Monday, November 10, 2008

MS 13 comes to downtown Silver Spring and Montgomery Blair HIgh

The Tai Lam memorial spot in downtown Silver Spring on Sunday evening.

Arrest made in murder of Tai Lam.
County police arrest Takoma Park man
By Kiera Zitelman, Online Editor-in-Chief 11/08/2008

See also the stories here and here.

Around 7 p.m. on Friday, Montgomery County police arrested Hector Mauricio Hernandez, 20, of Takoma Park, for the murder of Blair freshman Tai Lam, according to Lieutenant Robert McCullagh. Detectives obtained a warrant for first degree murder. Hernandez is a member of the MS-13 gang, though police are still investigating whether gang involvement played a role in the shooting. He is being held without bond.

Lam, 14, and two others, 14 and 15, boarded a Ride On bus in Silver Spring with a large group of friends on Nov. 2. The three boys were shot around 11 p.m. after a verbal exchange with a group of four to five older men. When the bus stopped at Arliss Street and Piney Branch Road, the older group exited the bus. One of them fired into the back of the bus, hitting Lam and the two other boys, who attend Blair and Northwood High School.

The nature of the verbal exchange is still under investigation. "For unknown one of those subjects was getting off, he turned and fired a handgun from the area of the rear door of the bus into the bus striking the three teens," according to a police press release. "That subject has been identified as Hernandez."

Lam died later that night, while the other boys were taken to Georgetown University MedStar Hospital in critical condition. Both have since been released and are recovering from their injuries.

Police are still searching for others on the bus and expect to make more arrests, according to McCullagh. "We are still looking for associates as witnesses or defendants," he said.

Hernandez will be brought before a grand jury for indictment, and the next step would be a Montgomery County circuit court trial. "They will eventually stand trial in Montgomery County for murder," McCullagh said.

Police are asking anyone with information related to the case to call (240) 773-5070. Callers may remain anonymous.

Friday, October 31, 2008

VOTE: Provisional ballots and other ways to make sure your vote counts

Election Day is this Tuesday, November 4. If you have any problems at the polls, call the Maryland ACLU Election Day Hotline: 1-888-496-ACLU (2258).
Virginia voter information is here (English and Spanish).

You have rights: Every worker who's eligible to vote has the right to be absent from work if your schedule would otherwise leave you unable to vote at the polls (see Voter Empowerment Card for MD law). The polls in Maryland will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You have the right to vote if you're in line or inside your polling place when the polls close. You can take written or printed election materials with you as long as they're for your own use in casting your ballot. Most voters won't need to show ID at all. However, if you're a first–time voter, you may need to show ID. If you don’t have ID, you can prove your residence with a wide array of alternative documents.

Problems you may encounter at the polls:
  • If you are told you're not on the voter list, ask an election judge to check the list again. If you’re not on the list, confirm that you're at the correct polling place for your address. If you are at the correct polling place, ask for a provisional ballot. If you’re not, go to the correct polling place to cast your ballot.
  • If someone challenges your right to vote, you have the right to prove your identity. Poll workers cannot challenge your eligibility. The only legal challenge is one in which the challenger claims that you are not the person you claim to be. If you cannot prove your identity, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot.
  • If someone tries to intimidate or harass you, report the problem to an election judge and Maryland ACLU Election Day Hotline at 1-888-496-ACLU (2258). If the election judge is the problem, call the ACLU Hotline.
  • If you make a mistake while voting, tell an election judge before submitting your vote.
    Be sure to review your selections and submit your vote.
Important reminders about your right to vote:
  • If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, you are eligible to vote. You can vote by absentee ballot if still in jail. If you have been convicted of a felony, you can vote once you have completed probation and/or parole.
  • If you are homeless, you can vote in the precinct where you live and usually sleep (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other place).

Tips to avoid problems:
  • Check your voter registration status beforehand.
  • Locate your correct polling place.
  • Vote in the middle of the day if you can.
  • Bring some form of ID, even if it's not required.
  • Read instructions carefully and ask for help if needed.

Get the full story about your rights by downloading your Maryland Voter Empowerment Card (in English and Spanish). Get informed, get empowered, and VOTE!

ACLU of Maryland

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who is Joe the plumber?

Oops. Joe Wurzelbacher is Charles Keating's brother in law. That's Charles Keating, the man who with McCain's help destroyed Savings and Loans in America.

Mr. Keating's son-in-law is Robert Wurzelbacher, a senior vice president of American Continental, Lincoln savings and Loan's parent company, the American Continental Corporation.


The issue: Probably the biggest political embarrassment of John McCain's career emanated from his close ties to Charles H. Keating Jr., the high-flying owner of Lincoln Savings & Loan who later went to federal prison. Lincoln's failure would ultimately cost taxpayers $3.4 billion, the most expensive rescue of the S&L crisis in the late 1980s.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catholics for Obama

"Despite what some Republicans would like Catholics to believe, the list of what the church calls "intrinsically evil acts" does not begin and end with abortion. In fact, there are many intrinsically evil acts, and a committed Catholic must consider all of them in deciding how to vote."

Although much of Catholic leadership has forsaken other moral principles for the single one that woman can control, Nicholas P. Cafardi has spoken out for those other moral principles: to reduce poverty, to protect other gifts from the Creator such as environment. Cafardi is the second high profile Catholic legal scholar who is staunchly anti-abortion yet says he supports Barack Obama. Douglas Kmiec, Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer as head of the office of legal counsel for the Department of Justice, publicly argued a similar case for Obama several weeks ago.
Are you sure Ronald Reagan had a consitutional lawyer? Really?

Cafardi continued, "Last November, the U.S. bishops released 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,' a 30-page document that provides several examples of intrinsically evil acts: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, torture, racism, and targeting noncombatants in acts of war."

McCain's position on torture, noncombatants, and racism do not seem to disturb the people who would silence voices, such as Cafardi's, who speak out against these other evils.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"The Party of Stupid"

The economist who calls today's GOP "The party of stupid" won the Nobel prize in economics Monday. Winner Paul Krugman, Princeton University scholar and New York Times columnist, was recognized for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect international trade patterns.

Tore Ellingsen, a member of the prize committee, said, "We disregard everything except for the scientific merits."

Ellingsen acknowledged that Krugman was an "opinion maker" but added that he was honored on the merits of his economic research, not his political commentary.

Krugman has also come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying McCain is "more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago."

Krugman writes a regular column and has a blog called "Conscience of a Liberal."
On McCain, Krugman recently wrote:

We’ve known for a long time, of course, that Mr. McCain doesn’t know much about economics — he’s said so himself, although he’s also denied having said it. That wouldn’t matter too much if he had good taste in advisers — but he doesn’t.

Remember, his chief mentor on economics is Phil Gramm, the arch-deregulator, who took special care in his Senate days to prevent oversight of financial derivatives — the very instruments that sank Lehman and A.I.G., and brought the credit markets to the edge of collapse. Mr. Gramm hasn’t had an official role in the McCain campaign since he pronounced America a “nation of whiners,” but he’s still considered a likely choice as Treasury secretary.

And last year, when the McCain campaign announced that the candidate had assembled “an impressive collection of economists, professors, and prominent conservative policy leaders” to advise him on economic policy, who was prominently featured? Kevin Hassett, the co-author of “Dow 36,000.” Enough said.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In war, the heroes always outnumber the soldiers 10 to one

John McCain's War hero/Maverick facade crumbles, thanks to Rolling Stone.

Headline quote by HL Mencken.

HL Mencken also has a quote for the "W in lipstick":

"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Voting and Taxes are Unpatriotic? If you are a Republican running for office

Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

NYTimes Thomas Friedman says: I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Next thing you know, she'll say voting is unpatriotic!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Campaigns who smear middle school girls: follow them to the Gates of Hell

WaPo Saturday surprised no one when they admitted that "Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said."

With John Kerry in 2004, they had counted on Kerry's reputation for talking issues to death to assure success of the smears from the Swiftboaters. When the same operatives had smeared McCain in 2000, they counted on McCain having no time to correct the lies about McCain's own middle-school age daughter. With Obama, I believe they depend on the public's fear of angry black men to push Obama between a rock and a hard place, making an effective, passionate response difficult and even impossible. At the risk of self-importance, I propose a quick, effective and resonant response for these expected smears. If you like the idea, vote here on DKos.

We know that McCain has a costly and ineffective plan for health care that involves paying private insurers, one of the few industries that are already profiteering even in this distressed economy. We know that McCain was erratic and ineffective in his contribution to the financial crisis. Michigan is no longer the battleground state targeted, as Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, to toss registrations and turn away voters (but beware, Pennsylvania is). McCain's last chance to win is to distract voters from his 90% record of voting with George Bush with Smears of Obama.

Many voters will be shocked and afraid at the sight of an angry black man standing up to Grandpa John and Bible Barbie... er, McCain and Palin. McCain and his advisers are certainly counting on an unwillingness of Obama to strike back. I suggest he try this for size.

McCain talks about change. But this smear campaign is not a change. It involves Karl Rove, Rove protege Steve Schmidt, Bush campaign manager Terry Nelson, Bush communications director Brian Jones, Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon, and Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman. It includes old Freddie Mac lobbyist Mark Buse. That's not change. That's more of the same.

Let me tell you what that group of men did to win the Republican primary for George W. Bush in 2000. They slimed McCain's own daughter - his own middle-school aged daughter - by saying her mother was was a prostitute.

Let me tell you this: If those men had said that about one of my children, about one of my daughters, about anyone my family, they would not be embraced into an inner circle of men telling me how to run a campaign. In fact, when it comes time to identify the men who must be followed to the gates of hell, I would follow those men. I dare McCain to talk about ending the war and ending the economic crisis instead.
Short, simple, acceptable anger. A man protecting his family.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"I may not answer the question the way you or the mainstream media want me to..."

Gwen Ifill is no debate moderator. The conditions of a debate are that debators agree to answer the questions posed. If they want to answer other questions, they can pay the media, or lock out the people asking pesky questions, or call on hand selected or planted "reporters." Sarah Palin was allowed to use the debate as her own commercial. Ifill never interrupted, never steered her back to the question, never called her on her evasions. Nevertheless, Palin never exceeded anything but the lowest expectations. In poll after poll, even on Fox and Drudge, Joe Biden wins. A CBS News/Knowledge Networks Poll found that 46 percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate thought Biden won, with 21 percent siding with Palin. A CNN poll found respondents judging Biden the winner by a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent but calling Palin more likable by 54 percent to Biden's 36 percent.

NYT: Senator Biden did well, avoiding one of his own infamous gaffes, while showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details. He left Ms. Palin way behind on most issues, especially foreign policy and national security, where she just seemed lost. It was in those moments that her lack of experience — two terms as mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb and less than two years as governor — was most painfully evident.

Joe Biden had a command of the facts and the stage, chiding Ifill but not Palin. That way he avoids ridiculous charges that asking a woman to understand the federal government that she wants to lead would be sexist. Joe did strike a blow for equal rights when he mentioned his own parental role:

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.

I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."

I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now. But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin avoids Freedom of Information with ANOTHER illegal email account

WaPo: Quentin Algood, the owner of [email host] ITS Alaska, said a discreet e-mail system was created from an old campaign account, with access confined to "a group of people, her closest confidants and co-workers and advisers and the person she sleeps with."

It also raises more questions about Palin's record of commingling the official and personal. The Yahoo inbox posted on the Internet contained family photos, notes from well-wishers and official state correspondence on pending legislation. "She had a number of personal addresses," said John Bitney, a former close aide who was fired by Palin. "I don't know why so many."

ITS technician Ryan Gattis described working with Bailey this spring to set up e-mail addresses linked to the dormant campaign Web site. Gattis said there appeared to be 10 to 15 addresses, chiefly the small circle of aides known in Alaska political circles as "Palinistas" for their fierce loyalty to Palin, with Bailey taking system administrator authority.

"Palin Had Another Private E-Mail Account, Company Says" by Karl Vick, Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, October 1, 2008; Page A04

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lee Atwater, Willie Horton and John McCain

John McCain's fans - rich people who know that McCain's tax plan (but not Obama's) will raise middle-class taxes to pay for the rich - are hiding their real interests behind a race-baiting ad by the Swiftboaters who brought you Willie Horton.

I hope they know what they are doing. Lee Atwater was punished for this wickedness with a brain tumor.
A dying Atwater said: "It is very important to me that I let you know that out of everything that has happened in my career, one of the low points remains the so-called 'jumper cable' episode," adding, "my illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood, and probably never would have. So, from that standpoint, there is some truth and good in everything."[11]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rich people know McCain won't raise their taxes - he'll raise yours

Will Barack Obama raise taxes?

Rich people, who pay experts - and campaign contributions - to track these things, know what John McCain won't tell you. Barack Obama will lower your taxes, unless you make $230,000 or more a year. John McCain will raise taxes on poor and middle-class Americans. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center separated fact from fiction.

WaPo: Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy. For the approximately 147,000 families that make up the top 0.1 percent of the income scale, the difference between the two plans is stark. While McCain offers a $269,364 tax cut, Obama would raise their taxes, on average, by $701,885 - a difference of nearly $1 million.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"The View"

The Press has been giving the lies of McCain Palin a free ride.

McCain had to go on the View before a "reporter" asked him a tough question. Watch!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain Palin lies coming too fast to count: Lipstick, Rape and McCain

As McCain/Paliin continues his phoney outrage on "Lipstick on a pig."

Meanwhile, few press outlets add substance behind the reports of phoney outrage, and McCain/Palin get free advertising and a free pass to run out the elction clock - more time when they don't have to talk about Iraq.

McCain's treatment of women is filled with abhorrent behavior and heinous language. After he called his wife a trollup and a c*nt, he used the same phrase of "lipstick on a pig" to describe Hillary.

In an appearance before the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington D.C., McCain supposedly asked the crowd if they had heard "the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die?"
The punch line: "When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"
This man is trying to convince disillusioned Hillary voters that he cares about women, while pandering to the worst fears in some voters. The ape also gives the joke a racist aspect.
He also is quoted as making cruel fun of lovely Chelsea Clinton; we all had an awkward teen phase. Hers was painfully public, made more painful by the adolescent cruelty of John McCain:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."
Truth? gives McCain terrible marks for "Straight Talk," including his lies about Factcheck!

Sarah Palin supported the Bridge to NoWhere - and lied about it

Are you wondering whether Sarah Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska?
WAPO says Palin is lying:" Palin did at one time support the Bridge to Nowhere, and the $223 million earmarked for the project was sent to Alaska. Some of it was used for other state projects, about $40 million was used to build an access road to the now-scrapped bridge project and $73 million is sitting in an account, awaiting some other proposal to link the tiny towns of Ketchikan and Gravina, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation."
Palin and McCain are resurrecting a strategy from the Karl Rove script that accused McCain's middle school daughter of being a bastard child from a liaison with a black prostitute to win the South Carolina primary in 2000. "We have created a system where there is not a lot of shame in stretching the truth," said Charlie Cook, editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

USAToday has uncovered quotes from 2006 when Sarah Palin was still Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.
“We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge, and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,” Palin said in August
2006, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.

The Anchorage Daily News quoted her in October 2006 as saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. “The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist,” she said.

Asked why she supported the bridge, Palin’s communications director Bill McAlister said, “It was never at the top of her priority list, and in fact the project isn’t necessarily dead … there’s still the potential for improved ferry service or even a bridge of a less costly design.”

Wasilla, which in 2007 had 9,780 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, hired a lobbyist in 2000, public records show, paying him about $36,000 per year. In 2001, Palin was quoted in a local newspaper crediting Silver with helping secure federal funding for Wasilla.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Community Organizers bristling at Palin's False and Insulting Remarks

After all, Jesus was a Community Organizer. Pontius Pilot was a governor.

The Catholic community who sponsored his work responded this way:
Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's acceptance speech tonight mocked her opponent's work in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.

As for the South Side of Chicago - not many people felt safe walking with Barack there, much less living there. But no matter where you are from, check out PaulVA who has a list of Community Organizers that made your life better. Other community organizers are fighting back.

McCain says Washington is broken. Does he say WHY?

Political Cartoonist Matt Davies says Republicans broke it. He hit the nail on the head.

Matt Davies
Journal News
Sep 5, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Straight talk express derailed

In public, John McCain calls his wife a "trollup" and a "c*nt"

John McCain admits he's not knowledgable enough to be president, then he denies he says it.

Raw story peeks into a new book by Curt Schecter:

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

The press didn't report it, because no paper would print the foul language.

It is a pattern and practice of the hot-tempered, mean spirited old man.

The man who was known as "McNasty" in high school has erupted in foul-languaged tirades at political foes and congressional colleagues more-or-less throughout his career, and his quickness to anger has been an issue on the presidential campaign trail as evidence of his fury has surfaced.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are you ready for President Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin, mayor of a town of 6,000, with 20 months experience as Alaska governor, is asking you to make her a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
President Sarah Palin?

According to a Harvard study, men born in the United States die on average at the age of 74. POWs and melanoma patients like McCain have a shorter life expectancy. That significant date of McCain's 74th birthday is due on August 29, 2010, after 19 months in office, with more than half the term to go.
NYT: But this time around, Mr. McCain has yet to make his full medical records or his physicians available to reporters. At least three times since March 2007, campaign officials have told The New York Times that they would provide the detailed information about his current state of health, but they have not done so. The campaign now says it expects to release the information in April.So Mr. McCain’s prognosis for the recurrence of melanoma can be gauged only by talking to experts not connected with his case.

President Sarah Palin!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Is Sarah Palin more like Dick Cheney or more like Clarence Thomas?

A week ago, Sarah Palin didn't know what the Vice President does. "What exactly is it that the VP does every day?" Now she is asking for your vote.

Meanwhile, Palin's past has some disturbing parallels to Dick Cheney's.

* A scapegoating, firing, and influence peddling story that reminds us of the the Jim Wilson/Scooter Libby scandal.

* Oil company shill and global warming deny-er.

Alaskans call her appointment "A Bridge to Nowhere."

On the other hand, is she more like Clarence Thomas: a neophyte with no trail of experience to support her or to critcize, with no intellectual heft to bring to the table. An opportunistic choice consistent with John McCain's strategy of selling out his maverick credentials to the administration that accused his own adopted daughter of being a bastard from a liaison McCain supposedly had with an African American prostitute. McCain did not stand up to Karl Rove's slur of his own elementary-school age daughter, just so he could be President. McCain chose a running mate who, like Clarence Thomas, Joe Biden couldn't criticize without being portrayed as a bully.

I hope Biden unleashes all his fury at this Barbie politician and he should have all Feminist support behind him. With just a few months as governor under her belt, Palin is no Hillary.

In the meantime, even Associated Press confuses this ticket with Dick Cheney.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why Supreme Court Appointments - and Elections - Matter

From Monica Goodling engaged in criminal activity in appointing the country's lawyers based on why they "want to service George Bush," to Republicans insulting minorities everywhere by suggesting the intellect of Clarence Thomas is the best intellectual heft they have to offer the country, legal appointments in the US have reached historic low. While the crimes continue, the effect this has on the country's judicial system, and unfairly charged defendants, is far-reaching. Of course, real criminals enjoy the diversions that allow them to continue.

A new study by the NYTimes shows that:

[Legal] Practitioners are keenly award of this. The first question asked by many lawyers taking on a new case is “What judge has it been assigned to?” In recognition of how important judge selection can be, some states even allow litigants to strike the first judge assigned to a case and take a chance on doing better with a second pick.

The federal system does not provide for such challenges. Rather, in federal court, you must take the judge you get – and the judge you get (or, at least, what type of judge you are most likely to get over the long run) depends, in this age of vetting, almost exclusively on one thing – presidential elections. Another is upon us now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why do Oil Speculators beg for our Money?

In 2007, Exxon/Mobil earned $1,300 a second.

For the second quarter of 2008, Exxon Mobil reported record quarterly earnings of $11.97 billion on total revenues of $138 billion.

That 2Q 2008 profit works out to $1,485.55 a second.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dirty Tricks on Joe Biden

We've already seen the attack machine start on Joe Biden, bringing up charges that he committed plagarism when he described his childhood using facts from Neil Kinnick. He had mentioned Kinnick in previous speeches, but this one time he used the first person ("I") and did not credit Kinnick.

Biden had brain aneurysms at the time.

See the Biden story on YouTube.

Obama experience

"so his experience is essentially that of a lawyer and a state legislator. There hasn't been this empty a résumé for a presidential candidate since, uh, hmm. Abe Lincoln. Lawyer and state legislator. Whoa, and they're both from Illinois! It's almost as though God Himself is endorsing ..."

You might say times were simpler then, and experience less important. Do you mean times like the dizzying changes in transportation, caused by the interContinental railway, and the internal combustion engine? Like the earthquake in the labor market and racial and immigration forces, caused by the advent of tens of thousands of free slaves poised to enter the paid workforce to the dismay of the poorest paid Scotch and Irish in those dead end jobs?

It's shocking. I'm reminded of how Lincoln flagrantly lifted "a house divided against itself" from the Bible, thereby creating an inarguable moral and philosophical underpinning for the war he would wage to save America and to affirm, forever, the dignity of human freedom. It's like . . .

read more on Obama and Lincoln.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

First Wives Club: John and Carol McCain

How much do you know about Carol McCain, the wife of John McCain before Cindy? She now lives in Virginia Beach.

"[T]here is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator's presidential campaign. Had events turned out differently, it would be she, rather than Cindy, who would be vying to be First Lady. She is McCain's first wife, Carol, who was a famous beauty and a successful swimwear model when they married in 1965.

It took Britian's Daily Mail to cover the story, while the conglomorates who own mainstream media push aside the story like McCain pushed aside his wife.

"My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25," Carol said, apparently benevolently.

"In 1979 while still married to Carol he met Cindy at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage.

Carol and her children were devastated. It was a complete surprise,' says Nancy Reynolds, a former Reagan aide.

Salon summed it up: "McCain's strategy worked perfectly: After chasing Cindy Hensley [and her Anheuser-Busch fortune] around the country for six months, he closed the deal late in the year, had a divorce by February and was married to Hensley shortly thereafter. Bingo! McCain was a candidate for Congress by early 1982, his coffers full, his home in the proper Arizona district purchased."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Things That Carried Him by Chris Jones

For Memorial Day:

The next day, Thursday, May 31, 2007, he sat in the heat on a distant tombstone, waiting until he could finish the rest of his work. Just after twelve o'clock, the first people arrived: a vanload of nine honor-guard soldiers up from Fort Knox, dressed in their green Class-A uniforms, with knotted ties and berets. Collins had seen them practicing and pointing at various spots in the grass when he dug the grave. Now seven of them stacked their M16's in one of those spots. Each gun held three rounds; Sergeant Aaron Huber, a broad-backed thirty-one-year-old veteran of the war in Iraq, had taken care to polish his ammunition to a high shine. Six of the soldiers, including Huber, then assembled in two rows between the grave and where they knew the hearse would park. The extra rifleman remained with the weapons, and the noncom in charge, thirty-seven-year-old Sergeant Kenneth Dawson, stood at attention nearby. The ninth man, Specialist Robert Leatherbee, a boy-faced twenty-six-year-old from Massachusetts, took his place about forty feet away. With his buzz cut and iron-crisp uniform, he looked like a soldier, but there seemed something smaller or gentler about him, at least compared with the others. Maybe it was just that he was holding a trumpet instead of a gun, his fingers tender on the brass.

Scott McClellan: “a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.”

From AP:
In a shocking turnabout, the press secretary most known for defending President Bush on Iraq, Katrina and a host of other controversial issues produced a memoir damning of his old boss on nearly every level — from too much secrecy to a less-than-honest selling of the war to a lack of personal candor and an unwillingness to admit mistakes.

In the first major insider account of the Bush White House, one-time spokesman Scott McClellan calls the operation "insular, secretive and combative" and says it veered irretrievably off course as a result.
Is the money McClellan received to write a book more inspiring of truth than the money he took masquerading as a public servant? Now that there are over 4000 American military casualties in Iraq, McClellan makes it clear he made his own “decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.”

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Missing evidence in the US presentation

As it did in the run-up to the first US debacle in the Middle East of this century, the Washington Post is putting the pro-War propaganda on Syria and Iran on the front page. Why? War sells papers! Unlike the past, it does include information that challenges the administration. However the facts are buried today on page A12. Here it is: "Missing Evidence in the U.S. Presentation:"

"The Bush administration this week asserted that an Israeli airstrike in Syria Sept. 6 destroyed a nuclear reactor being constructed with the assistance of North Korea... The intelligence community said it had ... "medium confidence" that North Korea was involved, and "low confidence" that Syria had a related weapons program.... The full range of U.S. intelligence information on the site is unclear, but skeptics have pointed to several key uncertainties:
  • No fuel,
  • No repocessing,
  • No electrical power lines, and
  • No weapons design.
It sounds like my golf game: no grip, no stance, no backswing and no follow-through.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hillary vs. Obama


I say this as a first-grade student in the year Hillary graduated from college. When everyone said they wanted to be President, I said so too. Even teachers laughed. Imagine the power that gave to the students to deflate the dreams of elementary school girls.

Imagine the derision aimed at the smart, accompished, promising women of Wellsley in 1969, the same year. The year Hillary graduated.

An undated photograph of Hillary Rodham, center, during her days as a student at Wellesley College, from 1965 to 1969.

The women, and the men who benefit from their work, discoveries, and support, who read these words owe those women a debt that can never be paid. If you don't want Hillary, don't support her. But acknowledge this debt.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

One World, One Dream for Hu Jia

This week, a Beijing court sentenced human rights activist Hu Jia to 3 1/2 years in prison for subverting state authority and to one additional year's loss of his "political rights." He was arrested in part for co-authoring, with Teng Biao, an open letter on human rights. The Washington Post prints Human Rights Watch's translation of the Sept. 10, 2007, letter descriing the imprisonment, torture, censorship, forcible removal form homes, and exile of hundreds of thousands of people in Beijing and China.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Qualify your vendors: Heparin from China

FDA has user fees to review drug applications but this administration has forced budget cuts that have decimated it's ability to inspect manufacturing plants not just for drugs, but for devices, biological products, food, and veterinary medicine. FDA inspectors wait until the agency can bundle up foreign establishment inspections, and then only give FDA inspectors a few days in each site to spot-check records.

That means facilities must police themselves.

Instead, the Heparin contamination is just another example of how US companies have downsized their operations and their Quality units to please shareholders, and now these companies obtain many of their components from the third world where corruption is common, contamination from dirty water and unhygienic practices is unavoidable, and subcontractors think nothing of exchanging expensive ingredients and equipment with unacceptable replacements. US companies don't know their vendors, they don't adequately audit them, and they don't know where their vendors get their supplies, either. This despite the fact that the idea of qualifying vendors has been around since 1951.

WSJ writes without much new insight that "The recent problems with heparin from China highlight the difficulty of monitoring the often diffuse and poorly regulated supply chains there -- for both Chinese drug makers and the multinational pharmaceutical companies that buy from them."

Like many regulated companies, this one falls into the trap of bragging that it built a new "GMP facility;" then fails to make sure the people and products brought into its new walls are free from contamination.

WaPo quotes William Hubbard, a former FDA official, who says it is not surprising that tainted drugs supplied though agency-approved channels are showing up from abroad. "The history of some of these developing countries in terms of substituting or counterfeiting concerns is a long and well-documented one," he said. "And at this point, the FDA doesn't have the resources or system in place to make sure some of these bad drugs don't get through to the public."

In the meantime, FDA budget is still a fraction of NIH's, and increases for FY09 are barely enough to cover cost of living adjustments, and certainly won'y allow improvements in inspections. Even industry wants to give FDA more money.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The John Edwards Effect on Clinton, Obama and the DNC

According to the NY Times, John Edwards' policies are running for President. Ironically, Universal Health Care may be more his legacy than Obama's or even Clinton's.

As the architect of these policies, Edwards deserves a place to bring them to reality. He has the ability and courage to do this.

To understand the extent of the Edwards effect, you have to think about what might have been.

At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004.

If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit. It’s hard, in particular, to overstate the importance of the Edwards health care plan, introduced in February.

Before the Edwards plan was unveiled, advocates of universal health care had difficulty getting traction, in part because they were divided over how to get there. Some advocated a single-payer system — a k a Medicare for all — but this was dismissed as politically infeasible. Some advocated reform based on private insurers, but single-payer advocates, aware of the vast inefficiency of the private insurance system, recoiled at the prospect.

With no consensus about how to pursue health reform, and vivid memories of the failure of 1993-1994, Democratic politicians avoided the subject, treating universal care as a vague dream for the distant future.

But the Edwards plan squared the circle, giving people the choice of staying with private insurers, while also giving everyone the option of buying into government-offered, Medicare-type plans — a form of public-private competition that Mr. Edwards made clear might lead to a single-payer system over time. And he also broke the taboo against calling for tax increases to pay for reform.
Suddenly, universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration. In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party’s base that it was a dream they shared, by emulating the Edwards plan. And there’s little question that if the next president really does achieve major health reform, it will transform the political landscape.

* * * *

Furthermore, to the extent that this remains a campaign of ideas, it remains true that on the key issue of health care, the Clinton plan is more or less identical to the Edwards plan. The Obama plan, which doesn’t actually achieve universal coverage, is considerably weaker.

One thing is clear, however: whichever candidate does get the nomination, his or her chance of victory will rest largely on the ideas Mr. Edwards brought to the campaign.

* * * *

If Democrats manage to get the focus on their substantive differences with the Republicans, ... polls on the issues suggest that they’ll have a big advantage. And they’ll have Mr. Edwards to thank.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sacrificing Science and Consumer Health

Toxins, Trailers and Unsafe Toys allowed by the administration:

CHICAGO -- The lead author and peer reviewers of a government report raising the possibility of public health threats from industrial contamination throughout the Great Lakes region are charging that the report is being suppressed because of the questions it raises. The author also alleges that he was demoted because of the report. Chris De Rosa, former director of the division of toxicology and environmental medicine at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), charges that the report he wrote was a significant factor in his reassignment to a non-supervisory "special assistant" position last year. The House Committee on Science and Technology is investigating De Rosa's reassignment, in light of allegations that it was related to the Great Lakes report and his push to publicize the possibility of a cancer risk from formaldehyde fumes in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers housing victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The nation's premiere consumer product regulator, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has been crippled by budget cuts and staffing losses that now span decades. Every president since Gerald Ford has proposed cutting the agency's budget at least once, and Congresses controlled by both parties have obliged.

Recent attention surrounding massive product recalls, including contaminated Christmas toys this past year, prompted Congress at the end of 2007 to give the agency one of its biggest funding boosts, and lawmakers are considering additional legislation to ensure consistent long-term funding. President Bush's FY 2009 budget request, announced Feb. 4, proposes level funding for the agency.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Compare Clinton and Obama: Just two candidates with equally popular messages?

The media coronated Hillary early on ("Hillary Looks Like a Winner") when she won New Hampshire and Michigan. Clearly they were hoping for the ratings and circulation that would be created by a Hillary bash-fest, just as William Randolph Hearst hoped when he told his photographers "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war."
In January, Hillary was "the winner in the race for coverage."
Edwards won points for honesty in his presentations, but lost the batttle for free airtime minutes in the news. Running with federal spending limits against two candidates with no limits and Senate campaign funds to borrow from, he also lost the battle of dollars that would have enabled him to buy airtime. The decision by the FEC not to match ActBlue funding hurt his campaign more.
Now that Obama is racking up victories of his own, the media wants to make this a war for the crown. And the reasons seem clearly grasping. Never admitting their initial Presidential predictions might have been premature, they have to find some way her candidacy imploded, or else - gasp - admit they were wrong, or worse, self-serving and opportunistic.

Maybe Clinton and Obama are two people who want to be President, want to accomplish their own goals in their way, and are willing to offer themselves up before the electorate, to be rejected or not. How many people have the determination and perseverence to do that? Why isn't that news?

Either Hillary or Obama would be a great president. Compare their policies on healthcare, abortion, Climate Change, Immigration, Iraq, Iran and the Economy without the screeching media bias on the NYTimes website.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beltway Primary Today

Good stories here on DKos.

DKos Maryland here.

Sample ballot here. League of Women Voters info here.

Montgomery County Dems site here. Voter info here.

Where is the DCC sample ballot for our counties? Does anyone know?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Compare the Candidates: Edwards, Clinton, Obama

Any two of these candidates will make a winning Prez-VP ticket, but for those who want to chose their favorite, the NYT election guide 2008 stacks their positions side by side to make a comparison easier than before. Here are the highlights for Edwards, Clinton, and Obama. The NYT analysis includes all the candidates from both parties.

Before we get to that, here's a humorous observation from the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal: The "major domestic ambition this campaign season is the government takeover of the healthcare industry," according to an editorial in WSJ. They neglected to point out what a lousy job the healthcare industry is doing at protecting public health. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ Subscription Required)

Health care:

  • Edwards: Would require health insurance for all. Require employers to provide insurance or contribute to cost, with subsidies for low-income people. Create regional nonprofit pools that offer private plans and at least one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program to serve adults below the poverty line and children and parents below 250 percent of the line.
  • Obama: Would not require health insurance for all. Would provide subsidies for low-income people. Create purchasing pool with choice of competing private plans and one public plan like Medicare. Expand Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

  • Clinton: Would require health insurance for all. Require large employers to provide insurance or contribute to the cost. Provide tax credits to small businesses and subsidies for low-income people. Create a pool of private plans similar to the program for federal workers and one public plan similar to Medicare. Plans are portable from job to job. Expand Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Reproductive rights:

  • Edwards actively opposed John Roberts's nomination, partly based on his abortion views.
  • All three candidates say they support Roe v. Wade that ruled childbearing decisions including decisions to terminate pregnancy were protected from government interference unless there was a compelling state interest. All three candidates criticized Supreme Court decision that upheld ban on partial-birth abortions.

Climate Change:

  • Edwards and Obama state the U.S. must lead global efforts to reduce emission; would set targets for capping greenhouse pollution.
  • All three candidates support a mandatory cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.


  • Edwards: Supports only a limited border fence. Clinton and Obama: Voted for the boondoggle fence along Mexican border.

  • All three candidates support a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants.


  • Edwards: Engage in low-level diplomacy; tighten economic sanctions with international cooperation; military option not off the table; has said a non-aggression pact is a possibility down the road.

  • Obama: Engage in direct diplomacy; tighten economic sanctions with international cooperation; would meet with the Iranian president with no preconditions; military option not off the table.

  • Clinton: Direct diplomacy without preconditions; use economic sanctions; would not meet with the Iranian president; military option not off the table, but would not consider without congressional approval.

Iraq: [see Senate Joint Resolution 45 below]

  • Edwards: Voted in 2002 for the Resolution, now opposed; opposed troop increase; withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops immediately and all troops within nine to 10 months.

  • Clinton: Voted in 2002 for the Resolution, now opposed; opposed troop increase; start phased withdrawal within 60 days of taking office, with the goal to have most troops out by the end of 2013.

  • Obama: Not a Senator at the time, but opposed the invasion from the beginning [although did not necessarily oppose the Resolution and seemed conflicted for much of the war’s first years]; opposed troop increase; withdraw one or two brigades a month to finish within 16 months.
The Resolution states that military intervention in Iraq is authorized in certain circumstances, including if the President determines that--
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Edwards Victory in Iowa

A round up of reasons for Edwards supporters to celebrate:

Charlotte (NC) Observer: Edwards was "heavily outspent by his top rivals... Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York are each expected to have spent more than $20 million in Iowa. Reports suggest Edwards could end up spending less than $15 million."

Money aside ... [a] candidate who comes out on top -- or even provides the biggest surprise -- gets headlines and magazine covers across the country. All that "free media" can supplement a lot of paid advertising.

Time Magazine:

John Edwards went into the Iowa caucuses last night a fighter and he emerges from them as scrappy as ever. In other words, don't assume, because he lost to Barack Obama, that Edwards is down for the count. After all, as his campaign advisers are quick to point out, by finishing second Edwards's David can claim victory over at least one Goliath.

"The person hurt in all this is Hillary Clinton," Joe Trippi, an Edwards senior advisor, told TIME minutes after his candidate claimed the silver medal in Des Moines. "The former president of the United States flew all around this state and so did she. They outspent us three-to-one at least. And we beat her."
* * * *
In Iowa he was limited to spending $1.5 million, though he benefited from spending by supportive unions and privately funded outside groups that ran television commercials on his behalf. "I have to be honest, I didn't think with a turn out of more than 200,000 that we'd be where we are in this thing," Trippi said. "We only had 42,000 hard count [i.e., committed voters], so to go from 42,000 to 65,000 or 70,000 — the message had to have been so strong that people got up out of their homes and went to a caucus without the campaign getting them there. Now the campaign that everyone thought was going to happen to or knew that was going to happen to was the Obama campaign, but it turns out that there were two of those campaigns." To be sure, Trippi was spinning the best-possible story for his andidate. But it is certainly true that a large turnout was expected, by many observers, to do more damage to Edwards' chances than to Clinton's.

Even as Edwards was speaking last night, member states of the Service Employees International Union that have endorsed Edwards were sending out a press release claiming victory out of second place and laying out their strategy to work for him in the upcoming contests. And you can be sure the same outside groups that helped Edwards in Iowa will appear in New Hampshire. Still, the tidal wave that Edwards' spoke of, at least for tonight, is not his own. It will take another tidal wave for Edwards to wrest the mantle of change — and a victory — from Obama.

JournalNow, Winston-Salem, NC: "If you would have told me a year ago that John Edwards would beat Hillary Clinton despite being outspent 3- or 4-to-1, I would have been very pleased," said Ed Turlington in a phone interview from Des Moines. Turlington, a Raleigh attorney, was the national chairman of Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign and is advising the campaign this year.

Edwards: closing the Iowa races with class, according to TIME.