Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Washington Post and Perry Bacon Jr Can't Handle The Truth

This really shouldn't come as a surprise at this point. The Washington Post has done it again, ignoring the truth and misleading its readers with blatant falsehoods.

After refusing to run the op-ed authored by three Democratic members of the House Judiciary committee last week on Sunday the Post claimed that:

[N]one of his 2008 rivals or fellow Democrats in Congress has embraced Kucinich's latest liberal cause: the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. Arguing that Cheney gave misleading claims in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002 and about Iran this year, he said in April that the "vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation."
Perry Bacon Jr passed off this falsehood in his profile of Dennis Kucinich in the Post's 'The Rest of the Field' addendum to the 'Front Runners' profile series that ran over the past week.

Despite the fact that Representatives Wexler, Gutierrez, and Baldwin have joined Mr. Kucinich in calling for impeachment hearings for Mr. Cheney, the Post and Mr. Bacon state otherwise.

The Post and the mainstream media in general continue to perfect their ostrich imitation, burying their heads ever deeper into the sand.

They not only ignore the truth, but comfort themselves by burying it with lies as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Mainstream Media Can't Handle the Truth - A Call for Impeachment

In the latest incident of the mainstream media ignoring the truth and refusing to bring the public real journalism or even news, no newspaper would publish an op-ed authored last week by Representatives Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, calling for impeachment hearings to begin immediately for Vice President Richard Cheney.

After being stonewalled by the Washington Post, New York Times and other papers, the Congressmen have launched a website and distributed the op-ed as a statement which has generated some online coverage. However, the mainstream media remains conspicuously silent.

The op-ed and a video statement from Mr. Wexler can be seen at

The website also contains a petition of support. At 3:00 pm today it contained 36,500 signatures, as of 5:20 there were more than 41,000 signatories.

John Nichols at The Nation has more.

Barack Obama's Lack of Progressive Values

As the holiday season kicks into high gear and the days until the first primaries dwindle rapidly coverage of the candidates has become even more omnipresent and often, despite the seeming impossibility, more superficial as well.

The rhetoric and barbs bandied about among the competitors within their own camps have also become increasingly vitriolic. This is always a disappointing, if inevitable, development. Barack Obama has taken to not only attacking his Democratic rivals from the right but has decided to go after columnist Paul Krugman as well, in doing so has belied his progressive values and exposed himself as a smooth but empty campaigner, interested in nothing more than becoming president.

While much has already been said on this point, it bears repeating. In summation Mr. Obama's health care proposal lacks a mandate requiring everyone to carry insurance while his leading competitors include such mandates in their proposals. Mr. Krugman and others pointed out this weakness in Mr. Obama's plan, but said that it was otherwise 'smart and serious.' Since announcing his proposal and having this critical difference pointed out, Mr. Obama has chosen to attack his detractors from the right by borrowing Republican talking points about the socialistic boogey man.

In the end a health care plan that does not require everyone to participate fails to provide universal coverage and falls far short of meeting the desires of many if not most Americans.

Mr. Krugman has already explained this issue fully on several occaisions:

So there’s a lot to commend the Obama plan. In fact, it would have been considered daring if it had been announced last year.

Now for the bad news. Although Mr. Obama says he has a plan for universal health care, he actually doesn’t — a point Mr. Edwards made in last night’s debate. The Obama plan doesn’t mandate insurance for adults. So some people would take their chances — and then end up receiving treatment at other people’s expense when they ended up in emergency rooms. In that regard it’s actually weaker than the Schwarzenegger plan.

I asked David Cutler, a Harvard economist who helped put together the Obama plan, about this omission. His answer was that Mr. Obama is reluctant to impose a mandate that might not be enforceable, and that he hopes — based, to be fair, on some estimates by Mr. Cutler and others — that a combination of subsidies and outreach can get all but a tiny fraction of the population insured without a mandate. Call it the timidity of hope.

On the whole, the Obama plan is better than I feared but not as comprehensive as I would have liked. It doesn’t quell my worries that Mr. Obama’s dislike of “bitter and partisan” politics makes him too cautious. But at least he’s come out with a plan.

Mr. Krugman has also described the dangers of a Democrat attacking his own party with Republican talking points:

My main concern right now is with Mr. Obama’s rhetoric: by echoing the talking points of those who oppose any form of universal health care, he’s making the task of any future president who tries to deliver universal care considerably more difficult.

I’d add, however, a further concern: the debate over mandates has reinforced the uncomfortable sense among some health reformers that Mr. Obama just isn’t that serious about achieving universal care — that he introduced a plan because he had to, but that every time there’s a hard choice to be made he comes down on the side of doing less.


And I was prepared to leave it at that — Obama’s plan was weaker than his rivals’ because it wasn’t universal, but I hoped that he would fix that in practice.

But then Obama started attacking his rivals from the right, denouncing their proposals using exactly the same false claims that conservatives will use to try to derail reform in the future.

And now, having been caught out on the facts, the Obama people respond with a personal attack, lifting quotes out of context to pretend that I never had problems with the plan. Something is very wrong here.

As Ezra Klein and others have pointed out, why would a serious Democratic and progressive candidate attack Mr. Krugman, the loudest and often only voice of reason to be heard in the morass that is today's mainstream media?

Going all the way back to a New Yorker profile of Mr. Obama in May titled The Conciliator there has been a persistent question of whether he will take a stand for any issue, whether he believes in anything that strongly besides his desire to be president:

Sometimes, of course, there is no possibility of convergence—a question must be answered yes or no. In such a case, Obama may stand up for what he believes in, or he may not.

“He’s always wanted to be President,” Valerie Jarrett, who has been a family friend for years, ever since she hired Michelle Obama to work in Mayor Daley’s office, says. (Michelle Obama is now an executive at the University of Chicago Hospitals.) “He didn’t always admit it, but oh, absolutely. The first time he said it to me, he said, ‘I just think I have some special qualities and wouldn’t it be a shame to waste them.’ I think it was during the early part of his U.S. senatorial campaign. He said, ‘You know, I just think I have something.’ ”

One other old story with fresh legs is Mr. Obama's disturbing habit of voting 'present' as an Illinois State Senator. The details are not really the issue here, rather Mr. Obama's actions speak to his desire for cover and compromise and conciliation, all of which continue to lead the current Democratically controlled Congress to capitulation.

The preponderance of the evidence indicates that Mr. Obama sincerely wants to be president and that he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the post. As such he is a candidate without substance, one who cannot offer true solutions or even proposals for his fear of disturbing someone somewhere. A desire to please all of the people all of the time does not qualify one to be President, much less indicate that Mr. Obama would do the job well.

Is this really the type of person you want as your President?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Where else does politics meet pop-culture?

Admittedly this blog separates pop-culture from politics more than the banner would suggest it should.

If you'd like to see where they actually meet and be entertained in the process visit RX2008 at you tube.

(I got there via a threat level post)

This is the kind of thing that will make you think, man who has the time to do all this? Then you'll think I wish I had the time, then you'll be glad that someone, somewhere does.

A final thought -- I love the internet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don't Get Hooked

This is a copy of the email that I sent to Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema.

Hi Tom,

This is mostly a gripe although I'll attempt to frame it as a question since I am genuinely curious as to why this happens/what could be done about it.

A few weeks ago (Saturday after thanksgiving) I had dinner with friends at Hook, we were a large party, 10 of us from high school who still get together when we're all in the area. Some of the food was quite good (the entree's) some of it wasn't so good (the appetizers and crudo) and the service was poor at best.

Our sever disappeared for long periods of time, constantly left us searching for attention to get more wine, order dessert, etc. When he did come by he was more interested in telling us the score of the Missouri college football game that was on at the time. Descriptions of the food were lacking even when in response to detailed questions, if specials are served at Hook (which may well not be the case) we certainly didn't hear about them. We ordered two complete rounds of the crudos which were unceremoniously dumped on our table without any explanations or descriptions leaving us to guess what each might be, we repeated the detective work with cheese plates later in the evening.

While it wasn't anything we were interested in making a scene over, the caliber of the service certainly detracted from our enjoyment of the meal and the overall experience and we would have liked to reflect its quality or lack thereof in the gratuity. Unfortunately when our check arrived our server had already included a 20% tip for himself. The general feeling at the table was that our server had decided to plug in a 20% tip from the start of the meal and simply phoned in the rest of the evening.

The question I've formed is twofold.

Where and how did the practice of adding the tip in for checks at large tables originate? I understand the possibility of getting shorted by a large group exists and that many restaurants follow or allow their servers discretion in using this practice and often say so on the menu (I don't know if Hook had a printed warning or not). We can't be the only group that's ever felt taken advantage of on this front though. In an unscientific survey of our party, the six of us who have waited tables in the past all claimed to have never added a tip on to a check, choosing to trust our customers instead.

Besides griping to your local restaurant critic and telling your friends that there are better places to get a good piece of fish, ones where the food is also well prepared, the service is up to par, and your dollar will go quite a bit further (Blacks in Bethesda comes to mind - full disclosure I have worked there), is there something else we could or should have done.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I apologize if I was a bit long winded. Voicing my complaint to someone with a lot of weight in the local food scene was very cathartic.

Henry Coppola