Former prime minister Tony Blair has promised to "spend the rest of my life" uniting the world's religions
He said faith could be a "civilising force in globalisation", bringing people together to solve problems such as malaria and extreme poverty.
Mr Blair, who is now a peace envoy to the Middle East, told Time magazine that religious belief had given him "strength" while in power.
Strength to advocate an unprovoked war. We could use less of that.
To the extent that it mattered, it's likely that Blair's faith led him to believe that "evil" agents were behind 9/11 and also were present in Iraq. That kind of mystical thinking has no place in government.
There are plenty of Scott McClellan criticsoutthere who don't give him any slack. Do they also have a dim view of John Dean of Watergate fame? Dean was very much an operative in the Nixon White House who, when the heat was on, testified in Congress about what he knew. According to press reports, McClellan is equally eager to talk.
The situations aren't exactly alike (they rarely are) but John Dean is viewed by most liberals as a good guy.
Racially charged comments [the Rev. Michael] Pfleger made last week mocking Obama rival Hillary Rodham Clinton — as a guest at Obama's church, no less — triggered a quick response from Obama, who wants nothing to do with a racial firestorm like the one generated by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Obama made it clear he wasn't happy with the comments — in which Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show" — and said he was "deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger's divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn't reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause."
Pfleger, too, issued an apology, saying he was sorry if his comments offended Clinton or anyone else. He did not return several calls for comment on Friday.
What a fucking moron. Pastors like Pfleger are in love with themselves and can't think critically. Anybody who has followed the news in the last couple of months would know that acting like a jerk, while a guest speaker at Obama's church, would be a problem. Now he says he's sorry. If you saw the video, and you are an Obama supporter or a Democrat looking for harmony within the party, you've got to be disgusted. Pfleger is a jive-ass honkey "playing" a soulful person (and later a fragile Hillary). His performance is incredibly false.
If you take a standard unit of offensivenes to be 1 Lanny Davis, then Pfleger rates a 3LD.
Clinton, her supporters, Obama, his supporters, and just about everybody else are right to be offended.
Jonah Goldberg's superb opening line in his "review" of McClellan's book:
Not since America’s most revered feckless crapweasel, former Vermont Sen. James Jeffords, switched parties have Beltway Republicans been more eager to sew a half-starved ferret into someone’s body cavity.
Wow. First he starts out saying that Jeffords is a "crapweasel". Not only that, but "feckless" as well. Then he out-does himself with the easy-to-comprehend metaphor of sewing "a half-starved ferret into someone’s body cavity". Sewing! Not stuffing, mind you, but getting out a needle and thread and, only then, sewing the ferret in.
What a wordsmith.
Then, just when you think Goldberg can't do any better, he says, in the webpage titled "Jonah Goldberg on Scott McClellan":
I have not read the book.
Presumably he's been too busy boycotting Dunkin' Donuts.
HERE'S THE DEAL: Up until about now, people read folks like Goldberg because he and his compatriots were connected to power. So whatever they said, however false or delusional, was something that mattered. But when the (expected) total collapse of Republicanism/conservatism is complete, people like Goldberg will be viewed like those right-wingers of half a century ago who saw floridation as a Commie plot and feared a Red under every bed. In other words, nutcases.
Apparently the Los Angeles Lakers won the Western Conference:
But you'd never know it by watching over-the-air television in Los Angeles, even though the event was sold out.
It was on TNT Sports, as was the first playoff game in the series. Other games were on ESPN. ABC had, what, one (or two) games?
So has basketball moved, for the most part, to the kind of entertainment people must pay for in order to watch on television?
What's odd is to watch the local news in Los Angeles this morning. The Lakers won the Western Conference, and the anchors and sports reporters are all happy. Fans at the stadium where the game was played are happy. Los Angeles is happy!
Or is it? How many Laker fans in the city actually watched the final game? Certainly not as many as there would have been if the game was televised "old style", by a local independent channel.
Where do I begin going into how utterly lame and stupid this is. Let me start with the energy source of this keffiyeh kerfuffle: the intellectually pathetic conservative talking head Michelle Malkin who made it her idiotic issue of the week. ...
This is yet another example of the idiot-class of commentators who target advertisers with nonsensical, intellectually lazy issues they can get away with to score a few cheap points with the crazies ...
Dunkin' Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism. ...
Critics, including conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, complained that the scarf wrapped around her looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. Critics who fueled online complaints about the ad in blogs say such scarves have come to symbolize Muslim extremism and terrorism.
The kaffiyeh, Malkin wrote in a column posted online last Friday, "has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."
A statement issued Wednesday by Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands Inc., however, said the scarf had a paisley design, and was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot.
Malkin is looking for ways to be offended, no matter how stupid the case. But that's because she trades in hate. That's the fuel for her blog. Too bad Dunkin' Donuts capitulated.
That's not to say he was blameless. But he seemed like a different kind of person when compared to, say, Ari Fleischer or Tony Snow - two people who were really irritating. McClellan was robot-like, but that seemed to be partly due to his being uncomfortable with what he was saying. And McClellan wasn't effective, which may be related to his failure to be a slick message-man. Take a look at this chart from pollkatz. The yellow area is the period when McClellan was the spokesman for the administration (Jul 03 - Apr 06):
From mid-50% approval to mid-30%. Pretty good going, huh?
That his book is critical of Bush comes as no surprise. Very approximately, McClellan was like Paul O'Neill, someone who not part of the "hard fighting" crowd (Cheney, Bartlett, Hughes, Rove).
Some people are saying that McClellan should have bugged out at the time, but it's difficult for people to do that while still deep inside the White House. Now that McClellan is away from the administration for two years, it's easier to speak out. And another thing. Instead of McClellan doing what he did as press secretary and writing a book, there could just as easily been another press secretary willing to push the Bush line and yet not write frankly about things afterwards. McClellan at least helps expose the Bush administration's irresponsible rush to war.
Attacks on McClellan's character blunt his (generally) anti-war message. It may feel good, but it's not good politics.
Potomac, MD: McClellan needs to get over himself. The nerve of blaming the media for their failures in the run-up to the War. Elisabeth Bumiller so eloquently explained how things work the night before the Iraq War started, 4,000 dead American soldiers ago: "it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time.".
Anne E. Kornblut: That's a good point. (I'm a huge Bumiller fan). To that I would add that most reporters, or at least this reporter, looked continuously for cracks in the facade internally, and the assistance of an aide such as McClellan in helping us understand the flaws is essential. I would urge all future White House aides to remember that sometimes the press can be a friend when things inside start going wrong.
Further in the on-line discussion was this:
Re. Potomac, MD: Wait a minute, Bumiller was advocating stenography. Methinks if her relative (or yours) was about to head over to Iraq, she might have done more than wait for "cracks in the facade". That's just whistling by the graveyard. Obviously, none of YOUR children, nephews or nieces will ever enlist in our Armed Forces, but you might want to develop some empathy for the countless people in flyover country who actually lose loved ones when we go to war. Not because you're a journalist, but because you're a, you know, human being.
Anne E. Kornblut: As one with a parent and two grandparents buried at Arlington Cemetery, I can tell you that this has nothing to do with taking war lightly. If anything, I think we all felt a great sense of deference toward the presidency, as an institution, and wanted to be respectful on the eve of war, trusting that any president would only take such an important step in good faith. That isn't to say we shouldn't have been more skeptical and pressed harder in print -- and I have no doubt we all will next time, if there is a next time -- but it wasn't out of cluelessness that we did not do more.
Anne E. Kornblut is the Washington Post's National Politics Reporter
If you have a chance, catch some right-wing radio today as it discusses Scott McClellan's book. Did you know McClellan is a man of low moral character (not loyal), is lying about the war, and released the book at this time for the publicity and money? McClellan is scum, etc.
Those who listen regularly to right-wing radio live in a reality of their own making, so no matter how many books that come out (Colin Powell, anyone?) saying the war was a mistake, they'll always assert Saddam had WMD that he was about to hand over to his good friends in Al Qaeda, and later hid them in Syria.
There is no inflation, nor will there be any in the immediate future:
Or so the Federal Reserve asserts. And here's the proof:
Wed May 28, 11:00 AM ET
Dow Chemical Co. will raise its prices by up to 20 percent almost immediately to offset the soaring cost of energy, and the CEO of the chemical giant lashed out at Washington on Wednesday for failing to develop a sound energy policy.
Dow supplies a broad swath of industries, from agriculture to health care, and any sizable price jump would likely affect almost all of them.
The price increases will take effect Sunday and will be based on a product's exposure to rising costs. Dow said it spent $8 billion on energy and hydrocarbon-based feedstock, or raw materials, in 2002 and that could climb fourfold to $32 billion this year.
Look for chemicals to be excluded from "core" inflation formulas. It worked for energy and food, didn't it?
... what is the fairest solution for the Rules Committee ... ?
It is rather simple. Go back, in effect, to the status quo ante and make some reasonable and fair adjustments.
In Michigan, Clinton received 55 percent of the vote. According to Thegreenpapers.com, she thus should receive 73 pledged delegates based on that percentage.
What about the 50 remaining uncommitted delegates, and 7 collectively cast for Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, who were also on the ballot?
Some of those 50 delegates might have been for Clinton as a second choice to candidates other than Obama, so it would be totally unfair to award all 50 delegates to Obama. ...
The Rules Committee has several options. The fairest would be to allocate those 57 pledged delegates, to Clinton and Obama by the same ratio of their standing to one another in the average of the most recent Michigan statewide polls prior to the Jan. 15 primary.
By Davis' reckoning, "uncommitted" includes hidden Hillary supporters, in a ratio proportional to state wide polls, even though Hillary was on the ballot opposite "uncommitted". Davis doesn't really believe in this. It's simply a maximalist position from which the Clinton camp can "compromise" from. And another thing. Why not simply let the "uncommitted" go to the convention as uncommitted?
The upshot of Davis' chutzpah is that Clinton should get 102 out of 130 delegates in Michigan. ...
There is no conceivable way that Clinton would have won Michigan by a margin of 102 - 28, or 78 to 22 percent, a far bigger margin than Clinton win in any other primary or caucus. And yet that's what the Clintonites are demanding.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Bush and his wife, Laura, traveled from the White House across the Potomac River to the rolling hillsides of Arlington National Cemetery, where he first placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and then went to an amphitheater to speak breezily of those "who voluntarily put on the uniform", using the exact same language as Cheney did earlier this year.
While at the Tomb of the Unknowns, he cracked a smile, and said "Don Rumsfeld told me that there are known unknown soldiers. There are also unknown unknown soldiers. Here at Arlington, we're dealing with known unknown soldiers. If only all of life were that simple."
The president then walked over to the graveyard. Turning towards the assembled crowd Bush said, "The Iraq War was waged to find weapons of mass destruction that Chalabi assured us existed. They have got to be somewhere." He walked behind the tombstone of Keith Shepard, killed in an IED attack in 2005, and remarked, "Nope, no weapons over here!" Bush then moved over to the tombstone of Adam Harris, also killed in Iraq, and joked, "Maybe under here?"
There were murmurs from the crowd and Bush, sensing that they were unamused, scowled and said, "Look I've given up golf since I hurt my knee, so I've sacrificed for this war. And anyway, Dick Cheney has said that I carry the biggest burden, so if I can joke about it, you can too."
Memorial Day is one holiday that tends to have retailers promoting various "Sell-a-brations", but this year the advertising seems to be muted. Sure, there is the occasional Ford automobile commercial, but other than that, not much.
Have retailers determined that, given comsumer sentiment and high gasoline prices, it's not worth spending a whole lot on advertising?
I am running for all those women in their 90s who've told me they were born before women could vote, and they want to live to see a woman in the White House.
Identity politics, which many Democrats seem to think is a good thing, has one problem. Whichever group that's being championed at the moment runs the risk of alienating all the other out-groups. Also, it pretty much puts policy and competence aside as a campaign issue.
Hillary Clintons' strange notion of referencing time:
It's baffling why Hillary has spoken about Robert Kennedy's assassination more than once this year. It's one thing to talk about it in terms of the Kennedy history, or violence in American politics, but she's using it as a calendar reference.
It's like saying:
"Hey, it's not too late to go skiing, because we all rember that uncle Herb died in an automobile accident while driving to the slopes in May."
Will Hillary Clinton's remark about campaigns running into June, like when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, have legs? Will it still be in the air a week from now (May 31) when Michigan and Florida delegate representation is decided?
It's awful optics on a number of levels: Teddy Kennedy is ill. Robert Kennedy was a serious candidate when he was gunned down. It's historically irrelevant (California and other states don't have primaries in June anymore).
UPDATE: This is an issue of competence. A seasoned pol isn't going to talk in front of the press about Robert Kennedy's assissination, if they are a candidate for president in an election year, a few days before the anniversary of the event, while discussing reasons for staying in the race. It's stupid.
UPDATE2: The good news for Hillary is that this broke on a Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. A lot of big-name pundits are off on vacation and the public is focusing on barbeques and Indy racing. The topic may fade.
Fox's hugely popular search for the next singing sensation started its fourth season last week with a series of vicious encounters between hopeful but pathetically untalented young people and celebrity judges being paid to make fun of them. While the contests do not feature bare breasts or four-letter words, they send a truly dreadful message to millions of young viewers about the proper way to treat fellow human beings.
The producers seem to feel it's funny to watch a trio of wealthy and famous adults making fun of a simple 16-year-old girl whose only sin was being "pretty sure I have a good voice" when she didn't.
... viewers are invited to roar while young people who in many cases appear to be poor, of low intelligence or even mildly disturbed, sing enthusiastically and then stand gape-mouthed with shock while their heroes insult them on national television.
I've never understood the appeal of that show, especially the early rounds. It's very much a conservative-themed "make fun of someone worse off than you" kind of affair. Hey look! There's a guy who lost his leg in a traffic accident. He walks funny. Ha Ha!
You've heard of the bobblehead doll that baseball teams love to hand out to fans. So how about a bobblefoot? The St. Paul Saints are putting their own twist on the popular promotion, in a nod to one of the most notorious Minnesota stories of last year. At Sunday's game, they'll give 2,500 fans a miniature bathroom stall with a pair of lower legs and feet - one of which is springloaded so that it taps.
A Saints press release notes that, "It doesn't matter if your tapping style is done with a 'wide stance.'" That's a not-so-subtle reference to Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer arrested him for allegedly soliciting sex in a bathroom stall at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
LA Times: If Clinton gets what she wants out of MI and FL, picking up 111 delegates (best case), she's still behind by 180 delegates. What's the path to the nomination since she'd still be behind.
Wolfson: Good question. That's why I spoke to the polls. Our case has to be made on who is the best candidate against John McCain, and the best president. We will continue to say. Look at the data. We're ahead in the key swing states, we've won key swing states. Look at the map. How do you get to 270 electoral votes?
By the Clinton camp's own reckoning, delegates don't matter. Therefore, Hillary Clinton's marching around Florida and stirring up resentment, is nothing more than a poison-the-state-for-Obama move.
The Field can now confirm, based on multiple sources, something that both campaigns publicly deny: that Senator Clinton has directly told Senator Obama that she wants to be his vice presidential nominee, and that Senator Obama politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably said “no.” Obama is going to pick his own running mate based on his own criteria and vetting process.
Jonah Goldberg penned some remarks about George Packer's New Yorker article, "The Fall of Conservatism". In an overview of the debate, Kevin Drum wrote:
... the Republican Party has been brought low ...
The real problem is that people have gotten tired of war, they've gotten tired of the relentless and cynical defense of economic privilege, they've gotten tired of a refusal to even attempt solutions of real-life problems ...
Earlier that day Andrew Sullivan responded to a post by Ezra Klein. First, here's Ezra:
[Conservatives] don't have solutions for 47 million Americans without health insurance. ... They don't have solutions for high gas prices, or a credit and mortgage crisis ...
Now here's Andrew:
Conservatism is not, to my mind, about solving problems ...
Its responses to emergent questions will not be an attempt to "solve" them, but to ameliorate them with a narrow set of tools. And the narrower the better.
This is a fundamental debate.
Should the government involve itself with retirement and disability insurance (e.g. Social Security)?
Should the government involve itself with energy policy (e.g. fuel standards)?
Should the government involve itself with environmental problems (e.g. emission controls)?
Conservatives say no, or hardly at all. Others (liberals, and presumably many moderates) say yes.
It's one thing to argue for seating the Florida delegation, but going to Florida to tell Floridians that if things don't work out the way Hillary wants, that it's the equivalent of JimCrow/Zimbabwe/2000-Bush-Gore.
The foray into Florida only poisons the state for November, should Obama win the nomination. It's hard to see what the point is of Hillary's visit. Or is it?
CODA: Your go-to blogger on this topic is John Cole. He's mad.
Living in California, one got the impression that the rest of the nation wasn't feeling the pressure of higher gasoline prices - at least not so much. California gasoline prices have tended to be 25 cents higher than elsewhere, so when national news outlets were reporting on $3.25 a gallon in Ohio, it didn't seem so bad for them, especially when someone in Los Angeles was shelling out $3.50. And while there has been a change in behavior in California (driving less, outrage over prices), one wondered if that was confined to the Golden State.
Apparently that may change. Chicago and Long Island, to take two moderately representative high-population regions, now have higher gas prices:
This is puzzling. California has fuel formula requirements, taxes, and consumer demand that usually make it the price-leader for gasoline. What's changed that makes Chicago and Long Island beat it?
Today Samuelson writes about the concerns of the middle class:
It's not just factory workers and low-paid service employees but also managers and engineers [who are worried]. Companies downsize. Older workers exit in buyouts. Companies raise health insurance premiums. The reliable "defined benefit" pension (which paid a fixed monthly amount) has given way to the riskier 401(k) -- vulnerable to bad investment decisions and sinking stocks.
One way of protecting against a total loss for retirement is the federal Social Security Insurance program. What does Samuelson have to say about that?
Nothing in today's column. But he has written about it before:
May 14 08: Of necessity, spending cuts should focus on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These programs are projected to grow from about 45 percent of the present budget to 70 percent over a couple of decades. ... raising eligibility ages for baby boomers and cutting some benefits are unfair. People should have received more warning.
Feb 20 08: Spending for retirees -- mainly Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- is already nearly half the federal budget. ... we should gradually raise the eligibility ages for these programs and trim benefits for wealthier retirees.
Oct 3 07: Spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- three big programs that serve the elderly -- already represents more than 40 percent of the federal budget. In 2006, these three programs cost $1.1 trillion, more than twice defense spending. [One solution is] cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- higher eligibility ages or lower benefits for wealthier retirees
Samuelson doesn't like Social Security. Why else would he repeatedly lump it with Medicare and Medicaid, two programs that do have funding problems, and then call for cuts in all three?
I'd really like to see what happens if Hillary Clinton got the nomination. There would be a good chance of a break-up of the Democratic party, at least for this year. Would a 'reform' branch of the Democratic party try to run with Obama, or maybe someone else? (Edwards, Dodd)
From a purely political-dynamics perspective, how that would play out would be fascinating.
Right now, severalbloggersarefumingover Clinton's vow to take the fight to the convention. It's hard to see how she could keep the party united if she gets the nomination due to, in part, the Michigan votes. Where is the legitimacy in that?
The Hillary campaign sends out a memo hitting Obama for allegedly planning to declare victory tomorrow night, if he secures a majority of the pledged delegates after tomorrow's voting. Here's the key graf...
Senator Obama's plan to declare himself the Democratic nominee tomorrow night in Iowa is a slap in the face to the millions of voters in the remaining primary states and to Senator Clinton's 17 million supporters.
Really? A slap in the face? That brings up images of domestic violence, doesn't it? (And given the context, it creates an image of violence against women.) It's sure to hurt any political reconciliation later this year.
Where are the pro-Hillary bloggers who have (rightly) condemned Chris Matthews for his violence-metaphors* now that the Hillary campaign is doing the same thing?
Carpetbagger Report has a post about Stevens and how a McCain presidency would affect the balance on the Supreme Court.
The thing of it is, most of these discussions use the following scenario:
2008 election takes place
John McCain wins
Stevens leaves the court (resignation or health)
President McCain names a replacement
But what if the order was different.
Stevens announces a pending resignation (or leaves) prior to November of this year.
2008 election takes place
The winner is ...?
There is some focus on the Supreme Court already, but it's not much. If Stevens hints of a departure, you can be damn sure the campaign would be lively. It also might bring disaffected women to Obama (if he gets the nomination), a concern David Corn has written about.
This also applies to Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is not in the best of health. At the time Clinton nominated her, it was clear that he had picked someone too old (60), given that the Republicans now select young justices:
Antonin Scalia (on court at age 50)
Clarence Thomas (43)
Anthony Kennedy (54)
David Souter (51)
John Roberts (50)
Samuel Alito (56)
Beginning with Reagan, the average age of a Republican-appointed justice has been 50.
(a portmanteau word combining "biology" and "conservatism") is a stance of hesitancy about technological development especially if it is perceived to threaten a given social order. Strong bioconservative positions include opposition to genetic modification of food crops, the cloning and genetic engineering of farm and companion animals, and, most prominently, rejection of the genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive modification of human beings to overcome what are broadly perceived as current human biological and cultural limitations.
Bioconservatives range in political perspective from right-leaning religious and cultural conservatives to left-leaning environmentalists and technology critics. What unifies bioconservatives is skepticism about medical and other biotechnological transformations of the living world.
... the bioconservative perspective is characterized by its defense of the natural, deployed as a moral category.
I have not yet seen Prince Caspian, the Narnia movie that opens on Friday, but the early reviews look encouraging.
It certainly promises to be a movie for our times. Of the seven Narnia books, Prince Caspian is the most militaristic. There's a big battle scene in the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, of course. Yet it's a relatively small part of the book—it takes up roughly a single paragraph. Prince Caspian is different. One of its major themes is just warfare, and there's plenty of fighting ...
If Hollywood wants to make a mint at the box office, it will produce a Black Hawk Down-style film about Marines in Fallujah. Americans will flock to buy tickets. But Hollywood refuses to meet this demand. Instead, we're bombarded by a series of anti-war flicks that few people want to see. On occasion, however, we get excellent films such as 300, which appreciates the importance of martial valor. Here's to hoping that Prince Caspian is equally subversive.
"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."
AUGUSTA, Ga., Feb. 26 -- President Eisenhower, on his first journey out of Washington since he became President, flew into Augusta for a three-day stay late today with a single determination: to break 90 on the tough par 72 Augusta National Golf Club course, scene of the famed Masters' Tournament.
[He was] an American Unitarian minister, influential in California politics during the American Civil War.
During the Civil War, he spoke zealously in favor of the Union and was credited by Abraham Lincoln with saving California from becoming a separate republic.
Who is the replacement? Ronald Reagan.
How did that come about?
On August 31, 2006, the California Legislature approved a joint resolution to replace Thomas Starr King’s statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of Ronald Reagan. The resolution was authored by [Republican] State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth ...
In regard to his reason for removing the statue, Hollingsworth told the San Francisco Chronicle, “To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure who Thomas Starr King was, and I think there’s probably a lot of Californians like me.”
Renaming Washington National Airport wasn't enough. Reagan simply doesn't have enough statues and memorials out there. Better toss out someone influential in keeping the Union together with its fight over slavery, and replace it with a governor who became president.
Because, you can't expect a California Republican state Senator to know much about the history of the state he's serving.
Bush goes to Saudi Arabia to request help with oil supply (and related pricing). He gets nothing. Back in the day (Kissinger, Zbig, et al) when a president whent somewhere, no matter how big or small, there was always something agreed upon beforehand. But not with Bush. It's let's-make-a-deal on the spot. Who expects Bush to be a good negotiator?
This administration is simply marking time until they leave in January.
SPECIAL NOTICE: I put this post up last night, then pulled because it was intemperate and likely to offend readers. Now it's up again because I'm still angry about what I'm reading on various liberal/left blogs. It's probably going to offend you, so apologies in advance.
Here's what's going on. I live in California. I know people dependent on California state support services and have helped them navigate the system. I follow the action in the state legislature and the reality is that more Democrats are needed there to enact fair taxation to pay for services for the poor and unfortunate (instead we get a circus of silly tax and revenue proposals). These are basic dollars-and-cents/food-in-the-belly issues, especially critical given the state's current budget problems. Services are not keeping pace with population or inflation. In fact they are being cut back in a number of places. To cite one example to give you an idea of the situation:
In order to qualify for the state's version of MediCaid (MediCal) you cannot have assets over $2,000 (excluding your car). That number hasn't been revised upwards since 2002. It's already a ridiculously low number and failure to adjust means that poor people are being denied medical services.
MORE: When Gavin Newsom went handing out marriage certificates in 2004 and the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled allowing gay marriage, I was worried that it would hurt Democrats that election year. With the several-state initiatives that Rove supported, a good case can be made that it hurt Kerry. It could have made the difference, preventing Roberts and Alito from being on the Supreme Court for decades.
I see yesterday's ruling in a similar manner: the practical effect is that it will make it harder to help the poor and unfortunate (an umbrella category that covers job loss and illness, to mention two).
I'll conclude this section with a thought-experiment: Let's say that you live in California, are gay, and in an already-established civil union. Let's say that you are also poor and need MediCal and other state safety-net services. Are you going to be happy the California court ruled the way it did? You get a change in the name of your union (from "civil" to "marriage"), no additional legal guarantees, but enhanced "dignity" (according to the court). You also get a riled-up conservative base ready to head to the polls in November to vote to reverse the court ruling and also to vote Republican.
Many liberal/left bloggers are celebrating the California Supreme Court's ruling. Here is part of what it said: (emp add)
... because of the long and celebrated history of the term "marriage" and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples.
Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term "marriage" is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship.
Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.
There is a parallel institution for gay unions
It's got a different name
This is deemed unacceptable by the court
What this ruling will do is motivate conservatives to come out and vote in November for a ballot initiative that will reverse the court. In addition, it will enhance the ability of Republicans to win seats for Congress, the state Senate and Assembly. That will end up hurting the poor and unfortunate on real tangible issues, like qualification rules for MediCal (the state's version of Medicaid) and funding for low-income programs (energy, food, welfare), emergency services, urban transit, and so on. That loss for the poor will be compensated by having gay unions being allowed to use the term "marriage" for reasons of stature and dignity. The court's ruling will not provide any additional legal benefits (hospital visits, joint-estate, survivor benefits, etc).
This is symbolism trumping the hard realities facing the poor and unfortunate. Is it worth it?
As Kevin Drum points out, acceptance of gay "marriage" is steadily growing, but still several years away from a solid majority. The trend is clear. The benefits are purely verbal (since civil union laws duplicate marriage privileges). The costs could be substantial. Instead of 10 years of better support for the poor, liberals are excited that they can use the term "marriage" for gays 10 years before it becomes normative.
If the court's ruling would have affected gay unions so that they would enjoy some legal benefits that only the officially "married" have, that would be one thing. But the only change is one of words and claims that an amorphous, unproven, social status revision will take place. From the dissent: "California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow."
Checking California right-wing outlets (blogs, radio), they are very excited with this ruling. They think that it will help revive the moribund Republican party in the fall. They're probably correct.
[O]ur task in this proceeding is not to decide whether we believe, as a matter of policy, that the officially recognized relationship of a same-sex couple should be designated a marriage rather than a domestic partnership, but instead only to determine whether the difference in official names of the relationships violates the California Constitution.
... some people are saying this gay marriage decision will doom the Democrats again, and I had two quick reactions: I honestly don't think so, and if it does, that's just the way it is.
California is unable to raise income taxes because of the need for a 2/3 majority in the legislature, and the Republicans always stop such efforts. If Democrats could win more elections then they could enact progressive tax schemes and wouldn't end up facing regressive sales taxes as a way to get out of the current budget dilemma (as detailed here). Joan Walsh is saying that if the California Supreme Court ruling on the use of the word "marriage" leads to Democrats losing at the polls and more misery for those already struggling, hey, that's just the way it is.
... Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties."
This would be the Osama bin Laden who was behind the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil. The Osama bin Laden who remains at large 7 1/2 years later. The Osama bin Laden that most Americans would prefer to see captured over any Iraq venture.
Yet here we have Bush invoking his name, as a threat, without embarrassment.
ALSO: Get a load of this from Bush:
Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it.
Who are these "some people"? Bush is referring to U.S. residents (with the "our problems" line) but who, exactly? Is there anyone outside the Aryan Nation that is calling for the U.S. to break ties with Israel?
The National Review is having a "post election" cruise (Nov 8 - 15) when passengers will mingle with Mitt Romney, Victor Davis Hanson, Bernard Lewis, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Brent Bozel, and many more.
We read that President George Bush claims that he gave up golf in August 2003 to show solidarity with, and respect for, US soldiers serving in Iraq.
So how does that square with his "joke" about searching for WMD in the Oval Office, that he spoke about during the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association, which took place in March of 2004.
Oh, and he didn't give up golf when he said he did, in case you were wondering.
The win by a Democrat in Mississippi's special election is substantial. What will the Republicans do in the wake of that? What message do they have? It would seem that finally, the glories of an unregulated market and a minimal safety-net have faded. It's hard to see what kind of ecomomic platform they can come up with that will be attractive to voters. Not that ecomomics was their strong suit, but it will be determinative this fall.
And talking up foreign affairs or various "patriotic" themes just makes them seem out of touch. So what can they do?
"Eighty-two percent of Americans now say the country's seriously off on the wrong track, up 10 points in the last year to a point from its record high in polls since 1973. And 31 percent approve of Bush's job performance overall, while 66 percent disapprove."
Key finding: "Bush now has gone 40 months without majority approval, beating Truman's record (also during economic discontent and an unpopular war) of 38 months from 1949-52."
40 months is 3 years (36m) + January, February, March, April.
40 months takes you back to before January 2005.
George W. Bush has never broken 50% at any time during his second term. That's a first.
How else to explain this part of his review of Feith's book:
Unfortunately ... the administration allowed its critics to frame the issue around the fact that stockpiles of weapons weren't found.
So, when Bush spent much of his 2003 State of the Union address on WMD (1000 words), that was the work of "administration critics" to frame the issue. Same for Colin Powell waving a vial of talcum powder at the UN one month laterr. Behold the power of administration critics to take the Bush administration off-message.
When you're hoping to ascend to the presidency seven years after qualifying for Medicare, folks are going to have some concerns about your fitness to serve four, and more to the point, eight, years in office. So for McCain, a solid VP pick isn't merely a political good or a fun parlor game: It's something of a threshold question. If voters can't imagine the VP taking office, then they probably won't let McCain get there, either.
What are the chances of a VP ascending to the top spot, given that a president is 72 years old?
Looking at the Actuarial Life Table at the Social Security website and doing the math, it looks like there is a 14% chance of someone age 72 dying within 4 years.
Bob Herbert is mad at the Clintons and doesn't mince words. He's upset with the recent hard-working/white claim by Hillary, but also goes back to discuss the pardons issued at the end of Bill's term and the way they left office:
It wasn’t just the pardons that sullied the Clintons’ exit from the White House. They took furniture and rugs from the White House collection that had to be returned. And they received $86,000 in gifts during the president’s last year in office, including clothing (a pantsuit, a leather jacket), flatware, carpeting, and so on. In response to the outcry over that, they decided to repay the value of the gifts.
Interesting to read the comment in the lower corner: "Just so they never come back."
NOTE: I've had that caroon saved on my computer for years. Would look at it every so often and always thought it was funny - it's a very good illustration with lots of detail. Now there's an excuse (Herbert) to put it on the blog.
A president is expected to be a patriotic symbol himself, not the arbiter of patriotic symbols. He is supposed to be the face-painted superfan at every home game; to wear red, white and blue boxers on special marital occasions; to get misty-eyed during the most obscure patriotic hymns.
Yup, nothing like (literally!) wearing the flag the night of a wedding anniversary.
Since Reconstruction, the Blue Dog element within the Democratic Party has gone from dominant majority, to significant minority to what it is today -- a declining coalition of conflicted complainers. Among the blessings of building a non-southern Democratic majority is that there is greater intraparty ideological cohesion, thus marginalizing Blue Dogs and their hand-wringing interference with emerging liberal project.
California has a budget problem and this is what Democrats are proposing:
... Assemblyman Jim Beall (D-San Jose) ... hopes to see a $1.80 tax added to the price of every six-pack of beer sold in the state.
Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello) ... proposed some of the Legislature's more unconventional measures, including taxes on digital downloads and adult entertainment. His proposal would empower state authorities to collect sales tax on the downloads, increasing the cost of a typical 99-cent song to roughly $1.07. Calderon projects that the bill (AB 1956), which could also apply to pornography downloads, cellphone ring-tones, online books and feature films distributed on the Internet, would raise about $500 million for the state budget.
[Calderon] hasn't been able to get more traction for another proposal: a 25% tax on sex toys, strip shows, pornographic magazines and videos and anything else sold in an "adult entertainment venue."
Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles) is targeting a wider group of consumers. Almost every Californian would bear some of the brunt of his proposal to charge a 25-cent tax on every plastic carryout bag from stores.
These taxes are not scaled on a person's ability to pay (which is better measured by income, or a proxy for wealth like assets). Proposing these taxes play into the hands of Republicans. If the Democrats aren't going after the wealthy on taxes, why not vote for Republicans who won't go after the wealthy or the little person?
The problem is that many Democrats think that they can get away with taxes if they support some sort of moral ethic: alcohol is bad for you, electronic "stuff" is frivolous, porn is bad, fewer plastic bags is real progress in helping the environment. That may be virtuous for a progressive, but not for a liberal. A liberal would not try to guide individual choice (at least not so much and not through taxes). Who cares if someone is reading a Great Book as opposed to Hustler? Taxation should be on ability to pay, not a predilection for "vices".
[Regarding what Atrios said.] Hillary Clinton this week:
“Because for too long we have let places like West Virginia slip out of the Democratic column and you know it is a fact that no Democratic president has ever won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia.”
Okay. Because she said "since 1916", that excludes 1916 when Woodrow Wilson won (but didn't carry West Virginia). Because she said "no Democratic president", that excludes 1920, 1924, 1928, 1952, 1952, 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004. So it's Roosevelt (4 times), Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton (2).
Going through the records, the following states always went Democratic when a Democrat won the presidency (since 1916):
Massachusetts (primary won by Clinton)
Minnesota (caucus won by Obama)
Missouri (primary won by Obama)
Rhode Island (primary won by Clinton)
Whoopee! There's nothing interesting here. If anything, Missouri's orientation in the general election correlates better with the national result. But that has nothing to do with primaries results. Hillary Clinton's "argument" is nugatory.
Kudos to the web designers at the Washington Post for an excellent heavy load page. This one, Decision Time for Clinton, features 1,100 words of the basic story, which is a tiny part of the half-meg HTML file which contains over 750 comments.
It's not just the download, which would choke anyone still unfortunate to have a dial-up connection. Try navigating up and down when the scroll button is only 8 pixels tall (and that includes the shadow line).
Even as doubts were raised about Hillary Clinton’s ability to continue in the race, the New York senator spent part of Wednesday evening energizing some of her most important supporters. A crowd of 1,500 gathered at the “Generations of Women for Hillary” fundraiser at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, paying at least $250 a plate and helping to raise about $1 million for the campaign.
“I’ve been counted out more than once. But thanks to all of you I’ve come back,” Clinton said, earning a thunderous, extended ovation. She later added, “When I was counted out in New Hampshire, it was the women of New Hampshire who came back and said, ‘No, she’s not finished yet.’ When I was counted out before Super Tuesday it was women from California to Massachusetts who came and said ‘No, we’re not finished yet.’ When I was counted out before Ohio, before Indiana, we have always come back.”
If you read the Op-Ed The 18-Cent Solution and wondered what the heck was going on, here's your answer. The author Bryan Caplan is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. (which the Times fails to inform)
How else to explain the following points he makes in favor of a summertime Gas Holiday:
"the tax holiday is a relatively cheap symbolic gesture that makes truly bad policies less likely" Where "bad policies" are "a salad of populist nonsense: price controls, rationing, windfall profits taxes, arcane loopholes and lots of lawsuits"
"it won’t cost much — the estimated $9 billion in lost revenue is about $30 per person. That’s not a bad price to pay for a little insurance against a rerun of misguided ’70s measures"
[Even if all the gains go to the oil companies, this] "'giveaway' to the oil industry sets a positive course for the future"
"that oil companies might pocket most of the tax cut could easily be a good thing. It helps cancel out the negative legacy of the last energy crisis"
"In a perfect world, policymakers would respond to energy crises with benign neglect."
"it’s better for [policymakers] to balance their abuse of the oil industry with an occasional olive branch"
Forget the fact that oil companies are making massive profits. You see, they were hurt 35 years ago and so we must now make it up to them in order to give "businesses an incentive to figure out how to increase output". Apparently they don't have the incentive to increase output with oil at record levels. Also, his claim that the oil companies would hustle, is betrayed by his own remark that "it takes a while to build a new refinery", so why the largess to Big Oil?
And if the $9 billion doesn't go into the Highway Trust fund, and roads deteriorate, then drivers will have an incentive to figure out how to get across town without damaging their cars. Or something like that.
The most offensive point he makes is this:
"In a perfect world, policymakers would respond to energy crises with benign neglect."
That is factually wrong. In California, due to energy standards set by the state, per-capita use has held steady for decades while it has risen for the rest of the country. "Benign neglect" is not the optimal way to go, although it does allow businesses to pursue goals that maximize short-term profits for whatever dynamic is currently in play, without any consideration of the country's long-term well being (and sometimes even an industry's well being).
In case you haven't guessed, Caplan is a fierce supporter of Free Trade.
A total libertarian ideologue. And he doesn't like democracy much either.
EXTRAS: A capsule (unfavorable) bio here, where we learn that:
Columnist Jonah Goldberg, “20/20” co-anchor John Stossel, and former presidential economic advisor Gregory Mankiw have all praised Caplan’s work.
A critical review of Caplan's book at The American Prospect here.
LASTLY: Ever heard of the CampusProgress.org website? It's interesting.
Amazingly close in Indiana. Two percentage point win by Clinton in what was supposed to be unfavorable terrain for Obama. It will be interesting to learn if Hillary's summer Gas Tax Holiday pitch boomeranged. And there will be speculation that if Jeremiah Wright hadn't been in the news, then Obama would have won Indiana and wrapped up the race.
What next for Clinton? Probably a renewed emphasis on Florida and Michigan.
That was false. Played on ABC's World News Tonight (and discussed at ABC's Political Punch website), what she actually said was:
Why don't we hold these Wall Street money-brokers responsible for their role in this recession?
The audio is clear. Reporting that Clinton used an inflammatory expression like "Wall Street money-grubbers" without being really sure, is unforgivable. Rick Pearson of the Tribune, failed miserably in this regard.
In the hours following the speech, which was delivered before a pair of the largest flags I have every seen draped across the width of Main Street, I got more and more depressed. Not only did Clinton’s speech avoid anything remotely resembling a respect for the challenges and contributions that science poses and offers society, but she seemed to go out of her way to appeal to an anti-intellectual strain that her advisers must have told her holds sway in the largely Republican county in which she found herself.
The only common theme to emerge from the 30-minute ramble was an attack on our enemies. China is the enemy for selling us lead-contaminated toys and poison pet food. The Saudis are the enemy for exploiting our addition to oil. The rest of OPEC, too. And worst of all are those evil, parasitic “middlemen” who pop up in every corner of the economy, ready to take a cut and give back nothing.
Cole writes: (emp add)
Why doesn’t she just change her name to Huey Long? Seriously, though- when did this happen? I remember when Hilary was the detached policy wonk, who coldly and coolly analyzed problems, and now she has morphed into some unsophisticated bubba who hates the man, hates ideas, and hates everything but joe six-pack and his shotgun and coon hound. ... She isn’t campaigning or trying to sell her ideas- she is publicly airing an enemies list. ... A link to the OPEC suing nonsense. I can’t believe this is not getting more attention, it is so damned crazy.
Hillary's quote at the link:
“We’re going to go after OPEC which remember is a monopoly cartel. There's nothing free-market about it. They sit in some conference room a couple of times a year and decide how much oil they are going to produce and how much they are going to charge for it. So lets change our laws so we can sue them on anti-trust reasons.”
Yes, Jeremiah Wright says some disgraceful things. But can anyone explain how that changes Obama's qualities as a candidate? Is anyone suggesting that an Obama administration would view AIDS as a government plot to kill African Americans?
Of course not. The concern is that an Obama administration would use AIDS to kill whites. By putting the virus into vaccines. Or mixing the AIDS genetic code with arugula. All the while playing four-beat music with emphasis on the first and third beat (to interfere with their left-brain thinking). That's what's scary.
There was a man in the last century who railed against financial-type "money grubbers" who were, in his view, responsible for the economic problems of the day. Hillary's choice of words is most unfortunate. But Clinton is trying to appeal to the Volk, so maybe that's why she said it.
Now, we also know that investing in infrastructure creates jobs. The estimates are pretty reliable. For every $1 billion spent on fixing crumbling infrastructure creates nearly 48,000 jobs.
But instead of investing in the infrastructure of the future and growing our economy, we continue to make do. We patch and repair. We ignore the advice of our engineers, economists, businesses, unions, community leaders. We try to build our children's future with our grandparents' infrastructure. And we are falling further and further behind.
Hillary Clinton yesterday, in reponse to the fact that no economists support her summer gas tax holiday plan:
Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists ...
Digby gives a link to the Telegraph's main page for an article on The 50 most influential US political pundits. That one is okay, with "only" 143 comments. But to see who the top 10 are, click on this link. That page has a mere 1260 words on the ten pundits, but also 1088 comments (so far) in an HTML file which is just under 1 Meg (917K).
Bravo, Telegraph web designers!
Oh, and the reason for clicking was to determine who was ranked 5 (it was a picture of two people on Digby's blog). Turns out it's "JOHN HARRIS AND JIM VANDEHEI, Founders of Politico.com"
That seems to be the solution for health care in the United States, at least if thisNew York Times story is an accurate portrayal of what's going on. Some lowlights:
Many of the 158 million people covered by employer health insurance are struggling to meet medical expenses that are much higher than they used to be ...
... the coverage many people have may not adequately protect them from the financial shock of an emergency room visit or a major surgery.
... the soft economy is making some insured people hesitant to get care they need ...
Since the recession of 2001, the employee’s average cost of an annual health care premium for family coverage has nearly doubled — to $3,300, up from $1,800 — while incomes have come nowhere close to keeping up.
... for the underinsured, coverage can seem like health insurance in name only — adequate only as long as they have no medical problems.
“There’s a real shift in the burden of health care to people who happen to be sick”
The Times points out:
Among employers, the hardest pressed may be small businesses. Their insurance premiums tend to be proportionately higher than ones paid by large employers, because small companies have little bargaining clout with insurers.
And individuals have even less clout. Yet "individualizing" health care was what Bush called for when he debated Kerry. The logic was that, by doing so, it would result in some sort of frothy-competition which would turn health insurance into a buyer's market. Bush was explicit in the third debate (14 October 2004):
Health care costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved in the decision-making process. Most health care costs are covered by third parties, and therefore, the actual user of health care is not the purchaser of health care. And there's no market forces involved with health care.
That's true for certain goods, like a can of peas, where the item is easy to evaluate, a mistake doesn't cost much, and all buyers are treated equally. Health care is definitely not like that.
UPDATE: Over at TNR there is an article on McCain-Care. Second paragraph:
[McCain is saying] Let's encourage people to drop their employer insurance and shop for coverage on their own, he said, since that will create a vibrant market in which people can find better bargains. And since some people will still have trouble paying for insurance, let's give them a tax credit that would help offset the cost.
I offer a genuinely conservative vision for health care reform, which preserves the most essential value of American lives - freedom. Conservatives believe in the pursuit of personal, political and economic freedom for everyone. We believe that free people may voluntarily unite, but cannot be compelled to do so, and that the limited government that results best protects our individual freedom. In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care. We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs.
The firm conclusion from that is that McCain would like to dismantle Medicare.
CHEAP SHOT: Again, from McCain's speech:
The final important principle of reform is to rediscover our sense of personal responsibility. We must personally do everything we can to prevent expensive, chronic diseases. Our rights in this country are protected by our personal sense of responsibility for our own well being. Cases of diabetes are going up, not only in the baby boom generation, but among younger Americans obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are all on the rise.
McCain is a three-time survivor of melanoma, the potentially deadly skin cancer. Where was the sense of personal responsibility about that? Did McCain stay indoors all day in the summer? Wear a hat? Leave Arizona for a state with fewer sunny days?
“Now, I see that sign over there. A guy's got a sign that’s saying ‘A Gas Tax Holiday is Blatant Pandering.’ Now, I’ll tell you what. I’d rather have the oil companies pay the gas taxes than you pay the gas taxes this summer. I'll tell you something else. When the Federal Reserve and the Federal Treasury bailed out Bear Sterns to the tune of $30 billion, I didn’t hear about it being pandering.”
Let's see. Ben Bernanke is not a politician running for office, so a "pandering" charge would be inappropriate. But setting that word-issue aside, Clinton is suggesting that relief for Bear Stearns was greeted without any dissent. That's not true at all. Maybe there was no outrage at the Wall Street Journal, but virtually everywhere else there was dismay, along with calls for reform and regulation of investment banks.
When Hillary speaks, often times the listener is wondering, "What's the point here?" She defends herself against a pandering charge by:
Not denying it.
Saying that a pander-free action by someone else wasn't called pandering at the time.
Anyone familiar with logic must be wondering what's going on.
ALSO: Don't you just love those webpages (ABC's Political Radar, NYTimes The Caucus) where, if taken to a post's perma-link, you get the post and every single comment - which can run into the hundreds (and bog down your browser). Those pages can range in size from 400K to 3 Meg of HTML - which must be a catastrophe for anyone still with dial-up. Good design would gate the comments to, say, 50 per page. And no nested tables. Get with it guys!