Partisan Political Nonsense, Even On This Day

September 13, 2008

From 9/11…

Against my better judgment, I journeyed to the place where free-thinking dissent crawls home to die an utterly inglorious death, and that of course is the editorial page of the Murdoch Street Journal.

Writer Daniel Henninger laments what he sees here as the dissent against Bushco that began before the commencement of the ruinous war in Iraq, back to the point shortly after the Patriot Act was passed and signed into law and the “Torture Yoo” memos appeared.

(And of course, Henninger chides Barack Obama for, at first, opposing the sham FISA “compromise” before he eventually signed onto it; yep, I can’t say anything about that in defense either, truth be told – I’m sure the senator from Illinois is adroit enough to realize that he’d better have a good comeback for that vote, since John W. McBush will surely throw it in his face during one of the debates.)

But of course, since we’re talking about the Murdoch Street Journal after all, language such as what follows is inescapable…

We will listen closely in the debates to what Sens. Obama and McCain say about Islamic terror. To vote for Sen. Obama is to also vote for a Democratic Party that consumed most of the political system’s available oxygen for seven years fighting a U.S. president harder than they did the perpetrators of September 11.

Political struggle is ever with us, but given the realities that 9/11 revealed (as did the terror bombings in Europe), the relentless scale of the Democratic opposition to the Bush administration’s antiterror policies is hard to square.

Funny that Henninger, in his blaming of the Dems for what he views as unjustified intrusions onto the imperial turf of Commander Codpiece, forgets the untidy little fact that the Supreme Court of the United States (even with “Strip Search Sammy” Scalito and Hangin’ Judge J.R.) voted three times against what it viewed as overreach by the executive branch in the Now And Forever You Godless Luburuuls And Yure Barack Hussein Lovin’ Obama Muslim Global War On Terra! Terra! Terra! (in this article from June, it ruled that terror detainees can appeal their verdicts to civilian courts).

And as far as the Dems fighting Dubya harder than the 9/11 perpetrators (almost doesn’t deserve a response), I should note that one of the first acts of the 110th Democratic Congress was to vote to implement many of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations – something the Repugs running the 109th did not do – including “increas(ing) funding for aviation security technology, (due to) ongoing warnings regarding the vulnerability to on-board attacks,” according to the WaPo here.

Also (as noted in this Media Matters post)…

A Democratic leadership source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plans are not final, said (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi is likely to reorganize House committees to streamline jurisdiction over security matters.

“There’s a whole realm of things that need to be done,” (former Repug New Jersey Governor and 9/11 Commission Report author Tom) Kean said. “The fact that the new speaker wants to make it a priority, I congratulate her.”

Also, as noted here, a certain senator from Illinois wrote a letter to President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History in August 2006, asking him to work with the 109th to improve Bushco’s dismal record of “5 F’s and 12 D’s” concerning its record of implementing the commission’s recommendations to improve our security.

Oh, and I should note that Henninger’s column in the Journal has the perfectly apt title of “Wonder Land.” Fortunately for us, though, it is the Dems who are living in the real world on the urgent matter of trying to keep us safe.


This Just In! The “Stinky Inky” Is Clueless Again!

September 13, 2008

From 9/10…I apologize for the overuse of exclamation points, but I think the emphasis is deserved; this editorial from today’s conservative Philadelphia newspaper of record deserved to be buried in our cat’s litter box, not featured in a place of prominence as determined by the Inquirer…

Here’s some “Breaking News” from MSNBC: The cable news channel has dumped two of its high-profile yakkers – Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews – from the anchor seats of its political coverage. David Gregory, a legitimate news broadcaster, will lead the political coverage going forward.

Oh, and by the way, here and here are examples of “legitimate” news broadcaster David Gregory in action; I assure you that I could find many more if I wanted to, but life is short (and by the way, here’s Greenwald again on this).

Liberal bloggers are upset by the move, arguing that MSNBC caved in to pressure from John McCain’s campaign and the right wing. Criticizing the media has been a cheap but effective tool by the McCain camp – but on this score MSNBC has no one to blame but itself.

The short-lived Olbermann-Matthews anchor duo was a misguided ploy designed to boost ratings. The experiment backfired when the coverage veered off into on-air spats between the anchors that began to sound more like talk radio.

Oh, and we could NEVER allow that to happen on behalf of the Democrats, can we now? Even though I cannot determine exactly what it was that either one of them said or did (I know Matthews took offense to Olbermann’s “yakking” hand gesture before they interviewed Steny Hoyer – who had a good laugh over the whole thing – and Olbermann chided Joe Scarborough to “bring a shovel” the next time he decided to heap praise on John W. McBush during the Democratic National Convention; other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to what the offenses were, the typical Governor Gidget/McBush whining notwithstanding).

And another thing; it is absolutely preposterous to imagine even for a second that Chris Matthews is actually left of center (another shining example of Tweety “riding the tire swing” is noted here).

The move left the cable network open to valid criticism of having a liberal bias. Serious news readers, such as NBC anchor Brian Williams, seemed put out by how the biased bickering was cheapening the news value.

And never forget how kind Williams once was to bloggers in general, as noted here; no doubt this endeared him to the Inky and Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings, L.L.C.

There has been a blurring of news and opinion, especially at the cable networks, where talking heads manage to yammer on and on for hours without actually saying much.

Of late, MSNBC has emerged as the liberal counterweight to the conservative Fox News Channel. Both are preaching to their respective choirs rather than providing objective news coverage and useful analysis.

This time, MSNBC went too far by putting blatantly biased commentators in the role of news anchors. Even Fox knows better than to have Bill O’Reilly anchor its political coverage. So far, anyway.

Unfortunately, the real losers have been viewers hungry for substantive political coverage of the issues.

And never forget also the “substantive political coverage” the Inky brought you here, featuring Chris Satullo’s preoccupation with the cost of John Edwards’ haircut (again, the messenger has been discredited, but the point remains – if the link “blows up,” blame Blogger, not yours truly).

Also, under the category of “the blurring of news and opinion,” I don’t know how the Inky can possibly claim with any degree of seriousness that that doesn’t happen at other corporate media TV channels (almost beyond redundant to feature Faux News yet again, but this link tells us the role that “journalists” Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham played in the network’s “news coverage” of the presidential election four years ago – instructive if, for no other reason, to see exactly how they decided to “dumb down” coverage then as now).

However, I must give the Inky points for noting that media consumers in this country desperately need reliable sources of information to learn about the issues and make the right decisions on November 4th this year. They are entirely correct.

And that is why we now read the New York Times instead.

Update 10/7/08: Here’s more of “legitimate” news broadcaster David Gregory in action (and still more “legitimate” broadcasting – keep “riding the tire swing,” Gregory).


The “Boehner Bungle” Follows The “Rangel Wangle”

September 13, 2008

(Image from Business Week.)

Boy, how would you like to be Dem U.S. House Rep. Charles Rangel these days?

Last July, it was reported here in the New York Times that he had managed to obtain four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem while just about every other resident is allowed no more than one (and Harlem has become a pricey place to live, though Rangel agreed to relinquish one apartment that he used as an office here).

Next, it turns out that interest was waived for Rangel on a loan to purchase a villa at the resort of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic here, though he also failed to report income on the property here, and this tells us that he owes back taxes also.

Oh, and did I note that, as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel is in charge of writing the tax code? To be fair, though, Rangel has requested an ethics investigation into all this, as noted here.

And for the cherry on the icing of the proverbial cake, if you will, Rangel’s attorney defending him through all of this is none other than Lanny Davis, noted Fox Noise Democrat and former Hillary Clinton apologist (Davis, for my money, established himself as one of the most annoying human beings on earth during the campaign, continually “moving the goalposts” on behalf of his candidate).

The real reason I’m even mentioning this, though, is because U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Man Tan) has called for Rangel to step down as the investigation proceeds (I’m not defending Rangel, but he should be cut at least the same slack as anyone else under an ethics cloud).

Let’s do a deal, Boehner (pronounced bo-ner); if you get off Rangel’s back on this, I won’t mention how you were bought and paid for by Sallie Mae to the tune of $100,000 during the bad old days of the happily-now-departed 109th Congress, OK? (noted here, and in the course of Boehner’s “duties,” he screwed over college students trying to pay off their loans since $12.7 billion was cut from the student loan program – interest rates were raised to make up the difference, and the ability to consolidate loans for easier payoff with lower rates was no longer allowed).

I would call Boehner’s silence for the time being “a small price to pay,” wouldn’t you?


Mooseland Money Mischief, Starring “Governor Hottie”

September 13, 2008

(From 9/10…once more, a big hat tip goes out to one of my senior correspondents for the pic.)

The latest revelation concerning the running mate of John W. McBush pertains to her rather interesting notion of travel reimbursement (here, based on a story in the WaPo today)…

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

And, as kos notes, Palin also complained about a special session of the Alaska state congress held in Anchorage to the tune of about $100,000, even though the legislators definitely did not bill anyone for time spent at their homes, nor did any members of their families do likewise.

This ties in somewhat to a story that appeared in the Times last Saturday about what Palin has actually done (or, more precisely, not done) for special needs children in her state (besides, you know, walking around the stage of the ReThuglican Denial-Palooza last week in St. Paul with her infant Down’s child on her shoulder, as shameless a display of exhibitionism as I’ve ever seen)…

To those in Alaska who work with children with special needs, Ms. Palin’s pronouncement (that she would be an advocate for special needs children) was surprising; the disabled have not been a centerpiece of Ms. Palin’s 20-months in office or any of her campaigns for office.

She signed legislation that would increase financing for children in Alaska with special needs — though she was not involved in its development — yet that state is the subject of two lawsuits that allege inadequate services and financing for those children, particularly those with autism.

“I never heard Governor Palin say as governor, ‘You have an advocate in Juneau,’ ” said Sonja Kerr, a lawyer specializing in disability law in Anchorage.

What lawyers, advocates and parents are seeking now, Ms. Kerr said, is to learn. “What is behind the announcement?” she said. “An advocate is someone who pleads another’s cause, so what is her plea going to be? To get rid of Medicaid wait lists so we can get kids services? To quickly pass the American with Disabilities restoration act? That is what I haven’t heard.”

Oh, and did you know that “Governor Hottie” cut the budget for Alaska’s Special Olympics in half? And that she cuts special needs funding overall by 62 percent (here)?

And let’s not forget that the individual at the top of the Repug ticket has some ‘splainin’ to do on this issue also…

Mr. McCain voted to reauthorize (the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, passed in 1975, that authorizes the federal government to pick up 40 percent of a state’s cost of educating special needs children), but voted against a measure, with nearly every other member of his party, to increase financing through a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy.

Nancy Iannone, a Democrat and mother of Gabrielle, 3, who has Down syndrome, said that she was so thrilled to see Trig on stage that she had to remind herself: “I am a liberal. I am a liberal. I am a liberal.” Ms. Palin, she said, “has a child with a disability, but that doesn’t mean her party is disability friendly.

And as the Times story notes, this issue is particularly acute in Alaska because many of the special needs kids live in rural areas without access to the treatment that they need, so they must be transported to the provider’s location. That is one reason why funding for these services is so critical.

However, this is par for the course for the Repugs under Dubya; as noted here, his FY 2008 budget “makes sure that full funding (for) special (needs kids) will never happen” along with substantial cuts in Medicaid-based reimbursements.

So to recap, Sarah Palin decides to claim non-existent travel expenses while she short-changes kids with disabilities in her state, in accordance with running mate John W. McBush, who votes to reauthorize legislation helping disabled kids, though he refuses to fund it (while the head of their party goes even further and slashes funds for disabled kids not just in Alaska, but throughout the country).

That’s “compassionate conservatism” we can believe in, my friends.

(And by the way, if you want to read something that’s waay too damn funny, check this out – it tells us that Palin increased special needs funding…from 2008 until 2011! What a shame that those who would reap the benefit can’t travel into the future to do so. )


Bob Herbert Speaks – We Listen

September 13, 2008

From 9/9 also…words to live by from here (though, being a columnist, Herbert has been known to drift over to “the dark side” on occasion – h/t Atrios)…

Ignorance must really be bliss. How else, over so many years, could the G.O.P. get away with ridiculing all things liberal?

Troglodytes on the right are no respecters of reality. They say the most absurd things and hardly anyone calls them on it. Evolution? Don’t you believe it. Global warming? A figment of the liberal imagination.

Liberals have been so cowed by the pummeling they’ve taken from the right that they’ve tried to shed their own identity, calling themselves everything but liberal and hoping to pass conservative muster by presenting themselves as hyper-religious and lifelong lovers of rifles, handguns, whatever.

So there was Hillary Clinton, of all people, sponsoring legislation to ban flag-burning; and Barack Obama, who once opposed the death penalty, morphing into someone who not only supports it, but supports it in cases that don’t even involve a homicide.

Anyway, the Republicans were back at it last week at their convention. Mitt Romney wasn’t content to insist that he personally knows that “liberals don’t have a clue.” He complained loudly that the federal government right now is too liberal.

“We need change, all right,” he said. “Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington.”

Why liberals don’t stand up to this garbage, I don’t know. Without the extraordinary contribution of liberals — from the mightiest presidents to the most unheralded protesters and organizers — the United States would be a much, much worse place than it is today.

There would be absolutely no chance that a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin could make a credible run for the highest offices in the land. Conservatives would never have allowed it.

Civil rights? Women’s rights? Liberals went to the mat for them time and again against ugly, vicious and sometimes murderous opposition. They should be forever proud.

The liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Social Security and unemployment insurance, both of which were contained in the original Social Security Act. Most conservatives despised the very idea of this assistance to struggling Americans. Republicans hated Social Security, but most were afraid to give full throat to their opposition in public at the height of the Depression.

“In the procedural motions that preceded final passage,” wrote historian Jean Edward Smith in his biography, “FDR,” “House Republicans voted almost unanimously against Social Security. But when the final up-or-down vote came on April 19 [1935], fewer than half were prepared to go on record against.”

Liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Medicare and Medicaid. Quick, how many of you (or your loved ones) are benefiting mightily from these programs, even as we speak. The idea that Republicans are proud of Ronald Reagan, who saw Medicare as “the advance wave of socialism,” while Democrats are ashamed of Lyndon Johnson, whose legislative genius made this wonderful, life-saving concept real, is insane.

When Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law in the presence of Harry Truman in 1965, he said: “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine.”

Reagan, on the other hand, according to Johnson biographer Robert Dallek, “predicted that Medicare would compel Americans to spend their ‘sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.’ ”

Scary.

Without the many great and noble deeds of liberals over the past six or seven decades, America would hardly be recognizable to today’s young people. Liberals (including liberal Republicans, who have since been mostly drummed out of the party) ended legalized racial segregation and gender discrimination.

Humiliation imposed by custom and enforced by government had been the order of the day for blacks and women before men and women of good will and liberal persuasion stepped up their long (and not yet ended) campaign to change things. Liberals gave this country Head Start and legal services and the food stamp program. They fought for cleaner air (there was a time when you could barely see Los Angeles) and cleaner water (there were rivers in America that actually caught fire).

Liberals. Your food is safer because of them, and so are your children’s clothing and toys. Your workplace is safer. Your ability (or that of your children or grandchildren) to go to college is manifestly easier.

It would take volumes to adequately cover the enhancements to the quality of American lives and the greatness of American society that have been wrought by people whose politics were unabashedly liberal. It is a track record that deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed or scorned.

Self-hatred is a terrible thing. Just ask that arch-conservative Clarence Thomas.

Liberals need to get over it.

Update 9/10/09: By the way, I had to remove the “New Rules” video because HBO decided to be hardasses about it.


The SCHIP Shuffle Continues

September 13, 2008

Sickchild(From 9/9 – Photo courtesy of healthwise-everythinghealth.blogspot.com)

This New York Times story yesterday tells us here that…

…Congressional Democrats have scrapped plans for another vote on expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, thus sparing Republicans from a politically difficult vote just weeks before elections this fall. Before the summer recess, Democrats had vowed repeatedly to force another vote on the popular program. But Democrats say they have shifted course, after concluding that President Bush would not sign their legislation and that they could not override his likely veto. Mr. Bush vetoed two earlier versions of the legislation, which he denounced as a dangerous step toward “government-run health care for every American,” and the House sustained those vetoes.

Though this appears at first glance to be yet another Democratic capitulation, I would tend to agree with Bruce Lesley of First Focus, defined in the Times story as “a congressional advocacy group for children” who believes we should hold out for a better bill in the event of (God willing) an Obama win in November and an increase in Democratic congressional majorities to make passing a renewal of SCHIP an easier task next year. Also, Rahm Emanuel is the individual on the Dem side who knows the vote numbers; he knows this is ultimately a battle for another day given everything else on the Congressional plate, as it were (jobs and energy legislation and other spending bills). But what really got me in particular about this story was the following…

The child health program has become an issue in some Congressional races. In almost every speech, Kay Barnes, a Democrat running for Congress in northwest Missouri, criticizes Representative Sam Graves, a Republican, for voting against the bill last year. Mr. Graves said the bill would have allowed illegal immigrants and some high-income people to get “free taxpayer-funded health care.”

I have a question for the Times; is it too much trouble to point out when politicians are flat-outlying? Or would that mean this would no longer be a hard-news column or would instead constitute “analysis”? This Letter To The Editor printed in the Kansas City Star (concerning the SCHIP vote last year) tells us…

SCHIP covers only American citizens. Illegal immigrant children are not eligible, and even legal immigrant children must wait five years to participate. … Plain and simple, the president and his anti-kids caucus in Congress are wrong, and they know it. Rep. Graves has some explaining to do to his constituents about his vote against Missouri’s children and the dishonest way in which he justifies it.

Sam Graves…why does that name sound familiar? Oh yeah, it’s because he was the numbskull who brought us this…

And by the way, though I really haven’t had much of anything to say about Kay Barnes, you can click here to help her out and help hasten the return of Sam Graves to private life.

Update 9/10/08: Kagro X of The Daily Kos has more here.


K.O.’s “Special Comment” on 9/11

September 13, 2008

A little late with this, I know (late with everything for now), but here it is.


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