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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chasers War On Everything

It came to my attention the other night that not all of you were aware of The Chaser's War On Everything. Please enjoy my two favorite skits.

And here's one for our bridge afficionados!


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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama's Missed Opportunity

Yesterday the senate voted on a cloture motion for HR.6049 again, the "Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008." Once again the motion failed, and the bill is stalled over the stalemate of funding.

Briefly, although most of the tax credits have bi-partisan support, the language of the bill follows the Democratic Pay-As-You-Go rules (PAYGO), and contains a provision to pay for the tax credits essentially by taxing the income of hedge fund managers as earned income, not investment income (ie capital gains). The Republicans don't support closing that tax loophole and are pushing for a waiver of the PAYGO rules.

So why was this a missed opportunity for Obama? The cloture vote was almost party line, with 4 Republicans joining the Democrats and no Democrats joining the Republicans. Senators Kennedy, Stevens, Obama, and McCain did not vote. If Sen. Obama had made a point to go to the senate and vote for cloture the motion still would have failed, but he would have raised the profile of the issue and would have earned a weapon with which to attack McCain.

While McCain is going around and lying about the impact of expanding offshore drilling, or his meager support for renewables, Obama and his allies could have said over and over again "While Sen. Obama supports and voted for renewable energy, Sen. McCain didn't even bother to show up for the vote." It's politics.

Exactly the same goes for S.3335, which is a senate version sponsored by Sen. Baucus that would expand the PTC for wind by one year and the ITC for solar by 8 years (more info about S.3335 here.) Obama and McCain both skipped this cloture vote as well.

Obama has a strong plan laid out for tackling this nations energy future. But he doesn't need to wait until he's in the White House to lead on the issue. Frankly, a little leadership on it now would almost certainly help him get there.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hilarious Conservative Watch

Hardly a day goes by that some conservative with a website doesn't work themselves into a tizzy over some benign or obscure cultural item. It wouldn't be worth anybody's time to mock each such episode, but this one struck close to my heart. You see, by happenstance the otherday I stumbled across (That's North Eastern Pennsylvania Liberal Watch) attacking something near and dear to me: Rob and Big!

The proprietor of NEPALibWatch is upset that MTV would pollute young minds by "Promot[ing] decay and degeneration by bringing inner city thug values to kids who don’t live the thug life."

He writes
" I found myself sitting there watching this show called “Rob and Big”. Today’s episode was about this guy Big Black who was training to escape via speeding vehical from the “5″ “0″ (AKA the Police). WOW, what great programming and a fabulous idea for young minds. Because you know, according to Mr. Black somebody dies every 13 seconds. Instead of flying bullets he should be more worried about cholesterol."
I guess Mr. Lib Watcher isn't familiar with the show, so I'm happy to explain it to him. The basic premise is that Rob Dyrdek is a professional skateboarder, and Christopher "Big Black" Boykins is his live in bodyguard and BFF.

The show is delightfully clever, far more so than Mr. Lib Watcher apparently appreciates. At first glance it appears just another silly reality show, but upon closer inspection it's actually a giant satire of the genre. Most "reality" television is just a bunch of stupid and self absorbed people competing in ridiculous and pointless challenges to win quistionable prizes. Or, it's a bunch of cameramen following pseudo-celebrities (Brooke Hogan? Kim Kardashian?) go through transparently artificial drama. Both types are as tedious as they are ubiquitous.

Rob and Big manages to satirize both sublty and hilariously. The show revolves around Rob and Big tackling silly accomplishments with goofy sincerity. For instance, in season three when Rob and Big go to a bar with turtle racing, they "decide it's time to find a turtle from the streets and train it for glory." Complete with a Final Countdown turtle training montage.

Or when they were reading the Guiness Book of World Records and decide to break some? Rob manages to break 21 skateboarding records and Big Black breaks two (Eating powdered donuts and bananas, I think). The absurdity of the whole thing makes it funny- Rob and Big are just sitting around and say "Hey, I remember this book. We should break some records." So they do.

The silly determination with which they go about their quests mocks those shows where people scarf down animal genitalia, or break down weaping because a stranger doesn't love them, more effectively than anything else I've seen on TV.

To more directly ease Mr. Lib Watchers concerns, however, I should point out that Rob and Big is hardly an infomercial for "inner city thug values." My suspicion is that what Mr. Lib Watcher means by "inner city thug values" is just black people, loose clothes, and men wearing jewlery. But in so much as "inner city thug values" isn't just cultural distaste, I would submit that it is marked not by aesthetics, but by viciousness and hostility. The "thug life" is a hard life, and one must be hard to survive (ask my friends, I'm an expert on thug life...).

Rob and Big is the opposite. They are comically gentle souls living virtually without external pressures. The only time I've ever seen any hostility was when a man in a spiderman costume threw a soda at their SUV, and Big Black threatened (comically, as it was pretty clearly staged) to "beat him with his damn fanny pack."

Just breeze through the descriptions of the episodes for a sense of the comic absurdity. Some of my favorites:
Season 3: Ep 24-A charitable ice cream man inspires Rob and Big Black to begin their own altruistic crusade, ranging from handouts at skid row to spending time with frisky seniors at an old folks home. Also, Rob and Big Black challenge their 6'9" friend, Zeus, to hop on a BMX and take a disastrous ride down a local mini ramp.

Season 1: Ep 8- After Rob has a nightmare about dying, Big Black decides to brush up on his security skills to ensure that Rob feels safe. Big Black practices evasive driving, works on his Martial Arts moves and even shows his combat maneuvers on the paintball field. [This is the episode that upset the wingnut]

Season 2: Ep 1- Life in the Rob and Big household changes dramatically when the guys discover that their bulldog, Meaty, needs a little buddy. After a little research, Rob finds the perfect companion for his favorite puppy: a Mini-Horse. Owning miniature livestock turns out to be a little more than the guys bargained for, and drastic measures become necessary to accommodate the tiny horse.

Season 3: Ep 18- When Rob and Big Black discover a "mystery poop" floating in the pool, they turn into amateur crime-solvers, eyeing Drama, Rob's cousin/assistant, as the prime-suspect. The guys decide to beef up security at the house and hire a polygraphical expert to question Drama Queen. Making the best of a nasty situation, Rob and Big Black hire a muralist, to give their newly - drained pool some extra flair.
Rob and Big is just about the only show on MTV that I'll watch, besides True Life. I don't know how whether they set out to satirize pop culture or just make a goofy TV show, but it doesn't really matter. What they ended up making was pretty clever, and hella funny.

Click "There's more..." for the rest of my ode to Rob and Big.


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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leave John McCain Alone!

I caught some of the sunday shows today, and I see that the press is fighting hard to 1) protect their darling McCain and 2) keep this race close (blowouts don't push paper, people!).

Here's a video some of the talking heads made after Obama's hugely successful overseas trip.

Atrios nailed this a while ago. I just "updated" the audio (crudely, at that).


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Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama's PA Offices

I just wanted to pass along this map of Obama's field offices in Pennsylvania.

That has a nice look to it, doesn't it?

Here are McCain's offices:
Pennsylvania & Ohio Regional Headquarters
240 North 5th Street
Suite 340
Columbus, OH 43215
Office number is 614-441-8097
Office fax is 614-222-2530

Local Office:
112 State Street
Harrisburg, PA, 17101
So We share an office with Ohio located in Columbus, and our "local" office is in Harrisburg?

Ambitious, huh?


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Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain/Jesus '08

Yes, this is an official campaign poster.

I'd sooner believe that McCain is Jesus than that he offers a "wise" foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Obama is in Israel. From M.J. Rosenberg at TPM Cafe:

I just talked to a friend who saw Obama in Israel. I asked him what his friends in the Israeli media are saying. "What are they saying? They are saying that he's the next President. And they think he's the smartest American politician they have seen yet."


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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Annals of Bad Ideas

I was recently alerted to a sense of the congress resolution that has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that seems unnecessarily provocative. The bill, H.CON.RES.362, calls upon President Bush to escalate the tensions with Iran. It's mostly toothless- it isn't legally binding and is mostly uncontroversial, as it calls for increasing diplomacy. However, it seems to me to be a bad idea on two counts. First, it seems an unneccessary provocation that could undermine future diplomatic negotiations. More importanlty, however, subsection 3 reads:
(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program;
Emphasis mine. Isn't this a blockade? Isn't a blockade an act of war?

I'm doubtful that even Bush and Cheney would launch an attack on Iran by the end of their term, but why give them any excuse?

Disappointingly, local congressmen Bob Brady, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak are all co-sponsors of this resolution. Rep. Chaka Fattah, to his credit, is not. Hopefully someone can explain to me what the purpose of this resolution is.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Obama's Strong Iraq Plan

Unless you've been living in a hole for the past few days, you've heard that Sen. Obama is travelling overseas to a number of countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has been meeting with generals, politicians, diplomats, and American soldiers. The trip is non-partisan, as these junkets always are, and GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (along with Sen. Reed, a Democrat) accompanied Obama.

The trip has been a roaring succes so far, and a a couple interesting things have resulted. Most importantly, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki explicitely endorsed Obama's 16 month withdrawal plan.

Obama's plan leaves him room to be flexible in response to situations on the ground, but the bottom line is that it shifts the objective from staying to leaving. Why anyone in their right mind would believe that occupying Iraq with 150,000 troops for an indefinate period of time serves the strategic interests of the United States is beyond me.

There are a couple political benefits from the trip as well. First, Obama is getting great press and looking very presidential as he meets with world leaders and shoots basketball with the troops. Also important, however, is that McCain is blowing his top and generally continuing to act like a buffoon. McCain spent a lot of the time that Obama and Clinton were fighting in the primary trying to goad Obama into an Iraq trip. As though it would have been appropriate to do so in the middle of a heated primary!

Obama made the trip on his own terms, and he's showing McCain how a president acts. McCain's having a hard time watching his ambitions slip through his fingers, so he's making the rounds and making gaffes.

He's also very concerned about the Iraq-Pakistan border (For you College Republicans reading this, Iraq and Pakistan share no common border.)

You can read Obama's Iraq Plan on his website. As with every issue, compare the degree of detail and candor on Obama's page with McCain's Iraq "plan". It strikes me that the Obama campaign has significantly more respect for the intelligence of the American public than McCain does.


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Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Blogging

It's summertime and the living is easy, so blogging isn't my top priority. While I'm busy, please entertain yourself.

I would also recommend reading the blog Glomarization, a new blog by an astute local. Philadelphia is expanding its blogopoly.


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jerking the Gas Nozzle

Is there a bigger joke in the US Senate than Larry Craig?

I'll be posting a bit more in depth about the offshore drilling gambit later, but in the meantime, please don't jerk anyone's nozzle.

Via TPM.


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I don't know what to make of this pay-to-play on video tape story. On the one hand, it's entirely unsurprising, as this kind of thing happens all the time. Access is currency in Washington (and everywhere elese, actually.) On the other hand, it was striking to see it so bluntly on videotape, particularly as Payne was selling not just access, but literally selling foreign policy. The most surprising thing about this affair, however, is that the press actually went out and did the investigation in the first place.

Of course, it was a foreign paper, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

But man, there's not much in this world that you could give me to get me to donate $250,000 to the George W. Bush presidential library. I might send them a free copy of The Pet Goat, though.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Presidential Contrasts: Network Neutrality

There are some very big differences on some very big issues at stake in this election. From Iraq to healthcare, energy to education, and everything in between, the differences are stark. One issue that receives considerably less attention, however, is a little thing called net neutrality. It's an interesting issue in a number of ways because while somewhat technical in nature, it exemplifies some of the more fundamental differences between the two presidential candidates.

First, here is a brief video to explain what net neutrality is, and why it's important.

Barack Obama supports net neutrality, while John McCain opposes it. Well to be fair, McCain has flipped back and forth a few times, but mostly he opposes it. This is a great example of the divergent approaches to policy that Obama and McCain take, however. Obama explicitly expresses support for net neutrality on his Technology issues page. It is one component of an impressively comprehensive federal technology (specifically communications and information access) policy.

McCain, on the other hand, has nothing on his website that even addresses how his administration would handle federal technology policy. His issues page is a hodge podge of cultural hot-buttons (2nd amendment, pro-life), while Obama's is a wonkish list of intelligent policy proposals, from technology and urban policy, to health care and his Iraq plan (not to mention his energy plan, which alone would earn him my vote).

The funny thing about this issue is that McCain is admittedly computer illiterate. He's probably not that far ahead of Ted "the internet is not a dumptruck" Stevens. How can someone who can't figure out email be expected to preside over a country as dependent and tied to information technology as our own? I don't need a haxor president, but I do think that basic computer literacy is desireable if not essential.

Meanwhile, net neutrality is a perfect example of the promise of an Obama presidency. His fundraising helps insulate him from the pressure that the telecom and cable companies can exert on politicians, and his pragmatism and progressive sensibilites point him in the direction of supporting smart policy. Supporting good ideas on their merits is a rare thing indeed.

(Rudy Giulliani, by the way, also opposed net neutrality. I still burn a candle for my favorite failed Republican presidential candidate, and his absurd, shilling ways.)


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jamie Nails Another One

Our own Jamie Thompson has written another spot-on Op-ed in Drexel's Student paper, The Triangle. Jamie was responding to this ridiculous letter from last week. The author writes
To ask folks like me to share this identity with gays and lesbians is highly hypocritical of the gay and lesbian community. Now, before I proceed further, let me make one thing clear. I am pro-gay, and I do support with wholeheartedly that equal rights must be granted to the gay/lesbian community. But there is a difference between sharing equal rights and sharing my own identity.
We shall not consider allowing gay marriages to share the same identity of that of regular marriages. It is not tolerance but just incompetence from our part not to act or even stand up for our identity.
We just can't afford to mislead the rest of world by our own incompetence. We should put a stop to this gay marriage concept once and for all.
I wouldn't even know where to begin responding to such a silly letter, but Jamie did an excellent job.

She pointed out that the idea that marraige now is as it ever was, a lifetime monogamous heterosexual relationship, is a modern fiction. The institution of marraige has changed as society has changed through the ages, and any claims to the contrary are just bunk. I won't quote the whole thing, so you can read it all at The Triangle.


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Monday, July 14, 2008

Missing the Point? Hardly.

The PA College Republicans have responded to our (and others'; Here, here,here) criticisms of their upcoming 9/11 Day. I'll take their declarations of good faith at face value (a dubious proposition when dealing with College Republicans, I've found), and try to further explain why people find the idea of a College Republican sponsored 9/11 Day inappropriate.

They, in the person of one Jessica Thompson, write
"It is important to note that this project, even though it is commonly sponsored by College Republican groups, is not a political event in nature; anyone is welcome to participate in this event."
This is really the heart of our disagreement. I contend that when a political organization sponsors an event, the political implications are unavoidable. If students want to create 9/11 memorials at their school, fine, but for the College Republicans to attach their name to it brings unmistakable political implications. This is a simple point, and it should be apparent to student leaders of political organizations.

However, more broadly than the fact that political organizations are perceived as such, and perceived rightly to have political agendas, I want to briefly discuss the history of Republican exploitation of 9/11. This billboard, likely paid for by an enthusiastic Bush supporter, was about par for the course.

Bush used 9/11 imagery in his reelction ads (below). I remember registering voters in 2004 at college day on the parkway while the Bush people had glossy pamphlets with the twisted steel of the WTC towers as the background image.

The 2002 midterms saw a rash of Republican ads featuring shadowy images of Bin Laden juxtaposed with Democratic politicians, most notably against Vietnam war hero Max Cleland, who lost 3 limbs to the Vietcong and his senate seat to Saxby Chamblis and his Osama ads.

Finally, and most blatently, I submit the presidential campaign of Rudy Giulliani. Sen. Biden's observation that the man thinks a sentence is made of a noun, a verb, and 9/11 was barely hyperbole.

I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Hell, you probably remember it. In short, the assumption that when Republicans are invoking 9/11 it is not for noble, altruistic reasons, but rather political ones, is historically justified.

In a comment at the PACR blog Mike Ubbens, PACR State Co-Chair, wrote
Interesting, this combination of “horror, sadness, and anger” is exactly what inspired us to make this a state-wide event. No campaign signs will be placed, no ‘pa college republicans’ signs will be jumping out at anyone. YAF is actually a non-partisan organization, and would frown upon these actions.

Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to the Drexel College Democrats in co-sponsoring this event with the Drexel College Republicans.

I look forward to hearing from them!
While it's nice to know that the PACR won't be embroidering little elephants on the American flags, Mike misses the point I refer to above. Specifically though, the contention that "YAF is actually a non-partisan organization" is to miss the forest for the trees. YAF (Young America's Foundation) is non-partisan precisely the same way that is non-partisan.

Why we might be suspicious of an organization sponsoring a 9/11 day project that declares "For more than thirty-five years, Young America’s Foundation has been inspiring thousands of young people to advance conservative ideas during their school years and throughout their lives." isn't really a mystery.

YAF is an advocacy organization, specifically for reactionary right wing politics on college campuses. If the 9/11 day project (that's a nice logo they have for it, isn't it?) isn't a part of that advocacy, why would they be engaged in it at all?

So in response to Mr. Ubbens invitation, and after consultation with our executive board, no, the Drexel Democrats will not be co-sponsoring any such memorial at Drexel. If the College Republicans here do, we will speak out about that as well. If the USGA (Undergraduate Student Government Assembly) passed a resolution or sponsored a memorial, I would have no such reservations.

And since we have their attention, I was wondering if the PA College Republicans were as offended by the other political invocations of 9/11 cited above as other Americans were. I look forward to hearing from them!


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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sometimes a Gaffe is Just a Gaffe: Stop Whining!

There's a cute political quip which holds that a gaffe is when you accidently tell the truth. That's often true, but often not. McCain is rather gaffe prone, particularly when he's pretending to know what he's talking about (See "Policy, Foreign") but the gaffe du jour is McCain's most senior economic advisor telling the country that the economy is a-ok and that everyone should stop whining. That's just a gaffe. Economists will be pinning down if/when a recession officially begins, but to argue that the economy is fundamentally strong seems a bit wrong headed.

Arguing that corporate profits are strong or that the GDP has not declined for two consecutive quarters misses entirely the growing inequity in this country, and the squeeze people are feeling. Even without pointing out that seasonally adjusted unemployment has risen by more than 12% since January, or that gas has risen to nearly $4.50 a gallon, there are reasons to be worried. The tangled web spun by the housing bubble and the abundance of cheap credit has yet to be unspun.

Gramm's comments weren't just politically boneheaded, they were also substantively wrong. One may try to hide behind a narrow technical defense of his statements, or just smile and make it all go away, but the economic problems we're facing are impervious to a sunny disposition.

This all reminds me of 2004, when FOX News was a 24/7 "Why don't people realize how good the econmy is?"


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


While I was at checking out the PA College Republicans' new website I noticed an amusing error on a protest sign. At a Temple College Republican protest one of the scholars was holding a sign stating "Democrat's (sic) Plan for Iraq" with an arrow pointing to a blank sheet of paper. The context of the protest isn't provided, though the photo title indicates it was a Temple CR "Support the Troops Rally." What holding signs like "Thank you for protesting. -Saddam Hussein" has to do with supporting the troops is beyond me, but that's not my quibble.

I just wanted to point out that the young man with the orange sign had misplaced the apostrophe, indicating the singular possessive (Democrat's) rather than plural possessive (Democrats'). Who this anonymous Democrat was whose Iraq plan was missing wasn't clear.

As a public service to our right wing neighbors at Temple, I wanted to point out the error, and to direct them to Barack Obama's plan for Iraq.

Now go ahead and flame me for writing the most annoyingly quibblesome post on the internet. Feel free to go point out the thousands of typos and misspellings that I've published on this blog. Oh, and by the way, is there a single other student group at Temple that you could take a picture of 12 members and not see a single minority student?


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Stochastic Foreign Policy

Good ad from the DNC. It's always amazed me how John McCain (and pundits *cough Tom Friedman cough*) have been pulling dates out of thin air for years, and it never damages their credibility with the larger media.

John McCain has been shamefully arrogant with his rationale and support for extending this war, never expecting to be held accountable because the media loves him.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

PA College Republicans to Exploit 9/11

[UPDATED: 7/14/08] The PACRs have responded to the criticisms, and we have responded to them. See here.

[UPDATED: 7/11/08] The college Republican's have as of now added Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Pearl harbor Day to their calendar. They have not removed 9/11 Day. The Google cache is still displaying the old version, available here.

I know, Republicans looking to exploit 9/11 for political game is a "Dog bites man" story, but as this time it's the PA College Republicans, on our own turf, I thought was worth highlighting.

Last week the PA CR's unveiled their new website, and naturally I checked it out. Nothing particularly exciting, though I was disappointed that their chapter list contained only email contacts, not blogs or websites that would undoubtedly have been pretty funny.

It was when I checked out the events calendar, however, that I noticed something I found disturbing. On September 11th of this year, the PA CRs are planning a "9/11 Remembrance Day." This immediately struck me as inappropriate: the victims of 9/11 are rightly remembered and honored in ceremonies both public and private every year, but we should all keep politics out of those memorials.

After 9/11, the combination of horror, sadness, and anger made for a very difficult time. Republicans decided to exploit those emotions to divide us by our politics, and tried very hard to make "Republicanism" synonymous with "patriotism."

8 years later and we've come a long way. The abject failures of Republican policies at home and abroad have laid bare the cynicism of the Bush/Rove (and now McCain) politics. All that Republicans have left is trying to recapture their high water mark, when Americans' anger and sorrow made them give Bush the benefit of the doubt.

I noticed that the PA CRs aren't planning on celebrating Veterans Day, or Pearl Harbor Day, or (unsurprisingly) Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The singular importance of 9/11 betrays their political motivations.

Here at the Drexel Democrats, we understand that there are some things that aren't appropriate to affix our groups name and agenda to. Memorial services are one of them. That the Pennsylvania College Republicans think that attaching their regressive agenda to a memorial to the victims of 9/11 speaks volumes about their organization.


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Monday, July 07, 2008

In a Nutshell

Via Kevin Drum, this chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP report here).

That's pretty much political economics in a nutshell, isn't it?

It dovetails nicely with Bartels' work on income distributions under both political parties. The relevant paper is here, but the money chart is this one.

I think that these two graphs, combined with the federal deficit plotted against executive administration, make a rather effective case for Democratic governance.

Republicans are perfectly welcome to make thier case for the desirability of increased income inequality, but it would be nice if they didn't try to obfuscate and lie to get elected.


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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Curt Weldon, Arms Dealer?

I was going to blog about this on Thursday, but I'm out of town and nowAtrios beat me to it. It seems that my former congressman, "Crazy" Curt Weldon, is now running arms between Russia and Libya. Weldon's been working hard to bring the crazy since he left office, and this doesn't surprise me at all.

Actually, this latest episode isn't so much crazy as it is slimy. My favorite of Weldon's earlier antics was when he planned to go all Indiana Jones and dig up Iragi WMDs in Syria. This time, according to, Weldon is " helping broker deals between Russian and Ukranian weapons suppliers and the Iraqi and Libyan governments as part of his new job with a private American defense consulting firm."

As Atrios insinuates sarcastically, this is precisely the kind of thing that congressmen do. The revolving door between government and the private sector raises all kinds of conflicts, and congressmen know that if they are "good" to a company then they have a lobbying job or consulting job waiting for them.

Apparently, this enterprise centered around an American company (and Weldon) serving as a front for Russian arms sales to Iraq and Libya. Russia, for political and legal reasons, can't easily sell directly to Iraq. So Weldon's company buys from Russia, and sells to Iraq, keeping a little bit for themselves and my former congressmen.

Money quote:
"The administration, he acknowledged at the time, did not welcome the idea of an American company selling Russian weapons to potentially unfriendly countries. But two years later, Weldon, now a private citizen and chief strategic officer for Defense Solutions, appears to be working on precisely that sort of deal. And whether illegal or not, Defense Solutions' business represents a new phenomenon in the international arms trade business.
Curt Weldon should be proud that his international arms dealing may not be illegal.

Interestingly, Weldon used to teach a course here at Drexel, and was friendly with some of the College Republicans. I wonder what they think of this whole episode? Actually, I think I can guess: 1) It's not true and/or is being misreported by the "liberal media." 2) Of course he's an arms dealer! the world needs weapons! Freedom! 3) Admiration, as they all aspire to squirm their way into congress and use their office and connections to profit from international arms sales.


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Friday, July 04, 2008

Would the College Republicans Volunteer to be Waterboarded?

No, probably not. As apprentice apologists for the torture administration, however, maybe they should.

Christopher Hitchens did though. His reaction, unsurprisingly, is that waterboarding is unambiguously torture.

It's actually a pretty amazing thing to watch. I'm not really a reactionary, but it seems to me that there are senior members of this administration that have committed war crimes. I'd be curious to know if John Yoo ever plans on travelling to a foreign country that is a member to the International Criminal Court.

Watch the video here.


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More and Better Democrats

This is Darcy Burner, running for congress in Washington state's 8th CD. Her house burned down on Tuesday, and obviously she'll have a lot on her plate besides her campaign for a while. If you have a few bucks to spare ($5 makes a difference. Skip the Starbucks today.), I would urge you to contribute to her campaign.

Also, feel free to check out the other Eschaton Endorsed candidates, including Barack Obama. They all need our help.


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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Polluting The Language

I haven't said anything about the Wes Clark phony controversy because nothing annoys me more than people flogging fake controversies in a deliberately obtuse manner. Life's too short for that. I did want to make note, however, of an increasingly annoying trend in political coverage; the excessive use of the neologism "swiftboating."

Those of us old (or sober) enough to remember 2004 will remember that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVFT) were an odious bunch who were intent on smearing Kerry to cost him the election. Their attacks were not based in reality or honesty, and they were not claiming that his judgement about foreign policy was flawed, or that his experience in 'Nam wasn't an excercise in executive leadership. They were claiming that he shot himself and took medals he never really earned.

That's what "swiftboating" is. Swiftboating is NOT any criticism of a veteran. Swiftboating is not pointing out that though one's military service, though important and honorable, it is not a unique or important qualification to being president. Swiftboating doesn't have to be about military credentials; it can be about anything. The heart of a swiftboat attack is that one side will argue, with a straight face and at the top of their lungs, outlandish claims with no basis in fact, the existence of which creates a controversy out of whole cloth, usually regarding a politician's strength. If anything, one might say that Clark is the one getting "swiftboated" here.

Many people on boths sides of the aisle are too quick to call criticisms "swiftboating." I'd just like to beg for a more judicious and, in my view, accurate use of the term.

The genisis for this post was from this Video from TPM, of Rick Sanchez saying "Did Wesley Clark pull a swiftboat on John McCain?" (about 1:02 into the video.)

Now, your Rick Sanchez moment of Zen.


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Fox News Doocy-bags

This would be shocking if it were any other organization than Fox "News." The clowns at Fox and Friends have some kind of beef with two employees of the New York Times, reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe. So Doocy and the gang call them names while pictures of the two show on screen, but not just any pictures. Pictures that were distorted to embarrass Steinberg and Reddicliffe.

This wasn't playful photoshopping, it was deliberatly intended to decieve the audience and make Steinberg and Reddicliffe look awful. I find this so much more offensive than Janet Jackson's nipple, but the public only owns the airwaves. Steinberg and Reddicliffe probably have grounds for a suit, but if you play with pigs, you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.

Check it out.

Giving a Jewish guy a big nose and yellow teeth as an especially nice touch. Good work Fox News.

Here's the full clip, courtesy of Media Matters.

These Doocy-bags put the ass in embarrassing.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Republicans Ripping Off...Other Republicans!

This story tickled me quite a bit yesterday. It seems that some entrepreneurial Republicans were running a consulting business that catered to Republicans running against long odds. Republican candidates would sign over control of their campaign coffers to this business, BMW Direct Inc, BMW would raise money for the candidates all over the country, and then funnel the money back to BMW!

For example, BMW raised more than $700,000 for Charles Morse, who was running against Barney Frank in MA. BMW then spent 96% of that money that on services offered by themselves. From the Boston Globe:
In the Morse case, as with others, BMW Direct tapped into an ideologically right-wing base of donors around the country who are eager to contribute to any effort to defeat high-profile liberals like Frank and Kennedy. To stoke conservative passions and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for its unknown candidate, Morse, BMW Direct sent out mailings that flogged Frank as an "ultra-liberal."

As the funds poured in and BMW paid itself and related entities with the proceeds, Morse never appeared at a campaign event or candidate forums. Nor did he promote his candidacy with any advertising, mailings, or phone banks. He had no headquarters or staff. Having never taken out nomination papers, he needed 2,000 votes in the Sept. 19 Republican primary election to qualify for the general election ballot, but fell far short with 145.
And then, after he failed to get on the ballot, BMW continued to raise over $100,000 for Morse. Quite a racket they had going!

This story wouldn't be funny if the victims weren't trying to screw the country! Take a look at the clients/victims of BMW.
Among the clients listed on its website are political committees seeking to get the United States out of the United Nations, to crack down on immigration, to outlaw abortion, and to protect gun ownership. Another client listed is GOPAC, former US House speaker Newt Gingrich's political action committee.
It appears that BMW's practices weren't illegal, just highly unethical. But there's a certain poetic justice when advocates of dog-eat-dog deregulation are taken in by such a scam.

If these Republicans can't even manage their campaigns, why should anyone trust them to manage the country?


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Carly Fiorina Doesn't Know What She's Talking About

You may remember Carly Fiorina best for her incompetent stewardship of Hewlett Packard, the unceremonious way that she was fired by the HP board, the $21 million dollar golden parachute she recieved (which earned HP a lawsuit), or maybe just that the day her firing was announced HP stock went up 7%.

However you remember her, though, get ready to meet the new Carly Fiorina: Ignorant political hack. That's right, Fiorina has been stumping for John McSame, and she quite literally and quite obviously hasn't the faintest idea what she's talking about. It's no surprise that HP employees all remember her so fondly!

Take exhibit A, an interview that Fiorina sat down for with Grist last month. Presumabley Fiorina had advanced notice that she would be doing the interview, and herlack of understanding on a number of key issues is readily apparent.

For instance, right off the bat Grist asks her a specific question about the obvious benefits of auctioning carbon permits, as Obama proposes, rather than giving them away, as McCain does.
He seems to leave the door open for the auction of carbon credits, but doesn't actually outline any plans there. Auctioning credits would create even greater market incentive to go green. So, why not push for greater, faster auction, as the other presidential candidates have done?

"I think the goal that McCain set in his speech -- and you're right, those goals differ and are lower than the goals that Obama or Clinton would suggest -- is because he's a realist and practical about what's actually an achievable goal. You don't actually get anything done -- and as a businesswoman I know this -- if you set goals that are out of reach. When you get something done is when you set a goal that is ambitious but achievable."
Is she a person or a motivational tape? "When you get something done is when you set a goal that is ambitious but achievable" is not an answer. It's barely even a sentence. This wasn't a deft avoidance or side stepping of the question, it was an embarrisingly ham-fisted punt.

Next up: Tax credits and the PTC.
What are some of the key tax incentives that McCain could push for, in your opinion, to really develop the green economy?

"I think he believes that the cap-and-trade system, if appropriately executed -- and there are lots of places where it has not been appropriately executed -- can create tax incentives for innovation, because in essence it permits companies to build up cash if they can develop and utilize alternative technologies. He would also make the R&D tax credit permanent. That encourages innovation in research and development, without a doubt."

How about the production tax credit for renewable energy?

"I think that's another example."
Notice how Grist guides Fiorina towards the PTC. She came up with a convoluted manner in which a cap-and-trade is a tax incentive, but she couldn't offer specific incentives that McCain supported (because one month ago he still had no energy policy). Grist was clearly asking about the PTC in the first question. It's all that anybody in the renewable industry has been talking about all year, and McCain has opposed extending it one year for wind and through 2013 for other forms of renewables.

But Fiorina, clearly ignorant, replies "I think that's another example." Does this imply endorsment? Did Fiorina, acting as a McCain surrogate, support extending the PTC? No, because she's not speaking for the campaign's policy, because she doesn't know what she's talking about. What does McCain actually have to say about the PTC?
I'm not one who believes that we need to subsidize things. The wind industry is doing fine, the solar industry is doing fine. In the '70s, we gave too many subsidies and too much help, and we had substandard products sold to the American people, which then made them disenchanted with solar for a long time.
Let's be generous to Fiorina. She was brought onboard the "Straight Talk Express" to beef up McCain's economic credibility (didn't they google her first?), and even though energy policy and the green economy is a huge part of the future economy of the US, maybe it's not her bag.

But here she is again speaking out about Obama's tax cut plans, and she's completely wrong on the facts, again.She claims with confidence, despite reality, that Obama has "not proposed one single tax cut." Does the former CEO of Hewlett Packard not own a computer? Did she really not bother to look it up before she went on TV to talk about it? This is apparently not a person who believes in homework.

If Fiorina is suggesting that McCain will run the country as she ran HP, then she is making a strong argument to vote Obama!