Friday, January 18, 2008


There's a New Sheriff in Town... and his name is Reggie Hammond. Fuck the man.

So I go downtown today for a client of mine who has lost all his ID and can't get into the federal building without it. I meet him at the entrance with the x-ray machine and the metal detector and the rental guards there are eyeing me suspiciously.

They say "You need ID to get in."

I tell them I'm with my client and he's going upstairs to get his ID from the local immigration office as all his documents are in his file.

"You're an attorney?"

I whip out my ID and Bar Card.

Suddenly everything is "Yes, sir. No, sir. Anything we can do for you sir." Motherfuckers were practically tapdancing.

I'm no longer the unshaved, long-haired hippy in the worn out trenchcoat and steel toed boots.

I'm a motherfucking Sir.


Thursday, January 17, 2008


Big Corporations Don't Give a Shit About You. Today's example: Yum! Brands.

Settle in gentle reader and I'll tell you a tale of a simple trip to a fast food restaurant. Remember the days when the customer was always right? Remember when the manager or owner of a store would be personally insulted if you didn't have a fantastic experience at their store or restaurant?

Well those days are long gone. I give you todays example of Yum! Brands who owns the local KFC/Taco Bell on Brownsboro Road here in Lousiville Kentucky. Forget that it's pretty ridiculous to have a KFC and a Taco Bell in one store and forget that disgusting "I'm in a shame spiral famous chicken bowl" they serve and just listen.

I go in last night for a quick meal. I had my reservations about this particular store in the first place because even though I've lived all over the world and all over the U.S. this store seems to be the worst I've ever seen in a fast food restaurant. However I decided to take the risk one last time instead of driving another 5 minutes to a better run store.

So I ordered, and my girlfriend ordered and when we got the bill it seemed a little light. And the girl taking our order seemed a bit on the slow side, but I thought she had it down. First we got the receipt and sat down to wait for our order. I began to scan the receipt to see if our order was correct but honestly couldn't make heads nor tails of it. It was a fucking mess.

Then as we're waiting for our order, an irate customer comes in from the parking lot. Apparently he'd gone through the drive through and they'd told him it would be a few minutes and he'd been sitting out there for 20. He was pissed and just wanted his money back. This seemed to be a foreign concept to the staff of this particular KFC/Taco Bell as they just stared at him with dumb unblinking eyes as if he'd grown a second head coming off his shoulder.

During this little episode a woman calls out our order. When we open the bag I can tell it's immediately wrong. I mean seriously wrong. Of the 7 things we ordered 3 were missing. And we'd ordered very very slowly and were standing two feet away from the woman who took our order.

I didn't feel like waiting in line behind the other guy to complain, so I just decided we'd leave.

However, I was so annoyed that this store had again fucked up my order and confirmed it was the worst fast food restaurant in America that I decided I'd contact Yum! Brands today and register my disgust.

Yum is headquartered in Louisville and I'd thought it might interest them that the worst store in America was right in their back yard.

I headed over to the Yum! Brands website. I looked for some way to contact them. Ahhh the "Contact Us" button seemed to be the only place that had anything to do with customer feedback. I clicked and it immediately asked me to input my birthdate. I thought this was a bit odd, but entered my birthdate and was taken back to the home page. Confused I clicked "Contact Us" again and it said "We're sorry, you're not old enough to use this feature."

Thinking I entered my birthday wrong I tried again. Same result. I logged off, cleared my cookies, and came back and tried again, this time claiming to be 102 years old. Guess what? Same result. Try it yourself if you don't believe me.

Now I know what you're thinking, wow that's pretty stupid. I guess they don't want customer feedback. Good story Punisher, now get on with your life.

But I couldn't let it end there. I had to call Yum! Brands. Yes, I actually called them. When they answered the phone I explained what was happening and that the Corporate Website seemed to have a problem with it's contact us feature. The woman who answered the phone laughed and said "Well I'll put you through to our help desk."

Seriously, she put me through to the fucking corporate help desk. The guy who answered that line thought I was an employee. I told him "No, I'm a customer." and I explained why I called and he said, "Oh, that's not our department. Thanks for calling" and hung up on me.

Apparently Yum! Brands doesn't give a shit what it's customers have to say.

Corporate America. Ugh.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


This Week in Corporate Malfeasance: Merck and Schering-Plough Drug Makers hide test results for almost two years that prove their drug does nothing.

January 15th, 2008 2:37 pm
Drug Has No Benefit in Trial, Makers Say

By Alex Berenson / New York Times

A clinical trial of Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people a week, failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits, Merck and Schering-Plough said on Monday.

The results will add to the growing concern over Zetia and Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with another cholesterol medicine in a single pill. About 60 percent of patients who take Zetia do so in the form of Vytorin, which combines Zetia with the cholesterol drug Zocor.

While Zetia lowers cholesterol by 15 percent to 20 percent in most patients, no trial has ever shown that it can reduce heart attacks and strokes — or even that it reduces the growth of the fatty plaques in arteries that can cause heart problems.

This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew almost twice as fast in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone.

Patients in the trial who took the combination of Zetia and Zocor were receiving it in the form of Vytorin pills. The trial, called Enhance, lasted two years and covered about 720 patients with extremely high cholesterol, mostly in the Netherlands.

Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.” Patients should not be prescribed Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.

“This is as bad a result for the drug as anybody could have feared,” Dr. Nissen said. Millions of patients may be taking a drug that has no benefits for them, raising their risk of heart attacks and exposing them to potential side effects, he said.

Still, patients who are taking Vytorin or Zetia should talk to their doctors if they are concerned and not discontinue taking the medicines on their own, Dr. Nissen said.

Dr. Howard Hodis, a cardiologist at the University of Southern California, also said he was concerned by the trial’s results. Growth in fatty plaques — called atherosclerosis — is highly correlated with heart attacks and strokes, Dr. Hodis said.

“Clearly, progression of atherosclerosis is the only way you get events,” Dr. Hodis said. “If you don’t treat progression, then you get events.”

The results of the trial “necessitate further investigation — that just can’t be ignored,” Dr. Hodis said.

Both companies’ stocks fell on Monday, with Merck’s share price down a bit more than 1 percent. Shares of Schering-Plough, whose profits are much more dependent on the drugs, were down nearly 8 percent.

The results will also add to the controversy surrounding a long delay in releasing the results of the trial. Merck and Schering-Plough completed the trial in April 2006 and had initially planned to release the findings no later than March 2007. But the companies then missed several self-imposed deadlines, citing the complexity of the data analysis from the study and saying they did not know when or if the data would be ready for publication.

Last month, after several news articles highlighted the delay, they finally agreed to release the results soon.

For Merck and Schering-Plough, which jointly market Zetia and Vytorin and share profits from the drugs, the trial’s results are a serious setback. Zetia and Vytorin are important contributors to both companies’ profits, especially to Schering, which is smaller and less profitable than Merck.

Analysts estimate that about 70 percent of Schering’s earnings depend on the drugs. The controversy over the trial is also a problem for Merck, which is trying to repair its reputation after withdrawing the painkiller Vioxx from the market in September 2004.

In the United States, Zetia and Vytorin combined account for about 20 percent of the overall cholesterol-lowering market. More than 100 million prescriptions have been filled in the United States for Zetia and Vytorin since the Food and Drug Administration approved them in November 2002 and August 2004 respectively. Both drugs cost about $3 a day.

Because Zetia reduces cholesterol differently from statins like Lipitor and Zocor, doctors often prescribed it as an additional therapy for patients whose cholesterol remains high even after they are already taking statins. But even before Zetia was introduced in 2002, some cardiologists argued that statins had positive cardiovascular effects that go beyond their ability to reduce cholesterol, and that Zetia lacks those effects.

The Enhance trial covered patients with a gene that causes them to produce very high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly called L.D.L., or bad cholesterol. Patients in the trial had L.D.L. levels of about 320 milligrams per deciliter at the beginning of the trial, about three times the level cardiologists recommend.

Over the two years of the trial, patients who took Zocor alone reduced their L.D.L. by 41 percent on average, while patients who took Vytorin reduced their cholesterol by 58 percent. Yet despite the larger cholesterol reduction, patients taking Vytorin actually had more growth in fatty plaques in their carotid arteries than those on Zocor. The carotid artery runs through the neck and delivers oxygenated blood to the brain.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


The Growing Power of Petro-Islam

In Saudi Arabia, Bush encounters a force more powerful than democracy.

By Michael Hirsh
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 5:51 PM ET Jan 14, 2008

A day after George W. Bush gave his big democracy speech and declared the opening of "a great new era … founded on the equality of all people"—a line he delivered at the astonishingly opulent Emirates Palace hotel, where most of the $2,450-a-night suites are reserved for visiting royals—the president flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday. There he planned to spend a day with King Abdullah at his ranch, where the monarch keeps 150 Arabian stallions for his pleasure, and thousands of goats and sheep "bred to feed the guests at the King's royal banquets," as the White House put it in the "press kit" it handed out to reporters on the eve of the president's eight-day Mideast tour. Bush was also expected to take time out to meet with a group of "Saudi entrepreneurs."

What could not be found on Bush's schedule was one Saudi dissident or political activist, much less a democrat. Just a day after his speech in Abu Dhabi—and three years after declaring in his second inaugural address that "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture"—the president made time for a tour of Saudi Arabia's National History Museum but not for a meeting with Fouad al-Farhan. Farhan, Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, was arrested in Jidda last month for daring to defend a group of Saudis who wanted to form a civil rights group.

OK, you get my point. Bush's words were, for the most part, seen as empty here. Especially since there was no follow-up. This is a part of the world where tribal sheikdoms have scarcely modified their medievalism, much less embraced democracy—even as their petro-dollars bring in Frank Gehry and other famous names, wrapping their Potemkin city-states in 21st-century glamour. I understand that Bush must engage in some realpolitik at the moment. This is no time to undermine the Arab regimes. It's important to rally them against Iran's nuclear program and to enlist them in supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In addition, the worrisome rise of oil prices to around $100 a barrel has given the big producers even more leverage.

But if that's so, then don't plan a major democracy speech when you know you're not going to act on it, with not even a symbolic move of any kind to accompany it. There's a word for this kind of thing. It's called hypocrisy.

The president seemed to know he wasn't exactly calling for democratic revolution in the Mideast. His underwhelming speech—touted before the trip as a high point—was a kind of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too address. So as not to upset the emirs and other Arab royalty too much, Bush told them they can probably keep their various monarchies even if they do democratize. He compared his vision for bringing democratic governance to the Arab world to what the United States did in Asia after World War II, beginning with occupied Japan. "The results are now in," he said. "Today the people of Japan have both a working democracy and a hereditary emperor." (Never mind that Akihito has no power.) When Steve Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, was asked what the emirs' response was to the president's "freedom agenda," he responded with an image as underwhelming as the president's speech. "Heads nod. Heads nod," Hadley said. This was true: a number of audience members in Abu Dhabi were nodding off as Bush spoke.

But the picture is far more pathological than you think, especially here in Saudi Arabia. We need to have an honest discussion about the nature of this strange state, which contains as much as 20 percent of the world's oil reserves. Saudi Arabia has always been a nation run by a family, the vast network of Saud princes who operate in a manner more reminiscent of the Sopranos than a modern, relatively transparent government, says a former senior CIA and FBI official with long experience in the country. The Saud family's legitimacy is built not on law but on an extremist brand of Islam, Wahhabism, in which Osama bin Laden was schooled, much as Tony Soprano's power is based on violence. (Remember when people used to talk about forcing the Saudis to change their radical Islamist views after 9/11? Didn't happen. Instead we invaded somewhat secular Iraq—at least it was next door to the real problem—and found ourselves preoccupied.) Imagine if Tony S. ran much of the world's oil supply and used the vast profits to fund more Bada-Bing fronts for organized crime all over the world? Don't you think governments would band together to stop it? Well, that's not unlike what's happening today, with Saudi Arabia's financing of anti-Western sentiment—but no one's doing anything about it, starting with George Bush. Simply because it's the Saudi government. Our "friends."

Clearly King Abdullah and other senior members of his government are not unfriendly to Washington. But many other Saudis are. This is what some experts have called petro-Islam. The Saudis have used their vast profits to fund not Bada-Bing clubs but Wahhabist mosques around the world, even in the United States. Wahhabists—or Salafists, as members of the broader movement are called—believe in a strict interpretation of the Qur'an and a pure, self-contained Islamic state. Many also embrace the idea that integration into the West—or American society—is profane. This never represented mainstream Islam. In fact, the creator of Wahhabism, the 18th-century thinker Mohammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, was notorious among Muslims of his time for being something of an extremist himself. He vandalized shrines, and he was denounced by many Islamic theologians for his "doctrinal mediocrity and illegitimacy," as the scholar Abdelwahab Meddeb notes in "Islam and Its Discontents." The upshot is that Western consumers are paying hundreds of billions of dollars in oil profits to help educate and fund their own potential murderers.

None of this would have happened had it not been for the petro-dollar. The Saudis would have stayed obscure Bedouins and Wahhabism little more than a cult. But because of their oil wealth, the Saudis were able to spread Wahhabism's seed worldwide, making it far more mainstream than it would have been otherwise. As one Egyptian intellectual described it me, "It's as if Jimmy Swaggart had come into hundreds of billions of dollars and taken over most of Christianity."

Saudi Arabia was always the problem, and not just because 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. It is because of the rise of petro-Islam in this troubled land. And as oil climbs in value, and research lags on alternative energy sources, this pathological family concern known as Saudi Arabia only grows. Even now no one is really doing anything about this critical problem. Bush was right when he said in his second inaugural address, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." If only he had taken himself seriously on this trip. Perhaps next time he ought to insist on seeing a few dissidents.


Chris "Spittle Lip" Matthews continues to spread Lies about Hillary Clinton.

Chris Matthews Doesn't Rewrite History About the Clintons, He Just Makes It Up
David Fiderer
Posted January 14, 2008

First of all, you have to ask, 'Is history a reasonable basis on which to make a statement?'... We're not talking about opinion here. Chris Matthews on Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough January 11, 2008

True enough. Chris Matthews did not support his argument with opinion. He flat out lied. It wasn't a slip of the tongue. He gave it a lot of thought and preparation.

Matthews was defending some comments about Hillary Clinton that triggered widespread revulsion, most notably from the women on The View:

Let's not forget, and I'll be brutal, the reason she's a US Senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around.

That's how she got to be a senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win it on her merit, she won because everybody felt, "My God, this woman stood up under humiliation, right?" That's what happened! That's how it happened. Matthews on Morning Joe January 9, 2008

Matthews' thesis is that "in the midst of all this humiliation," a phrase he couldn't repeat often enough, Hillary Clinton's poise, toughness, and "heroic" campaigning caused people to feel sympathy for her. But if you believe Life's a Campaign, then it's oxymoronic to say Hillary shows toughness and poise and then say, "She didn't win it on her merit."

According to Matthews. the turning point in Hillary's viability as a candidate occurred during September - November 1998, when she campaigned for Chuck Schumer in New York.

Back in 1998 in the midst of the terror that he was involved with in that intern, he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, and then he faced conviction in the U.S. Senate, in the midst of all that in the fall campaign of 1998, Hillary Clinton went out and heroically campaigned for Chuck Schumer. Matthews on January 11, 2008

Remember, "We're not talking opinion here." So how many falsehoods did you find? Here's my count:

1. Back in 1998 ... he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives

False. The House did not impeach Clinton until after the November 1998 election in lame duck session.

2. ...and then he faced conviction in the U.S. Senate...

No one seriously thought that a conviction, which required a 2/3 vote, was either politically or arithmetically possible. Democratic Senators were uniformly against impeachment and a number of Republican Senators had severe misgivings. (On the final vote, the Republicans favoring conviction failed to attain a simple majority.) After Americans watched Clinton's videotaped testimony, the percentage in favor of even beginning impeachment proceedings was 31%.

3. In the midst of the terror that he was involved with that intern...

Terror? (Listen on Joe Scarborough how Matthews emphasizes the word "terror.") On September 25, 1998, Bill Clinton's approval rating was 67%. It had shot up from 61% right after the public got a good hard look at Bill Clinton's videotaped testimony about his relations with Ms. Lewinsky.

The apparent resurgence for Mr. Clinton has come swiftly -- and is surprisingly pronounced. Not only has the months long slide in his personal ratings halted but, in a marked shift from only a week ago, Americans also trust him more as a leader, like him more, are less inclined to think he committed perjury before the grand jury and increasingly believe that the scandal is a private matter that has little to do with his job as President... 78 percent of Americans, and 65 percent of Republicans, said [the videotape] should never have been released. People said they objected to the committee's prying into what they regard as a private matter and that it was unnecessary to make public salacious details about sex. In addition, 65 percent of Americans said Republicans in Congress were unfairly trying to weaken the President and the Democrats; 39 percent of Republicans saw it that way as well. The New York Times September 25, 1998

Also, 60% of Americans said it was appropriate for the President to refuse to answer questions about his sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. At the time, House Speaker Newt Gingrich's approval was 18%.

4....went out and heroically campaigned for Chuck Schumer...

What's so heroic about campaigning in friendly territory? At the time, Bill Clinton had a 69% approval rating in New York, and the Ken Starr investigation was red meat for the Democrats. To drive home the point, the Schumer campaign aired a TV spot reminding voters that his Republican rival, Al D'Amato, investigated Whitewater. Schumer proudly campaigned aside Bill Clinton as well as Hillary.

Oh, and in case anybody forgot...

In a stunning rebuke to the capital's taste for scandal, voters on Tuesday handed Democrats surprising victories in key Senate and governor's races and held out the possibility of closing the Republicans' slim majority in the House. St. Petersburg Times November 4, 1998

But here's the kicker:

If you go back and look at the newspapers, which I did last night to confirm all this, you will find glowing accounts, especially in USA Today, I picked it up on the front page, by Kathy Kiely a great reporter, about how it was her poise in standing up in the midst of that humiliation where she was able to go out and campaign politically and show her strength in New York state, up and down that state for Chuck Schumer. And then she gets a call two or three days later from our old friend in New York Charlie Rangel...

The story ran, "It was her poise in the campaign in the midst of all this humiliation that made her a candidate for the senate." So if you don't accept the history then accept the syllogism, "Had Hillary Clinton not been a United States Senator right now because of that election would she be a serious candidate for president?"

You can't argue that she's a United States senator because of the fact in which, in humiliating circumstances she showed her toughness and elicited one whale of an amount of sympathy from people for having the guts to go out and campaign in the midst of all that humiliation...Hillary would not have been a U.S. senator and not have been in eligibility to run for president had that humiliation not been thrown upon her." Matthews on Morning Joe, January 11, 2008

There was no such story in USA Today. Matthews fabricated the quote. More specifically, he revised Kathy Kiely's story in USA Today, dated November 9, 2000, to fit his insupportable claims. Kiely wrote:

Clinton's poise under pressure impressed New York Democratic leaders, who began wooing the president's wife to make a bid for the seat of the retiring Moynihan, who was first elected in 1976. Her months on the campaign trail transformed the first lady from a reluctant public figure into an energetic and thick-skinned politician.

The word humiliation shows up nowhere. The word sympathy shows up nowhere. The article does not say that Hillary's poise was the deciding factor for New York Democratic leaders. Think about it for a second. Do you think other attributes - name recognition, affiliation with an extremely popular President, familiarity with the ways of Washington, being a quick study and a hard worker - might be deemed more important than poise? Here's what Knight-Ridder printed on October 28, 1998:

After making more than 50 appearances at fund-raising events and rallies through the year, Clinton campaigned full time in the week before the election, traveling to New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

She's a huge drawing card,'' said Michael Tucker, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which helps finance Democratic Senate candidates.

She is perhaps the strongest voice we have in terms of firing up the base. She's always been that way, she's always had a lot of base appeal. She appeals to working families, organized labor, minorities, teachers. [Emphasis added.]

Now consider the second sentence in Kiely's passage, "Her months on the campaign trail transformed the first lady from a reluctant public figure into an energetic and thick-skinned politician." Is that factual reporting or literary license? Before September 1998 Hillary was a reluctant public figure? Please.

This brings up another fatal flaw in Matthews' assertion of historic fact. Contemporary political analysis in a newspaper is not the same thing as historic fact. A historic fact is something beyond dispute. No one disputes that the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003. But many dispute that the invasion, which ignored widespread looting, was an unqualified success. Citing a newspaper account describing the Iraq invasion a success does not, in and of itself, prove a historic fact.

As for going back and checking with the newspapers, I did a search on Factiva covering the period in 1998 when Hillary campaigned with Schumer. The search was for "Schumer" and "Hillary" and "Clinton" and "campaign" and "New York" and "sympathy" and "humiliation." Total results: zero.

Matthews' challenge, "If you go back and look at the newspapers," is a favorite stunt of the Bush White House. Check out Tony Snow's press conferences. Nine times out of ten, whenever Snow uttered the words "if you" followed by a reference from the past (e.g. "if you go back and look at..." or "if you actually take the trouble to read....") the reference was bogus. Michael Chertoff used the stunt a few days after Katrina, when he said, "I remember on Tuesday morning [August 30] picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'" There was no such headline. Chertoff lied and no one called him on it.

Getting back to the reaction from The View, I think Scarborough and Matthews missed their point. I think they were offended by the mean-spirited way in which Matthews devalued Hillary's accomplishments. "[T]he reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around... She didn't win it on her merit..." It's analogous to saying Colin Powell sat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff only because of affirmative action. In that regard, Matthews' remark is no more defensible than Ann Coulter's comment that, "If [Max] Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. Senator in the first place."

Once again, Chris Matthews pulls out all the stops to portray the Republican narrative as absolute truth. We saw it in his attempt to say that Bill Clinton did not speak out against the Iraq invasion. And we saw it in his attempt to conflate Hillary's vote on the October 2002 war resolution into the decision to invade Iraq. As he has for the past decade, he argues that the Lewinsky affair central to the lives and careers of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Except, according to the polls, vast majority of Americans, then and now, did not see it that way.

If Barbara Walters wants to debate history and debate politics, and what's happened in this country in the last 50 years, if she wants to go on Jeopardy and see what she knows and what I know, I'll take her on... Matthews, January 11, 2008
Hey Chris, I'm willing to call your bluff and take you on. I'm not famous and I've never worked in politics. But I majored in History. And I sure know the difference between a fact and a lie.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Edwards Campaign Gains Traction in Nevada.

David Sirota
For the Blowhards Who Insist It's a Two-Way Race...
Posted January 14, 2008

For those of you who think the Democratic presidential nomination fight is just a two-way race between Obama and Clinton, check out this brand new poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Yup, that's right - it shows the Nevada caucus race a three-way, dead heat with John Edwards right in the mix.

Interestingly, this poll comes right on the heels of the Establishment viciously ratcheting up its angry attacks on the Edwards candidacy. Late last week, we saw a Reuters story headlined "Corporate Elite Fear Candidate Edwards" detailing how Wall Street moneymen and K Street lobbyists are frightened about Edwards populist, power-challenging message against greed and corruption. We also saw self-anointed Democratic "expert" Lawrence O'Donnell pen a fulminating screed demanding Edwards get out of the race - not surprising coming from a man who made his name running the U.S. Senate Finance Committee - long the most corrupt, lobbyist-ravaged panel in all of Washington (somehow, running the U.S. Congress's version of a pay-to-play casino now makes people credible "experts" in campaign strategy and political morality).

According to the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism, Edwards has long faced a media blackout - one that at least some honest media brokers like Keith Olbermann have noted. As I said a long time ago, that Edwards has even been able to compete in such a hostile environment is a testament to the power of his message.

The question we should ask is what the hostility and media blackout is really all about? I'd say the media's behavior is motivated by the same impulses that moves lobbyists to whine and cry to Reuters and self-important bloviators like O'Donnell to publicly burst a blood vessel on the Huffington Post - the people who have gotten used to the status quo are truly terrified by any candidates who they really believe will change things and threaten their power and status. Edwards is just such a candidate - one who threatens to muck up what the media and political elite want to be a race between two "nonthreatening," Wall Street-approved candidates. Obviously, it's a three-way race at this very moment - whether the Establishment likes that or not.

Let me conclude by saying I have no idea if the Gazette-Journal poll is accurate and/or whether Edwards will win Nevada (or any other state). Unlike most reporters, I don't spend my time covering the horse race, nor judging the candidates' viability only on the grounds of how much corporate cash they've been able to vacuum in. I spend my time trying to figure out which of these candidates represent the most fundamental form of change. One of the ways to judge that is to see who these candidates make uncomfortable. And by that measure, here's what I know: Edwards is generating hostility from precisely the kinds of people who are likely to be most averse to real, systemic change. And that speaks very well for the former senator from North Carolina.


I think Chris "Spittle Lip" Matthews is a douchebag who secretly wants to BE Hillary Clinton.

"Media Matters"; by Jamison Foster

MSNBC's Chris Matthews problem

I do not care which person is your candidate. I don't care what you think of Hillary Clinton as a potential president. What is being done in the press is akin to a pack of rabid 7th graders trying to haze the nerdy girl in school simply because they can. It has nothing to do with her qualifications -- it has to do with gender, and these lemming pundits think that it's perfectly acceptable because everyone is doing it, including women like Andrea Mitchell and Anne Kornblut.
-- Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake

"OK, let's put the gender thing in here. I love gender politics, guys."
-- Chris Matthews

The behavior Christy Hardin Smith describes has its epicenter on MSNBC's Hardball, where rarely a day goes by without host Chris Matthews sputtering and shouting about Hillary Clinton, often in terms that would give Bobby Riggs pause.

Put simply, Matthews behaves as though he is obsessed with Hillary Clinton. And not "obsessed" in a charming, mostly harmless, Lloyd-Dobler-with-a-boom-box kind of way. "Obsessed" in a this-person-needs-help kind of way.

More than six years ago, long before Hillary Clinton began running for president, the Philadelphia Inquirer magazine reported that, according to an MSNBC colleague, Matthews had said of Clinton: "I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for."

Even before that, Matthews told the January 20, 2000, Hardball audience, "Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people like maybe me on occasion. I'm not going to take a firm position here, because the election is not coming up yet. But let me just say this, she drives some of us absolutely nuts."

Not that there was much chance his feelings would go unnoticed by even the most casual Hardball viewer.

Matthews has referred to Clinton as "She devil." He has repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," referring to the "scheming, manipulative" character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest who "asserts arbitrary control simply because she can." He has called her "Madame Defarge." And he has described male politicians who have endorsed Clinton as "castratos in the eunuch chorus."

Matthews has compared Clinton to a "strip-teaser" and questioned whether she is "a convincing mom." He refers to Clinton's "cold eyes" and the "cold look" she supposedly gives people; he says she speaks in a "scolding manner" and is "going to tell us what to do."

Matthews frequently obsesses over Clinton's "clapping" -- which he describes as "Chinese." He describes Clinton's laugh as a "cackle" -- which led to the Politico's Mike Allen telling him, "Chris, first of all, 'cackle' is a very sexist term." (Worth remembering: When John McCain was asked by a GOP voter referring to Clinton, "How do we beat the bitch?" Allen reacted by wondering, "What voter in general hasn't thought that?" So Allen isn't exactly hypersensitive to people describing Clinton in sexist terms.)

Matthews repeatedly suggests Clinton is a "fraud" for claiming to be a Yankees fan, despite the fact that all available evidence indicates that Clinton has been a Yankees fan since childhood. In April of 2007, former Washington Post reporter John Harris, who has written a book about Bill Clinton, told Matthews to his face that the attacks on Clinton over her history of being a Yankees fan were false. Harris said: "Hillary Clinton got hazed over saying she was a New York Yankees fan. It turned out, actually, that was right. She had been a lifelong Yankees fan. But people were all over [her] for supposedly embroidering her past." But Matthews doesn't let a little thing like the truth get in the way of his efforts to take cheap shots at Clinton: At least twice since Harris set him straight, Matthews has attacked Clinton over the Yankees fan nonsense, once calling her a "fraud."

Matthews has described Clinton as "witchy" and -- in what appears to be a classic case of projection -- claimed that "some men" say Clinton's voice sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard." In what appears to be an even more classic case of projection, Matthews has speculated that there is "out there in the country ... some gigantic monster -- big, green, horny-headed, all kinds of horns coming out, big, aggressive monster of anti-Hillaryism that hasn't shown itself: it's based upon gender."

Matthews has suggested that Hillary Clinton "being surrounded by women" might "make a case against" her being "commander in chief." He once asked a guest if "the troops out there" would "take the orders" from "Hillary Clinton, commander in chief." When his guest responded, "Why wouldn't they listen to a [female] commander in chief? Sure," Matthews responded: "You're chuckling a little bit, aren't you?" When his guest responded "No," Matthews couldn't quite believe it, sputtering: "No problem? No problem? No problem?"

Matthews has wondered if she is unable "to admit a mistake" because doing so would lead people to call her a "fickle woman." He has said that Clinton is on a "short ... leash" as a presidential candidate, lacking "latitude in her husband's absence" to answer a question. He has, at least twice, called Hillary Clinton an "uppity" woman -- both times, pretending to attribute the phrase to Bill Clinton. But, as Bob Somerby has explained, there is no evidence Clinton has ever used the term.

One of Matthews' favorite topics is Clinton's marriage. After The New York Times ran an article purporting to count the number of nights the Clintons spend together, Matthews' imagination ran wild, and the MSNBC host couldn't get the Clintons' marital life out of his mind. At one point, Media Matters counted 90 separate questions Matthews asked guests about the topic during seven separate programs; the number undoubtedly grew after we stopped counting. In the middle of one of Matthews' bouts of obsessive speculation about how often the Clintons are "together in the same roof overnight, if you will," Washington Post reporter Lois Romano asked him, "[W]hat is your obsession with logistics here?" In response, Matthews snapped at her: "Because I'm talking to three reporters, and I'm trying to get three straight answers, so I don't want attitude about this. It's a point of view -- I want facts. Tell me what the facts are, Lois, if you know them. If you don't, I don't know what you're arguing about."

Matthews has claimed: "[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around." John McCain's political career got started after he left his first wife for a wealthy and politically connected heiress, married her, and ran for Congress. But Chris Matthews doesn't suggest that the reason McCain is a "U.S. senator ... a candidate for president ... a front-runner" is that he "messed around." Even Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said Matthews' comments about Clinton went too far: "I mean, it's rough business what these people over there [at MSNBC] are doing. We don't do that here. We would never say that Senator Clinton got her job because her husband messed around. I mean, that is -- that is a personal attack. And it is questionable whether a network should allow that or not."

Matthews periodically gets it into his head that the most important question in the world is whether Bill Clinton will be a "distraction" or whether he will "behave himself." He badgers Clinton aides about the question and warns that Bill Clinton "better watch it." He asks if Clinton will be a "good boy" or be guilty of "misbehavior." Matthews is not so subtly referring to Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. But curiously, he doesn't have the same concerns about McCain or about Rudy Giuliani, as I wrote nearly a year ago.

Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn't hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs -- and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.

And then there's Matthews' fixation on Hillary Clinton's "ambition." In December 1999, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hardball to discuss Clinton's Senate campaign. Matthews asked Wolfson eight consecutive questions about whether Clinton was "ambitious." Finally, Matthews said, "People who seek political power are ambitious by definition," leading Wolfson to tell him: "if you say so. If it will make you happy, I'll agree." If Matthews has ever displayed as much interest in the "ambition" of male candidates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mike Huckabee, he has done so in private.

And, in the midst of his years-long assault on Hillary Clinton, much of it either directly based on her gender or on a sexist double standard, Matthews has the audacity to accuse Clinton of being "anti-male" and to insist that "she should just lighten up on this gender -- 'the boys are coming to get me' routine."

None of this should surprise us. Chris Matthews acknowledged his feelings about Hillary Clinton long ago: "I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for." And "she drives some of us [guys] absolutely nuts."

But Matthews' questionable treatment of women extends beyond Hillary Clinton.

Matthews has described House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as "scary" and suggested she would "castrate" House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. And he has wondered how she could disagree with President Bush "without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?"

Just this week, Matthews claimed there isn't a plausible female presidential candidate "on the horizon" because there aren't any "big-state women governors" -- but Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell, and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius all run states with populations comparable to male governors who have recently run for president, including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Bill Richardson. How large a state does a woman have to run before she qualifies as a plausible presidential candidate to Chris Matthews? One that is twice as large as Mitt Romney's Massachusetts? Three times as large?

Last October, Matthews mused aloud about a hypothetical couple trying to decide who to support for president. In Matthews' mind, the wife just wants to see "the first woman president." According to Matthews, the husband has to explain the math to his wife: "[T]he husband says, 'You know, dear, you know, this is going to kill our tax bracket. You know that tuition thing we pay every couple of years for the kids, every year, we can't do that if we get a higher tax bracket. We have to pay more money.' "

After the Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this year, Matthews suggested that the paper's "female editors and publisher" succumbed to "lobbying" by Bill Clinton.

Matthews has repeatedly focused on the physical characteristics of his female guests. He recently began an interview with conservative radio host and author Laura Ingraham by telling her, "I'm not allowed to say this, but I'll say it -- you're beautiful and you're smart." He ended the interview by saying: "I get in trouble for this, but you're great looking, obviously. You're one of the gods' gifts to men in this country. But also, you are a hell of a writer." Note that Matthews said Ingraham is also a good writer -- apparently, to Chris Matthews, there is no reason for men to care about whether a woman can write, only about how she looks.

Matthews' comments about Ingraham came only a month after he told CNBC anchor Erin Burnett, "You're a knockout," adding: "It's all right getting bad news from you." Matthews also told Burnett: "Come on in closer. No, come in -- come in further -- come in closer. Really close." Matthews made such a spectacle of himself during the exchange that The New York Post said "it sure looked" like Matthews had been "perving on CNBC hottie Erin Burnett on live TV the other night." Matthews explained that he had merely been "kidding around."

During MSNBC's April 26, 2007, coverage of the first Democratic presidential debate, Matthews discussed the "cosmetics" of the evening. In doing so, he complimented Michelle Obama's pearl necklace and declared that she "looked perfect," "well-turned out ... attractive -- classy, as we used to say. Like Frank Sinatra, 'classy.' "

Matthews also appeared to argue that many viewers would be basing their decisions about the candidates on how, in Clinton's case, the candidate was dressed, or, in the case of the male candidates, how their spouses were dressed: "Some people are, by the way, just watching tonight. They stopped listening a half-hour in, and they noticed how pretty she is -- Michelle -- and they said, 'I like the fact he's [Barack Obama] got this pretty wife. He's happily married. I like that.' They like the fact that Hillary was demure, lady-like in her appearance." When NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell interjected, noting "You're talking about two ... lawyers," who went to "Harvard and Yale," Matthews defended himself, saying, "Cosmetics are a part of this game."

Nor is any of this new: In August 1999, Matthews hosted notorious liar Gennifer Flowers, during which he told her: "I gotta pay a little tribute here. You're a very beautiful woman, and I -- and I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that; Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that's a knockout?" After Flowers told him "Gosh, you make me blush here," Matthews replied, "[I]t's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting."

In 2000, Matthews responded to linguist Deborah Tannen's explanation of then-presidential candidate George W. Bush's efforts to appeal to women voters by saying, "So is this like the political equivalent of Spanish fly? That these seductive number of words you just drop out there and women just swoon." That led another Hardball guest, Lynn Martin -- a Republican -- to point out, "You wouldn't suggest he's seducing men."

Chris Matthews has been treating female guests as sexual objects for years. He has been judging women -- senators, presidential candidates, the speaker of the House -- on their clothes and their voices and their appearance for years. He has been referring to women as "castrating" for years. He has been applying double standards to male and female candidates for years.

This is who Chris Matthews is. He is a man who thinks that men who support women politicians are "eunuchs."

He isn't going to stop unless you make him stop. Chris Matthews uses his voice to marginalize women. Use yours to tell MSNBC you've had enough.

It's time to play a little "hardball." Please contact MSNBC and Chris Matthews today and let them know what you think.


Ron Paul sometimes sounds like an interesting candidate. And then you scratch the surface and figure out he's just a typical Republican.

Ron Paul batshit crazy racism homophobia excessive spin

Hey, that Ron Paul is pretty swell, right? He sure is great when he gets up on that debate stage and tells those Republicans the truth about American foreign policy! Why, it almost makes me want to vote for the guy, just to get up the noses of all those politics-as-usual, corporate-owned douchebags. There's no difference between the two parties anyway!

If you've ever experienced a fleeting thought like this, maybe in the wee hours, when you're alone, nursing a glass of Scotch and the resentment you've accumulated over the past seven long years, well that's okay. It's natural. After all, it is fun to watch that cranky old white guy stick it to all those other cranky old white guys.

But at the end of the day, any liberal with a brain should know that Ron Paul isn't exactly the most progressive candidate in the race. Last week CNN obtained copies of the "Ron Paul Political Report" - a "series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul" - which were published from the 1970s to the early '90s. Let's take a look...

The controversial newsletters include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr. -- described as a "pro-Communist philanderer." One newsletter, from June 1992, right after the LA riots, says "order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks."

Another says, "The criminals who terrorize our cities -- in riots and on every non-riot day -- are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to 'fight the power,' to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible."

In some excerpts, the reader may be led to believe the words are indeed from Paul, a resident of Lake Jackson, Texas. In the "Ron Paul Political Report" from October 1992, the writer describes carjacking as the "hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos."

The author then offers advice from others on how to avoid being carjacked, including "an ex-cop I know," and says, "I frankly don't know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming."

Paul defended himself last week, insisting that he'd never read the articles and didn't know who wrote them. He said, "People who know me, nobody is going to believe this. That's just not my language. It's not my life. ... Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Ghandi, they're the heroes (of my life)." Well yes, and I'm sure they would understand why he never bothered to read the white supremacist newsletter that his name was attached to for twenty years.

But oddly enough, according to the Austin Chronicle, Paul's excuse was a bit different when he was running for Congress back in 1996:

Paul now explains that he's been wronged -- his "academic, tongue-in-cheek" opinions have been stripped of their context.

And a 1996 Houston Chronicle article notes that:

Paul, a Republican obstetrician from Surfside, said Wednesday he opposes racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of "current events and statistical reports of the time."


Other tidbits from Paul's newsletter -- also released to the press by the Morris campaign -- include inflammatory quasi factoids such as the contention that 95% of African-American men in Washington, D.C., are criminal or semi-criminal. He writes that he doesn't think that "a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people." But, he continues, "black males, age 13, that have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary, and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such." He also implied that a mortar attack of a federal building was not such a bad thing, since no one was hurt.

See? He's not really a crazy terrorist-loving racist after all. In the context of "current events and statistical reports of the time" it was perfectly okay to say things like that.


U.S. corporate elite fear John Edwards

Friday January 11 2008
By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Ask corporate lobbyists which presidential contender is most feared by their clients and the answer is almost always the same -- Democrat John Edwards.

The former North Carolina senator's chosen profession alone raises the hackles of business people. Before entering politics, he made a fortune as a trial lawyer.

In litigious America, trial lawyers bring lawsuits against companies on behalf of aggrieved individuals and sometimes win multimillion-dollar settlements. Edwards won several. But beyond his profession, Edwards' tone and language on the campaign trail have increased business antipathy toward him. His stump speeches are peppered with attacks on "corporate greed" and warnings of "the destruction of the middle class."

He accuses lobbyists of "corrupting the government" and says Americans lack universal health care because of "drug companies, insurance companies and their lobbyists." Despite not winning the two state nominating contests completed so far, with 48 to go, Edwards insists he is in the race to stay. An Edwards campaign spokesman said on Thursday that inside-the-Beltway operatives who fight to defend the powerful and the privileged should be afraid. "The lobbyists and special interests who abuse the system in Washington have good reason to fear John Edwards.

"Once he is president, the interests of middle class families will never again take a back seat to corporate greed in Washington," said campaign spokesman Eric Schultz. Open attacks on the business elite are seldom heard from mainstream White House candidates in America, despite skyrocketing CEO pay, rising income inequality, and a torrent of scandals in corporate boardrooms and on Wall Street.

But this year Edwards is not alone. Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, sometimes also rails against corporate power and influence, tapping a populist current that lies just below the surface of U.S. politics.

One business lobbyist, who asked not to be named, said Edwards "has gone to this angry populist, anti-business rhetoric that borders on class warfare ... He focuses dislike of special interests, which is out there, on business."

Another lobbyist said an Edwards presidency would be "a disaster" for his well-heeled industrialist clients. After this week's New Hampshire primaries, where he placed a distant third behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Edwards might not seem so scary. He ran second in the Iowa Democratic caucuses last week, trailing Obama and just ahead of Clinton.

Edwards suffered a blow on Thursday when Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry snubbed him and endorsed Obama. Edwards was Kerry's vice-presidential running mate in Kerry's failed Democratic bid for the White House in 2004.


Asked which candidate their clients most support, corporate lobbyists were unsure. Clinton has cautious backing within the corporate jet set, as do Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, they said.

These candidates represent stability to executives who have much to lose if November's election brings about the sweeping change some candidates are promising.

Obama and Huckabee register largely as unknown quantities among business owners, both large and small, say lobbyists.

"My sense is that Obama would govern as a reasonably pragmatic Democrat ... I think Hillary is approachable. She knows where a lot of her funding has come from, to be blunt," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Stanford Group Co., a market and policy analysis group.
But Edwards, Valliere said, is seen as "an anti-business populist" and "a trade protectionist who is quite unabashed about raising taxes."

"I think his regulatory policies, as well as his tax policies, would be viewed as a threat to business," he said.

"The next scariest for business would be Huckabee because of his rhetoric and because he's an unknown." (Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; editing by John Wallace)


John Edwards calls out Hillary Clinton.

Edwards Criticizes Clinton Comments

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — Democrat John Edwards on Sunday waded into a dispute between his rivals, criticizing comments by Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband that some have considered disparaging to Barack Obama and black people generally.

"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change that came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King but through a Washington politician. I fundamentally disagree with that," Edwards told more than 200 people gathered at a predominantly black Baptist church.

Sen. Hillary Clinton recently was quoted as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while Bill Clinton said Obama was telling a "fairy tale" about his opposition to the Iraq war.

Edwards did not name either of the Clintons in his speech, but turned the argument back on them.

"Those who believe that real change starts with Washington politicians have been in Washington too long and are living a fairy tale," he said.

Speaking in his native South Carolina, where he hopes to win the Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 26, Edwards said he was pleased with the civil rights progress that's been made in the South and lauded Obama, an Illinois senator.

"As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel an enormous amount of pride when I see the success that Senator Barack Obama is having in this campaign," said Edwards. He the added, with a laugh: "Some days I wish he was having a little less success."

Obama won the first contest in Iowa, and finished second last week in New Hampshire. Edwards placed second in Iowa, third in New Hampshire.

A former North Carolina senator and trial lawyer, Edwards ran for president in 2004 and earned his only primary victory in this state. He was helped by black voter, who made up nearly half the primary ballots cast. But this time around, those votes appear to be heading either to Obama, who is vying to become the nation's fist black president, or Clinton, whose husband's presidency is remembered fondly in the black community, surveys show.

Edwards, who is touring the state by bus and hoping to again appeal to black voters with his populist, working-class message, told the congregation that the work of the civil rights activists needs to continue.

"We are not being true to ourselves or the heroes ... if we do not continue this journey to bring about real change," he said. "Real change started in churches just like this."

"What the election is about is about building one America," he said.

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