired inflated and getting regular tune-ups. I thought this was just common sense, and one of those simple steps that everyone already knew about.

    Apparently, Republicans have decided that it’s worthy of mockery.

    Monday: The bull continues...

    Republicans Playing More Games On House Floor

    C and L:

    Oh those silly Republicans, trying to show how seriously they take their job to represent their oil lobbyist buddies constituents by repeating the shenanigans of Friday.

    Bush Rebuffs GOP’s ‘Boston Tea Party,’ Won’t Request Special Session For Oil Drilling Stunt

    Think Progress:

    These conservatives are desperately trying to convince the American public that this crude political stunt is actually important. To do so, they are casting the protest as historic, akin to what happened at the founding of the nation...

    - - - - -

    But even the White House refuses to endorse this political theater.

    - - - - -

    The conservative stunt is a waste of time.

    But that doesn't stop them from mocking practical vehicle maintenance, including proper tire inflation....

    McCain Mocks Obama With Tire Gauges...

    Think Progress:

    Today, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee are taking issue with Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) recent suggestion that Americans inflate their car tires to save on gasoline.

    Both are not only falsely claiming that Obama’s energy policy is based entirely on car maintenance, but they are concurrently selling and handing out tire gauges reading “Obama’s Energy Plan” as part of a fundraising campaign.

    - - - - -

    As ThinkProgress recently noted, the Department of Energy and the auto industry have said proper car care can have a significant impact on saving energy and gas money. Moreover, stock car racing giant NASCAR also agrees, urging its fans to pay attention to tire inflation pressure to increase fuel economy.

    GOP won’t let go of its new tire-gauge toy

    Carpetbagger Report:

    Atrios asked this morning, “Does anyone understand why Obama suggesting that people keep their tires properly inflated is some sort of hilarious gaffe?”

    I’ve been trying to figure out the same thing for days.

    - - - - -

    There’s something deeply wrong with these people.

    Let’s review. The other day, Barack Obama mentioned to voters in Missouri that there are things individuals can do to help conserve energy, including bringing their cars in for regular tune ups, and keeping their tires properly inflated. It seemed like a rather unremarkable thing to say.

    But at this point, Republicans can’t seem to stop commenting on just how remarkable they think this is.

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    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Site Meter v. IE

    Some visitors may have had problems visiting this site recently, and I do apologize. I had a dickens of a time trying to find out what was wrong.

    The problem was that the site crashed (created an upgrade that IE won't accept) yesterday and viewers using the Internet Exporer browser to any site that uses it for a counter got the error message:
    Internet Explorer cannot open the Internet site

    Operation aborted
    The suggested work-around for site visitors is to use another browser.

    The suggested work-around for site owners is to (temporarily?) remove the sitemeter scripting code from their site templates (tip suggestion: save it to a notepad file, without word wrap, so you can reinstall it when it comes back on line).

    Again, my apologies for any inconveniences.

    Update: 3:20 PM

    It looks like Sitemeter has resolved the issue. (?)


    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Wal-Mart pressuring its employees to vote Republican

    I've posted before that I have no love lost for Wal-Mart, which is in trouble every year it seems for various exploitative labor practices. In the past decade or so, Wal-Mart has been caught violating child labor laws, hiring illegals for $2/night to clean its stores, discriminating against female employees, forcing employees to work on their lunch breaks and sending out a memo on how to get rid of employees who have six years working with the company in order to deny them retirement benefits they would have become eligible for when they hit the seven year mark. In most of these cases they've either had to pay a fine or settled out of court, though in the gender discrimination class-action lawsuit they took it all the way through and lost.

    And that's not even counting the non-illegal things they've done, including buying products produced in foreign sweatshops, selling products in targeted communities at below cost in order to force local small business competitors out of business, giving employees welfare applications as part of their 'benefits' package, going so far as to close entire stores in order to avoid unionization and only grudgingly, after many years, agreeing to offer health insurance once several states passed legislation which for all practical purposes forced them to.

    But now they've gone to a new level: telling their employees how to vote. Oh, of course they say they are NOT telling them how to vote, before telling them how to vote.

    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they'll likely change Federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies-- including Wal-Mart.

    In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.

    According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise....

    The Wal-Mart human-resources managers who run the meetings don't specifically tell attendees how to vote in November's election, but make it clear that voting for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama would be tantamount to inviting unions in, according to Wal-Mart employees who attended gatherings in Maryland, Missouri and other states.

    "The meeting leader said, 'I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill will pass and you won't have a vote on whether you want a union,'" said a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor from Missouri. "I am not a stupid person. They were telling me how to vote," she said.

    It should also be pointed out that Wal-Mart is possibly in violation of the law with these meetings: Federal election rules permit companies to advocate for specific political candidates to its executives, stockholders and salaried managers, but not to hourly employees. While store managers are on salary, department supervisors are hourly workers.

    Of course they've been in violation of many laws before and seem to consider the resulting fines to just be part of the cost of doing business.

    Now, I know, I know. If you are a conservative your knee-jerk reaction to Wal-Mart pressuring its employees in this way will probably be viscerally positive (i.e. it depends on whose ox is getting gored.) So let me turn it around for you:

    Suppose that a publically funded institution were to do the same thing. Suppose for example that employees of a public school were called together and told (by their immediate supervisor, who incidentally has a lot of say about their continued employment) that "I'm not telling you how to vote but you should know that if Republicans win in November then we may face massive budget cuts, so that some of you may lose your jobs or take pay cuts, and you may be forced to work under more difficult conditions. Now remember, I'm not telling you how to vote, but you should understand that this is what will happen if Republicans win the election."

    If that happened at a school then you'd be screaming bloody murder. You know you would.

    Wal-Mart has the right to donate to political campaigns (which they do, heavily), lobby elected officials for or against legislation and even create a 527 or other organization to advertise directly to the public on political issues (which is fair enough, given that unions do the same thing.) As a publically traded company they can even contact all their shareholders and disseminate their political propaganda.

    However forcing their employees to attend a mandatory meeting run by their supervisor for the specific purpose of telling them that voting for Barack Obama may cost them their jobs is both illegal and unethical.

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    Big Difference

    The key difference between a mistake and a lie

    Steve Benen, C and L:

    If someone makes a false claim, it’s a little easier to get away with it the first time. He or she could always just claim ignorance: “Wait, he wasn’t caught in a compromising position with farm animals? Oh, I’d heard that he was. My mistake.”

    When someone makes a false claim after he/she has been told it’s false, there’s less of an excuse. At that point, it goes from a mistake to a lie. It’s the difference between inadvertently misleading people and deliberately misleading people.

    - - - - -

    I bring this up, though, because I think the presumptive Republican nominee is offering up an opportunity to create a new campaign meme: “John McCain has a problem telling the truth.”

    - - - - -

    McCain lied about Obama snubbing the troops. We know it, he knows it, the media knows it. McCain lied about Obama’s economic policies. We know it, he knows it, the media knows it. McCain lied about coastal drilling offering “short-term” relief. McCain lied about Obama wanting to raise taxes on 23 million small businesses. McCain lied when he held Obama responsible for high gas prices. We know it, he knows it, the media knows it.

    Arguing that McCain has become entirely negative is almost beside the point — a candidate can be negative and honest.

    - - - - -

    If McCain wanted to go on the attack in a truthful way, he could.

    But he’s following a different path. “John McCain has a problem telling the truth.” Tell your friends.

    'Straight Talk Express' takes the low road

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