Friday, November 30, 2007

Henry Hyde and the Four Bobs

The death of Henry Hyde this week has stirred widespread media memories of his role in the impeachment of Bill Clinton nine years ago.

Thomas B. Edsall over at Huffington Post tells the little-known story of how Hyde tried to avoid the impeachment ordeal.

POSTSCRIPT: I've been searching feverishly, but unsuccessfully, for a remark Hyde made during the impeachment drama. I recall the gist of it but not the exact words. He predicted, in effect, that the Senate would not convict Clinton if there wasn't strong public support for removing the president from office. There wasn't such support, and the Senate accordingly voted to acquit.

Hyde seemed to recognize that impeachment is a political process, not a criminal prosecution. The ultimate jury in such a case is the American public.

In the week he was impeached in 1998, Clinton's approval rating among the American people jumped 10 points to 73 percent, a higher level than Ronald Reagan ever reached.

POSTSCRIPT II: I knew Henry Hyde, but not well. I met him in the early 1970s when he was still in the Illinois General Assembly, and I ran into him on several occasions over the years. Consistent with his reputation, he struck me as courtly, polite, articulate and friendly. But I opposed most of what he stood for politically.

Pinocchio Giuliani

Rudy's got a problem with the truth.

I'm thinking of moving to Norway

Thursday, November 29, 2007

God tells clown college prez to resign

God took time out from his important work recently to tell Oral Roberts Jr. that he should resign as president of the university named for his father, Oral Roberts Sr.

Young Oral, it appears, has been absconding with the school's funds, but it's not exactly clear whether the scandal has offended God. At any rate, Junior says God promised him that he would "do something supernatural" for the school if Junior took a powder.

By the way, in the picture here, Junior is shown reaching for a nearby wad of the school's money.

Oh, man! I wish they would try this in Illinois

Republican Party poobahs in Virginia have won approval from the State Board of Elections for a provision requiring anybody who asks for a GOP ballot in the upcoming primary election to sign a pledge that they'll vote for the party's presidential nominee next November.

A similar move is afoot in Kansas.

Don't these people recognize that a scheme like this is not likely to sit well with the general public? Don't they notice the whiff of fascism or totalitarianism or some other ugly ism that comes with requiring such an oath of party loyalty?

Are the Republican leaders here in Illinois dumb enough to emulate such nonsense. God, I hope so.

Those Burger King people are nice folks

And the people at Goldman Sachs are swell, too.

You'll enjoy this heartwarming story about both companies:
By Eric Schlosser
The New York Times
Thursday 29 November 2007

The migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have one of the nation's most backbreaking jobs. For 10 to 12 hours a day, they pick tomatoes by hand, earning a piece-rate of about 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket. During a typical day each migrant picks, carries and unloads two tons of tomatoes. For their efforts, this holiday season many of them are about to get a 40 percent pay cut.

Florida's tomato growers have long faced pressure to reduce operating costs; one way to do that is to keep migrant wages as low as possible. Although some of the pressure has come from increased competition with Mexican growers, most of it has been forcefully applied by the largest purchaser of Florida tomatoes: American fast food chains that want millions of pounds of cheap tomatoes as a garnish for their hamburgers, tacos and salads.

In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raise since the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent going directly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonald's agreed to a similar arrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 cents per bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, has adamantly refused to pay the extra penny - and its refusal has encouraged tomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell and McDonald's.

This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent of the state's growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members to collect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vice president of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as "pretty much near un-American."

Migrant farm laborers have long been among America's most impoverished workers. Perhaps 80 percent of the migrants in Florida are illegal immigrants and thus especially vulnerable to abuse. During the past decade, the United States Justice Department has prosecuted half a dozen cases of slavery among farm workers in Florida. Migrants have been driven into debt, forced to work for nothing and kept in chained trailers at night. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers - a farm worker alliance based in Immokalee, Fla. - has done a heroic job improving the lives of migrants in the state, investigating slavery cases and negotiating the penny-per-pound surcharge with fast food chains.

Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate "federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering." It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal.

The prominent role that Burger King has played in rescinding the pay raise offers a spectacle of yuletide greed worthy of Charles Dickens. Burger King has justified its behavior by claiming that it has no control over the labor practices of its suppliers. "Florida growers have a right to run their businesses how they see fit," a Burger King spokesman told The St. Petersburg Times.
Yet the company has adopted a far more activist approach when the issue is the well-being of livestock. In March, Burger King announced strict new rules on how its meatpacking suppliers should treat chickens and hogs. As for human rights abuses, Burger King has suggested that if the poor farm workers of southern Florida need more money, they should apply for jobs at its restaurants.

Three private equity firms - Bain Capital, the Texas Pacific Group and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners - control most of Burger King's stock. Last year, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd C. Blankfein, earned the largest annual bonus in Wall Street history, and this year he stands to receive an even larger one. Goldman Sachs has served its investors well lately, avoiding the subprime mortgage meltdown and, according to Business Week, doubling the value of its Burger King investment within three years.

Telling Burger King to pay an extra penny for tomatoes and provide a decent wage to migrant workers would hardly bankrupt the company. Indeed, it would cost Burger King only $250,000 a year. At Goldman Sachs, that sort of money shouldn't be too hard to find. In 2006, the bonuses of the top 12 Goldman Sachs executives exceeded $200 million - more than twice as much money as all of the roughly 10,000 tomato pickers in southern Florida earned that year. Now Mr. Blankfein should find a way to share some of his company's good fortune with the workers at the bottom of the food chain.

Eric Schlosser is the author of "Fast Food Nation" and "Reefer Madness."


Your so-called liberal media

There isn't one shred of evidence that Barack Obama is now or ever has been a Muslim, but that doesn't stop the mouth-breathers on the far right of the political spectrum from spreading rumors to the contrary -- and it doesn't stop The Washington Post from giving voice to those rumors on the front page of today's edition.

This kind of rubbish would be no surprise in a rag like the Washington Times, the infamous Moonie paper, but for a once-respectable publication like the Post to stoop to this level is shocking.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, CNN debunked the Obama-is-a-Muslim story many months ago. (H/T to Talking Points Memo.)

POSTSCRIPT II: Here is another good take on the Post piece and other sins of "the liberal media."

POSTSCRIPT III: This guy, too, has the proper slant on the Post's idiotic article.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let's leave Fox News advertisers alone

I've raised this issue several times in the past, and it's time to raise it again.

I got an e-mail today from urging me to bring pressure on a certain Rockford company that buys commercial time on the local cable channel that carries Fox News. The e-mail message did not include the word "boycott," but let's not kid ourselves. The people behind this effort want to scare off advertisers with thinly veiled threats of a boycott. That was the case earlier this year when Daily Kos and certain other liberal blogs targeted Fox's advertisers.

I'm sorry, but this kind of thing is just plain wrong.

Let me be clear. I hate Fox News as much as the next guy. Its blatant bias and its Orwellian claims to fairness and balance are appalling. But I think there's something terribly illiberal in organizing an advertising boycott against any news outlet or purveyor of political opinions. If the threat of boycotts makes advertisers wary of being even remotely associated with controversial political opinions expressed on radio or television, the networks and local stations, in turn, will offer us only pablum.

If you choose not to buy a car from a dealer who runs ads on Fox News, that's your business. But it's wrong, I think, for anyone to mount a broad campaign or otherwise put pressure on that car dealer.

You'd think my so-called liberal friends would understand this. Some, I'm sad to say, don't.

I stood by during the controversy over the Gen. Petraeus ad, but I part company with these people in the matter of advertiser boycotts.

Ignore this story...please

Those of us who really care about America don't want any new scandals to erupt that might impede Rudy Giuliani's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He's the guy the Democrats can most easily defeat next November.

So, please, don't say anything to anybody concerning the story that broke today about Rudy sticking the taxpayers with expenses for some of his extramarital trysts.

Remember, mum's the word. And for good measure, you should tell your Republican friends that "America's Mayor" is the best candidate the GOP could field in the presidential race.

Go, Rudy, go!

Was Richard Nixon a socialist?

He's remembered as such by Steven D. over at Booman Tribune.

Grammar is not Matt Drudge's long suit

Headline on the Drudge Report this morning: "Supermouse bred by genetic scientists that can't get cancer."

Genetic scientists that can't get cancer? Wow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No! This is too funny! Stop! I can't take it!

That Karl Rove is one hell of a humorous guy, as he demonstrates here.

We won the war?

Roy Edroso over at Alicublog isn't so sure about that.

Pump this!

I ran across this interesting stuff today about how gasoline prices are determined and where the money goes.

Zogby poll on Hillary smells fishy

Zogby International is out with a poll purporting to show that Hillary Clinton is trailing each of the five top Republican presidential hopefuls -- a finding sharply at odds with the results of a Gallup poll.

The difference seems to be attributable to the fact that the Zogby poll was conducted online, a notoriously unreliable method of measuring public opinion.

It's understandable that right-wing bloggers would tout the Zogby numbers, but it's irresponsible of the mainstream media to follow suit.

Details on the matter can be found here.

POSTSCRIPT: These results from a Gallup poll (conducted by time-tested methods) show both Clinton and Barack Obama faring well in matchups against Republican candidates. (Be sure to check all four pages by clicking at the bottom of each.)

POSTSCRIPT II: Greg Sargent's comparison of the Zogby and Gallup polls is here.

The Prince of Darkness doesn't like Mikey

Bob Novak, conservative columnist extraordinaire, seems a little upset at indications that Mike Huckabee (left) is gaining a head of steam in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Novak's tirade portends a broader campaign of attacks on Huckabee and further division between the theocrats and pragmatists in the Republican Party. Sounds like fun.

Who could have foreseen this?: The GOP front-runner is a thrice-married pro-choicer who favors gun control and gay rights, while a prominent right-wing pundit is bad-mouthing a Christian clergyman who's running for president on an anti-abortion platform.

Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave.

POSTSCRIPT: Newtie says Obama's gonna kick ass in Iowa. Let's hope so.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A commercial aimed at morons

This ad for the Hummer is strange on several levels (H/T to Crooks and Liars):

Flat-Earthers who walk upright

The New York Times magazine had an interesting piece yesterday on a gang of creationist geologists.

My favorite is the guy who said this: “If all the evidence in the universe turned against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.”

That isn't faith. That's idiocy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

For once, he makes sense

David Brooks usually is full of shit. This time, he's not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Remembering the Red Scare

When I was in Catholic grade school in the early 1950s, we prayed every day in class for "the conversion of Russia," which apparently meant that we wanted all those godless commies to become members of the One True Faith.

One of the nuns also made a point of informing us that Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the famed commie-hunter from Wisconsin, was a good Catholic who merited our respect.

These and other influences at such a tender age made budding right-wingers of me and presumably at least a few of my classmates.

It was not until I had been in high school a few years that I finally came to the judgment that McCarthy, who died in 1957, was a drunken scumbag and demagogue whose campaign of hysterical red-baiting had ruined countless lives.

All of this comes to mind with news reports today that Milo Radulovich, a victim of those times, has died at age 81.

Former WH mouthpiece spills the beans

If this sort of thing happened in a Democratic administration, the Republican establishment and much of the media would be howling for impeachment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Betcha Manzullo sticks with Thompson

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that some of the U.S. House members who had endorsed Fred Thompson for the Republican presidential nomination are having second thoughts and are underwhelmed by the former senator's lethargic campaign.

But there are no signs that Don Manzullo, the eight-term Republican who represents The Rascal's district in northern Illinois, has given up on Frederick of Hollywood.

It would be very much out of character for Manzullo to dump a guy in a situation like this. Besides, he only needs to stick with Freddy for a short while; in less than 12 weeks, Thompson's campaign will be over, and Manzullo will move on to whomever is the GOP's presumptive nominee.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Even reputable bloggers sometimes misinterpret polls

Talking Points Memo, one of my favorite blogs, had this to report today:

"New ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Obama with lead in Iowa."

But the poll does not actually show Barack Obama with a lead. It puts Obama at 30 percent and Hillary Clinton at 26 percent. That gap of 4 percentage points is within the poll's margin of error. Hence, the poll shows a statistical dead heat.

It's bad enough that the mainstream media do such a poor job of interpreting poll results. Progressive bloggers should be careful to avoid such mistakes.

UPDATE: Fox News gets the Post/ABC poll wrong with this headline: "Latest Iowa Poll Shows Obama Leading the Pack." But The New York Times gets it right with this: "A Statistical Tie in Iowa."

The South will rise again -- or maybe not

This would serve them right.

Is this lame or what?

The world's worst actor endorses the presidential candidacy of a right-wing nutcase:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is Santa a good thing or not?

Interesting points made in reply to this post by Tom W. Bell over at Agoraphilia.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pssst! Mitt Romney is a Mormon

BooMan reports that some Republican operatives are using "push polls" to denigrate Mitt Romney's Mormonism.

Two years ago today...and now

They don't understand the Constitution

In his radio address today, President Bush faulted Congress for passing a war-funding bill that includes a condition setting goals for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"We do not need members of Congress telling our commanders what to do," Bush said.

Lots of people who support Bush in this controversy have the mistaken notion that the only constitutional roles for Congress in matters of war are to authorize the war and provide the funds. Their theory is that only the commander-in-chief and his generals have any authority under the Constitution to prosecute the war.
But these people, Bush included, are woefully uninformed on the constitutional niceties of such matters.

Consider these remarks by legendary American statesman Daniel Webster during the Mexican War of the late 1840s:
If the war should become odious to the people, if they shall disapprove the objects for which it appears to be prosecuted, then it will be the bounden duty of their representatives in Congress to demand of the President a full statement of his objects and purposes, and if those purposes shall appear to them not to be founded in the public good, or not consistent with the honor and character of the country, then it shall be their duty to put an end to it, by the exercise of their constitutional authority. . . . If Congress, in whom the war-making power is expressly made to reside, is to have no voice in the declaration or continuance of war, if it is not to judge of the beginning or carrying it on, then we depart at once from the Constitution.
Or consider these words from Henry Clay during that same period:
Must we blindly continue the conflict without any visible object, or any prospect of a definite termination? . . . If it be contended that war having been once commenced, the President of the United States may direct it to the accomplishment of any object he pleases, without consulting and without any regard to the will of Congress, the Convention will have utterly failed in guarding the nation against the abuses and ambition of a single individual. Either Congress or the President must have the right of determining upon the objects for which a war shall be prosecuted. There is no other alternative. If the President possess it and may prosecute it and may prosecute it for the objects against the will of Congress, where is the difference between our free government and that of any other nation which may be governed by an absolute czar, emperor, or king?

'Inevitable human suffering'

This is pretty unsettling -- or at least it should be.

But we still have more than a few deniers (here and here and here and here) out there.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Too many people are talking (here and here, for example) about the likelihood of a deep recession just around the corner, and I don't like it one bit.

But I'm still not going to spend a lot this Christmas, no matter my patriotic obligation on that score.

God, next year is going to be a mess -- economic woes, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tensions in Iran and Pakistan, and who knows what else. Oh, yeah, a presidential election, too.

Christmas 2008 seems a lot farther off than just 13 months, considering all the stuff that will happen between now and then.

It's Nancy's fault

The folks at Fox News, always dedicated to fairness and balance, have decided that high prices for gasoline should be blamed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Why hasn't anybody else made this brilliant connection?

(H/T to Talking Points Memo.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mr. September Eleventh

Is this guy full of shit or what?:

A commercial about you and me

This is a bit simplistic but not bad for a 30-second effort:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A pretty good speech

Barack Obama has received high marks for this speech delivered last week in Des Moines:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Flat-earthers easily conned

Rush Limbaugh, the radio blowhard who tells America's pinheads what to think, recently led a crowd of global-warming deniers in trumpeting a false study published on a fake Web site.

Details of the hoax can be found here and here and here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fox News Channel -- The place for soft porn

Fox News is not really a champion of family values:

Rudy blames himself for 9-11

Rudy Giuliani is now in bed with Pat Robertson, who has said that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were God's revenge on advocates of abortion rights and gay rights. Rudy, of course, is one of those advocates.

Josh Marshall has more on this matter here:

Why are two-thirds of Americans anti-American?

I heard a right-winger on local radio this morning express pleasure at the lack of "anti-American" comments on some country-music awards show on television last night.

By "anti-American," the guy doubtless meant antiwar, which got me wondering. Why do some conservatives persist in the fiction that opposition to the war in Iraq is confined to a small, radical, leftish element of the populace?

The truth, as we see here, is that two of every three Americans -- including countless Republicans, military veterans, barbers, lawyers, plumbers, sports nuts, Kiwanians, devout religionists, Southerners, business executives, hunters, coin collectors, construction workers, moms, dads, uncles and aunts -- are opposed to this war.

Are these folks all anti-American? Or are the real anti-Americans the ones who impugn the patriotism of those who dare to speak out against the war? Fascism is an ugly thing.

Why I'm for Barack Obama

Andrew Sullivan explains it well in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Monday, November 5, 2007

This is soooo pathetic

From time to time, we ponder here the issue of how some politically conservative men have an unsure grip on their masculinity, prompting them to make fools of themselves with their childish expressions of angst. (Examples of such pondering are here and here.)

Today is a likely occasion to revisit this subject because it's the fourth anniversary of the publication of this blog post, a classic of the pseudo-macho genre, an essay that comes as close to parody without achieving it as is humanly possible.

The author of this screed is a deeply troubled man.

Friday, November 2, 2007


This TV spot (h/t to DailyKos) for John Edwards delivers some pretty good hits on Hillary Clinton: