Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Cartoon for Readers

Readers of books, that is: Compulsory Reading.

hat tip to Lawyers, Guns & Money

Beware of Anonymous Sources

Well-known liar; columnist at Time magazine. Crime pays.

The press has hated Bill Clinton for years and never misses an opportunity to smear him. The blogs coined a term for the media obsession with the Clintons: the "Clinton Rules".

The anonymous sources in the article in the Telegraph (below) claiming Bill is angry at Obama are referred to variously as "campaign insiders," "loyal allies," "a senior Democrat," "a second source," "his friends," "another Democrat," and "a party strategist". The only source on the record in the whole article is Joe Klein, who wrote the venomous book about the Clintons, Primary Colors, and then lied about being its author for two years afterwards. (So Joe, if you were lying then, why should I believe you now?)

And Joe Klein isn't even a primary source, as he says "he has heard" that Clinton is bitter.

Expect to see this tissue of lies on the front pages of the major U.S. papers tomorrow, because now it's "out there".

And what kind of friends and allies would give off-the-record interviews about this kind of garbage? Not really your friends, I wager.

Journalism is dead; long live the vulturous corporate media.

Telegraph (uk): Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must 'kiss my ass' for his support

One Person's Clutter

Is another's previous collection.

First WNBA Player's Son Drafted by NBA

Cool. I saw Pam McGee win the gold medal with the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team in L.A. in 1984. (Did you know her twin sister Paula, who played with her at USC, is now a preacher?)

Nevada Appeal: McGee drafted to Washington

Former University of Nevada standout JaVale McGee was drafted No. 18 overall to the Washington Wizards Thursday night in the NBA Draft.

ESPN: Mother-son legacy a first for WNBA/NBA

Women's Hoops Blog: McGee #1

Strike A Pose

hat tip to Presto Change-o!

Kid Gloves

Private Plane McCain

That's how the media is treating John McCain. He's much richer than John Edwards, and McCain's policy positions will make McCain personally far wealthier. His base the media never see to fit to mention this.

Media Matters for America: The Edwards standard and John McCain

Friday, June 27, 2008

Exxon-Valdez -- What Really Happened

Under the Supreme Court's other big decision yesterday, he has every right to buy that gun and carry it around in DC. The actual shooting is still barred by law, I think -- you never know how far the 2nd Amendment goes anymore, do you? Is the Exxon-Valdez oil spill the equivalent of a home invasion?

This article about what really happened in the Exxon-Valdez case is important. I saw this all the time in our asbestos practice -- before the asbestos companies took advantage of the bankruptcy laws and screwed all the workers they had poisoned for decades. Lawyers for companies would say right out, this is the most you are ever going to get. You may win at trial, but we'll appeal and you know how conservative the appeals courts are. We'll win on your appeal and your clients will get pennies on the dollar. And that was happening before Bush spent seven years packing the federal courts with even more rightwing nutjobs.

Read the rest of the article to see all the promises the oil companies made to the Alaskan natives to get the use of the Valdez Port, and how all those promises were cynically broken. Court Rewards Exxon for Valdez Oil Spill

Twenty years after Exxon Valdez slimed over one thousand miles of Alaskan beaches, the company has yet to pay the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the jury. And now they won't have to. The Supreme Court today cut Exxon's liability by 90% to half a billion. It's so cheap, it's like a permit to spill.

Exxon knew this would happen. Right after the spill, I was brought to Alaska by the Natives whose Prince William Sound islands, livelihoods, and their food source was contaminated by Exxon crude. My assignment: to investigate oil company frauds that led to to the disaster. There were plenty.

But before we brought charges, the Natives hoped to settle with the oil company, to receive just enough compensation to buy some boats and rebuild their island villages to withstand what would be a decade of trying to survive in a polluted ecological death zone.

In San Diego, I met with Exxon's US production chief, Otto Harrison, who said, "Admit it; the oil spill's the best thing to happen" to the Natives.

His company offered the Natives pennies on the dollar. The oil men added a cruel threat: take it or leave it -- and wait twenty years to get even the pennies. Exxon is immortal - but Natives die.

And they did. A third of the Native fishermen and seal hunters I worked with are dead. Now their families will collect one tenth of their award, two decades too late.

Paul Pierce on Jimmy Kimmel

The wheelchair was a nice touch.

What Digby Said

flickr/Library of Congress: Bain News Service,, publisher.
Florence F. Noyes as "Liberty" in Suffrage Parade
[between 1910 and 1915]

A popular refrain on liberal blogs, as Digby and her co-bloggers dday and tristero at Hullabaloo turn out some of the best analysis on the 'net.

Today you can learn that

a) the corporate media has it in for Iraq reporter Lara Logan, because she criticized their execrable war coverage; just like they demonized Ashley Banfield for the same.

b) shows the vote total for all the terrible bills Republicans voting unanimously pushed through for Bush -- aided & abetted by Democrats abandoning their party to join in -- and concludes: "The key to understanding how the elders define bipartisanship is recognizing that whatever your beliefs or principles, you "get things done" in Washington by doing what conservatives want you to do."

c) dday marvels at the crackpots being mentioned as serious candidates to run as veep with McCain, Bobby exorcism-conducting, criminal-castrating Jindal, and Mittwit "nuclear nonproliferation is a liberal position" Romney. "Good Lord these people are out of their skulls."

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjack

Fans in the Hit It Here Cafe at Safeco Field in Seattle, where the menu includes Caesar salad, barbecued rack of ribs and lavender meringue.
Photo: Andrew Testa for The New York Times

NYTimes: Buy Me Some Sushi and Baby Back Ribs

NYTimes: Finding the Hits, Avoiding the Errors
A culinary scorecard for all 30 major league baseball stadiums.
(interactive map)

Personally, I prefer not to eat at Fenway Park. Even thought they've upgraded the food quite a bit, the vendor is Aramark and they're terrible. They failed health inspections on opening day this year and didn't clean up their act for 19 games. The violations included "sausages thawing in stagnant water, employees handling raw burgers without changing their gloves, and rodent droppings underneath service counters." I recommend going to the game with a full stomach.

The bratzel at St. Louis's Busch Stadium looks good.

50-50 Chance of NO ICE at the North Pole This Summer

Does water have to lap at the front steps of the Capital Building before Congress takes action? (Obviously we can forget C+ Augustus, who wouldn't know climate change if it knocked him off his bicycle.)

Independent (uk): Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole
Polar scientists reveal dramatic new evidence of climate change

Independent (uk): Peter Wadhams: Every time I visit the Arctic, the ice gets thinner

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pierce & Garnett on ESPN

I want Kevin Garnett's earrings.


Nixonland by Rick Perlstein is the next political book I want to read.

Here's the review:
Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: How did we go from Lyndon Johnson's landslide Democratic victory in 1964 to Richard Nixon's equally lopsided Republican reelection only eight years later? The years in between were among the most chaotic in American history, with an endless and unpopular war, riots, assassinations, social upheaval, Southern resistance, protests both peaceful and armed, and a "Silent Majority" that twice elected the central figure of the age, a brilliant politician who relished the battles of the day but ended them in disgrace. In Nixonland Rick Perlstein tells a more familiar story than the one he unearthed in his influential previous book, Before the Storm, which argued that the stunning success of modern conservatism was founded in Goldwater's massive 1964 defeat. But he makes it fresh and relentlessly compelling, with obsessive original research and a gleefully slashing style--equal parts Walter Winchell and Hunter S. Thompson--that's true to the times. Perlstein is well known as a writer on the left, but his historian's empathies are intense and unpredictable: he convincingly channels the resentment and rage on both sides of the battle lines and lets neither Nixon's cynicism nor the naivete of liberals like New York mayor John Lindsay off the hook. And while election-year readers will be reminded of how much tamer our times are, they'll also find that the echoes of the era, and its persistent national divisions, still ring loud and clear. --Tom Nissley

He was on Morning McCain on MSNBC and went toe to toe with Nixon henchman, racist Pat Buchanan. Watch the video here.

Digby loved the book.

The New York Times assigned George F. Will to review it. Guess what he thought? Read his scathing review here.

If George Will hates it, I need to read it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bad Day For Democracy


The Senate sold out to Bush and the telecoms 80-15 on FISA. Now if the government wants to violate the Constitution, the precedent has been set. All the government has to do is outsource the lawbreaking to a third party, and then Congress ratifies it. The Nuremburg defense is now official U.S. policy. "We were just following orders."

Oh, and Obama, Clinton, and McCain all couldn't be bothered to vote. (Not surprising from McCain, who hasn't voted on anything since April 8th.)

Obama retreated from his previous promise
to filibuster any bill with telecom amnesty. He said yesterday that national security trumps amnesty, whatever the hell that means. Tough on terra, I guess. :::sigh::: I always hate the race to the center after the Democratic primary is over.

The Supreme Court threw out most of the Exxon-Valdez punitive damages award to the citizens of Alaska, cutting the already cut-down award from $2.5 billion to 500 million. That's about half a day's profit for Exxon, the richest company in the world. Crime does pay.

These are the days that try liberal's souls.

Greatest Fan Outfits Ever

Posted by Picasa
Netherlands Fans, Frankfurt, June 2006


German Fans, Frankfurt, June 2006
Posted by Picasa

I Wish I Were in Berlin Today

Turkish and German flags fly in a street in the western German city of Duisburg, on June 23. Many Turks living in Germany support not only the team of their home country, but also the German squad. Germany will play the Euro 2008 championship semi-final match against Turkey on June 25, in Basel.
(AFP/DDP/Volker Hartmann)

BBC: Electric atmosphere grips Berlin

Coach Mom & I met many kind Turkish immigrants during our sojurn through Germany at the 2006 World Cup. We also got to be in Berlin while Germany played its first game after the group stages and watched the city explode in joy and revelry after Germany won. I'd love to be there today!

A Little Light Reading

flickr: SI Neg. 77-13915. Date: 1977...A close-up of the face and hands of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln which sits in the Lincoln Memorial. Created by American sculptor Daniel Chester French, the sculpture was completed in 1920. ..Credit: Dane A. Penland (Smithsonian Institution)

This should have led every national news program: NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen testified to Congress on Monday that we have one year -- one year -- to deal with climate change. One year, or it will be irreversible and too late for the planet. One year. In 2006 he gave us 20 years, but things have gotten much worse so quickly. Here's a pdf of his testimony;

The Boston Globe reports that military contractor KBR exposed Americans in Iraq to a form of chromium -- the stuff in the wells in the movie Erin Brockovich -- and now they're getting sick. The only small justice here is that KBR has been playing games & claiming their employees were employed by a shell corporation in the Caymans so they didn't have to pay unemployment & social security taxes. As a result, these employees may be able to sue KBR directly rather than being limited to worker's compensation.

The networks are spending two minutes a week covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A near total news blackout.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (and John McCain top adviser) lobbied for the government of Albania for two years without registering as a lobbyist. Laura Rozen asks, "curious if Ridge knows something about the strange DOD-US embassy-Albanian government-AEY-mothballed $300 million Chinese ammo weapons deal[?]" You can read all about that bizarre $300 million dollar contract being awarded to a bunch of 20-something losers here at TPM.

Surprise, surprise: The Bushies have loaded the Justice Dept. with unqualified Republican hacks, by illegally hiring on political grounds. Wingnuts in, liberals out. Dday at Hullabaloo points out that there will be a host of landmines awaiting Barack Obama when he gets to the Oval Office, crazed Regent University lawyers waiting to sabotage any Democrat.

Steny Hoyer is the Democratic sellout of the year, sez Digby. Farewell to the Fourth Amendment thanks to hack Steny.

Good News

NYTimes: Home Depot Offers Recycling for Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In 2008, 30 Pieces of Silver Equals $8,359

Tate Britain (uk)


That's how much the average Congresscritter who changed his/her vote on FISA got from the telecoms.

$8,359 to sell out the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Pretty good deal for the telecoms: about 165 customers' monthly cell bills to purchase blanket immunity.

I Am A Bad Consumer

Kenichi Uchino and Family

Here's I've been feeling so pleased with myself for buying an environmentally-friendly, non-gas-guzzling Toyota Prius. Turns out Toyota is a labor-exploiting employer that uses contract workers who get paid no benefits to pad its enormous corporate profits. Should have known better. Maybe my next car should be a horse.

The National Labor Committee: The Toyota You Don’t Know
The Race to the Bottom in the Auto Industry

How would [] celebrities—and the many Prius devotees across America—respond if they knew that a full one-third of Prius assembly line workers in Japan are hired as “temps,” with few rights, earning just 60 percent of what full time workers do, and even less when benefits are taken into account? Most Americans have never heard of Kenichi Uchino, who at 30 years of age died of overwork at the Prius plant, routinely working 14-hour shifts and putting in anywhere between 107 and 155 hours of overtime a month—at least 61 1/2 hours of which was unpaid. The Toyota Company said the 61 ½ hours were “voluntary” and therefore unpaid. Mr. Uchino left behind a young wife and two children—a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. Neither Toyota management nor the “company” union at Toyota lifted a finger to help his family survive. The Japanese people even have a word for being overworked to death—“Karoshi.” Toyota’s parts supply chain is also riddled with sweatshop abuse, including the human trafficking of tens of thousands of foreign guest workers—mostly from China and Vietnam—to Japan, where they are stripped of their passports and forced to work grueling hours seven days a week, often earning less than half of the legal minimum wage. Sixteen-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, would not be uncommon. Most people have no idea that Toyota—through the Toyota Tsusho Corporation which is a part of the Toyota Group—is involved in a joint venture with the ruthless military dictators in Burma, where nearly 50 million people live in fear and want. The United Nations/International Labor Organization points to Toyota’s repression of freedom of association at its plant in the Philippines as “an illustration of how a multinational company, apparently with little regard for corporate responsibility, has done everything in its power to prevent recognition and certification of the Toyota Motor Company Workers Association” (ILO Workers Group, December 2003). Once again, the “company” union at Toyota has refused to challenge Toyota management for its ties with the Burmese dictators or its repression of freedom of association with respect for worker rights in the Philippines.

This is not to say that Toyota is another Wal-Mart. If Toyota were not in some ways a decent and very effectively run company, it would not be the largest auto company in the world. A full-time assembly line worker at Toyota has a good paying middle class job, allowing them to raise their families in decency. (Still, Toyota wages in Japan are only about 50 percent of union wages and benefits in the U.S.) And if a full time worker stays “clean,” and does not get injured on the job or fall ill, they will have a job for life at Toyota. By “clean” the workers mean not doing anything to oppose Toyota management or the company union.


[W]hat do [] celebrities and the rest of us know about the labor practices and working conditions under which the Prius and other Toyota cars are made in Japan? Really nothing. Why is the commitment to protect our environment so often divorced from a similar concern to protect human and worker rights?

* Low wage temps: a full one-third, or 10,000 Toyota assembly line workers, are low wage temp and subcontract workers who earn less than 60 percent of what full time workers do. Temps have few rights and are hired under contracts as short as four months.

* Overworked to death: Mr Kenichi Uchino died of overwork at Toyota’s Prius plant when he was just 30. He was routinely working 14-hour shifts and putting in anywhere from 107 to 155 hours of overtime a month—at least 61 ½ hours of which were unpaid. Toyota said the hours were “voluntary” and therefore not paid. Mr. Uchino left behind his young wife, a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. The Japanese people even have a word for being overworked to death: “karoshi.” An estimated 200 to 300 workers a year suffer serious illness, depression and death due to overwork.

* Sweatshops and human trafficking: Toyota’s parts supply chain is riddled with sweatshop abuse, including the human trafficking of tens of thousands of foreign guest workers—mostly from China and Vietnam—to Japan, where they are stripped of their passports and forced to work grueling hours seven days a week, often earning less than half the legal minimum wage. Sixteen-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight are common.

* Linked to Burmese Dictators: Toyota—through the Toyota Tsusho Corporation which is part of the Toyota Group—is involved in several joint business ventures with the ruthless military dictators of Burma, which put revenues into the pockets of the dictators who use it to repress Burma’s 50 million people.

* Toyota criticized by the ILO: The UN/International Labor Organization points to Toyota’s suppression of freedom of association at its plant in the Philippines as “an illustration of how a multinational company, apparently with little regard for corporate responsibility, has done everything in its power to prevent recognition and certification of the Toyota Motor Company Workers Association.” (ILO Working Group, December 2003.)

* Toyota leads the Race to the Bottom: Toyota, now the largest auto company in the world, is using its size and success to impose its two-tier, low-wage model at its non-union plants across America, which will result in a race to the bottom with wages and benefits being slashed throughout the entire auto industry.

Toyota’s Profit Reaches $16.7 Billion
The American People Purchase
56,923 Toyota Vehicles Each Week

Toyota reached record profits of $16.7 billion in its fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. Toyota is earning $45.8 million a day, every day of the year.

Toyota sells more vehicles in the U.S. (2.92 million cars, vans and trucks) than in Japan (2.19 million) where its sales are falling.

One third of Toyota’s worldwide sales are in the U.S. The American people purchase 56,923 Toyota vehicles each week.

Hat tip to Laura Flanders of firedoglake.

Manny Being Manny

Boston Herald: Photo by Matthew West
Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez chatted with Aidan Flaherty, 8, on Thursday.

Boston Herald: Manny Ramirez scores with young Red Sox fan
Nut allergies keep boy out of Fenway

Flaherty [the boy's mother] said she, Aidan and 3-year-old son Liam spotted the Dominican-born Ramirez, 36, about 7 p.m. Thursday after they’d been strolling the city since 8 a.m.

“We were not the most attractive people,” she said, laughing.

Flaherty said Ramirez waved off her repeated apologies for the intrusion and spent about 20 minutes with her family, even taking two baseball cards out of his wallet and signing them for her boys.

Boston Herald Inside Track

Manny Ramirez will turn over his 500th home run ball to the Franciscan Hospital for Children later this week.....The hospital likely will auction the historic ball as part of a fund-raiser.

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin

George Carlin on war:

NYTimes: George Carlin, 71, Irreverent Standup Comedian

Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say On Television
Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits (later he added fart, turd, & twat to the list):

Read On

NYPL: Lobby card, Nazimova in Salome (1922)

Another light posting day on the blog today as I work in the studio on the first non-Euro-2008 day in weeks.

The Observer (uk) profiles the dark side of John McCain.

There's a new website leading the charge to attack global warming:, which stands for 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air. "Prior to the industrial era, the atmosphere was at about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Now, we are about 387 and growing at nearly 2 ppm per year."

And we need to address global warming because, as everyone who doesn't live in the White House has noticed, weather extremes have become more pronounced in the past decade or so. This post from the LeftCoaster links to a U.S. Climate Change Science Program (part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) report which contains these specific projections:

* Abnormally hot days and nights, along with heat waves, are very likely to become more common. Cold nights are very likely to become less common.
* Sea ice extent is expected to continue to decrease and may even disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summer in coming decades.
* Precipitation, on average, is likely to be less frequent but more intense.
* Droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in some regions.
* Hurricanes will likely have increased precipitation and wind.
* The strongest cold-season storms in the Atlantic and Pacific are likely to produce stronger winds and higher extreme wave heights.

The next time you find yourself seated next to a climate change denier telling you that it's not happening for x, y, or z reason, you will be happy that you read this handy guide from Gristmill: How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

And now for something completely different: The Boston Globe has a great new photography blog, The Big Picture, which as its name suggests, contains BIG PICTURES. Really big, really beautiful images.