Saturday, August 9, 2008

Randy Newman - A Few Words In Defense of Our Country

When I was a kid, Randy Newman made my life a living hell. You see, I'm not a tall person, but when I was a kid, I was pretty much always the shortest in my class. I was always the boy sitting on the floor indian style in all the class pictures.

Then Randy Newman came out with "Short People." Man, that was a killer. Everyone sang that song to me, like it was my anthem or something. No one ever got to the second verse, the part that said, "Short People are just the same/As you and I (A Fool Such As I)/All men are brothers/Until the day they die (It's A Wonderful World)."

I eventually got over it, but I do have traumatic memories every time I hear that song. And sometimes I think if I ever get to meet Newman, I'd punch him in the neck. Anyway, time went on and I began to like Newman's music, especially his movie scores. The Natural is one of my favorites.

Now I come across another Newman song written about a year ago, but I never heard it until today. One of the best things he's ever written.


I’d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools
And burning down the City
And one of ‘em, one of 'em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something

That’s not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here’s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don’t even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don’t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction

King Leopold of Belgium. That’s right.
Everyone thinks he’s so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?


A President once said,
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean

You know it pisses me off a little
That this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
But I defy you, anywhere in the world
To find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got

And as for the brother
Well, Pluto’s not a planet anymore either

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Bernie Mac Dies at 50

NY Times: A publicist says Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor and comedian Bernie Mac has died at age 50.

Publicist Danica Smith says Bernie Mac died early Saturday at a hospital in the Chicago area of complications due to pneumonia.

The comedian suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body's organs, but he had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently had been hospitalized and treated for pneumonia.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fiscal Conservatives

(H/T C&L)


I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.

John Edwards: "In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99%honest is no longer enough.

I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then. I am and have been willing to take any test necessary to establish the fact that I am not the father of any baby, and I am truly hopeful that a test will be done so this fact can be definitively established. I only know that the apparent father has said publicly that he is the father of the baby. I also have not been engaged in any activity of any description that requested, agreed to or supported payments of any kind to the woman or to the apparent father of the baby.

It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up - feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.

I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say."

I caught David Shuster and Mike Barnicle on Hardball basically saying that it's guys like Edwards that make people distrust politicians. Guys like Edwards? I can think of more than a few politicians worthy of distrust but it has nothing to do with extramarital affairs. They were outraged over the perceived betrayal, not of Elizabeth Edwards, but of all the young volunteers that worked for him and the donors to his campaign. I was one of his donors and that thought didn't cross my mind in the slightest. Barnicle went so far as to call Edwards a "complete fraud."

Does Edwards' affair make his stance on poverty any less important? Does it make his discussions on homeless veterans lies? I'm not taking any particular stance on this subject in defense or condemnation of John Edwards. Everyone makes mistakes and far be it from me to cast judgement of another person's personal matters.

Was it a dumb mistake for a possible presidential candidate? Obviously, but I'm not going to waste energy being outraged over what could have happened had he won the nomination. He didn't, so it's a moot point. There are too many other things to get my hackles up that are more pressing at this time.

I do feel a sense of melancholy for John and Elizabeth Edwards and their family, and hope that they can work through this difficult personal matter, and judging by Mrs. Edwards' statement, I think they're on their way.

Maverick Or True Conservative?

You can't have it both ways, Johnny. Either you're a "Maverick" (it is to laugh) or you're a "true conservative." Which is it?

Here's McCain's new attack ad on Obama, cleverly using comments made by Democrats praising the Maverick. Unfortunately for McCain, all but one of the comments were made at least two or more years ago.

Of course, we all knew the Hillary comment made during the primaries would be used as an attack against Obama the second it came out of her mouth.

Here's the DNC's response just hours after the McCain ad surfaced.

Well I suppose McMaverick is going to go with all that is mavericky because it looks like the McCain campaign is pulling all his "true conservative" spots from his website.

Crooks & Liars: Just one day after the McCain campaign proclaimed its man the “Original Maverick,” Barack Obama blasted that assertion both on the stump and in a new ad of his own. “You can’t be a maverick when politically it’s working for you,” Obama said, “and not a maverick when it doesn’t work for you.” Which may explain why the McCain campaign has apparently tried to purge any traces of its “True Conservative” ad, a February 2008 spot designed to win over hard right GOP primary voters.

As it turns out, McCain’s latest ads (”Broken” and “Praising McCain”) tout the Arizona Senator as the populist “Original Maverick.” But that resurrection of McCain’s tattered maverick image is
contradicted by the “True Conservative” TV spot he used during the Republican primaries. In February, McCain to be sure wasn’t the maverick battling special interests in his own party...

...McCain’s claim to be a “true conservative” didn’t just disappear once he sewed up the Republican nomination. For the most part, so did the ad itself.

Here is the "True Conservative" ad -

So which is it? John McCain: Original Maverick? Or John McCain: True Conservative?

How about - John McCain: Just Another Republican Liar.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hamdan Guilty Of Driving

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba, - A jury of U.S.military officers sentenced Osama bin Laden's driver to 5 1/2 years in prison on Thursday for providing material support for terrorism, concluding the first U.S. war crimes tribunal since World War Two.

The judge gave Salim Hamdan credit for 61 months, so he could be out in five months.
The U.S. government has, however, argued it can detain Hamdan and other "enemy combatants" indefinitely as long as the war on terrorism continues.

Huh?! It's taken seven years, SEVEN YEARS! for the Administration to bring it's first case of a "terrorist" detainee, denied habeas corpus, tried in a Military tribunal, all at the behest of the Bush administration - he's given 5½ years in prison, 5 of which have already been served, and now our government is saying they can hold him "as long as the war on terror continues" anyway? Does anyone else see something wrong with this? What a sham!

The following is a statement by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on the Military Commission ’s guilty verdict in the Salim Hamdan case.

“I commend the military officers who presided over this trial and served on the hearing panel under difficult and unprecedented circumstances. They and all our Armed Forces continue to serve this country with valor in the fight against terrorism. That the Hamdan trial — the first military commission trial with a guilty verdict since 9/11 — took several years of legal challenges to secure a conviction for material support for terrorism underscores the dangerous flaws in the Administration’s legal framework. It’s time to better protect the American people and our values by bringing swift and sure justice to terrorists through our courts and our Uniform Code of Military Justice. And while it is important to convict anyone who provides material support for terrorism, it is long past time to capture or kill Usama bin Laden and the terrorists who murdered nearly 3000 Americans.”

The following is a statement by Republican presidential candidate John McCain on the Military Commission’s verdict:

“I welcome today’s guilty verdict in the first trial held under the Military Commissions Act (MCA). This process of bringing terrorists to justice has been too long delayed, but I’m encouraged that it is finally moving forward. I supported that legislation, which was a good-faith effort by Congress to meet the Supreme Court’s direction to establish a process to bring terrorist detainees to trial. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a trusted confidante of Usama Bin Laden, was provided a full hearing of the charges against him and was represented by counsel who vigorously defended him. The jury found that the prosecution lawyers had proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Hamdan had aided terrorists by supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. This process demonstrated that military commissions can effectively bring very dangerous terrorists to justice. The fact that the jury did not find Hamdan guilty of all of the charges brought against him demonstrates that the jury weighed the evidence carefully. Unlike Senator Obama who voted against the MCA and favors giving Al Qaeda terrorists direct access to U.S. civilian courts to contest their detention, I recognize that we cannot treat dangerous terrorists captured on the battlefield as we would common criminals.

Who's next? You? Me?

T Minus 166 Days

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

- Washington DC, August 2004

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Must Reads

Robert L. Borosage: The Audacity of Contempt

Sam Stein: Has McCain Walked Into An Energy Trap?

Doctor Biobrain: McCain In Flames

Christy Hardin Smith: McCain Deploys Shiny Object Ad To Distract From Own Ethical Lapses

GOP Talks Oil Prices Down

...or at least that's what they think they're doing. Apparently, no one in the Republican Party has heard of supply and demand, therefore they think that they're scaring oil prices down by their photo-op speeches to an empty House chamber. No, really.

Heading into a third day of speeches in the near-empty chamber, Republicans acknowledged that the average price of gas and oil has declined in recent weeks. But they claimed credit for part of that reduction.

“I think the market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) at a joint press conference with other GOP lawmakers. “I think the market realizes this kind of pressure from Congress may, in fact, lead to a change in policy.”

The Republican members did not answer questions about whether they would take the blame if gas prices go up again.

So in essence, if the Republican nutjobs in the House of Representatives continued to lower oil prices just due to the fact of threatening to drill more offshore, then perhaps they can speak long enough to cause oil prices to tank, therefore eliminating the need for more offshore drilling and effectively kill John McCain's central platform of his energy policy. Keep talking, assholes.

(H/T C&L)

Speaking of assholes and energy policy, here's McThuselah himself at the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Words cannot do justice. Just watch.

Paris Hilton's Response Ad

I must admit, this is pretty funny. Had trouble with the video player but you can watch it at via the link provided.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Colbert's Word: We The People



JOHN KERRY: “I don’t know if you know this,” joked Kerry, “John McCain is looking for someone for vice president who has more economic expertise than he does. So congratulations to all of you, you’re on the short list.”


Obama: Republicans take pride in being ignorant.

This is what is needed. Ridicule the Republican talking heads for their inane statements and turn the table. If only more Democrats and pundits would do this, we'd be much better off. I'm tired of hearing the GOP talking points from talking heads in the media and not hear factual rebuttal from the supposed Democratic representatives.

This was an awesome comeback and in no way should Obama back off this statement when the Republican barage of "Obama thinks Americans are ignorant" meme pops up in response. No, not Americans, just GOP shills and politicians.

UPDATE (8:50pm) - The McCain campaign responds:

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds shot back by criticizing Obama for not calling on Congress to convene an emergency session to discuss energy solutions.
“Instead of calling on his party’s leadership to return to Congress and carve out an ‘all of the above’ approach to America’s energy crisis, Barack Obama would rather tell commuters to inflate their car tires,” Bounds said.
See? They just won't let bullshit arguments go.

Obama's Energy Speech

Here's Barack Obama's Energy Plan Speech in Lansing, Michigan, in case you missed it.

And here's his new ad bitchslapping McCain on Energy.

Tire Gauges - This Election's Purple Band-Aid

The amount of stupidity which right wing nuts and Republicans in general display really amazes me sometimes to the point of wondering how some of these people survive day to day activities. The latest in a string of attacks on Barack Obama is the "Tire-Gauge Syndrome."

Recently Obama stated the following: "There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. ... Making sure your tires are properly inflated - simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling - if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You'd actually save just as much." - Aug. 1 speech in Springfield, Mo.

It seems simple enough. Proper tire inflation and a tuned up engine increases efficiency and therefore saves gas. Now the question remains, if everyone implemented proper maintenance of their cars and trucks - about 140 million of them in the US - how much oil could we theoretically save?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "every pound per square inch of tire underinflation wastes 4 million gallons of gas daily in the U.S." Survey information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 27% of the cars on the road have a significantly under-inflated tire.

...Using the website, Verrastro writes, we can estimate that "the maximum (estimated) fuel economy (i.e., mileage) savings drivers could expect as a result of keeping their engines properly tuned (4%), replacing air filters (up to 10%), properly inflating tires (up to 3%) and using the correct motor oil (1-2%) is 18-19%. Since American drivers use roughly 380 million gallons of gasoline (not including diesel) per day, an 18% improvement translates into a savings of 68 million gallons, or 1.62 million barrels of oil per day."

Current crude oil and condensate production in the [Outer Continental Shelf] is about 1.25 million barrels per day.

Now, of course you'd have to assume that not all cars on the road are improperly maintained. If, as the linked article suggests, we're only talking of about a quarter of cars on the road, "the production offset is more likely to approach 800 thousand barrels per day..." and according to the Energy Information Administration's Official Energy Statistics from the US Government, if Congress lifted the moratorium on offshore drilling, by 2030, oil crude production in the “lower-48″ outer continental shelf will increase by about 200,000 barrels per day.

Here's a little expanded information on those numbers from Time Magazine's Michael Grunwald:

The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points.

Of course, Mr. Straight Talk and the GOP shills would have you believe that this is crazy talk.

McCain: "Anybody who says that we can achieve energy independence without using and increasing these existing energy resources either doesn't have the experience to understand the challenge we face or isn't giving the American people some straight talk." - Aug. 4 in Lafayette, Pa.

But these blowhards fail to mention Obama's actual energy plan, instead going with the meme that the tire-gauge suggestion is the only thing Obama has in his pocket. They fail to mention providing short‐term relief to American families facing pain at the pump. They fail to mention helping create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future. They fail to mention proposals that within 10 years, will save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined. They fail to mention an initiative to put 1 million Plug‐In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America, including a $7,000 tax credit to help but those cars. They fail to mention ensuring 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. They fail to mention implementing an economy‐wide cap‐and‐trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

So who's really out of touch? All the rubes would have to do is read or even just listen to someone other than Limbaugh or Hannity to know what Obama's plan would entail. But why read the truth when you can close your eyes and be led like lambs to the slaughter?

Listen to this little tidbit of information: "...increasing the fuel efficiency of replacement tires for our cars to the same level as those sold on new automobiles will save drivers $90 in fuel costs over the lifetime of the tires and will save the U.S. more than 70 times the amount of oil we might find in the refuge." That was Joe Lieberman in 2001 arguing against drilling in ANWR, but I suppose everyone has his price.

And other Republicans like Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger agree with Obama. What about NASCAR Nation? NASCAR told fans, “With escalating fuel prices, the time is now for drivers to focus on simple things like proper tire pressure to maximize tire performance and increase fuel economy.”

The saddest part in all of this is that ultimately, all you'll hear this week from the McCainstream Media will be about tire-gauges and the GOP using a false argument and that Obama doesn't know what he's talking about blah blah blah. Because, really, why should the public actually be informed when the Obama tire-gauge can be this election's purple band-aid?

Also read:

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Miss Tim Russert

Watching Meet The Press this week was an eye opening experience as I sat dumbfounded by the lack of moderation by Tom Brokaw. One thing that you could always count on when watching MTP with Russert at the helm was an informed debate, thoughtful questions and a chance for the guest to respond. None of that was on hand this past Sunday.

Joe Lieberman and John Kerry were on as surrogates to their respective political parties; Kerry for Obama and Lieberman for McCain. Yeah, I don't care that Holy Joe has an "ID" after his name - there's no such thing as an "Independent Democrat."

From the second Brokaw asked his first question, "Do you think running a campaign ad in which you feature Britney Spears and Paris Hilton with Barack Obama is respectful?" and Lieberman answered "I do," I was thankful that I didn't have anything in my hand or else I'd be getting a new TV today. I knew I was in for a bucket load of bullshit from then on. An to tell the truth, I expected it from Lieberman; it's become his normal routine. What I didn't expect was that when it was Kerry's turn to speak, he was interrupted by Lieberman more than once with no objection from Brokaw, and in an attempt to get to as many questions as possible, Brokaw would rush along and leave the "debate" unresolved.

It was a piss poor attempt at moderating and made me realize the talent that Russert had when sitting at that table.