Today’s Heading Left Blog Talk Radio Show

Today at 11:30am Pacific Time I am again guest-hosting this week’s Heading Left Blog Talk Radio show. The details are here.
This week we are talking to Gina Cooper of YearlyKos Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine and McJoan of DailyKos. The show is titled “Where the Blogs Meet the Mainstream.” From Heading Left:

Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine and Gina Cooper of YearlyKos, and DailyKos front-page writer McJoan will be the special guests on Heading Left’s Blog Talk Radio show. This should be a very interesting show. Aside from his upcoming book on Democratic politics, Bai and McJoan will be moderating “an unprecedented forum featuring potential 2008 presidential candidates during the second annual YearlyKos Convention on August 4th in Chicago.” Bai’s book, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics”, is scheduled for release in early September 2007. Also, “Dr. Jeffrey Feldman, author and blogger at Frameshopisopen.com, will ask questions submitted in advance from tens of thousands of blog readers and will facilitate questions from convention attendees.” Tune in tomorrow and feel free to call in at (646) 652-4803 to speak with Matt Bai, McJoan, and Gina Cooper. This should be an exciting show, hosted by Nate Wilcox of HeadingLeft and guest host Dave Johnson of SeeingtheForest filling in for the vacationing James Boyce.

What I Wish I Had Said

I was on a panel at UC Berkeley this week with some political reporters from TV and newspapers. (I will write more about this soon.) I represented the voice of the people – the scary bloggers.
One question was about the concentration of media into fewer and fewer corporate hands. I said that one result is that you no longer see union voices represented in the major media, and that you will never hear the case for why people should join unions and the benefits people receive from union membership, and that this amounts to outright censorship. You just can not expect corporations to allow this case to be presented. This really upset the journalists. The audience – US Berkeley students heading to summer intern jobs in Washington – loved it.
One of the panelists offered that the reason you don’t get the union viewpoint is that so few Americans are members of unions. It was worded, “How many Americans are members of unions?” I responded, “How many Americans work for a living?”
Then I asked, “How any Americans are CEOs?” One of the panelists offered that the decisions CEOs make affect all of us, so it is important to cover the viewpoints of CEOs.
What I wish I had said was, “Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the decisions all of us make affect CEOs? Isn’t that how a DEMOCRACY should operate?”

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Bad News Spun Good

Headline sounds great, no? Home Sales Rise Unexpectedly in Feb. But what about the story?

The increase pushed sales up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million units, still 3.6 percent lower than a year ago. Sales fell by 8.5 percent for all of last year as housing hit a sharp slowdown after setting sales records for five straight years.
… “Sales cannot be sustained at this level, which is way above the pace implied by mortgage applications,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.
The price of a median home sold last month dropped to $212,800, down by 1.3 percent from the same month in 2006. It marked a record seven straight months that the median home prime has fallen compared to the same period a year ago.
… “Our view is that the tightening in the subprime market will have a negative impact on home sales,” Lereah said. “It probably won’t postpone the recovery (in housing) but it will slow it.” [emphasis added]

So the real story is year-over-year sales are down 3.6 percent and EVERYONE expects things to get worse.
Nice headline, though.

What are the odds?

I wrote this a few hours ago:

What are the odds that one of our winger friends will find a way to say something horrible about Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer? I say 50/50. It’s a bridge too far for almost all of them, but probably not all.

I decided to hold it back, but I shouldn’t have. There were immediately a lot of nasty comments, even at the centrist Politico site.
The worst have been deleted (one them called Elizabeth Edwards a “beard”, implying that she was helping her husband hide his true sexual identity), but the ones below are bad enough.
And I haven’t even gone to Free Republic or Little Green Footballs yet.
Update: The nastiness keeps on coming:

Its sooooo funny to see so-called “free speech” liberals demonize folks who believe this is a publicity stunt by the Edward’s campaign. These are probably the same folks who wished for Cheney’s death and then hid behind “free specch” when they were criticized. The leftists in the crowd are such hypocrites, but too self-centered to recognize it. So, so sad. Edwards is a shiester lawer who made his $$ suing doctors and now he needs one – what karma.
to pkj: And how is issuing a televised press conference going to make his supporters/money contributors feel any better, then a press release would? Is he going to return the money to them all if he completely drops out? What is your logic behind the televised conference?
I agree that a live press conference is a bit extreme. Although I respect his decision to suspend his campaign for sake of his wife’s health concerns, one must ask Would Edwards go to such lengths if he had a commanding double-digit lead in the polls? I question the timing of this announcement and the necessity of what appears to be the grandstanding of a very personal, private matter. I wonder how many Edwards advisors consider this a fortuitous opportunity to acknowledge the inevitable. A brilliant strategy for throwing in the towel, admitting “defeat” with a sense of dignity, but surviving politically – at least enough to perhaps fight another day.
Edwards has been trailing Obama and Clinton in the campaign. I think he’s a very smart and calculating person. What if Edwards is using his wife’s health as a way to kick start his campaign again? He announces that he’s dropping out or putting the campaign on hold. Lots of Press Coverage. Everyone is touched by him putting his family first. He get’s lots of Sympathy and support from the public and his supporters that they understand and think it’s the right thing to do. Then he throws his hat back into the race because his wife tells him that the country really needs him to run. His supporters are thrilled to have him back in the race. Even More Exposer. What a great story. My only question is this. If John Edwards becomes president and his wife has serious health issues would it be right for him to step down as President to take care of his Family? I think it probably would. However, Do I want to vote for a candidate that may have important personal family issues to deal with that could distract him from doing the best possible job as our president. The answer is “no”.

Edwards Announcement – Live Blogging

The announcement is live right now on TV. Elizabeth Edwards cancer is back, spreading into bones – a rib, not curable but treatable. Minimal spread so far, no real symptoms. She cracked a rib which led to a chest X-ray which saw cancer somewhere else Many patients in similar circumstances have lived many years. Positive attitude, etc. Encouraged… Life will not be significantly different but will be seeing doctor much more often.
The campaign continues. No intention of cowering in the corner. She will campaign with him.

Elizabeth: It’s (the campaign) not about John Edwards. The people they have met, every even, someone cried on her shoulder about the state of their life. They don’t have the wonderful support that she has an no place to turn so it is unbelievable important that they get this campaign right. Can’t deprive the people of having a president like Edwards simply because she wants to sit at home.
John: Yesterday was not a good day for us. Not shockingly to anyone who knows Elizabeth all she wanted to talk about was John, the children and the country. Not a word about her.

Elizabeth: John came home after she hurt her back, gave her a big hug, she heard a pop.
John: Actually I was beating her. (Fox News/Drudge Headline will probably be: “Edwards Broke Wife’s Rib During Beating”)

Update – Hillary Clinton has a great tribute to Elizabeth Edwards on her site.

Is THIS Offensive Enough?

Media Matters – Latching onto L.A. Times op-ed, Limbaugh sings “Barack, The Magic Negro”,

On the March 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh highlighted a March 19 Los Angeles Times op-ed that described Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as “running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination — the ‘Magic Negro’” — a term used by critics of pop culture to describe certain benevolent African-American characters. Limbaugh stated: “The term ‘Magic Negro’ has been thrown into the political presidential race in the mix for 2008.
… Limbaugh continued to refer to Obama as the “Magic Negro” throughout the broadcast — 27 times, to be exact — and at one point sang “Barack, the Magic Negro” to the tune of “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” Limbaugh defended his use of the song, stating, “Well, that’s what we always do here. We do parodies and satires on the idiocy and phoniness of the left.”

It was based on an offensive column in the LA Times. So now the LA Times is offensive enough to provide content for the Limbaugh show?
Update Am I reading the LA Times column wrong?

Presidential Aides Testifying Before Congress

The latest Republican line is that Congress can’t require White House aides to testify, that it would “violate precedent,” etc. So see Think Progress – FACT CHECK: There Is No Precedent Barring White House Aides From Testifying To Congress,

…under President Clinton, 31 of his top aides testified on 47 different occasions. The aides who testified included some of Clinton’s closest advisors:
Harold Ickes, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff – 7/28/94
George Stephanopoulos, Senior Adviser to the President for Policy and Strategy – 8/4/94
John Podesta, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary – 8/5/94
Bruce R. Lindsey, Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President – 1/16/96
Samuel Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs – 9/11/97
Beth Nolan, Counsel to the President – 5/4/00

In contrast, between 2000 and 2004, Bush allowed only one of his closest advisers, then-Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to appear in front of Congress. He has also refused three invitations from Congress for his aides to testify, a first since President Richard Nixon in 1972. Clinton did not refuse any.

Hat tip to Digby who asks,

Meanwhile, virtually all the reporters on NBC seem to not know that numerous very close white house advisors were hauled before congress during the Clinton administration. Can’t somebody get them an intern?

The Reach Of Progressive Blogs

What do people “know?” If you are reading this you are probably a hyper-informed citizen. But what about the rest of us? What information reaches the public?
Progressive blogs reach progressives. Right-wing blogs are part of a noise machine that is designed to reach and influence the general public.
Right-wing blogs are tied into the conservative movement’s larger “noise machine” information apparatus. This is why we see successful results when the right launches an information campaign. They echo or are echoed through every channel through which the public receives information — by Limbaugh, Fox News, Drudge, and funded outreach into other channels, and their politicians are part of the coordinated process. So their message gets out there and the public “knows” what they want them to know. A very good example is what happened to Dan Rather. The public “knows” that Dan Rather “tried to smear President Bush” with “forged documents.” In fact the origin of the documents is still unknown, and forged or not, the underlying story was factual.
It would benefit us to keep in mind that progressive blogs have a limited reach and that we need to keep looking to extend that reach. There is no progressive noise machine. There is no coordination. There is no funded outreach to the general public. Democratic politicians likely as not fear blogs and tend not to join in a coordinated messaging efforts. Yes, progressive blogs are read by media figures, informed opinion leaders and public officials, and that is very important. But we have very little effect on what the general public “knows.” Only after shrill repetition for several days or weeks across the entire blogosphere does an important story even begin to reach into the traditional corporate media.
Current example – the prosecutor scandal. On the Heading Left Blog Talk Radio Show last week Nate mentioned that there was wide coverage of the scandal over firing US Attorneys who wouldn’t play ball and drop investigations of Republican corruption or wouldn’t falsely accuse Democrats of crimes. But in my own local paper there was only a short article on page 6, and it repeated verbatim White House talking points that the firings were “handled badly,” that the President “has the right to hire and fire prosecutors,” and that “Clinton fired all 93 prosecutors while Bush fired only 8.”

Continue reading

Specter’s in the tank, of course

Sen. Arlen Specter presents himself as an independent, moderate Republican. On the other hand, his staff was supposedly responsible for the provision in the PATRIOT act revision allowing the appointment of US Attorneys without Senate confirmation. He has even claimed that this was done without his knowledge and that one of his new staffers sneaked the provision in without his knowledge. (Rather implausible deniability, in my opinion).
The email below from the recent document dump (as reported on this TPMuckraker thread) suggests that he was and remains the Bush Administration’s tool. (The email was written immediately after the Democrats took power; I’m not sure what bill is being discussed.)

From Rebecca Seidel, January 25, 2007, 5:10 PM
Just got off the phone with Matt Miner on Specter’s staff who called to discuss the hearing….[Miner asked for various sorts of information]….Re the bill: he is organizing a Republican amendment so that they have one strategy and the Democrats don’t divide and conquer. He asked if we have any amendments to please draft and get to him.
I re-sent him the talking points (as he had given his copy away – he realized we had a lot of info in there.)

It isn’t news to most Democrats that Specter is a Bush tool, but he’s been fairly successful at presenting himself to the public as an open-minded free agent. Maybe the new information will convince a few people that he’s something quite different.

So Many Enemies, So Little Time

It must be so difficult to be a right wingnut… with all the enemies under the bed that you have to keep track of. It used to be the Bush admin. CIA or State Department that was classified as “enemies of the (Bush) state.” Today it’s part of of the Bush admin. Justice Department.
Read Watch Your Back, (which title steals one of Seeing the Forest’s regular closing lines),

As another Department of Justice paper dump related to the botched firings of eight U.S. Attorneys takes place on Capitol Hill today, it is becoming increasingly clear that Department of Justice insiders have been using the controversy to perpetrate what some Bush Administration loyalists are calling a “coup.” Those activities appear to be occurring in the offices of the Deputy Attorney General and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

And get this, while people in the country are concerned that US Attorneys were fired for refusing to advance Republican corruption, Senate Republicans are using their power to investigate the whistleblowers:

The Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, is looking into improper sharing of Department of Justice personnel records by career DOJ employees with members of the legal community.
“We’ve seen evidence that some state and federal judges with ties to the Democrat Party were given personnel and performance review materials about certain U.S. Attorneys across the country,” says a Judiciary Committee staffer. “Some of the review materials were never seen by the Attorney General and his staff, but were reviewed within the Deputy Attorney General’s office, as well as by professional staff at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. [The leaks were] clearly part of a campaign to embarrass the U.S. Attorneys.”

Right-wing blog Redstate jumps in:

Continue reading