Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving DC Sports fans!

I really liked Hanlon, but somebody had to go for any chance to save this season (and Ove's heart for that matter). And hey, Boudreau has a great AHL record, so maybe he's just been waiting for that chance to impress at the highest level.

When Gil and Caron got injured before the playoffs last year, I had this theory that if only Gil had been hurt, we would have at least made it out of the first round (and maybe all the way to the finals, looking at how terrible the east was). I've always thought that Caron has the skill set and basketball smarts to be a elite player if he was given the opportunity to do be the main option. I would have much, much rather seen this remain a bullshit theory that Landon and I would argue about for hours much to the annoyance of everyone else. (Thoughts of the great Andres Nocioni debates come to mind) But it looks like this theory is going to get tested, and since wizard's season is at stake, I really, really hope I'm right.

So Happy Holidays DC sports fans, keep your heads up, cause... well at least Jason Campbell and Andray Blatche are looking like the real deal!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hillary's "Experience" finally questioned!

"I have 35 years of experience, fighting for real change, and I will use my experience to change Washington, starting on day one."
This is the nonsense that the media has repeated without question throughout the battle for the democratic nomination. But her barrage of misleading statements is now being challenged, and even better - it's coming from a mainstream media voice in Maureen Dowd:
Her Democratic rivals had meekly gone along, accepting her self-portrait as a former co-president who gets to take credit for everything important Bill Clinton did in the ’90s. But she was not elected or appointed to a position that needed Senate confirmation . . . She was a top adviser who had a Nixonian bent for secrecy and a knack for hard-core politicking. But if running a great war room qualified you for president, Carville and Stephanopoulos would be leading the pack.
Brilliant. In addition, Dowd has already countered the inevitable smear response from the Clinton campaign; that this is a sexist attack, attempting to belittle all female politicians.
“She hasn’t accomplished anything on her own since getting admitted to Yale Law,” wrote Joan Di Cola, a Boston lawyer, in a letter to The Wall Street Journal this week, adding: “She isn’t Dianne Feinstein, who spent years as mayor of San Francisco before becoming a senator, or Nancy Pelosi, who became Madam Speaker on the strength of her political abilities. All Hillary is, is Mrs. Clinton. She became a partner at the Rose Law Firm because of that, senator of New York because of that, and (heaven help us) she could become president because of that.”
I've thought for a while that Clinton's campaign is actually damaging to female politicians who HAVE made it their own way, and on their OWN merits, such as Feinstein, Pelosi, and a former presidential candidate who was far more qualified: Carol Mosley-Braun. Her candidacy re-enforces existing sexist stereotypes that imply that nepotism and personal connections are required for female politicians to be successful. Other issues aside, I'm thrilled that this is finally getting brought up, and here's hoping it continues.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Immigration Con Artists

As usual, David Sirota is dead on. This time it's about the immigration debate, and how those who are the harshest critics are often the same ones keeping the current system in place.
The con artists' behavior is stunning for its depravity.
First they gut domestic wage and workplace safety enforcement. Then they pass lobbyist-crafted trade pacts that push millions of foreigners into poverty. And presto! When these policies result in a flood of desperate undocumented workers employed at companies skirting domestic labor laws, the con artists follow a deceptive three-step program: 1) Propose building walls that would do nothing but create a market for Mexican ladders 2) Make factually questionable claims about immigrants unduly burdening taxpayers and 3) Scapegoat undocumented workers while sustaining an immoral situation that keeps these workers hiding in the shadows.

The formula allows opportunists in Congress to both deflect heat away from the corporations underwriting their campaigns and preserve an exploitable pool of cheap labor for those same corporations. Additionally, these opportunists get to divide working-class constituencies along racial lines and vilify destitute illegal immigrant populations that don't make campaign donations and therefore have no political voice whatsoever.
Check the link because the whole article is definitely worth a read, especially since the media has created such a misleading debate on the issue.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Joe Buck Disgusting Act of the Week: The CNN Las Vegas Debate

The Disgusting Act of the Week will be awarded periodically to whatever event/person best deserves Joe Buck's over the top outrage at a 2004 Randy Moss' touchdown celebration.

And the winner this week... CNN, for their Las Vegas Democratic Debate.

The debate itself was pretty uninteresting, with few good questions and pointed exchanges. That being said, I thought it was Obama and Richardson's best performance, John Edwards' worst, and more of the same lying and question dodging that we have come to expect from Hillary Clinton.
However what made this debate a disgusting act was both the audience, and the coverage that followed. When watching the debate on television, I noticed several odd things about the audience. First off, there were loud boos of both John Edwards and Barack Obama at points that really didn't make sense, and second, it they didn't sound like regular boos. As a fan of several sports teams who, well, have seen their fair share of boos, I know a normal sounding boo starts softer, and grows louder as it spreads through the crowd. These boos were different though, they sounded like they were coordinated, immediately at top volume, like you were flipping on a switch. It didn't seem to make too much sense until I read a diary by LV Pol Girl over at dailykos, who attended the debate and gave her own take.
The audience was basically divided into two sections. One side was UNLV, the well behaved section and the other section was the Hillary (oops, I meant the DNC) section. The DNC section is where I was seated and it was filled with Hillary supporters. The guy next to me said he was for Edwards and lied, because the only person he cheered for was Hillary. Loud, obnoxious, women were sitting behind me that talked throughout the debate and sneered "trial lawyer" every time Edwards spoke and called Obama "arrogant".
So the audience was predominantly pro-Hillary, but that was only one piece of the puzzle. In order to counter what had been over a week of bad press coverage based on the last debate and planted questions, the media needed to agree that Hillary had turned things around. Enter the CNN post debate team:
  • James Carville: Admitted Hillary Clinton supporter, sent out a fund raising letter for her campaign last year.
  • David Gergen: Former Bill Clinton adviser and confidante.
  • J.C. Watts: Former republican congressman (Your guess as good as mine why he's there)
And, in a truly shocking development, the panel loved Hillary.

"She really turned it around."
"She hit it out of the park."
"She fought back, but looked like a leader"

And in the end, the transformation was complete. After one week of questioning her status as the inevitable nominee, all it took was one night of dodging questions, packing the audience with your supporters then putting your supporters on tv as analysts to return to the race to the status quo. I guess the brain-dead media giveth, and the brain-dead media taketh away.

That was a disgusting act by CNN and it's unfortunate that we had it on our air live.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reagan Revisionism, meet Alton Lister

When the media decided to rewrite Ronald Reagan's legacy after his death, one aspect that has really bugged me is omitting his racist tendencies as both governor and president. In this case, David Brooks decided to simply to make up his own version of history:
The distortion concerns a speech Ronald Reagan gave during the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., which is where three civil rights workers had been murdered 16 years earlier. An increasing number of left-wing commentators assert that Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign with a states’ rights speech in Philadelphia to send a signal to white racists that he was on their side. The speech is taken as proof that the Republican majority was built on racism.
The truth is more complicated.
Brooks goes on to explain how Reagan was misunderstood, and it's this is just a scary story made up by mean liberals who want to tarnish Reagan's image. Well, good thing Bob Herbert is on staff at the same paper to take Brooks behind the woodshed:
On June 21, one day after his arrival, he (Andrew Goodman) and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans.
The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.
That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”
Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”
Context really is everything, not only for this one issue, but it bears pointing out that it fits in with the rest of Reagan's record on civil rights, as well as the ADMITTED RACIST TACTICS of his adviser, (and Karl Rove mentor) Lee Atwater. Herbert explains:
"He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.
And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation. Congress overrode the veto.
Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.
Throughout his career, Reagan was wrong, insensitive and mean-spirited on civil rights and other issues important to black people. There is no way for the scribes of today to clean up that dismal record.
To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency."
Revisionist history of Ronald Reagan's views and record has been rampant since his death, and it's good to see a Shawn Kemp on Alton Lister style humiliation of Brooks for defending Reagan's disgraceful actions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bob Rubin sure knows how to lose

Flashback to 2004: A time when even though I was crushed about Dean's defeat, I figured that anybody who could string two sentences together and not lead us into a senseless war would beat George W. Bush. Enter Bob Rubin:
He (Jagdish Bhagwati) was rambling on about Kerry, and the Kerry campaign and said that at some point in the general election, after Bob Rubin had signed on as an advisor, he saw Kerry giving a speech in which he blasted “Benedict Arnold” companies for pursuing off-shore tax havens. According to Bhagwati, he picked up the phone and called Kerry and said “If you ever say that again I’m off the campaign.”
Needless to say, the Benedict Arnold line had been getting enthusiastic reception and tested off the charts. It never made another appearance. Another example of the Bob Rubin effect on the Democratic party.
So obviously the 2004 loss was about more than this one thing, but it really shows the idiocy of these DLC consultants. Even though these issues are popular with the public (as well as, you know, the right thing to do) the corporate wing of the party has managed to keep them from ever seeing the light of day. It's funny looking back, because I remember talking to Rahul at the time about Kerry's use of the phrase, and us both thinking that it was a great way to rail against tax cheat companies. For more on Bob Rubin, check out this older profile which includes this shameful story:
In April 2004, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney grew concerned that John Kerry was getting too much of his economic advice from the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Kerry had just completed his primary sweep. In the general election, he would need the unions. Sweeney proposed a private meeting to discuss living standards as a campaign issue, and the candidate invited the labor leader to his Beacon Hill home. Sweeney arrived at the Kerry manse, bringing his policy director, Chris Owens, and Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute. There, seated in the elegant living room, were Robert Rubin and two longtime lieutenants: investment banker and former Rubin deputy Roger Altman, and fellow Clinton alum Gene Sperling -- Kerry's key economic advisers.

In a three-hour conversation, the group discussed the deficit, taxes, trade, health care, unions, and living standards. The labor people urged the candidate to go after Wal-Mart's low wages. Rubin countered that a lot of people like Wal-Mart's low prices. Kerry eventually announced that the meeting needed to wrap up, because "Bob has to get back to Washington." Rubin responded that, no, he could stay as long as Kerry wanted. Sweeney and his colleagues were ushered out the door; Rubin, Altman, and Sperling remained. "Wall Street was in the room before we arrived," says Faux, "and they were there after we left."
Bob Rubin is the poster child of the wrong side the Populist/Corporate split within the democratic party. As long as he and other impediments to real change hold sway within the democratic party, no election is a sure thing. 2008 may seem that way now, but remember how we felt in the lead up to 2004. Some people still don't understand that Republican lite will never beat Republican: they're just better at it than we are.

Oh yeah, and this cycle Bob Rubin is supporter of Hillary Clinton. Shocking, I know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Explaining Hillary

So I'm sure you're sick of my ranting on about Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn and why I think her nomination would be a catastrophe. But, if you did want more, I wanted to link you to an old article by Ari Berman in the Nation that describes her way of thinking better than anything else I've read.
"The conservative caricature that Hillary is to the left of her husband is a myth. She, like Bill, talks a good game. She's aggressively courted organized labor and distanced herself from policies like NAFTA. She privately tells public-interest groups and liberal commentators that she's on their side. At the same time, she's premised her presidential campaign on a restoration of the Clinton era, frequently invoking "Bill and I" on the stump as a way of claiming credit for the perceived successes of the 1990s. She's expressed no qualms about her closest advisers' forays into the corporate world. Courting elements of the Democratic base while signaling to the corporate right that she won't shake up the system is a tricky juggling act. Even the First Lady of triangulation may not be able to pull it off."
It's a long one, but it's definitely worth the read.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mark Penn: The hits just keep on coming...

So I know I won't shut up about Mark Penn, but this guy is an utter disgrace and happens to be the Chief Strategist for the democratic front runner. Last time I talked about him, I mentioned that he is the CEO of a firm that engages in union-busting and does PR work for Blackwater. Going through his checklist of clients, he must have figured he was short on corrupt foreign politicians trying to force their way back into power. Not Anymore!
"Meanwhile, the Pakistani opposition party, led by Bhutto, has retained public relations giant Burson-Marsteller and its affiliates, the lobbying firm BKSH & Associates, and the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. The firm declined comment on its activities, which it is charging an initial $75,000, to be followed with monthly payments of $28,500.

The contract filed with the Justice Department does, however, give some insight into what all of the money buys. Among the promised services: surveys of “100 American political, journalistic, and business elites in Washington, D.C., and New York”; an “internal brainstorming session”; and setting up meetings for Bhutto in Washington “with an eye towards convincing U.S. officials that Prime Minister Bhutto is still relevant to further the democratic process in Pakistan.”
So a corrupt former politician is trying to squeeze her way back into power, and who does she pick to lobby her cause in DC? Hillary Clinton's chief strategist. Geekesque over at dailykos has a few questions that should be raised:

"Aside from the International Culture of Corruption this points to, this is disturbing in other ways:
  1. How can Hillary Clinton claim to have clear, unbiased judgment on Pakistan when her chief strategist has a vested interest in seeing one party return to power there? Is she issuing statements because that is what she believes, or because her chief strategist is biased in that regard?
  2. If Bhutto does return to power, will she not be seen as a puppet of Hillary Clinton in Pakistan and elsewhere?
  3. US lobbying firms working on behalf of foreign governments trying to influence US policy is bad enough. But, this unseemly fusion between lobbyist/PR and political figure is incredibly damning. Is Benazir Bhutto effectively getting a 2-1 deal on her money? Mark Penn is available to the highest bidder--do we really want someone whose business it is to shill on behalf of loathsome figures and who is a conflict of interest with feet shaping the policy of our next nominee?"
Well said, the first of many questions that should be asked of Mark Penn. I really can't wait to hear his response. Before you get your hopes up for a tearful apology/resignation (also known as a "Duke"), here are his previous excuses for being representing despicable causes.

When asked about his firm's work on Cintas' anti-union campaign, he said:
"I personally had zero involvement in any of the work related to Cintas."
When asked about his firm's PR work for Blackwater he said:
"It was a temporary assignment based on a relationship that has concluded"
So by taking the Alberto Gonzalez Defense, that leaves us to conclude one of two things: Either you are trying to cover up that you're the CEO of a company that does some downright shameful things... or you're so stupid and incompetent that it's a miracle that you can shave without killing yourself.
Good to see that they keep the ethics bar high over at the Clinton campaign.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From bad to worse

Musharraf imposes emergency rule, protests follow. It's interesting too that for whatever reason, most news stories didn't seem to buy the "He's doing this to fight terrorism" reasoning. That line has worked almost flawlessly for him since 9/11 in giving him a free pass him to do whatever he wanted, and it seems like these recent events have been the first time that that premise has been almost universally questioned. Within the country, the protests against the emergency rule could be a sign that he has overplayed his hand.
"He has held the whole nation of 160 million people hostage, just with the backing of the gun and the Western powers," said one protesting lawyer, M.S. Moghul.
One thing is clear, people understand who has been helping him stay in power and thwart the democratic process.
Hopefully this can help put a lie to the talking point of people hating the US because of "freedom" and "democracy" and "liberty". No, people hate us because of what we do, interfering in other countries affairs, supporting brutal leaders who prevent the will of the people, and enforcing a worldwide economic system that has a negative impact on many (To name a few). However, if someone says this on tv or anywhere else, they are said to be "blaming America first" and probably won't be invited back. While there are a few people who passionately hate the United States for ideological reasons, the vast, vast majority could give a crap about the bill of rights if we stopped actively fucking up their lives.
The sooner we realize this and the media stops giving life to that myth, the sooner our country may have a sane foreign policy.

Friday, November 2, 2007

AFSCME Hits the Bottle

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee:
This is no time to take chances. We need someone who knows how to fight and knows how to win.
Couldn't agree more.
Sisters and Brothers, Senator Clinton is a seasoned fighter. Believe me, she knows how to fight and she knows how to win.
Fight? When? For what? Flag-burning? Censorship? NAFTA? When has she put up a fight for anything that matters to to these people? Win? What has she won? A senate race in a blue state?
Wait... you say he's still talking?
Some of you may have seen last night’s debate.
Six guys against Hillary.
I’d call that a fair fight.
This is one strong woman.
What does this have to do with anything? Why does he have to sound like such an asshole when he says it?
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience to make change happen.
Strength to send our country into one senseless war and while trying to get us into another? Experience? Being first lady and one whole term in the senate? Really?
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience who will always stand up for working Americans.
What? I guess I must have missed that all that fighting for working Americans when she was too busy having a union busting chief adviser, voting for the bankruptcy bill, and being crowned as the candidate of big business. Is he still talking?
This is the Democrat with the strength and experience to take on the Republicans in the fall.
This is the Democrat who can win the White House in 2008.
This is actually the only democrat who would create the perfect storm for losing in 2008 by turning out the GOP base while keeping home the democratic base. This is probably the only candidate who would give the GOP a chance in a year where literally everything is pointing against whoever becomes the republican nominee.

So lets recap:

Hillary Clinton done the least for unions and union issues of any of the candidates in the democratic field. This fact (or having a union buster like Mark Penn as chief adviser alone) should disqualify her for any union endorsement. Period.
Instead of trying to defend this decision on her record or any sensible reason for an endorsement, he defends the decision by asserting that she is the only candidate that can win, something that is very questionable to say the least, and there are quite a few people would argue the exact opposite is true.

It's sad to see a union with such a great history and large membership being driven into the ground by a leadership that can't seem to put down the stupid pills.