Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oh, Okay, Just One More

This was fun.

No Comment

Today's Experiment


Oldies But Goodies

I've been immersed today in Jerome A Paris' always informative but depressing economy thread on Daily Kos (close to 500 comments, many equally informative) and finally found something worth passing along.
The Bottom Line:

Friday, March 14, 2008

A More Civil Campaign Ahead?

It's being reported that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke briefly on the Senate floor yesterday, committing to reign in supporters like Samantha Power and Geraldine Ferraro and getting the upcoming discussions back on more substantial tracks. Let us hope.

Better yet, check out Wonkette's hilarious commenters on the matter. If you dare.

Barack Obama's Mother

profiled in today's New York Times.

The Romance of Iraq

During a videoconference with U.S. military and civilian personnel yesterday, President Bush praised the troops fighting in Afghanistan, claiming he was "a little envious" of their "romantic" fight:

"I must say, I’m a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

Good FISA Bill Passes

See UPDATE below.
The House just voted 213 to 197 in favor of the much improved surveillance bill, the most important part of which is that it DOES NOT include immunity from prosecution for the telecoms that cooperated with illegal warrantless wiretapping.
Now Congress goes into recess for two weeks, and during the interim there may be negotiations between the House and Senate on it. Remember the Senate bill was terrible and included immunity.
There's been some procedural stuff happening that I'm too impatient to follow, so whatever goes back to the Senate may be designed by Democrats to do an end run around Republican delaying tactics.
Tone of speculation is that enough Blue Dogs in the Senate may actually go for a bill without immunity as well.
Of course, Bush will veto this and that's okay, because it won't come up again before the election and in the meantime the 38 lawsuits can go forward, presumably exposing the administration's lawbreaking in the process.
Stay tuned.
It's worth reminding ourselves that some companies did not cooperate — Qwest and Bell South. The former CEO of Qwest has appealed his conviction for insider trading, arguing he had every reason to believe when he sold his stock that prices would remain high.
It was only after the feds retaliated against the company by n
ot coming through on expected contracts that the stock sank. Documents from his appeal and another lawsuit adding AT&T to the list of defendants claim that the spy program began in Feb. 2001, long before 9/11.
It's a point worth remembering because most media reports tend to run with the 9/11 connection. Lazy, stupid, dishonest journalism in my opinion.

UPDATE: The Blue Dogs who stuck with the good guys on this are the ones in districts vulnerable to Republican challenges. They face robo calling in their districts and targeted ads pressuring them on this issue. There's a special fund set up to show some support.
McJoan explains more here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

House in Closed Session

...for the first time in 25 years to debate the surveillance bill — FISA fix — that progressives have broadly praised. The closed session idea was apparently a Republican request, whether it was to actually talk about something they don't want public or a grandstanding measure (like their walkout a few weeks ago) or who knows.
TPM has a short story.

Obama Facts

The following was put together by a team at Daily Kos. Anyone reading this who would like an html version to publish can find it here.

Subject: The Real Truth About Barack Obama!

As enthusiastic volunteers in the Barack Obama campaign for the Presidency, we have put together a list of facts about Barack so that you will know the truth about him. Please follow the links we have included for documentation of these facts. If you value the truth as we do, please spread this information via email, blog, or any other means, to everyone you know.

  1. Did you know that Barack Obama is a devout Christian? He has been a member of the same United Church of Christ congregation for 20 years, and was married there to his wife Michelle in 1992.

  2. Did you know that Barack Obama often leads the US Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance?

  3. Did you know that Barack Obama is a strong friend of Israel and has spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism?

  4. Did you know his grandparents from Kansas were part of the "Greatest Generation?. His grandfather served with Patton's Army during World War II, and his grandmother, a real "Rosy the Riveter", worked in a bomber assembly plant back home.

  5. Did you know that Barack Obama was opposed to the war in Iraq from day one, before we invaded, even while he was running for the Senate, and knowing his opposition might be politically unpopular?

    "I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars." --Barack Obama, 2002

  6. Did you know Obama favors transparency over secrecy in our government? Did you know that Obama worked with Republican Senator Tom Coburn to pass one of the strongest government transparency bills since the freedom of information act? He's calling it Google for Government and you can see the results at Sen. Obama has also released his own tax returns for public review.

  7. Did you know that after graduating with honors from Harvard Law School, Barack practiced civil rights law and also taught Constitutional Law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, one of the nation's best law schools, where he was consistentl y rated by his students as one of their best instructors? Did you also know that he was the first African-American elected pres ident of the prestigious Harvard Law Review?

  8. Did you know that Barack Obama is an outspoken advocate for women's rights and has been a principled defender of the civil rights of women?

  9. Did you know that despite the grueling schedule of running for President, Senator Obama remains a devoted family man, making time to do things like pick out a Christmas tree with his wife and two young daughters, or hurrying home to spend Valentine's Day with them? Did you know he hasn't missed a single parent-teacher conference while running for President?

  10. Did you know that Barack Obama has a stellar environmental record, including having the highest rating from the League of Conservation Voters (96%) of any Presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican?

  11. Did you know that Barack Obama has been an elected legislator longer than Senator Clinton?

  12. Did you know that Barack is a member of all of these Senate Committees: Foreign Relations; Veteran's Affairs; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Homeland Security and Government Affairs?

  13. Did you know that Senator Obama has sponsored or co-sponsored 15 bills that have become law, and has introduced amendments to 50 bills, of which 16 were adopted since he joined the Senate in 2005?

  14. Did you know that Senator Obama sponsored legislation working together with Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, to keep Americans safe by keeping dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands? The two senators also visited the former Soviet Union to inspect the decommissioning of nuclear weapons. Sen. Lugar said of Sen. Obama, "He does have a sense of idealism and principled leadership, a vision of the future."

  15. Did you know that Barack Obama is the only candidate running for president who voted against using cluster bombs in Iraq and the only candidate who supports banning the use of landmines?

  16. Did you know that, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama succeeded in passing legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, gaining the respect and support not only of fellow legislators but that of the police, who had initially opposed the legislation?

  17. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton were all younger when they took office than Barack Obama will be?

During election season many emails are circulated about the candidates. Some are true, some aren't. It's often difficult to determine the truth. We encourage you to visit the following non-partisan sites that do a good job of fact checking the candidates.

Memo o' Day

Obama campaign's take on Clinton campaign's take.

From: [mailto:dailyreportersbounces@] On Behalf Of Bill Burton
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 6:37 PM
To: Bill Burton
Subject: FW: The Clinton Memo... as annotated by the Obama communicationsdepartment
To: Interested Parties
From: Clinton Campaign
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Re: Keystone Test: Obama Losing Ground [Get ready for a good one.]
The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania so if Barack Obama
can’t win there, how will he win the general election?
[Answer: I suppose by holding obviously Democratic states like California and New
York, and beating McCain in swing states like Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota,
Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin where Clinton lost to Obama by mostly crushing
margins. But good question.]
After setbacks in Ohio and Texas, Barack Obama needs to demonstrate that he can win
the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the last state with more than 15 electoral votes
on the primary calendar and Barack Obama has lost six of the seven other largest states
so far – every state except his home state of Illinois.
[If you define “setback” as netting enough delegates out of our 20-plus-point wins in
Mississippi and Wyoming to completely erase any delegate advantage the Clinton
campaign earned out of March 4th, then yeah, we feel pretty setback.]
Pennsylvania is of particular importance, along with Ohio, Florida and Michigan, because
it is dominated by the swing voters who are critical to a Democratic victory in November.
No Democrat has won the presidency without winning Pennsylvania since 1948. And no
candidate has won the Democratic nomination without winning Pennsylvania since 1972.
[What the Clinton campaign secretly means: PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE
we’re still trying to wrap our minds around the amazing coincidence that the only
“important” states in the nominating process are the ones that Clinton won.]
But the Obama campaign has just announced that it is turning its attention away from
This is not a strategy that can beat John McCain in November.
- 2 -
[I don’t think Clinton’s strategy of losing in state after state after promising more of
the same politics is working all that well either.]
In the last two weeks, Barack Obama has lost ground among men, women, Democrats,
independents and Republicans – all of which point to a candidacy past its prime.
[“A candidacy past its prime.” These guys kill me.]
For example, just a few weeks ago, Barack Obama won 68% of men in Virginia, 67% in
Wisconsin and 62% in Maryland. He won 60% of Virginia women and 55% of Maryland
women. He won 62% of independents in Maryland, 64% in Wisconsin and 69% in
Virginia. Obama won 59% of Democrats in Maryland, 53% in Wisconsin and 62% in
Virginia. And among Republicans, Obama won 72% in both Virginia and Wisconsin.
But now Obama’s support has dropped among all these groups.
[That’s true, if you don’t count all the winning we’ve been up to. As it turns out, it’s
difficult to maintain 40-point demographic advantages, even over Clinton]
In Mississippi, he won only 25% of Republicans and barely half of independents. In
Ohio, he won only 48% of men, 41% of women and 42% of Democrats. In Texas, he
won only 49% of independents and 46% of Democrats. And in Rhode Island, Obama
won just 33% of women and 37% of Democrats.
[I’m sympathetic to their attempt to parse crushing defeats. And I’m sure Rush
Limbaugh’s full-throated endorsement of Clinton didn’t make any difference.
Why are so many voters turning away from Barack Obama in state after state?
[You mean besides the fact that we’re ahead in votes, states won and delegates?]
In the last few weeks, questions have arisen about Obama’s readiness to be president. In
Virginia, 56% of Democratic primary voters said Obama was most qualified to be
commander-in-chief. That number fell to 37% in Ohio, 35% in Rhode Island and 39% in
[Only the Clinton campaign could cherry pick states like this. But in contrast to
their logic, in the most recent contest of Mississippi, voters said that Obama was
more qualified to be commander in chief than Clinton by a margin of 55-42.]
So the late deciders – those making up their minds in the last days before the election –
have been shifting to Hillary Clinton. Among those who made their decision in the last
three days, Obama won 55% in Virginia and 53% in Wisconsin, but only 43% in
Mississippi, 40% in Ohio, 39% in Texas and 37% in Rhode Island.
- 3 -
[If only there were enough late deciders for the Clinton campaign to actually be
ahead, they would really be on to something.]
If Barack Obama cannot reverse his downward spiral with a big win in Pennsylvania, he
cannot possibly be competitive against John McCain in November.
[If they are defining downward spiral as a series of events in which the Clinton
campaign has lost more votes, lost more contests and lost more delegates to us – I
guess we will have to suffer this horribly painful slide all the way to the nomination
and then on to the White House.]
[Thanks for the laughs guys. This was great.]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Push It Up

Ya know, ya gotta do it. Right?
Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging.

It's Time to Join ACLU

Way past time, actually. But I got to reading all the discussion at Daily Kos today about the ACLUs watchdog aggression against all the federal government's violations of privacy revealed on the recent Wall Street Journal article and I knew it was time to remind myself and remind you. The WSJ story basically revealed that the government has been data mining like crazy despite Congressional action to shut down such programs in 2003. In other words, they're BREAKING THE LAW and spying on us all.
The ACLU has decided it's better that Congress do nothing about FISA and instead investigate all this before it does anything else.
We'll see how far that idea goes.
Support those folks, you get a neat sticker for your car that says "This family protected by the ACLU."
Oh, and here's an action page.

Um, Gerri, Stop Digging. Kay?

UPDATE 2:27p.m. She resigned her position with the Clinton campaign.

O, Noz! Wiki of Dicks!

There's a wiki of dicks. Why didn't I think of it?
And guess who's on it?

Who else? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But no Norm.

Eliot Spitzer Second-Day Story

Glenn Greenwald at Salon puts the right questions out there. It's short enough that I won't summarize, just highly recommend.

As in:
Sometimes, people force women against their will to work as prostitutes. Therefore, we should outlaw all prostitution (rather than just outlaw forced prostitution and human trafficking)

What say you, women of a certain age?

It isn't clear why the FBI sought the wiretap warrant. Federal prostitution probes are exceedingly rare, lawyers say, except in cases involving organized-crime leaders or child abuse. Federal wiretaps are seldom used to make these cases; search warrants usually suffice. Wiretap applications generally are reserved for serious crimes, such as drug, weapons and terrorism-related cases. There typically are no more than 1,400 wiretaps in use nationwide at any given time.

A Message From Hillary Clinton's Campaign

David Mamet Is Just Brilliant

(and Eliot Spitzer Is So Gone)
Mamet has written a wonderful essay on why he is no longer a brain-dead liberal for the Village Voice and although it's long, it's witty and fun and seems short. High recommend.
Money quote:
...the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot Spitzer Comedy Moment

Huffington Post pulled together some of the best bits into a chucklie little video that I can't embed over here, but you can watch over there.
I'm kinda glad that New York's governor sorta sucked all the politics out of the day, though, so I don't have to read every little back and forth between Clinton and Obamiacs.
Also, there's a Mississippi primary today.

Needed: Better Democrats

Glenn Greenwald writes today in Salon about the netroots' efforts to successfully pressure Democratic office holders who waver on core values like SCHIP, the children's insurance program, and current movements to further embarrass and influence the so-called Blue Dogs into doing the right thing.
It's easy to contribute in this age of the Internet, you don't have to sit back wringing your hands, convinced there's little you can do.
This is what politics on the Internet is all about.
Greenwald rightly points out that the netroots is most effective targeting local races, citing the recent election of Democrat Bill Foster in former House Speaker Denny Hastert's very red district in Illinois.
There's now a national effort to pressure Blue Dogs on the FISA bill, discussed in the post below, whose provisions Greenwald largely approves.
Here's a place to vote on who should be targeted, and a place to contribute to the ad campaign.
Remember, the vote could come up as early as Thursday.

Northwest Women Writers

Lisa Albers has an ongoing series of interviews with women writers of literary, romance and mystery fiction featured in the magazine Seattle Woman.

FISA: Good News ?

The New York Times reports today that a House compromise surveillance measure is almost ready to go to the floor for a vote on Thursday absent provisions for retroactive immunity for the telecom companies.
Instead, the bill would leave it to a federal court to weigh evidence regarding what the telecoms did and whether they should be granted immunity from prosecution on a more limited basis.
Staunch opponents to any form of immunity may cry foul on the provision that resembles an amendment defeated in the Senate, but the proposal also includes some other intriguing provisions calling for more Congressional oversight of an electronic spying program only publicly revealed two years ago.
But read the whole story and make up your own mind.

Monday, March 10, 2008

FISA: My Letter to the Editor

See post below for an easy way for you to weigh in.

We now know the Bush administration's efforts to immunize telecom companies from prosecution for their cooperation in warrantless electronic spying on Americans has almost nothing to do with anti-terrorism.
Instead, it's all about preventing lawsuits from going forward that would reveal the extent of the administration's own culpability in illegal activity.
We know this from the court papers filed in the appeal of the insider trading conviction of the former CEO of Qwest, the only company that declined to cooperate.
The documents show Qwest was asked to cooperate in February 2001, long before Sept. 11.
The company balked, lost lucrative federal contracts and faced retaliatory prosecution.
Now that the Senate and House are in negotiations over further surveillance legislation, it is up to citizens to tell their representatives to hold firm against this crucial Fourth Amendment issue.
From yesterday's outstanding story in the Wall Street Journal:
"According to current and former intelligence officials, the (NSA) spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records."
Of course, you did nothing wrong. What's a little loss of privacy in a free country with an infinitely trustworthy government?

ACTION Opp: Torture Petition

Shrubya vetoed the anti-torture legislation over the weekend. It's appalling, I don't need to say anymore.
Harry Reid still needs your signature on his anti-torture petition.

Clinton Entitlement

I will never forget how excited I was when Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as Mondale's vice presidential choice. I even went to a rally she held in Seattle, cheered and thrilled to see proof that my feminist activism was worth it.
It's no surprise that as a status quo Democrat, she's a key operative and surrogate for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
But here's a key example of how that campaign plans to win:
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she continued. "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Ferraro does not buy the notion of Obama as the great reconciler.

Oh, really. If he were white like the affable, not notoriously successful governor of a small Southern state like Bill Clinton. Or the go-along-to-get-along Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy.
Really, Gerri, you do your candidate no favors with stuff like this.

FISA: Use Free Media

Free media is the term PR people use for when publicity comes through channels other than paid advertising.
Letters to newspapers is a quite effective way of getting your views before thousands of people and, believe it or not, letters to editor columns are one of the most highly read sections of a newspaper.
Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Conyers, chairmen of the intelligence committees in each Congressional body are asking people to write letters about FISA to raise public awareness of the issue now in conference between the two bodies.
The main sticking point is the ongoing battle to resist the provision that would grant immunity from prosecution for telecom companies that cooperated with the administration's admitted illegal surveillance of Americans following 9/11.
To be fair, the administration doesn't admit the illegal part of it. As far as they're concerned, under their unitary executive theory, anything a president does is legal by definition. Nixon thought the same thing, as you might recall. Right up until he resigned.
It should also be noted that the former CEO of QWest, my phone company, is appealing his conviction on insider trading charges and in court documents filed with that appeal, it turns out that the administration actually began its spying in February 2001, right after Bush took office.
Anyway, Leahy and Conyers have set up a handy little online tool to help you write to your newspaper, give the relevant facts and opinion and ship it all off online.
They wouldn't be asking if they didn't believe it would be effective.

Adieu, Eliot Spitzer. Mon Dieu!

So the recently elected Democratic governor of New York whose career as a crusading Attorney General had him on the future presidential candidate map is going down. In flames.
Oldest game in the book, just can't keep it in his pants.
From the text-messaging between the "girl" and her "handler,":
"he" (believed to be a reference to Client-9) "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe - you know - I mean that . . . very basic things. . . . "Kristen" responded: "I have a way of dealing with that . . . I'd be like listen dude, you really want the sex? . . .
Best we know now.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

New Feature

Paris March 2008 by Scott Shuman

The Eye Candy feature to your right is a list of links that offer some form of visual beauty. Send me your finds.
This is The Sartorialist, one tasteful man's highly popular take on the fashion of the streets and the runways.