Archive for June, 2009

Happy Canada Day

June 30, 2009

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Have a good birthday, Canada!

Your Semi-Regular Coleman/Franken Update

June 30, 2009

At long last Minnesota’s nightmare is over and they have 2 senators again.  That state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Al Franken should be certified the winner, and Norm Coleman chose to concede rather than appeal this to the federal bench.  Franken could be sworn in as early as next week once Governor Pawlenty signs the certification and so forth.  Franken will give the Democrats 60 of the 100 seats in The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body and will be assigned, among other places, to the Judiciary Committee as it embarks on its Summer of Sotomayor.  For further details:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090630/ap_on_el_se/us_minnesota_senate

Matter of Semantics

June 29, 2009

President Obama today decried the coup in Honduras as being “illegal”.  Um, Mr. President, aren’t all coups by definition not legal?

Congressman Wilson Voted No on Cap & Trade

June 28, 2009

From his e-letter:

Dear Friends,

Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 2454 – The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. This month alone I heard from thousands of residents of Ohio’s Sixth District via email and phone and I wanted to let you know that I voted “no” on the bill.

Members of the House worked very hard to come up with the kind of energy reform bill that will both reduce greenhouse gases and lead our country to energy independence. Both are goals that I support, and progress on the bill in the House was encouraging, but I felt it didn’t go far enough to protect energy consumers and industries in my district.

I believe that coal must and will play a major role in our nation’s transition to energy independence. In Ohio, 86 percent of our electricity comes from coal. And the vast majority of that coal comes from Appalachian Ohio. Because we are located in an area of the country that heavily relies on coal to turn on the lights and heat our homes, Ohio families and her energy intensive industries, like steel, will bear the brunt of the cost from this version of climate change legislation.

This legislation is still being worked on by the Senate and I’m eager to see what that bill looks like.

Sincerely,


Charlie Wilson
Member of Congress
Ohio’s Sixth District

Stonewall 40 Years Later

June 28, 2009

Despite Democrats controlling Pennsylvania Avenue, progress is slow on gay rights:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/us/28stonewall.html?th&emc=th

Personally, I wish the Obama Administration was pushing a bit harder on this, but I realize they have other priorities.  Also, I’m sure they realize how badly Clinton bungled his opening months on “don’t ask don’t tell” and are a bit afraid of the issue.  But its time the ball gets rolled further downhill on this.  I see no harm in gays getting married; that should be a state issue and I’m not sure DOMA is constitutional for that reason.  Certainly, I would think reasonable people can at least agree that gays should be legally protected from hate crimes.

But, this is a generational issue probably even more so than a liberal/conservative issue.  As the article mentions, people under 40 (like me) tend to be pro-gay, people over 40 definitely still tend to have strong reservations about gay rights.  In this regard its a lot like civil rights was 45 years ago.  Its just that now the baby boomers are on the other side of the equation.  Presumably the legal landscape will improve for gays, but I suspect it’ll be more gradual.  We don’t have any modern versions of Bull Connor or George Wallace making older straits sit back and say “oh my goodness that just ain’t right even if they are gay.”  But change will come.

Quick Question

June 27, 2009

Its 11:15pm on a Saturday; do you know where your Governor is?

Your Weekly Media Matters Posting

June 27, 2009

Straight from my inbox:

Busting a cap and trade in their … spin

As the House vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act approached this week, prominent media conservatives once again took to the airwaves and displayed their true colors. Criticism of the bill from the right — especially its cap-and-trade provisions — has not been the product of principle, but of misinformation and, at times, willful denial.

On Friday, radio host Rush Limbaugh once again flagrantly denied that global warming exists and continued to advance the shockingly erroneous, comically false argument that under the legislation, “we could be taxed because of the carbon dioxide we exhale.” Thanks, Professor Limbaugh, for another science lesson!

“This bill is about raising taxes and taking away people’s freedom,” Limbaugh continued, before comparing it to a “Soviet-style five-year plan” that is “all based on hoaxes,” a crooked scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff.

The fearmongering continued as Fox News’ Glenn Beck agreed with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) when she argued of the bill, “You’re either for freedom or you’re not.”

Indeed, portraying the legislation as a massive financial penalty for ordinary Americans is a major line of attack for media conservatives. Thursday’s Fox & Friends claimed that the average family would have to pay an extra $3,100 a year in energy costs if it passed. But that number is based on a distortion of a 2007 MIT study — a distortion that has since been discredited by one of the study’s authors. Fox’s Sean Hannity also pushed a similar myth, claiming that the bill would cost families $2,000 a year.

Entirely absent from these critiques is the result of a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis that found that the bill’s net impact to households would eventually range between a benefit of $40 per year and a cost of $340 per year, with an average cost of $175 per year. Hannity isn’t the only one ignoring this crucial study while claiming the bill will lead to far higher costs; CNN’s The Situation Room and Lou Dobbs Tonight and Fox News’ Special Report and On the Record with Greta van Susteren have also repeated the misinformation or failed to challenge guests who advanced it. Unfortunately, as of June 23, none of them had reported on the new CBO study.

Other major stories this week:

Sanford: An affair to remember; others, they forget

As everyone knows by now, the case of the missing South Carolina governor has been solved. Those who watched Mark Sanford’s press conference on Fox News, however, may be a bit confused, since the conservative network briefly identified the Republican politician as a Democrat before correcting the error. While Fox apologized the next day, the “mistake” was nothing new. The news channel seems to have a habit of identifying unpopular or scandal-ridden Republicans as Democrats.

It’s especially hard to take the apology seriously when you consider that in two segments over the course of four hours on June 25, Fox’s James Rosen highlighted only scandals involving Democrats during reports that purported to examine earlier political sex scandals in an effort to assess Sanford’s situation. Neither segment mentioned any of the numerous sex scandals that involved Republican politicians such as Sen. John Ensign (NV), Sen. David Vitter (LA), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, among others.

Fox News was hardly alone in its selective memory. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski claimed there is a “double standard” when it comes to the sex scandals of Republican and Democratic politicians — that Democrats like Bill Clinton have “completely survived” their scandals. I wonder if she’s told survivors Vitter, Ensign, Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani of this “double standard” that apparently doesn’t apply to them. Mort Kondracke could benefit from the same reminder of these survivors. Roll Call‘s executive editor, without a hint of irony, took to Fox News to say that “the Democratic Party is a lot more tolerant of licentiousness than the Republican Party is.” Oh, brother.

So who is to blame for Sanford’s downfall? Well, if you’re Limbaugh or fellow conservative radio host Michael Savage, placing blame is pretty easy. They blame — wait for it, wait for it … President Obama. Seriously. Limbaugh suggested the president may have been a catalyst for Sanford’s affair — because the governor was sooo stressed out trying to reject stimulus funds — while Savage, citing the affairs of Sanford and Ensign, said that “Obama’s team is taking out potential rivals one after another.”

If you really want to see the hypocrisy of these media conservatives, I suggest you watch this video of democratic strategist Bob Beckel trying to pin Hannity down on his opinion of Ensign’s affair. You’ll have to fight the giggles; Hannity’s consistency is quite laughable.

Nico Pitney is no Jeff Gannon

Remember Jeff Gannon? He’s the former Talon News “Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent” who lobbed softballs at President Bush and his former press secretary Scott McClellan in the White House press briefing room and lifted big chunks of language verbatim from GOP documents for his “news reports.” Gannon wasn’t a credentialed reporter — not by the House or Senate press galleries, not by the White House Correspondents’ Association, not by the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association. Nope, for quite some time, Gannon was granted a day-to-day pass to White House press briefings by … the White House.

Oh, yeah, one other thing: As The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz noted at the time, “naked pictures [of Gannon] have appeared on a number of gay escort sites.” More on that here.

Jeff Gannon is no Nico Pitney. I’d just hate for Gannon to think that his integrity, journalistic or otherwise, even remotely matches that of The Huffington Post’s national editor.

Beltway establishment journos and conservative media figures were apoplectic after Obama selected Pitney to ask a question concerning Iran at his press conference this week.

Leading the Beltway charge, The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank ridiculed Obama for taking “a preplanned question” by “a planted questioner.” Of course, Milbank omitted the substance of Pitney’s question. Limbaugh directly compared the media response to Pitney’s question with “the outcry over Jeff Gannon.”

For the record, since so many have failed to, I present you Pitney’s question to Obama, which was offered up on behalf of an Iranian:

Under which conditions would you accept the election of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of the — of what the demonstrators there are working towards?

What about Gannon? Here’s what he asked Bush in a 2005 presser:

Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines. And Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there’s no crisis there. How are you going to work — you’ve said you are going to reach out to these people — how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

As the song goes, “one of these things is not like the other.” Far from Gannon’s softball, Pitney’s question was described as “tough” by Michael Tomasky and Glenn Greenwald. ABC News’ Jake Tapper described it as “one of the tougher” questions.

So it can’t be the substance of Pitney’s question that has the right and Beltway insiders in such a huff. In fact, most conservatives skipped past the question entirely, attempting to paint a picture of a White House picking a liberal out of the blue to come into the presser and ask a prearranged question. Those assertions are both unfair and untrue. But it didn’t stop Hannity from falsely claiming that Pitney himself had “explained” that the White House chose his question. In fact, both Pitney and the White House deny that Obama had prior knowledge of the question. Hannity’s Fox News colleague Bret Baier accused The Huffington Post of “coordinat[ing]” with Obama to ask the question. The Fox Nation website took things a step further, equating The Huffington Post question to “state-run media.”

For what it’s worth, the whole episode smacks of journalistic jealousy. Anyone who has been following Pitney’s live coverage of the ongoing crisis in Iran knows that his work has been nothing but top-notch and worthy of praise, not derision. If you haven’t been reading Pitney, I strongly suggest that you start … today.

Perhaps a CNN caption during an interview with Pitney best summed up the controversy: “A blogger gets press room Q&A. So what?”

ABC: Now it’s premeditated liberal media bias?

Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin may not believe it, but ABC’s health care town hall with Obama this week was a ratings success for the network. The strong showing came after days of relentless (and nonsensical) conservative attacks attempting to paint the special as an “infomercial” and a left-wing propaganda coup. Fox News’ Mike Huckabee and Chris Wallace, apparently struck by the lunacy of the right-wing charges, defended ABC, essentially saying that anyone would jump at the chance to host such an event. Perhaps they could have discussed the issue with other Fox News personalities around the fair and balanced water cooler.

While some media critics like Kurtz correctly identified the conservative efforts as a classic example of “working the refs,” they kept largely mum. Kurtz himself said he was “amazed” by the attacks, but has yet to say more.

As usual, the content of the program proved that charges of pro-Obama favoritism just wouldn’t fly. Hosting, ABC’s Charles Gibson claimed that “a lot of people are very uncomfortable” with the “idea” of “government insurance,” even though a recent New York Times poll pegged support for such a plan at a whopping 72 percent. Gibson was also schooled over his interpretation of a Lewin Group report concerning future health care coverage of Americans by … the Lewin Group’s president and Obama.

Funny enough, ABC’s Diane Sawyer, who co-hosted the town hall, noted this week that Bush had turned down the opportunity to participate in a similar program during his time in office.

It really was a case of imagined premeditated liberal media bias on the part of media conservatives.

The crazy world of Michael Savage

This week, Examiner.com’s Ron Moore reported that Savage (née Weiner), the nation’s third-most-listened-to talk radio host, vowed to “retaliate” against Media Matters for America by posting photos and “pertinent information” about staff on his website. Seriously. You can listen to Savage’s disturbing words for yourself.

The comments led Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, to discuss the right-wing fringe talker’s attacks in his appropriately titled “Psycho Talk” segment. Schultz declared Savage “is pinning a ‘Wanted’ sign on employees at Media Matters.”

As Huffington Post political reporter Jason Linkins put it, “What’s strange about this is that Media Matters has been making the case for some time now that right-wing voices have been ramping up rhetoric that specifically urges violent acts and intimidation. So now, Savage is talking about a running a web-stalking campaign against them? Hmmm. I wonder what sort of conclusions a person might draw from that?”

Media Matters responded to Savage, posting a video on YouTube that juxtaposes the seemingly rational face the host put on a during recent CNN interview with screeching audio clips from his own nationally syndicated radio program, including his threats against Media Matters‘ staff. The video concludes with on-screen text stating “We’re Still Listening.”

That night on his show, Savage dug in deeper, telling listeners that he’s getting “tax returns for Media Matters.” Of Media Matters‘ staff, Savage also repeated his vow to “expose not only their names and their pictures, but also how much money they make for being the good Stalinists that they are.”

Score One for Common Sense

June 27, 2009

SCOTUS ruled 8-1 that schools do not have the right to strip-search 13 year old girls because they might be hiding a couple ibuprofen pills:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/25/AR2009062501690.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Clarence Thomas is a moron, but at least the other 8 justices have some sense.  Traumatizing kids by stripping them down is going to do more harm to the student body than letting slip by a teenager being able to self-medicate if she gets a headache.  I would hope that any reasonable person can see why this strip search was a horrible thing.  If they thought she was hiding a joint or a knife in her underclothes, that would be one thing.  Of course, in that case, one could say “get a search warrant” when practical.  But to completely freak out a 13 year old kid on the off chance she was hiding a substance that is not illegal outside school?  I think this case was pretty clear.

Shaq Coming to Cleveland

June 26, 2009

In a great move for the Cleveland Cavaliers they acquired aging center Shaquille O’Neal from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for a salary dump of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.  To me, pulling the trigger on this trade was a no-brainer for Cavs GM Danny Ferry.  Wallace and Pavlovic aren’t really helpful (indeed I have heard that B-Wall might retire).  There is the chance that Shaq proves to be over-the-hill and/or injury riddled and unable to help.  In that event, the Cavs are still no worse off.  Then again, Shaq could be useful at times, or he could even prove to be rejuvenated and be a great help.

It was made apparent during the Eastern Conference Finals that the Cavs lacked a strong presence in the low post defensively, and they also had zilch in terms of post offense.  Shaq can potentially fill that void.  If nothing else, Shaq can get some open throw downs when half of the defense collapses around a penetrating Lebron.  It strikes me that Shaq and Lebron could be a marriage that works not unlike Kareem and Magic for the Showtime Lakers, a superstar 2-guard/everyman and an aging all-time great center.  Obviously, that is what the Cavs are hoping for, and that moves like this dissuade any doubts Lebron would have about staying in Cleveland when he hits free agency.

Obviously, there could be unknown unknowns to change the equation, but it certainly looks like the Eastern Conference will be the Big 3 and little everyone else next season.  The Celtics should be getting Garnett back, Orlando just traded for Vince Carter (tho they might fail to keep Torkuglu) and of course the Cavs.  Should make for an entertaining May.

Golden Glover

June 22, 2009

Well, I told a friend on IM a couple nights ago that it definitely would not be Lucas Glover winning the US Open.  Shows how much I know!  I didn’t get a chance to watch today’s action live because of work, but I did record the NBC portion of the coverage and watched it this evening knowing who would win.  Clearly the difference was 16 and 17.  Glover went birdie-par, Mickelson went par-bogey, Duval went birdie-bogey, and Barnes went par-par.  After 3-putting 15 to fall back into a tie with Mickelson and Duval, Glover hit the kind of iron shot that wins championships on 16 and sank the putt to get back to -4 and no one else could touch that.  He hit the green on 17, which neither Lefty nor Duval could do, and he played 18 very intelligently.  He knew that par definitely won, and that even bogey would unless Barnes birdied, so he played a mid-iron off the tee to take the possibility of a large number off the board by avoiding bunkers and fescue.  He then hit well past the flag and two-putted for the championship.  I’m sure the story is as much about what others did not do, but it should also be about what Glover did do.  In the abstract him shooting a final round 73 looks like he backed into the trophy, but he played the back 9 even par, and that is very solid play in such a pressure situation, especially with the galleries up ahead roaring for other players.

As for Phil Mickelson, he sets the record for being the Alydar of the US Open, coming in 2nd 5 different times (and never winning).  As was the case the other 4 times, he had a chance down the stretch, tho not as clear as the last two times at Shinnecock and Winged Foot where he really blew it.  The bogey at 15 was not really a big deal; that was the hardest hole on the course and Glover also 3-putted it for bogey in the final round.  But the bogey on 17 prevented him from posting a number that would really make Glover sweat on the 72nd tee.  Lucas may’ve hit a more aggressive tee shot knowing he needed par to win outright, and if does that anything is possible.  But it was still a good week for Phil, especially given how his mind has been elsewhere of late.

Where did David Duval come from?  I think everyone just assumed he was 10 years ago’s news and it was well past time for him to leave the game, get a TV gig, or bide his time until the Champions Tour.  But he had a great week.  And in each of the last 3 rounds he faded badly in the front 9 only to bring it back at the end.  Like Mickelson, if he could’ve just parred 17, who knows what happens.  But a great story, and now maybe he can have a 2nd career over the next few years.

Hunter Mahan will definitely be a factor in other majors.  If his 2nd shot doesn’t hit the flagstick on 16 and then carom wildly into the front rough 40 feet away, who knows what happens.  Ross Fisher was the easily forgotten one, being the little-known foreign-born player in the mix late, but this kind of tournament could give him some great confidence heading into his homeland’s Open next month.  He finished 4th in the Accenture Match Play Championships earlier this year, so high finishes are not a fluke for him.  Ricky Barnes will have plenty to ponder.  The 4th player in US Open history to get his score double digits under par (-11 in the middle of the 3rd round) his collapse wasn’t quite as epic as Dr. Gil Morgan’s at Pebble Beach in 1992, but he ended up 9 shots worse to par than his peak.  But, like Glover, tho the final round 76 looks bad, and it is, he deserves credit for a gutty back 9 playing the last 6 holes in -1.  If that putt on 18 drops, and I have no idea why it stopped breaking, Glover might biff that par putt and he’s in a playoff.  He can take a lot from this week.  As for Tiger, he lost by 4 shots.  When he came out Friday morning to finish his 1st round, he played the last 4 holes in +4.  He had a ton of makeable putts just barely miss.  In other words, almost but not meant to be this week.

But, let us not dwell on the other guys too much.  Let us instead congratulate Lucas Glover on his strong play down the stretch to win the 109th US Open!