Saturday, August 06, 2005

Never Too Busy To Blow His Horn

Oh, what comes Dubya again, taking a break from his working vacation to tell us how great everything is (assuming you can believe the numbers from his Labor Department of course, and I don't).

This is why his "smoke and mirrors" act doesn't mean a damn thing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Long Gone From Trinity

This is probably the most solemn of days for the people of Hiroshima, Japan, and we should extend our prayers and sympathies to the survivors and their families. They show great honor and respect in remembering their history, a lesson many of us in this country definitely need to learn on a continual basis.

However, I firmly believe that we should not apologize. Unlike the current quagmire in Iraq, we did not start World War II. However, we finished it using a weapon the Axis powers would have used on us had they had it themselves.

Roberts Yes, New York Times No

You know what really gets me about this story?

It's not the fact that, apparently, Supreme Court nominee John Roberts did something highly honorable by defending gays arguing against the medieval Texas sodomy law before the bunch that would be his peers if he is confirmed.

No, what really tears it for me is the way the supposed "newspaper of record" reported it. They used the Repug catchphrase "culture wars" in what is supposed to be a news article, and then quoted the OxyContin addict to find out how this latest development will play with the Repug right-wing fundamentalist base.

(Uh, I can give you a hint myself on that one. How does ANYTHING that deviates from their jackbooted notions of how the world is supposed to be play with them?)


Save Willow Grove AFB

I've been meaning to get to this for the last couple of days, but I'm finally getting to it now.

I thought this was an excellent Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last Tuesday. It was written by Jack Thomas Tomarchio, a partner at Hill Solutions, LLC, a government affairs firm. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pennsylvania.
Now that the Department of Defense has released its list of military installations slated for closure, the ultimate decision rests with the independent BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission). This summer it will visit targeted bases to determine whether the projected closures are in the best interests of the nation. A list will be presented to President Bush in September 8th, which will contain the final recommendations of the commission. Congress must approve the list by November 7th.

BRAC has recommended closing 10 bases in Pennsylvania, including the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Willow Grove. Should Willow Grove not survive the BRAC, the cost could be the loss of more than 1,300 civilian and military jobs to the region.

The base is presently the home of two P-3 squadrons. The base also houses Army, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard reserve units. In fact, this joint services configuration led the Defense Department to rename Willow Grove from Willow Grove Naval Air Station to Naval Station, Joint Reserve Base, Willow Grove.

The BRAC report seeks to close bases that do not cleave to the doctrine of “jointness.” Jointness arose in the mid-1980s because of failures encountered during the 1983 Grenada invasion and the botched U.S. Embassy hostage rescue attempt in Iran in 1980. A problem in both of these operations was that the services had a difficult time operating jointly. Congress, fed up, passed the Goldwater-Nichols act in 1988, which mandated that the services become better at operating as a joint force.

With BRAC 2005, the Defense Department seeks to further jointness by combining different services on fewer bases. What is surprising about the decision to BRAC Willow Grove is that the base stands out as a beacon of jointness. By all standards, Willow Grove is fulfilling the mission envisioned by Goldwater-Nichols as a vital joint military base.

Willow Grove serves another more immediate mission in the War on Terrorism. Unlike the previous BRACs, this BRAC is the first of the post-9/11 era. Since 9/11, the military has taken on a new Homeland Defense mission. In making its recommendations for the base closure and realignment, the Defense Department did not account for the new homeland defense mission imposed upon our military. Willow Grove is poised to play an important role in this new mission.

Willow Grove-based aircraft are close to every port on the Eastern seaboard and are ideally designed to conduct port security missions. Situated some 20 miles in either direction from Philadelphia and the nuclear reactor in Limerick, Pa., Willow Grove is the perfect marshalling area for first responders in the event of a terrorist strike against either target. Its location, within 30 minutes of more than 20 hospitals, makes Willow Grove a vital link in Southeastern Pennsylvania’s emergency network. Should Philadelphia International Airport be closed by an emergency, Willow Grove has the runway capacity to handle even the biggest aircraft.

Not only would closure of Willow Grove deprive the Defense Department of an important staging platform in the DOD’s Homeland Security mission, but Willow Grove’s elimination would place a burden on hundreds of reservists who currently train at the base. In an era where the Guard and Reserve have been asked to shoulder even greater burdens, closing this base and forcing our citizen-soldiers to travel farther from their homes to drill will put a heavy strain upon them.

The time is now for a public/private partnership between our elected officials and the business community to save Willow Grove. Rallies and speeches are not enough. What’s needed is a focused effort to advance the national security, homeland defense and community impact arguments why this base should not be eliminated.

Area legislators are saying the right things by pointing out Willow Grove’s importance to the war on terror and homeland security. Their voices need to be joined by those of local government, the business community and citizen groups. Willow Grove has stood by us for more than 50 years. It’s now time for us to repay that debt.
By the way, the link to the "Save Willow Grove Air Force Base" effort appears under "Give Or Get Help" on this site.

A Stand Up Guy After All

Way to go Arlen! I know I've taken some shots at him in the past which were well deserved, I thought, but he certainly did the right thing this time (this was courtesy of Atrios, I think). He also deserves credit for persevering through Hodgkin's and trying to be a Repug voice of sanity.

P.S. - First he storms off the set of CNN spewing profanity, then gets suspended by the network, then he gets upbraided by Specter...gee, Bob Novak is having a great week, ins't he? And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Gut Churning Time

Read this, and feel disgust over the pretend leadership of this dry drunk chickenhawk.

Read this and this, and feel rage over the absolute sellout of our service people (as Paul Krugman noted recently, we have managed to remake that area of the world and shift power, but the problem is that Iran is the benefactor, not us).

(I hope you have better luck dealing with this than I do at this moment, though I will no doubt get over it somehow.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Forrestine '05 Is Under Way!

Second's out...

There's a left by the Senator (here, courtesy of Atrios)...

No wait...there's a right by the Repug drug millionaire (here)...

(Oh gosh, and we have so much more of this to look forward to, don't we?)

Paid For By “Harris For Senate ‘06”

And now, this commercial endorsement (based on this):

“Hello, I’m Katherine Harris. Whenever I’m doing everything I can to halt a recount of statewide votes in a hotly contested presidential election, I make sure I use Lady Ravlon products.

While I met with Governor Jeb Bush to discuss strategies to harass Democratic ward leaders and voting station volunteers, I painted my cheeks with a light, almost crème-colored gloss to convey softness and submission to authority. When I met with the nationwide press over the illegal removal of primarily Democrats from our list of statewide registered voters by Choice Point Corporation, I wore a heavy eyeliner in an attempt to communicate determination and resolve.

Through it all, Lady Ravlon has helped me to be the best woman I can be. I use their products every day. You should too.”

Bridge of Waste, Piggyback Dems, Etc.

The Al Franken Show blog has a story on the $223 million “Bridge To Nowhere” in Alaska, first documented in the Houston Chronicle, a monument to “pork” brought to us by the so-called “party of fiscal restraint” (see “Porky’s Revenge”).

Also, I had to laugh as I read comments from Rahm Emanuel and John Kerry in the CNN story about the vote in the U.S. Congressional election in Ohio, in which Repug Jean Schmidt won over Paul Hackett by a 52-48 percent margin. Both of these guys said they would have invaded Iraq even if there were no WMD! Yeah, they really represent me…sure they do (after Kerry said that during the election last year, he was at least half cooked at that point). You guys acted like you didn't even know Paul Hackett was running until it started to get close.

Paul Campos's latest column, by the way, is a well-deserved attack on obscene oil company profits. A link to his columns appears under "Great Writers."

Also (in the "speaking truth to power" department), this link tells the courageous story of Sister Rosalie Bertell of Lower Makefield, Pa. I thought it was great reading (have to scroll down slightly on the page).

Finally, I thought this item from The Huffington Post was interesting reading also (and I responded to the first two commenters and their stupid remarks…sorry to call them names, but the descriptions fit – I try to live in the “reality-based community,” as opposed to those zealots.)

A Reminder Of War

(And no, this isn’t “a global struggle against extremism,” or “a global conflict against insurgents,” or whatever Karen Hughes and Frank Luntz are calling it this week. If our people are dying, this is war.)

As surely as flatulence follows a case of indigestion and decay follows death, the murdering cowards of Al Qaeda have returned once more to try and frighten us into submission with threats of more violence (aided by our dear MSM cousins who get big ratings by trying to scare people).

The new number two jackal in this hateful bunch has issued more threats to this country and Great Britain in the wake of the London bombings and the ever-escalating threat to our forces in Iraq.

If these individuals weren’t so completely consumed with hatred and blood lust, they could actually make a case to the world community that the fundamental reason for their rage is actually credible to a point (re: the intervention of our forces in Iraq and our unquestioning support of Israel), but terrorism and their refusal to renounce acts of violence destroys their credibility.

This is yet another reminder of Bushco’s failure to bring some of these animals to justice. This is yet another reminder that we are fighting the wrong war in the wrong country for the wrong reasons. This is yet another reminder that the people running the countries who profess to be our allies (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia) are either completely co-opted by Muslim extremism or reluctant to lift a finger to apprehend these individuals because they fear to maintain their power or even continue to live their lives.

Here is my attitude (and it was the attitude I had when I drove home from work in King of Prussia, PA via the Pennsylvania Turnpike eastbound to New Jersey on 9/11, wondering if a plane would fall out of the sky and crash onto my car):

Only God knows how much of my existence on this earth is guaranteed, not some murdering coward with a rag on his head making threats from a hidden location half a world away. All we can do is live our lives as best we can, and what will be will be.

Oh, one more thing: David Sirota reminds us again about everyone who cheered Dubya on when we launched this misbegotten escapade in Iraq, which has contributed in a huge way to this dire mess (the Dems could definitely learn from Joe Hoeffel on this one).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cup Countdown?

(Of course, I just jinxed everything with the title...sorry.)

I've had a couple of posts about the NHL strike and the release of John LeClair from the Flyers, so imagine my utter shock to see some of the moves Bob Clarke has made over the last couple of days to bring in veteran players. Derian Hatcher is a real warrior on defense who hopefully has a good year or two left in the tank, and I like Mike Rathje as what they call a "stay at home" defenseman, but I absolutely cannot believe that the Flyers signed Peter Forsberg today! I hate to see Jeremy Roenick go, but I'll take the former over the latter.

Clarke has traded away an entire team full of young players, which has made me want to absolutely throttle him at times (including Jeff Woywitka and Jim Vandermeer, which will bite the Flyers oneday), but I have to give him kudos for these moves. It fills some holes in this team in a huge way for now.

(Hey, like I said below, Dubya is on vacation, so that limits the possibilities for topic content. Besides, this is big stuff around here.)

Hakuna Matata, Dubya

I’ve spent way, WAY too much time than I should have had to dumping on George W. Bush for a variety of reasons over the last year (coming up on that, between here and the old site), but I have to give him credit for something, and that is this. I cannot recall anyone who has been so good at taking vacations on the job as he has been since he was (Installed? Inaugurated? Elected and possibly re-elected under highly dubious circumstances? Oh, never mind…) as president.

And just to illustrate my point, he’s taking another one right now! What a model of consistency!

Well, with that in mind (and also keeping in mind that I do not wish to see violence happen to anyone, even a character as loathsome as Dubya is), I’d like to advise the President to be safe as he relaxes from the stress and strain of his high office. I would hate to see any, some, or all of the following happen to him (once, twice, or repeatedly):

· Accidentally fracturing his middle index finger while having a Frisbee toss with a Secret Service agent so he cannot use it again any time at a moment’s notice

· Plunging an ATV into a massive sink hole

· Inadvertently hacking himself with a chainsaw while trying to cut away underbrush for the fifth time

· Avoiding sourdough pretzel nuggets lest he choke again (remember that one?)

· Encountering Stevie Wonder again and waving hello to him

· Bringing a video camera with him to watch the Texas Rangers, his former team, and happening to get the device in the face of pitcher Kenny Rogers

· Listening to an aide tell him that someone found oil on that new tenth planet in the solar system that was just discovered, and then having Frist and DeLay (not buds at the moment) ramrod through Congress an emergency appropriations bill to fund exploration before Dubya found out the whole thing was a joke
Advising this president on these matters is, I believe, my patriotic duty. It is incumbent upon me to express my wishes for his safety so he can return to Washington and make more boneheaded decisions that I can rant about on this site, thus giving me all the motivation I will ever need to keep it running.

The Buckeye Blues

And now, this message from Paul Hackett:

Yesterday, one of the reddest regions in America turned a whole lot bluer.

I ran in a special election to serve in the United States House of Representatives from the 2nd District of Ohio. I am a Marine recently returned from Iraq, a husband, a father, an attorney, and a Democrat.

When I won the Democratic primary for this contest, few people believed we had a shot at victory. But DFA put its faith in me -- and went to work organizing on the ground and online. Your support helped build the greatest Democratic get-out-the-vote effort this district has ever known.

While we didn't pull out a victory yesterday -- we came incredibly close. We got 48 percent of the vote. And in those results rests hope for the future.

It had been 15 years since a Democratic candidate for Congress received more than 30 percent of the vote in Ohio's 2nd District and decades since a Democrat held the seat. Your support helped me improve Democratic performance by nearly 20 percent. This is a victory for democracy. And if we can do this in Ohio -- we can do it anywhere.

Join me, and help DFA elect Democrats in Ohio and across the country:

We have the power to win back Congress. Yesterday proved it. And DFA is on the front lines of the fight -- determined, hopeful and fearless.

I believe we can change this country. I believe we can win in every state -- and I know that you do too. Please join me today:

Thank you,
Paul Hackett

You're very welcome, Paul. Hopefully, we'll see you again in a couple of years to finish the job.

Psst, Buddy...Want A Pay Raise?

Kudos to The Bucks County Courier Times for keeping the Harrisburg pay raise travesty front and center as a story deserving of a lot of coverage (also to John Grogan in yesterday's Inquirer). The Courier Times editorial was a well-earned kick in the pants to the crooks who capitalized on it. Also, this article from yesterday provided more coverage.

Not all lawmakers take raise
By Alison Hawkes

Most of Bucks County's lawmakers voted against a pay raise and have also turned down the money personally, according to information released on Monday from House and Senate clerk offices.

The exceptions are Sen. Joe Conti, R-10 (Bucks), and Rep. Matt Wright, R-142 (Bucks), who both voted for the pay raise and have started collecting their own raises this month in the form of unvouchered expenses. Conti's salary is going up nearly $20,000, and Wright's salary is approximately $15,000 more.

On the other hand, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12 (Bucks), and Rep. Kate Harper, R-61 (Montgomery), both voted for the pay raise but have turned down ones for themselves.

Earlier, Greenleaf said his "yes" vote was directed towards judges' salaries - not the Legislature- and he would have preferred the two issues be split. Greenleaf voted against the last pay raise bill in 1995.

Despite Bucks' stance, a majority of state lawmakers have accepted the unvouchered expenses, which allow them to skirt constitutional requirements by collecting the equivalent of a pay raise immediately. The state constitution forbids lawmakers from voting for pay raises and taking them in the same term.

As the information was made public, activist Gene Stilp filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court against Gov. Ed Rendell, Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., and the two top ranking lawmakers, House Speaker John Perzel and Senate Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer.

"The pay raise act provides for large unconstitutional increases in unvouchered expenses to legislators during the current legislative session through a definition change to the word 'salary,' " the lawsuit stated.

Stilp filed a similar lawsuit in 1995 in protest to the unvouchered expenses, but the state Supreme Court upheld the practice.

The Senate clerk released information about the unvouchered expenses as a list of 23 senators who had waived receipt of them. But the House clerk's office made the process much more difficult.

Reporters had to make one-hour appointments to view a monthly report of employee pay and could not photocopy the list of more than 200 lawmakers. A spokeswoman for House Speaker John Perzel, R-172 (Philadelphia), said the viewing policy was common practice under House rules.

"The bottom line is, whether it's a member of the press or a private citizen, this information is available for review," said Perzel spokeswoman Beth Williams. "Taxpayers have a right to know but there has to be some form of organization."
Perzel is a creep. As John Grogan noted yesterday, he made a DVD of his swearing in ceremony after his latest election victory and tried to bill the taxpayers $57,000 for it. Grogan wrote a couple of columns describing his efforts to sell a copy of the DVD on eBay (funny stuff) before Perzel eventually caved and paid the bill himself.

Information about the unvouchered expenses technically only applies to August salaries, since lawmakers can change their minds at any point in time until their terms expire in December 2006.

Meanwhile, with public outrage still seething over the pay raise vote, House Minority Whip Mike Veon, D-14 (Beaver), defended the bill's passage at 2 a.m. on July 7, with no public debate, no advanced notice of its details, and under the suspension of a number of House rules.

At his office in Beaver Falls, Veon said: "I think the obvious reason is, it would be much more difficult to pass it if you had months of debate. My job was to find a way to get a pay raise bill through the Legislature."

Veon said he has no regrets, even as his office has surged with complaints. He has lobbied for a pay raise since November, and is taking the unvouchered expenses bringing his new salary up $31,415 to total of $124,788.

"Some people are upset. Some people say they won't vote for me again. Some are disappointed but say they will vote for me. I tell them I will work harder than ever to regain their confidence," Veon said.

Conti represents Falls, Lower Makefield, Morrisville, Tullytown, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, Yardley, 20 municipalities in Central and Upper Bucks and two Montgomery County communities. Wright represents Hulmeville, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Penndel, all but two precincts in Lower Southampton and part of Middletown.

Pay raise glance

Legislators who voted "no" on the pay-raise bill but accepted "unvouchered expenses" so they can collect the extra money immediately:

House: Armstrong, R-Lancaster; Forcier, R-Crawford; Gabig, R-Cumberland; Gergely, D-Allegheny; Habay, R-Allegheny; Haluska, D-Cambria; Hanna, D-Clinton; Mackereth, R-York; Myers, D-Philadelphia; Petrarca, D-Westmoreland; Ramaley, D-Beaver; Reichley, R-Lehigh; Sainato, D-Lawrence; Shaner, D-Fayette; Siptroth, D-Monroe; Stairs, R-Westmoreland; Yudichak, D-Luzerne. Senate: Kitchen, Stack and Tartaglione, all D-Philadelphia, and Logan, D-Allegheny.

Legislators who voted for the pay-raise bill but refused to accept the money early as unvouchered expenses:

House: Creighton, R-Lancaster; Frankel, D-Allegheny; Harper, R-Montgomery; Maher, R-Allegheny; Manderino, D-Philadelphia; Rohrer, R-Berks. Senate: Corman, R-Centre; Erickson, R-Delaware; Greenleaf, R-Montgomery; and Williams, D-Montgomery.
All the Philadelphia Democrats voted for it, though they were probably fearing reprisal from minority leader Bill DeWeese if they didn't (tells you how much the whole rotten mess stinks to high heaven).

These salary numbers I’m reading are truly outrageous. I know Dave Steil (the state House rep in my district) voted against the raise, but I don’t know if he actually took it. I don’t think he did. However, Joe Conti, our state senator, both voted for the raise and took it (as noted in the story).

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Once A Repug, Part 2...

Interesting letter in today's Inquirer...

Hypocrisy in the House

The U.S. House of Representatives covered itself with shame by once again violating procedure during the vote on the CAFTA free-trade pact.

The House records members' votes for 15 minutes. That time limit was once considered virtually sacrosanct. When the Democratic majority in the 1980s once kept a House vote open for an extra 10 minutes to gather enough votes to win, the outraged Republican minority, led by whip Dick Cheney, assailed the Democrats with profanity. Where is the Republican anger now, when they are in the majority and have made a mockery of House rules by holding the vote-recording open for an additional 45 minutes to gather enough votes for passage of CAFTA? Previously, they kept the vote on the Medicare prescription drug program open for three hours so that their side would prevail.

Such rank hypocrisy should not be tolerated by the voters.

Jeremy Johnson

Oh, and by the way, as long as we're on the subject of double standards, Time Magazine did it again this week, allowing Colorado rep Tom Tancredo to backpedal on the statement he made about bombing Muslim holy sites, a courtesy the magazine doesn't give to Dems of course ("but I wasn't talking about nukes, honest" - well, that makes what Tancredo said only slightly less idiotic than it really was).

For the record, here is what Tancredo did say (and believe me, if Fox reported this, then Tancredo is really dead to rights).

It's Not Too Late

By the way, a whole bunch of other bloggers out there have done a first-class job covering the 2nd U.S. Congressional District election in Ohio between psycho Repug Jean Schmidt and Democrat Paul Hackett who served in Iraq (and definitely saw combat, despite Flush Limbore's attempt to smear him while ingesting OxyContin today - the fact that Hackett has emerged so quickly on the Repug hit parade tells you something), but if somehow you're reading this and you can cast a vote for Hackett, or if you can relieve some workers at voting locations, drive somebody to vote who may need a ride, bring bottles of water, order dinner for volunteers who have been canvassing all day, etc., please do so. Thanks.

Update 8/3: Schmidt eked out a victory - ugh! - 52/48 percent, but Hackett did very well in a GOP stronghold.

Not A Good Start

Some local political news...

Ginny Schrader announced yesterday that she’s going to run again for the Democratic nomination to face Repug Mike Fitzpatrick when he runs again also next year as the incumbent for the U.S. House seat in the 8th district in Bucks County.

Excuse me if I don’t do handstands to show my enthusiasm.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’ve met Ginny and spoke with her. I like her. I think she would serve Bucks County well.

However, Bucks County is not going to elect her. This area is as close to “middle America” as you’re likely to find in this area of the state. By that I mean that it is very hard to elect a woman in politics around here because most men (and women also, strangely enough) won’t vote for them. Also, the perennial knock on Ginny, when she ran against both Ftizpatrick and Greenwood, was that she did not have experience in state or local government, and unfortunately, the Repugs can hit her with that again in the campaign (I know Bucks County Democratic poobah John Cordisco appointed her to some ceremonial position, but that doesn’t really count).

Besides, the first thing Ginny apparently did (based on the news report in the Courier Times) was apologize for using out-of-state volunteers in her last campaign, including members of, and taking donations from that organization also.

Starting your campaign with an apology is not exactly “hitting the ground running” as far as I’m concerned. Besides, I’m sick and tired of Democrats doing that unless something is terribly, terribly wrong. When was the last time you heard an apology out of a Repug?

Ginny, do us all a favor and please reconsider. Uniting behind Patrick Murphy against Fitzpatrick is a better option.

My Tribute to Current TV

I came up with this based on the headline from the San Francisco Online magazine. It's definitely an "homage" to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, as they say..

Look at that yo-yo, that’s no way to do it
Speaking to Fox and MSNBC
So use computers, iPod™ “casting”
“Mousing” for something and your clicks for free

Funds the “web,” wrote “Earth In The Balance”
Let me tell you, this guy’s not dumb
Trying to reach the blogger kids with piercings full of metal
A problem, since he’s “WASPY” as they come

Preaching to all his liberal causes
Global warming, diversity
Investing in the jobs of tomorrow
Makes pretty good sense to me

Now out of politics and running for the White House
The pundits can kiss his butt
Don’t ask about the Florida recount
Or Clinton and that Monica slut

Preaching to all his liberal causes
Global warming, diversity
Investing in the jobs of tomorrow
Makes pretty good sense to me

Stiff as a board, though – a prof for college
Is what he’s destined to be
Sold out Joe Lieberman, supported “Howie”
‘Til he screamed his way to infamy

Preaching to all his liberal causes
Global warming, diversity
Investing in the jobs of tomorrow
Makes pretty good sense to me
(and then, as if descended from the heavens, Sting sings this refrain...)

"I want my Al TV"

Monday, August 01, 2005

Three Dumb Dems

(see how they run...)

There’s a reason why I give so many plugs to David Sirota on this site, and that is because his posts are consistently excellent. His 7/30 post on the House and Senate democrats who sold us down the river on CAFTA is a good example.

Update 8/11/06: I don't know why I didn't include the link to Sirota's column a year ago, but here it is now.

In this post, Sirota goes after three high-profile Democratic senators in particular who frequently do not face strong opposition when running for re-election and thus have no particular reason to sell out the constituency they purport to represent (of course, running in a difficult campaign is no reason to go “weak in the knees” either). Also, all three of these individuals voted for either the fraud bankruptcy bill, the tort “deform” legislation, or CAFTA, with two of them voting for all three.

As Sirota explains…

But even if you subscribe to the ridiculous "swing state Democrats must sell out" theory and take out Senators who could have potentially tough re-election races like (Blanche) Lincoln (of Arkansas) and Bill Nelson (of Florida), you still have 3 safe Senators who are consistently undermining their party: (Tom) Carper (of Delaware), (Dianne) Feinstein (of California) and (Joe) Lieberman (of Connecticut).
That being said, though, I should point out that, as I reviewed their voting records, I found that all three came down on the right side on more issues than the wrong one. Also, what I describe below are highlights (and lowlights) from their records and not the sum total of their votes.

Of the three, I’ll discuss Carper first.

Carper has done a lot of things right. He has supported AMTRAK funding, voted against drilling in the ANWR (but I’ve found him weak on the environment otherwise, including his support for confirmation of Gale Norton as interior secretary), and voting against the GOP’s phony prescription drug giveaway to Big Pharma.

However, Carper has also voted to repeal the estate tax, and he also voted for rules restricting personal bankruptcies in June 2001 in addition to his recent vote. He also voted for the Iraq War, as did many of his Democratic colleagues. He also supported the so called partial-birth abortion ban unless the mother’s health was at risk, which wins politicians “sound bite” points but can sometimes prove to be a very difficult proposition in the real world when faced with catastrophic medical circumstances. And of course, Carper is also a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

Carper, as far as I’m concerned, is about as “pro-business” of a Democrat as you’re likely to find. However, the fact that he comes from Delaware, the richest state in the nation, doesn’t excuse him one bit as far as I’m concerned. And regarding the three bills I mentioned at the top of this post, he voted for all of them.

Lieberman, thanks largely to his selection by Al Gore as his running mate in the 2000 presidential election, has a huge political profile. Though at times he has been the poster child for whining, condescending liberal moralism (did I just say that?), that has been borne of genuine participation in the 60s civil rights movement, including the fight for voting rights in Mississippi, and like Carper, he also supported expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. I also admired him for his statement in the election that he wouldn’t campaign on the Sabbath, though he did make some exceptions, which is OK by me for whatever it’s worth. Lieberman, also to his credit, has worked effectively with Republican senators, primarily John McCain of Arizona, to pass campaign finance reform legislation and the judicial filibuster compromise (though, as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t give much to the Dems and isn’t going to stop the confirmation of right-wing nut jobs into the judiciary, but I think it was the best deal the Democrats were going to get, even though they’ve now hand strung themselves on the use of the filibuster).

On the other side, Lieberman favors school choice which, as far as I’m concerned, represents the abandonment of our public schools. Worse than that, however, has been his cheerleading for Iraq War II, stating that “Saddam’s overthrow has led Libya and Iran to capitulate” (please…), as well as stating that the war “would lead to Israel-Palestinian” peace, which is total pandering to his Jewish constituency. Also related to defense, he supports the “Star Wars” missile system which, despite approximately $80 million in funding, has yet to pass a single test. He voted yes for eliminating block grants for food stamps, a move I truly do not understand. Finally, he voted yes to ban lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence. And like Carper, Lieberman is a DLC member; also like Carper, Lieberman voted for all three bills.

I don’t really have much of a problem criticizing Lieberman, and I’m a little reluctant to say anything bad about Carper, but I feel genuinely bad about having to criticize Dianne Feinstein. I still have a vivid memory of watching her trembling in shock on the podium announcing the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Castro district supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978 and stating that, as president of the board of supervisors, she subsequently became mayor as a result of that horrifically violent act against Moscone (“The Times Of Harvey Milk” is a landmark documentary about Milk’s life and everything that led up to and followed that event).

Feinstein served as San Francisco mayor until 1988 and then won a special election in 1992 to finish the term of California senator Pete Wilson, who left to become governor of California. Feinstein has served in the Senate to date from that point.

In her favor, she has voted yes to disallow FCC approval of the merger of large media conglomerates (like Carper and Lieberman), voted to fully fund AmeriCorps, voted against the repeal of Clinton-era-passed ergonomic rules on repetitive stress injuries in the workplace, and voted to expand embryonic stem cell research. And aside from voting for telecomm deregulation in the 90s and Iraq War II, I can’t really find much that is bad about her voting record except for her votes to eliminate the estate tax, her support of tort “deform,” and her vote for CAFTA (though that is bad enough…Feinstein, to her credit, did not support the bankruptcy bill).

The votes by Carper, Lieberman, and Feinstein on the bankruptcy bill, tort “deform” and CAFTA bills have huge impacts, and voting on these bills represents a “gut check” that they could not afford to fail, though they did. By doing so, they showed that they do not fear reprisal from within their party.

They should.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fit For The Finger

Of these three items related to George W. Bush, I think this isn't the worst of the bunch (have to scroll down to the 7/28 entry).

Or this (again, have to scroll down to 7/28...I'm a little late on this one, I know, and I also know this has a duplicate photo from the Wonkette link).

No, I thought the worst item came from this link.

I realize a lot of people are going to care about the health of the President of the United States regardless of what political party he (or she, someday) belongs to. And it's a good thing that the President is in good physical health. However, it would be nice if this person were in good mental and emotional health also, though in the case of Dubya, I've long since given up on that possibility.

But for me, the line near the end really does it. It's nice that he met with the wounded and their families, and to say they are "incredibly courageous souls" is an understatement.

My question is this: What did you say to them? And what did they say to you?

Did they communicate to you any particular stories of sacrifice or hardship that impressed you in a particular way? Did you express your gratitude on behalf of yourself and the nation for what they have done or attempted to do? Did you explain to them how important their sacrifice was on behalf of your naive goal to bring something resembling democracy to an area of the world that has known nothing but regional, tribal and religious strife for centuries and apparently has no clue about how to rule itself? Did you outline something approximating a timeline for "success" in this war of yours as well as a list of goals to be accomplished before you can legitimately claim that it has all been worth it? Did you even consider the possibility of releasing a photo or video/sound clip of you meeting with the wounded and trying to get to know them?

No, you didn't, did you? And you know why? I can think of at least two reasons.

One, Karen Hughes was busy and couldn't get copy to you on time, or tell you what to do or give you any guidance as a PR flak.

Two, because you are a truly empty vessel of a person. You lack the empathy, understanding, imagination, and curiosity that God gave to a gnat. Clinton shone in moments such as this, but I realize that comparing you to a legitimate head of state is totally ridiculous.

Because this war of yours is nothing but an effort to expand the corporate empire of you and your peers, and the body count and measure of catastrophe on the part of those innocent victims of your new crusade is totally irrelevant to you.

You preposterously sell Iraq War II to us by using legitimate slogans and policies that were used by prior administrations for other conflicts that, admittedly, were fought for questionable reasons also (excluding World War II, of course). This plays well for your brainless minions, but more and more people are FINALLY waking up to the reality, as witnessed by your declining popularity numbers in all of the recent polls.

As I consider all of this, I have only this to say. The next time I hear, read or actually see you "flipping off" someone in the way shown from the first two links, I will have this response:

Same to you, Mr. President.

Update 8/1: I think Dubya just flipped us off again, symbolically though. As revolting a development as this is, it really isn't a surprise after all.

Update 8/4: Here's more...