Friday, June 27, 2008

A Mormon democrat not an oxymoron : Hope for Arizona

I'm not Mormon, but here in Arizona, well, we have quite a few. In local races, the Mormon affiliation seems to be very important, if for nothing else, financing. So, I was pleased to see that, first of all, there is a site called:

Mormon Democrats

And then, there is an article to read from Utah State University:
A Mormon democrat not an oxymoron

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Aware of the Internet and its Traditions

Americans passed on acknowledged technophile Gore at the threshold of the Internet's boom.

McCain does not use a computer.

Time for a Grand Inquest

I agree with this article that the calculus has changed for whether to pursue indictments of the Administration. What with Hillary out of the race and Barack effusing making peace with the Republicans, and with McCain the GOP candidate, the Dems have NOTHING TO LOSE by pursuing impeachments, etc.


And there is the rub. According to the leading case on presidential powers, if Bush's extreme assertions of power are not challenged by the Congress, they end up not simply creating new law, they could end up rewriting the Constitution itself. Inaction can alter the Constitutional division of powers by establishing the president's claims as authority that the Congress or the courts may not infringe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wealth Condensation

Today's must read on Economics, from the university of Wikipedia, is on Wealth Condensation. Not always understood by your average citizen, the terms Income and Wealth are measured independently, and while there is an obvious correlation, they are often treated and discussed independently. Interestingly, or suspiciously, Income is discussed much more frequently and statistics on it are more readily available.

With that said, please go on to read Wealth Condensation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Shame on the New York Times, Gardiner Harris: Bush's FDA Mouthpiece

The irony here is that it was the NYT that posted the "mouthpiece for the Bush admin" type article and the WSJ that posted the corrective. What's up with that?
Shame on the apparently lazy journalist Gardiner Harris.

(from More Money for Food Safety Is Sought by Gardiner Harris)

WASHINGTON — Two days after announcing a large-scale recall of raw tomatoes, the Bush administration asked Congress on Monday to give the Food and Drug Administration an additional $275 million in next year’s budget to help improve the safety of the nation’s food supply.

“I would like to once again strongly urge Congress to act quickly to enhance the safety of food and medical products,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt in an evening conference call with reporters.

With the added money, the F.D.A. would open offices in China, India and Central America and provide more inspections of food and medical products, Mr. Leavitt said. The agency would also hire another 490 people in addition to hires the agency already planned.

“We’ll be able to expand the total workforce by 1,500 people, or 15 percent growth,” the food and drug commissioner, Andrew C. von Eschenbach, said.

The announcement comes after a series of food and drug safety problems led a panel of outside advisers to the agency to conclude that American lives were in danger because the F.D.A. lacked the money, the staff and the scientific expertise to protect them.

No mention of how disingenuous this move is by Bush's FDA.

At the end of the article we get:

That gap between the administration’s proposals and its ability to pay or plan for them has yawned so wide that in May Dr. von Eschenbach wrote an unusual letter to Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, saying the agency needed an immediate infusion of $275 million beyond the president’s budget request to ensure that imported food, drugs and medical devices were safe.

The president’s original budget request, made in February, asked Congress to provide the agency with an allocated budget for the 2009 fiscal year of $1.77 billion, which included an increase of $50.7 million over the previous year — not enough even to cover increased salary expenses at the agency. The new request for $275 million would come in addition to the earlier request for $50.7 million, Mr. Leavitt said.

At an April hearing, Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, asked Dr. von Eschenbach again and again to state a figure that would allow the agency to inspect imported food and drugs adequately. And again and again, Dr. von Eschenbach refused to give an answer.

“There’s high legislative interest in this matter. That’s gratifying,” Mr. Leavitt said Monday night. “Given that we have a budget on the table, we should get action.”

So here's the WSJ, of all places, where we get the real story, that this move undercuts efforts already underway which are, in fact, being blocked by Bush:
(from Sen Specter Says FDA Can't Even Ask for Money Properly)

Now that the FDA has gotten around to asking for $275 million more from Congress for inspections, the agency got another tongue-lashing from frequent critic Sen. Arlen Specter, who chastised HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt for compounding months of foot-dragging with a dollop of spin.

And continues:

So, the HHS and FDA have asked for the cash. But the way they did it would put FDA on tap to receive the emergency funds in March or April of next year. Specter (R-Penn.) wants it done a lot sooner, reports. “The grave problem with that is that the FDA has become a joke,” Specter told a Judiciary Committee hearing today.

Then there’s the way the FDA has presented its about-face. Lately, von Eschenbach and Leavitt have sounded like they’re the ones champing at the bit for more money while Congress dilly-dallies. “I would like to once again strongly urge Congress to act quickly to enhance the safety of food and medical products,” Leavitt told reporters in a conference call Monday night.

That really set off Specter, who wrote by hand at the bottom of a letter to Levitt: “I am really surprised by your comment quoted in The NY Times today urging Congress to act quickly when the Administration is drastically hindering NECESSARY immediate relief by delaying the funding for 8 or 9 months. The FDA NEEDS this money now to save lives.”

And its great that Arlen Specter is minding the shop, but can't some Dems step up to the plate (or are they just not getting the coverage)?

The WSJ also saw fit to wrap all this up in an article (the above was a blog):

Specter Says Bush Administration
Is Hindering Quick FDA Funding
June 11, 2008 11:54 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Arlen Specter said the Bush administration is "drastically hindering" the Food and Drug Administration's ability to quickly get an important boost in funding.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, Sen. Specter said the FDA's request on Monday for an additional $275 million wouldn't give them any money until March or April 2009 "at the earliest."

In a handwritten note on the letter, the Pennsylvania Republican said the "Administration is drastically hindering necessary immediate relief by delaying the funding for eight or nine months." He added, "FDA needs this money now to save lives."

A spokeswoman for Sen. Specter confirmed that he is referring to the Bush administration in the hand-written portion of the letter.

Sen. Specter has been working to get the agency $275 million in the fiscal 2008 supplemental appropriations bill. He said the FDA's request "undermines" the Senate's efforts to get the agency funds on an "expedited basis."

Sen. Specter acknowledged Congress is considering eliminating the FDA funding from the supplemental appropriations bill. If the bill was signed with the FDA funding intact, the FDA would have to receive the money by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

On Monday, while under pressure from recent recalls of imported drugs and other products, the FDA formally requested $275 million from Congress to pay for more inspections.

In mid-May FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach wrote a letter to Sen. Specter suggesting an additional $275 million in the wake of a series of hearings on Capitol Hill over the FDA's handling of the crisis involving contaminated heparin, a blood thinner, from China. Mr. von Eschenbach's letter wasn't a formal request and only represented his professional judgment.

Sen. Specter said in Tuesday's letter that the FDA's recent request shows a lack of urgency on the agency's behalf.

"The 81 deaths due to contaminated heparin and the one suspected death in the ongoing salmonella outbreak show that we cannot wait nine months to give FDA the resources needed to protect the public," Sen. pecter said, according to a copy of the letter.

Contaminated heparin from China has been linked to 81 deaths. Last week, the FDA said it found an additional 11 deaths tied to medical devices that contained heparin. The agency is still trying to determine whether the heparin in those cases was contaminated.

And here a link to Arlen Specter's letter as a PDF

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Michelle Obama on Countdown with Keith Olbermann


Michelle Obama: Be not afraid

She's great

Jeremiah Wright Story Clears Away Muslim Myth

I might have just not been paying attention, but has anyone remarked on how one very good consequence of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright story has probably done Obama an invaluable service. There was a whole demographic out there...the ones who, at most, read the headline of the paper on the way to work, or just watch local TV news, who generally don't follow any politics...but might in fact vote... who still thought Obama was a Muslim, and likely were not going to vote for him because of that. And given the way this demographic gets their news, no amount of concerted effort could really disuade them of the notion.

So, does the more we hear about the Rev. Wright story (which pundits say will be brought up again by the GOP) actually help Obama in this regard?

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman is back from vacation!!!

Watching History As It Happens... Scott McClellan to testify

Could one say that Scott McClellan is this generation's John Dean?

Given Obama Victory, Now Impeachment Makes Sense

I think the political calculus has changed regarding impeachment, what with Obama now the Democratic candidate. His popularity, based on perceived charisma, is immune to the potential blowback from the sensation caused by impeachment proceedings. Also, given McCain is the GOP candidate, that means the GOP presidential campaign will be boxed into a corner: either McCain is consistent with his complaints back in Bush 2003 or he has to defend Bush 2003.

The reason impeachment is so important, EVEN AT THIS LATE STAGE, is that the precedents set by Nixon were never fully addressed in law, because of the resignation and pardon, and so allowed, years later, for the Bush Administration to take huge strides towards secrecy while skirting any legal processes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hillary's Concession Speech Best EVAR!

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Truly a classic, truly motivating.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Doesn't Anyone Want to Invest in U.S.?

America's for sale. Just ask Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. With the U.S. economy in shambles, Paulson just spent four days touring the Middle East, hat in hand, looking for investors to bail us out. Specifically, on Monday, Paulson met with heads of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the world's largest "sovereign wealth fund" with roughly $875 billion in assets, and encouraged them to buy American businesses. Mortgaging America by Eric J. Weiner (LA Times Op Ed)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hillary to Concede Saturday

Dear Howard,

I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.

On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy. This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, but as I have always said, my differences with Senator Obama are small compared to the differences we have with Senator McCain and the Republicans.

I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise.

When I decided to run for president, I knew exactly why I was getting into this race: to work hard every day for the millions of Americans who need a voice in the White House.

I made you -- and everyone who supported me -- a promise: to stand up for our shared values and to never back down. I'm going to keep that promise today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life.

I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.

I know as I continue my lifelong work for a stronger America and a better world, I will turn to you for the support, the strength, and the commitment that you have shown me in the past 16 months. And I will always keep faith with the issues and causes that are important to you.

In the past few days, you have shown that support once again with hundreds of thousands of messages to the campaign, and again, I am touched by your thoughtfulness and kindness.

I can never possibly express my gratitude, so let me say simply, thank you.

Hillary Rodham Clinton