Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ashes To Ashes

Rehnquist is dead (and I think Armando over at The Daily Kos summed up my feelings well today).

I wonder if Sandra Day O'Connor would now consider coming back as Chief Justice for real, which was what those senators proposed to her a few weeks ago (reportedly)? I made fun of it, but that would be a tremendous outcome. However, I'm sure Scalia would find a way to scuttle it.

Update 9/6: Alan Dershowitz gives Rehnquist the appropriate treatment here and meets with the predictable right-wing harassment, which apparently Rehnquist himself practiced in his younger days (surprise, surprise). I'm not the biggest fan of Dershowitz, but I admire him for setting the record straight.

The Party Of No Guts

Sssh…do you hear it?


Hurricane Katrina destroys the Gulf Coast. Our troops continue to die in Iraq for Bush’s illegal war. A thousand Iraqis die as well when a bridge collapses during a Shia religious observance. Ever-growing numbers of men and women (and especially children) now live in poverty in this country.


The media coverage shows conclusively to the entire world that the Bush Administration has no idea of how to coordinate state and federal forces to provide for Katrina’s victims, even when they know days in advance that a potential Category 5 hurricane (which had been dreaded in that area for years) is about to hit.

Also, when National Guard forces are FINALLY coordinated and brought to the scene, they must come from other states because Louisiana (in the case of New Orleans) does not have enough forces and equipment since the people and materiel are all over in Iraq, including high water vehicles (prompting Molly Ivins to ask a key question: why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?).

How do the Democrats respond?

No idea. Still trying to formulate a position, I guess (I know Harry Reid is sick, but c’mon people!).

Oh wait, actually, that’s not correct. Mary Landrieu arrived on the scene a day or so ago and praised Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for some reason before CNN’s Anderson Cooper quite rightly blaster her.

(I’ll get to last night’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” more later – no fireworks – but Maher spoke with Cooper and complimented him on his coverage, and Cooper thanked him and replied…and I’m paraphrasing…that politicians come down here and tell people that “we know you’re disgusted, and we know you’re angry.” People aren’t disgusted. People aren’t angry. People are dead.)

This likely would not have happened under Clinton because he would have found a way to ensure preparedness and demonstrate more than basic competence as the leader of the free world. However, if something like this HAD happened, what do you think the Repugs would be doing?


Spreading more big lies and innuendo.

Appointing commissions and subcommittees to supposedly look into what went wrong but ultimately serve for nothing more than political grandstanding.

Maybe even trying to introduce articles of impeachment (oh wait…they did that already for a stain on a blue dress that only 30% of the people in this country cared about.)

But how to the Democrats respond instead?


The party of FDR (right, Itsez?). The party (supposedly) of working men and women in this country that, by the way, just signed off on the most draconian bankruptcy “reform” this country has ever seen set to go into effect on October 17th (and as Atrios quite rightly pointed out a day or so ago, they had DAMN WELL BETTER support the Conyers bill that exempts Katrina’s victims).

The party that supported tort “deform” legislation that makes it practically mandatory to file a suit in federal as opposed to state courts, just about ensuring that the plaintiffs will lose.

The party that supported the highway bill that is truly a festival of pork, including the bridge to nowhere in Alaska.

The party that supported the fraud energy bill, which is an even bigger giveaway to Dubya’s buddies in the energy racket.

The party that supported CAFTA, meaning that still more jobs will be lost in this country to Central America.

Your Democratic Party.


I want to puke.

Update 1: If this is the best "the opposition party" can do, then I might as well shut down this whole site and give up. And a "freshman lawmaker," huh? What's the matter; we're the party "leaders" primping for "Faze The Nation" and the other Sunday morning gab fests?

Update 2: And to think, I wished this guy a happy birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Saying something vague and imprecise but somewhat supportive is one thing. Saying something that is an utter, unconscionable lie and being a total suckup (and thus setting the tone for the entire party to go cower in a corner somewhere) is something else altogether.

Maybe Bill could have said something like this, though luckily, the Times-Picayune did it for him.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Message From John Edwards

Some would view this as rank political opportunism. I don't. I view it as a plea from someone with courage, imagination, and the desire to fix basic, fundamental problems affecting many people in this country, qualities sorely lacking in the individuals who so dramatically "dropped the ball" this week.

Dear Friend,

During the campaign of 2004, I spoke often of the two Americas: the America of the privileged and the wealthy, and the America of those who lived from paycheck to paycheck. I spoke of the difference in the schools, the difference in the loan rates, the difference in opportunity. All of that pales today. Today - and for many days and weeks and months to follow - we see a harsher example of two Americas. We see the poor and working class of New Orleans who don't own a car and couldn't evacuate to hotels or families far from the target of Katrina. We see the suffering of families who lived from paycheck to paycheck and who followed the advice of officials and went to shelters at the Civic Center or the Superdome or stayed home to protect their possessions.

Now every single resident of New Orleans, regardless of their wealth or status, will have terrible losses and life-altering experiences. Every single resident will know and care about someone who was lost to this hurricane. But some, ranging from the very poorest to the working class unable to accumulate a cushion of assets to rely upon on a very, very rainy day, will suffer the most because they simply didn't have the means to evacuate. They suffered the most from Katrina because they always suffer the most.

These are Americans some of whom who left everything they possessed behind in order to save those they loved. These are Americans huddled with their children or pushing a wheelchair between rows of those too beaten or weak to stand. In this moment, we have to remember they are part of us, Americans who love their country and are part of our national community. In this moment, it is hard because our hair is clean and our clothes are washed and our eyes are not glazed with hopelessness. But these are our brothers and sisters, and we have to remember this not just for them, but for us. We must finally recognize that when any of us suffer, we are all weaker; it affects us all.

Commentators on television have expressed surprise, saying they think that most people didn't know there was such poverty in America. Thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty, most of them are the working poor, but it is clear that they have been invisible. But if these commentators are right, this tragedy can have a great influence, if we listen to its message.

The people most devastated have always lived on a razor blade, afraid of any setback, any illness, any job loss that could disrupt the fragile balance they achieved paycheck to paycheck. They didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. Some didn't leave their homes because they wanted to protect the hard-won possessions that made their lives a little easier.

The government released new poverty statistics this week. The number of Americans living in poverty rose again last year. Thirteen million children -- nearly one in every five -- lives in poverty. Close to 25 percent of all African Americans live in poverty. Twenty-three percent of the population in New Orleans lives in poverty. Those are chilling numbers. Because of Katrina, we have now seen many of the faces behind those numbers.

Poverty exists everywhere in America. It is in Detroit and El Paso. It is in Omaha, Nebraska and Stockton, California. It is in rural towns like Chillicothe, Ohio and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Nearly half of the children in Detroit, Atlanta and Long Beach, California live in poverty. It doesn't have to be this way. We can begin embracing policies that offer opportunity, reward responsibility, and assume the dignity of each American.

There are immediate needs in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and the first priority is meeting those, but after that, we need to think about the American community, about the one America we think we are, the one we talk about. We need people to feel more than sympathy with the victims, we need them to feel empathy with our national community that includes the poor. We have missed opportunities to make certain that all Americans would be more than huddled masses. We have been too slow to act in the face in the misery of our brothers and sisters. This is an ugly and horrifying wake-up call to America. Let us pray we answer this call. Now is the time to act.

- John

Wingnuttia Chimes In

I accidentally heard this morning that Glenn Beck, the right-wing yapping head who once threatened to kill Michael Moore, was carrying on because, according to him, 60 percent of the New Orleans police force didn’t show up for work today, and Bush should come down and federalize the national guard (those that are still there and not in Iraq, of course) and fire the police.

To start, I should say that I question anything I hear from the conservative echo chamber. I don’t know if this 60 percent number is legit, or if it came from Frank Luntz, the Media Research Center, or, to quote Al Franken, “Rush Limbaugh’s butt.”

Assuming it is, here’s something to consider: the police are outgunned by the roving mobs that filled the void when it took DAYS for relief and federal agencies to intervene. The police are supposed to report for work, sure, and they should be disciplined if they don’t, but doesn’t this cataclysm at least provide some mitigating factors? I guess, if Beck had the choice, he’d be too busy loading slugs into Mrs. O’Leary’s cow to drive carriages that would carry people to safety from the Chicago fire.

(note to anonymous commenters: don’t bother to inform me that the thing with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow is only a legend.)

Here’s another glorious electronic gem from Beck: “President Bush needs to go down there and have a ‘bullhorn moment.’”

Uh, Glenn, I have news for you: The time for a ‘bullhorn moment’ was about three days ago, or maybe even earlier.

Unfortunately, the rescue effort (which seems to be coalescing somewhat, thank God, at long last) requires a bit more than a ‘bullhorn moment.’ It requires massive coordination of state, federal, and private agencies the likes of which this country has never seen before. It takes private donations on an unprecedented scale also. It takes the recognition of the fact that thousands of people are dead and require ongoing medical assistance. It takes a continued, ongoing rescue effort and reclaiming/restoration of not just New Orleans but the entire region where Katrina hit that will take years and billions of dollars. And it will require much, much more than what I just mentioned for needs and circumstances that are unforeseen at this moment.

Leave it to you to trivialize this horror and turn it into some easily digestible “media moment” that you and many of your knuckle-dragging listeners can comprehend. I guess it’s easy to do that when it is impossible to show empathy and, instead, treat human suffering as merely an abstraction.

Why Isn't THIS On CNN?

Courtesy of a friend of mine...

Click this link and click the white boxes in the satellite photo. It will bring up before and after aerial shots of the locations hit by Katrina.

At least the BBC knows how to report this story in a way geared towards an adult of at least some intelligence.

Stupidity Reigns, Part Two

(More importantly, click here to help.)

Hunter over at The Daily Kos has an excellent wrapup today of the Repugs’ unutterably depressing performance from yesterday in the wake of Katrina’s devastation, including Dennis Hastert’s wish to abandon New Orleans and Condi’s Rice’s shopping adventures in New York City. For good measure, an account of the well-deserved verbal bludgeoning from CNN’s Anderson Cooper handed out to Dem Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is included also.

And this wonderful summation from Mike “Deer In The Headlights” Brown is proof positive that Bushco continues to have no clue about how to manage this catastrophe.

Paul Krugman provides commentary, and a well-deserved kick in the pants also.

Stupidity Reigns, Part One

Apparently, the august high-and-mighty print media gods at The Philadelphia Inquirer were too busy to sit down and read everything that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina the other day. The Inquirer criticized Kennedy for stating that the hurricane was punishment to Republican Mississippi governor Haley Barbour for "writing some memos opposing global warming policy."

According to Kennedy's column, here is what Barbour wrote in his capacity as an oil industry lobbyist and (unofficial, anyway) architect of Bush administration energy policy in 2001.

“A moment of truth is arriving,” Barbour wrote, “in the form of a decision whether this Administration’s policy will be to regulate and/or tax CO2 as a pollutant. The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore.” He derided the idea of regulating CO2 as “eco-extremism,” and chided them for allowing environmental concerns to “trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years.”
That sounds more extreme than anything Kennedy said in his post. As Kennedy noted, that single memo from Barbour scuttled Bush's promise to regulate CO2 emissions at the forceful urging of then-EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

And the Inquirer added today that, "Some climatologists see a link between global warming and increased hurricane activity, but it's not proven." Again, if the Inquirer had bothered to read what Kennedy said, they would have read this sentence:

"...The science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming."
For The Inquirer to lump Kennedy in with Louis Farrakhan and Michael Mancavage as "gusts of hot air" is patently ridiculous and a juvenile tactic for the supposed Philadelphia "paper of record." Sure, Kennedy’s rhetoric was a bit strident, but given the urgency of the issue and the scientific basis of his claim, can you blame him?

Maybe the Inquirer should devote more time to understanding this issue and less time to criticizing the blog of Montgomery County Democratic State Representative Daylin Leach (see "The Half-Full Glass" below...and Kevin Ferris apparently showers Rick Santorum with more hosannas today - gag me).

No Break From Thievery

As we know, the empty-suit-in-chief recently railed against people illegally profiting from the fuel shortages that are going to spring up now as a result of Katrina’s devastation of the oil refineries along the Gulf Coast.

Well, I’d like to know this. If the price of gas is contracted 30 days in advance, how come it is fluctuating so much immediately? That shouldn’t happen for a few weeks yet. Was there another shortage we didn’t know about, or is this taking into account the lack of expected production in Iraq due to insurgent attacks (something else this administration is trying to cover up)?

Also, not every region in this country receives its gas from the Gulf area. For example, there are numerous refineries in New Jersey, many of which are operating at reduced capacity due to layoffs. I have it on good information that the Hess refinery in Port Reading, for example, is operating at about a third of its capacity for that reason. Of course, reduced supply means a higher price (I’m no economics whiz, but even I know that). Are the people who were laid off going to be brought back to work to increase the supply and make gas cheaper?

(Of course, this doesn’t even take into consideration increasing support and development of alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar power – and yes, maybe even another look at nukes – as well as hybrid automobiles.)

Who’s gouging who in this deal, Mr. President?

Update: Here's more proof courtesy of The Smirking Chimp.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Black Pat Robertson

I have been completely unable to find an online link to this, but it appeared in print in the Inquirer today:

Farrakhan: God Punishing U.S. For Iraq With Storm

Speaking to a large crowd in South Philadelphia last night, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suggested that the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the violence America had inflicted on Iraq.

"New Orleans is the first of the cities going to tumble down...unless America changes its course," Farrakhan said.

"It is the wickedness of the people of America and the government of America that is bringing the wrath of God down," he told several hundred people at Tinsley Temple United Methodist Church.

His remarks were enthusiastically received.

He was in town as part of a multicity tour designed to drum up support for an Oct. 15 event in Washington designed to build on and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March he organized in 1995. The new effort is called the Million More Movement.

Farrakhan made similar remarks at a luncheon hosted by District 33 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which represents blue-collar city workers.

"The justice of God is coming home now," he said in an hour-long speech. Among those attending were (Philadelphia) City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Mayor Street's son Sharif Street, and Imam Shamsud-din Ali, the Muslim cleric convicted in the City Hall corruption probe.
First, "Reverend," if you think this country is evil, then as far as I'm concerned, you can revoke your citizenship and leave right now.

Second, I have to ask you something. Have you been watching the news? Do you have any idea of who it is who is suffering the most in the South's flood devastation? It is overwhelmingly poor African Americans. Are these people who barely had anything anyway even before this catastrophe somehow "wicked" for just trying to exist? I mean, I can understand that nut job with the bullhorn Michael Mancavage screaming about this since his audience is primarily rich white people with too much time on their hands (oooh - bet I get it for that), but that group has the means to flee from coming devastation, and I'm sure they did that in large numbers already.

Third, I want you and cretins of your ilk retire this whole "God's vengeance" rap once and for all. You know nothing of the mind of God - none of us do. Besides, after 9/11, I heard plenty of people who I would consider to be of high moral character saying that they thought it was God's vengeance upon them for some reason, and I told them to stop thinking like that.

Yes sir, Reverend, you sure have covered yourself in glory. Instead of marching on Washington, D.C. though, why don't you march through the worst hurricane disaster sites, try to lend a hand and do some good?

An Omission

Molly Ivins wrote an excellent column on the destruction in New Orleans from Katrina, but I’m not going to link to it because she mentions near the end, in a fashion that is uncomfortably cavalier as far as I’m concerned, that we should bring back the draft.

I’ve been thinking about this all day, particularly an hour ago when I tucked in the young one and said good night, with his stuffed animals Max the pug and Snappy the turtle by his side.

The thought of any politician deciding to conscript him and send him to some God-forsaken location in this world for reasons that he will never understand and have him kill people of a different skin color starts to induce a rage in me that makes me want to do just about the same thing myself to the person who would be responsible for such a heinous act. This is to say nothing of the very real possibility that he would either be killed or get so scrambled physically or mentally that he would never be the same.

Regarding this issue, I feel that I am about the only person who can look out for him. The Dems and Repugs are going to try and weasel (verb?) this issue into the spotlight once more, especially with our conventional forces and National Guard strength depleted from Bushco’s war and the Katrina fallout. Unfortunately, this all is likely to be inevitable.

I have not finished weighing my options in the event that this happens; I am still very much in that process. Also, if he ever tells me one day, after he has reviewed every single piece of reliable information that he can get and spoken with family members who have served, that he wants to do so also, of course I will support him (I want the recruiters to get out of his face). The military can be a fine way of life for the right person if it is a voluntary choice. If not, he should be allowed to do something else.

Also, a final note about Molly: she is absolutely a titan and continues to be so, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the second major slipup of hers in the past few months. The first one was over her statement that our forces killed more Iraqis in our invasion than those that were killed under Saddam Hussein, and when she realized the mistake, she corrected that immediately and apologized profusely like the true pro that she is. I know she’s battled cancer in the last few years, and I sincerely hope her health is OK and not affecting her work.

The Half-Full Glass

I'm sure you heard about this (from today's Philadelphia Inquirer):

Pa. lawmaker's blog: Funny - or offensive?
By Mario F. Cattabiani
Inquirer Staff Writer

His blog is laced with references to pornography and strip clubs, a lust for whiskey and women, and disdain for President Bush and Céline Dion.

Then there are some politically incorrect quips about Palestinians and "a third-world type" who cleans hotel rooms.

It's not the work of Howard Stern, or even a college kid with too much broadband.

The author of - a collection of humor columns - is State Rep. Daylin Leach, a Democrat from Upper Merion.

It's all meant in good humor from an elected official and self-described frustrated comedian.

Written over the last eight years, the columns - which he signs as Dutch Larooo - touch on everything from the birth of his daughter to his 21/2 years in the statehouse. The title of one: "Legislating while drunk."

It's observational humor, the Montgomery County representative said.

"I respect my constituents and all people enough to think that they are not going to think this is real," said Leach, 44. "It's just a joke. It's like Woody Allen marrying a sheep. I don't think he has an attraction to sheep. It was funny."

Some aren't laughing.

"How did he ever get elected in the first place? He needs help," said Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, an anti-obscenity group. "He's fixated on pornography and strip clubs. It should be a real eye-opener for his constituents."

The writings reveal a little-known side of Leach, who has earned a reputation in Harrisburg as a bright and independent-minded legislator. The blog also vividly illustrates what can happen when you put your thoughts on the Internet for everyone to see.

Many of Leach's writings have some reference to body parts, sex or pornography, or a combination of the three.

"We've all seen porno movies. In fact, we've all seen 5 or 6 porno movies a week since we were young boys growing up in Allentown," one reads.

Leach, a father of two, makes several references to young girls, including this passage about legislation he was backing: "The age of consent would officially be lowered to 'When Poppa ain't around.' "

He also quips about renewing his subscription to Hustler's Barely Legal and about knowing very little Italian.

"I've just learned the very basic things you would need to get by in Rome. I can say 'Hello,' 'Goodbye,' 'Where's the bathroom,' 'Is your sister really twelve?' "

Leach has tried his hand at stand-up and was a member of a comedic troupe years ago. "I don't have a sitcom, so it tells you how good I was," he said in an interview.

He said he started writing humor columns about eight years ago as "an outlet," and e-mails them to about 2,000 friends and acquaintances.

About a year ago, Leach started posting his "vents" online.

"I think we want, in society, to have elected officials who are not all the same all the time. And we should want them to occasionally let their hair down," he said.

"This is my private life. This is something I do. It's not obscene. It's not particularly offensive."

His columns, many written before he took office in January 2003, skewer a broad cross-section of America. He attacks the powerful and famous.

On Bush: "If he can become president of the United States, then there is no reason that the dumbest of you can't become Absolute Omnipotent Dictator of the Universe."

Dion, his most frequent foil, "has a voice like a thousand rabid monkeys trapped in a cement mixer."

He jokes about fictional exchanges with famous folks.

Pat Buchanan got a "little huffy," Leach wrote, "when I asked him if he'd ever been to a transvestite bar called the Bunny Hutch." A comment he made to Kitty Dukakis at the 1988 Democratic Convention - "Let's see the Ta-Tas" - spawned the low-cut sweater craze, he wrote.

He also pokes fun at those without any power. In one entry called "Travel Tips," Leach wrote:

"It may be easy to romanticize sleeping in a teepee, braving the elements and mixing with the dung beetles, but trust me, having a cozy bed and a third-world type who cleans your room and you can call 'Consuela' (regardless of her real name) goes a long way towards helping you forget any pending disbarment proceedings back home."

One column in particular has some Arab Americans fuming.

He wrote this about bachelor parties in different cultures: "The Palestinians like to welcome the bachelor to marital bliss by holding him up in the air and cheering, then strapping several pounds of dynamite to his chest and having him blow up a school bus (the groomsmen all chip in for the dynamite).

"Palestinian women are troubled by their future husband being splattered all over the ground, but grateful that he wasn't exposed to any naked women."

James J. Zogby, founder and president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, called Leach's comments inappropriate and insensitive.

"This is outrageous. We've lowered the standards for our elected officials, but he fits even below those lowered standards," Zogby said.

Leach, who is Jewish, said: "I guess someone could be offended by that. I wrote it well before becoming a legislator. At the time, I had a law partner who was Arabic. It was not meant to be offensive."

His last posting chided the media for sending reporters to Seattle to cover legislators, including himself, as they attended the nation's largest convention for lawmakers last month.

It mentions that a reporter, whom it calls "Mario," would attend, and that knowing that they would be watched, lawmakers were given rules to stay out of trouble. One called for "no using tax dollars to get a haircut, or a tattoo or to get your jimmy pierced."

Such a volume of writings - there are more than 200 "vents" - could smell like red meat for a political opponent in next year's elections.

"In today's world, these are not funny things. Maybe if you are a professional comic on cable TV, you can get away with it. But not when you are in public life," Ken Davis, the Montgomery County GOP chairman, said after reading several entries. "If a candidate, Republican or Democrat, were to run against him, then they certainly would take a good, hard look at these comments."

Soon after joining the House, Leach wondered in a column whether his writings might affect his political future.

"After I was elected to the legislature, I was encouraged to put the Vent on hold for a while, if death threats can be considered encouragement. Some worried I might say something that would speed up the inevitable impeachment process. Others worried I would say something that might slow it down."

Mike Manzo, chief of staff to House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese, said he had read some of the columns and found them "downright hilarious."

"Daylin is one of the most genuinely funny people I've ever met," he said. "A lot of people will criticize him for this. But they just don't get his sense of humor."

Roderick Millwood isn't sure Leach has a future in comedy.

"I didn't see anything comedic there, and I was looking for something funny," said Millwood, general manager of the Laff House, a Philadelphia comedy club, who reviewed the site. "But he's free to come down on the last Wednesday night of the month, when we have open mike night, and give it a try."

A Leach Sampler

These are excerpts from State Rep. Daylin Leach's blog:

On giving

"I have found it rewarding to take time to do things for others. If Britney Spears needs a back rub, I'll give it to her. If Britney needs a big ol' spanking, I'm there."

On himself

"Do you remember how every elementary school has some kid who is so slow and pathetic that all the other kids beat him up. Well, in my school, that kid beat me."

Why we shouldn't execute Osama

"The minute we kill him we are sending him to paradise where 72 virgins await him (or 71 virgins and one girl who went horseback riding a lot)."

The political risks of S&M

"To me, being sat on by a morbidly obese, leather-clad dominatrix is not fun. But it would probably still be a bad idea to be photographed doing it."

Prepping for a marathon

"My training consisted of running through the streets of certain rural neighborhoods near the capital wearing a "Leave the Sheep Alone!" T-shirt. I thought being chased would motivate me to keep running."

A fulfilled life goal

"Get totally stoned on fine Lebanese Hashish with Henry Kissinger. Check."

On strippers

"Whenever Jasmine, Cocoa, Lolita, Puka-Puka or Clitoris (it's amazing how all the women with exotic names wind up working for strip clubs) came near you, you had to tip them to sit, to dance, to stop dancing, to leave, and to never tell you about their plans for medical school again."

On alcohol

"Specifically, I dreamt:... of a world where every Starbucks also served Whiskey - cheap, 24 hours a day - to absolutely anybody."

From "The Lost Poems of Osama Bin Laden"

Once I glimpsed a woman's foot
as I walked by the forge
I had to halt an execution
my loins were so engorged
OK, now that we've had the "sky is falling" news report, I should let you know that I just went to the site to find out more on this, and this is the message that appears:

There is a good chance you stopped by this site because of an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday.

If that is why you are here, allow me to provide some context.

Other than my family, I've had two main passions in my life: one is politics and the other is comedy. Humor helped me get through a difficult childhood and has frequently enabled me to keep perspective whenever I get discouraged. I was a performing stand-up comic in my 20s and performed with a sketch comedy troupe in my 30s. As my legal career became more demanding, and as I got married and prepared to start a family, it became impossible for me to continue to find the time to perform.

To allow myself the opportunity to continue writing comedy, I started writing a column of mostly political satire called "The VENT," which I sent to friends and colleagues on my E-mail list every few weeks or so. As the years went by, more people asked to be added to the list, and some suggested I set up a website so they could read old ones from time to time. This is that site.

My comedy has always been first and foremost just that, comedy.

I was simply trying to make other people, and myself, laugh. The events portrayed in any VENT were fictitious and the people therein (except for the truly famous, like President Bush) may have been based in part on people I met, but they were all fictionalized.

I also acknowledge that my comedy is sometimes irreverent. All good political satire is. It expresses positions of contention and controversy in order to encourage the audience to look at their own conclusions. I certainly never meant to offend anyone - I have people of every description on my e-mail list, and not one person ever indicated to me that they were offended by something I wrote. Mostly, I think, because they know me and understand who I am.

I'd like to say a word about that. I got into politics because of a commitment to civil rights. On issues such as affirmative action, anti-discrimination initiatives, ethnic profiling, women's rights and gay rights, I don't think there is a more progressive voice in the Pennsylvania legislature. My wife and I named our first daughter Brennan after Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who is my personal hero in part for embodying our nation's commitment to civil rights.

Any joke I made with a political point was made in furtherance of progressive values, even as I sometimes made fun of those who do not, in my judgment share those values. If anyone has been offended by anything I have written, I am truly sorry. I was trying to make people laugh and think, not upset them.

I was advised that I should temporarily take the blog down, due to the possibility of someone hacking into the site and modifying the content to reflect something that I did not say. I hope to have it back up soon in a secure environment.

Thank You,

Daylin Leach
Call me crazy, but these don't sound like the words of a hateful bigot.

Judge Ye Not...

Two things:

One, this important post from Atrios regarding the Katrina fallout:

I don't think it was that long ago that most Americans had at least some small connection to poverty. Immigrant parents and grandparents, family members who experienced the worst effects of the Great Depression, or simply growing up fairly poor. It's sad that so many people can't understand that if you live paycheck to paycheck, and you don't have any credit, it might actually be impossible for you to fill your gas tank.
Two, this fine column from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Lucia Herndon on media coverage of the disaster:

What pictures of the looters really may say

I knew it would happen - just didn't know when.

I'm talking about television news footage of looters played over and over in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Looting occurs whenever law and order breaks down as a result of disasters natural or manmade. But since the advent of television, looting seems to be a black thing. From the Watts riots in the 1960s to today, you can count on pictures of black folk hightailing it away from some store with electronic appliances, jewelry and furniture.

So while reporters from 24-hour TV news channels poured into the area almost as fast as the rising waters, I didn't have long to wait for the looting story to flash on my television screen. And even though it was expected, I found myself a little sad. But mostly mad.

We journalists have a collective knee-jerk reaction in certain situations, disasters especially. We look for people, things, quotes that will convey what we want or need to convey. But overuse of this practice leads to cliché and stereotype.

In Iowa, where tornadoes are a summertime surety, reporters are always looking for someone to say that the barn-flattening winds sounded like a freight train. At my old newspaper, the first reporter to get that quote was treated to a beer after work.

For television reporters, shots of blacks looting are quick, easy and downright expected.

New Orleans is more than a party-time tourist destination. It's a city where two-thirds of the population is black, so I'm not surprised to see black people looting. Many are poor: The median income for whites is a low $31,971; for blacks it's a subterranean $11,332. Truth is, life in the Big Easy has never been that way for many.

My question is, are blacks really the only looters? Or are they the only ones deemed worthy of camera time? Does 30 seconds of tape, rewound and replayed, tell the whole story? If pictures of looters never made it onto the air, would viewers be deprived of crucial information? Do these images advance the story of the plight of people?

Or do they play to stereotype, prejudice and fear?

Yes, stealing for profit and personal gain is wrong. And I hope those who decided to take advantage of a disaster to haul off flat-screen televisions and DVD players find no way to profit from their theft.

But during a devastating disaster like this, good, law-abiding citizens may do things they would never do normally. On TV I saw people carrying what appeared to be groceries, water, and bags of ice. With no water, power, or way out of town, it looked to me that the "looters" were trying to survive rather than upgrade their stereo system.

Before you say "I would never," just remember that's pretty easy to say and believe as we sit in our comfortable, dry, air-conditioned homes with ice, water and food a few steps away. Hunger to us means we haven't eaten in a couple of hours.

Think about it: Water's at your knees, kids are hungry and thirsty. You'd call 911 if you had a phone and if someone would answer. How could I say that if this were my situation, I wouldn't be one of those people heading out of the Wal-Mart with things that could help my family survive?

So don't draw conclusions about the ways of black people from the few moments of "de rigueur" pictures of looters. Black citizens are also among the weary, the rescuers and the rescued, the resilient, the righteous... and the dead.

They just don't get much airtime.
And finally, with all this in mind, I present the “Clueless Media Moment Of The Day” from CNN:

Wolf Blitzer was playing all-omniscient-TV-talking-head with a correspondent named Jack Cafferty, and looking over the news footage of looting in New Orleans, Blitzer condescendingly opined: “These people are so poor and so black…”

Ugh...I'm quite sure Leonard Pitts, Jr. will have something to say about this also.

By the way, Atrios and The Daily Kos have the text of what Cafferty said about Bushco's fumbling of the relief effort so far. More importantly, though, this is where to go to get or give help.

Play Nice At The U.N., Johnny

This article to me is proof positive (as if we needed it, I guess) that John Bolton’s job at the U.N. is to make sure that the United States commits to absolutely nothing regarding all of the issues affecting ourselves and other countries. No timetables, no commitments…nothing.

Oh, and by the way, China and other nations have pledged to help us recover from Katrina. Maybe it would be nice to show a little gratitude and not wreck the millennium goals document, OK?

Easy Freeper

In the midst of the horrific stories surrounding Katrina, the Iman bridge collapse in Iraq, and the controversy surrounding the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination, I found out something yesterday courtesy of Gail Shister and the Philadelphia Inquirer which truly “shook me to my foundations” so to speak.

Dennis Hopper is a Republican!

"People would be surprised to know that," says Hopper, maverick star and director of the '69 hippie-stoners-on-bikes classic, Easy Rider, in a recent interview.

"I've been a Republican since Reagan. I voted for Bush and his father. I don't tell a lot of people, because I live in a city where somebody who voted for Bush is really an outcast."
Man, how do you like that? I guess that explains some things, though. I can picture Frank Booth of “Blue Velvet” tutoring at the feet of the late (but hardly lamented) Lee Atwater, whose protégé at that time was this obscure hack and opportunist still working out the kinks in his despicable act named Karl Rove.

“Lee, dude, you are so bleeping suave! You’ve got to send a crate of rubbing alcohol to Dukakis’s wife and get photos of the slime in Boston Harbor and blame him for not cleaning it up! DON’T YOU LOOK AT ME!”
Or the stoned photojournalist in “Apocalypse Now” (actually, “stoned” something or other was a standard Hopper role for a long time), talking to Martin Sheen trapped in the tiger cage:

“Like, Kurtz, man, he’s…he’s the master. He is all knowing. And don’t ask how, he just is. You see these guys running around with the machetes and grass skirts? You think they’re Filipino, but noo maan! They’re all Contra refugees. Kurtz called Reagan and got a bunch of Hueys to transport them over….hey, look maan, I know this movie is about Vietnam and not the 80s, but do you think this is reality? Where do you think Brando is getting his dialogue from? He’s making it all up – he read half of it from the box of Cocoa Puffs he ate for breakfast this morning!”
I can also picture Hopper, as the patsy in “True Romance,” giving the speech he gives to Christopher Walken before Walken shoots him to Barack Obama instead (oooohhh – watch it!). Also, I’m sure Dubya rides a horse as successfully as Hopper did as Rock Hudson’s son in “Giant.”

Well, this is just one case where I’m going to respectfully disagree and leave it at that. I give Hopper credit for making a successful career for himself and managing to stay alive. Maybe one day he’ll see the light, but if he doesn’t, that’s OK too.

President Stupid Head Stikes Again

I have only this to say in response to this article:

How about “zero tolerance” for corporate crooks who artificially inflate the price of energy-related futures commodities in Texas and California and gouge people by millions of dollars? How about “zero tolerance” for your friends in the oil biz who use their clout to award themselves billions in pork dollars in the fraud energy bill the Repug Congress just passed (oh, sorry – that was legal thievery, wasn’t it?).

Thanks for giving a lot of people the idea of illegally profiting from our new energy crisis who may not have had that idea before, you putz! Why don’t you go back to playing the guitar with the Presidential seal on it while thousands upon thousands try to figure out how to live amidst their suffering and our people continue to die in Iraq thanks to your illegal war?

And Arianna Huffington calls you on your photo-op “leadership” yesterday, by the way, as well as that of your flunkies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Roberts Redux

With everyone quite rightly focusing on the destruction of Katrina in the Gulf Coast states, it is important to remember that the hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts are due to start next week. I thought this column from Jonathan Turley in USA Today was instructive (though he dumps on Sandra Day O'Connor a bit at the end...sure she was a political animal - and who isn't? - but though I think she screwed up from time to time, she distinguished herself at the end).

Also, Liberal Oasis (a site I should go to every day) has an excellent summation of the political landscape on this issue (and the sad fact that the Repugs are outspending us like crazy...they'll never run out of money; we can't beat them on that score, but we have to win on getting the word out on what a bad apple this guy is any way we can and making that case).

Bushco's FEMA Follies

What follows in this post is not of primary importance. What is of primary importance is accessing the FEMA site and finding out how to provide aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

After doing so, please learn more about what has been going on with FEMA under Bushco. To start, the administration cut $270 million in disaster relief programs in its first fiscal budget submitted on April 9, 2001 (pg. 9 of the attached .pdf document).

This link courtesy of Swing State Project (as well as this follow up link from that site also) provides further background on how FEMA dropped the ball regarding the necessary preparedness for the dreaded “Category 5” hurricane that the region had been fearing for years (though, due to an unforeseen stroke of good luck, the hurricane ended up as a “Category 3,” though I’ll admit that this is a story where it is very difficult to find good news).

Finally, this takes you to an excellent article about FEMA from the Baltimore City Paper written last September (as the article states, Bushco got moving for Florida when it was hit twice, but of course this happened during an election year – more unflattering tales of Bushco favoritism and general incompetence…maybe FEMA should be rolled under DHS, but that doesn’t mean it should lose any funding for that reason).

Update 1: Will Bunch provides more (courtesy of Editor and Publisher and The Al Franken Show blog) as well as The Wall Street Journal (not an editorial, but a news story, courtesy of The Huffington Post).

Update 2: I thought Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., courtesy of The Huffington Post, provided some interesting context also regarding Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's successful effort to squash new regs on CO2 emissions in 2001 and the potential impact it played in creating the conditions for Katrina (yes, I believe there is something to that because, even though hurricanes have been taking place throughout the history of this planet, I think something is wrong when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is 90 degrees, enabling Katrina to build up strength before it wrought its havoc).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Next, Asians Will Major In English Lit

Boy, isn't it nice to read some good news for a change? This should put to rest some of the whining we've been reading from Bill Gates and other captains of industry in this country along the lines of, "well, gosh, of course I have to hire programmers in Mumbai or Singapore instead of keeping the jobs in this country because they have the math skills and our kids don't."

(Of course, as we know, offshore workers get paid a fraction of what their counterparts in this country earn, and with no bennies. But of course that doesn't factor into the discussion. Sure it doesn't.)

A dark cloud in the story, though, is a decrease in the verbal scores. Students have to be able to think, reason, and communicate as well (oh, but that's that dreaded liberal bias on college campuses seeping in again with a thought like that, as that right-wing ass David Horowitz would cry. Yes siree...let's all read up on "intelligent design" and travel to Kansas and burn some more books. Yee hah!).

They Killed Kenny! You Hooligans!

I read this on Pandagon via Atrios today, and geez oh man, we just can’t let this happen (can we)?

I can see the “read-through” of the next script for “The Sopranos”:

Paulie: “Yo, T, I gotta go (Ed: “confront a gentleman”) over some (Ed: “ill-gotten payment”). (Ed: “That n’er-do-well”) lowlife was tryin’ to (Ed: “delay remuneration”) – you know, your cut from…” (Ed: difficult to locate a comparable contextual English phrase for excessive sports book winnings…have to substitute something or else condone illegal gambling activity).

Tony: (Ed: slamming fist on desk – a stretch, but we can allow it). “That (Ed: unpleasant person). (Ed: not sure how to communicate an act of sodomy with the aid of a hardware appliance, but we can try “I’d like to punch him in the nose” for now).
Or “Cathouse”:

Brandy: “Well, Darrin was new to the ranch, and he was a bit nervous at first, but then I led him into the room with the glass ceiling and the leopard-skin sofa, where I poured him a drink of (Ed: Coca Cola or hot toddies…have to check since we may have just signed a marketing agreement with Pepsico). He had several more, and then I removed my (Ed: “lightweight undergarment”) before we both (Ed: began discussing his new line of insurance products).
Or “Martin Lawrence Live At The Apollo”:

(Ed: Don’t even bother…)
Atrios, as usual, is dead-on with his recommendation about how to put an end to this nonsense (though given the single-minded, tiny-brained ferocity of Bushco and their minions, I think this will be “the big MSM story” 24/7/365 after the Roberts hearings are over).

All But "Mah Daddy," Huh?

I think the commenters on the thread for this communicated my sentiments perfectly (and I added this for good measure).

It just occurred to me that Dumbya's Administration is the best argument for presidential term limits that I have ever seen. Also, isn't it interesting how every chief executive who wins a second four years in office (and of course with Dumbya, you have to put an asterisk next to that) ends up getting cut down to size for one reason or another?

Boy, his poll numbers should be simply smashing after this, right?

Antonin Scalia's Greatest Hits

So our second-in-command (soon to be first I’m sure, sadly) Supreme recently had fun at some conservative stomping ground somewhere blasting those who had the temerity to question judicial appointments (I mean, he COULDN’T have been drawing the lines of battle before the hearings on John Roberts begin in earnest, could he?).

Well, bully for him (to quote TR…literally and figuratively in this case).

Unfortunately, we really can’t do a thing about this character since he’s installed at “the show” for life. In that regard, I hate to give Reagan credit for anything, but I have to admit that, after Robert Bork’s nomination was defeated, The Gipper went out and got someone who was more doctrinaire, and after expending political capital on the first nominee, the Dems didn’t have anything left to defeat the second, and we’ll be living with the result for a long time to come.

However, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be tried in the court of public opinion from time to time, if for no other reason to remind us all of what a nut he truly is (an extremely intelligent and erudite nut, but a nut all the same).

Here are some quotes of his that particularly caught my eye:

“Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.”

“If we're picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience a 'new' Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We should look to people who agree with us. When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution useless."

"[The Freedom of Information Act is] the Taj Mahal of the Doctrine of Unanticipated Consequences, the Sistine Chapel of Cost-Benefit Analysis Ignored."
These rulings give you a look into what is going on with him also:

Leave abortion up to the states; court should get out of this area…Roe v. Wade should be overturned (June 1992)

Taxpayer funding OK for parochial school materials (June 2000)

Can't sue polluters after they stop polluting. (Jan 2000)

Limit Clean Water Act (CWA) restrictions to navigable waterways. (Jan 2001)

Rape victims cannot sue their alleged attackers. (May 2000)

Felons may possess guns unless state explicitly prohibits it. (Jun 1998)

Limit employer liability for sexual harassment by employees. (Jun 1998)

Miranda rights can be overruled by Congress. (Jun 2000)
Also, it is thought in a great many circles around Washington that Scalia was the author of the majority opinion in “Bush v. Gore 2000,” perversely (but cunningly) twisting the intent of the Equal Protection Statute as grounds to award the Florida election (and the presidency) to Dubya.

As I said, we can’t touch this guy. But that doesn’t mean that he should be ignored either.

The Still-Raw Wound

It may be that way forever...

From Tim Grieve of posted today (you have to register).

Sheehan's numbers? Better than Bush's

George W. Bush says that he's met with the families of a lot of fallen soldiers and that Cindy Sheehan "doesn't represent the view of a lot" of them. We have no way of knowing one way or another, of course: The meetings are closed to the press, so it's hard to know what family members have told the president, let alone what they actually think.

But thanks to the wonders of modern polling, we do know what American families think more generally, and it turns out that Cindy Sheehan does indeed "represent the view" of a lot of them. In a new
Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of Americans say they support what Cindy Sheehan is doing in Crawford.

The president can only dream about poll numbers like Sheehan's. While Americans support Cindy Sheehan's actions on Iraq by a margin of 53 to 42 percent, the latest
AP-Ipsos Poll shows they disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq by a margin of 58 to 37 percent.

Memo to the right: The
demonization of Cindy Sheehan is working just about as well as the president's plan for Iraq. Perhaps it's time to reconsider both.
And for anyone who would still, at this point, take issue with Cindy Sheehan (yes, I know there’s a bunch still out there), I would submit this for your review (I don’t know exactly where this came from, but it sounds pretty legit to me).

Also, “Crooks And Liars” has a video of Perry Jeffries speaking up in defense of Sheehan (I’ll check it out later).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just Added: Dick Cheney Tells The Truth

I accidentally browsed to the Move America Forward web site (which is the only way I would do it), and it turns out that, because of the sensational success of the “You Don’t Speak For Me, Cindy” tour now frothing bilious right-wing propaganda in Crawford, TX, the group, in conjunction with Free Republic, has decided to sponsor a series of moderated discussions touring across the country. Topics include the following:

“Zell Miller: Backstabbing, Overwrought Zealot Or Unappreciated Visionary?”

“Hillary Clinton, Hugo Chavez: Same Initials, Same Leftist Agendas”

“The Poisoning Of Young Minds By Playstation 2™ Games, Gangsta Rap And The Theory Of Evolution”

“Messages of Homosexual Indoctrination In Spongebob Squarepants™ Cartoons”

“Compared To Franklin Pierce and Warren Harding, George W. Bush Not Such A Bad President”
Also, I have reliable background information that Rick Santorum will moderate several – or possibly all – of these discussion groups depending on the tour schedule (which has yet to be announced), as well as his latest approval rating.

When the schedule is finalized and you find out the library/public meeting place/Greyhound station men’s room/slaughterhouse near you where the discussion will take place, be sure and wear your brown shirts and march in lockstep over right away. It’s important that we cleanse our minds of any contrary thoughts in violation of the latest edict from The High Exalted Leader at the earliest possible moment.

(One more thing: apparently, the guy in charge of Move America Forward is Howard Kaloogian, who I mentioned in a post a week or so ago about the entire group. Kaloogian, among his other accomplishments, is a failed U.S. Senate candidate from California. The reason why I’m mentioning this – and I definitely apologize for being “snarky,” but I have to say this – is that I wouldn’t be a member of any group that is run by a guy with a name like Kaloogian. The name conjures up images of a scatological reference to a bodily function, as well as an imperial leader of a race of aliens.)

Pay No Price, Bear No Burden

This post from Beth Quinn on The Smirking Chimp is simply too good not to link to here.

I described a few weeks ago how Lyndon Johnson reacted and what he said in response to the attack on the Freedom Marchers before the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Quinn’s post describes how Johnson’s predecessor in the White House reacted to a lesser, but still important, national emergency (yes, I know it affected the military, but it affected the rest of us also).

By the way (speaking of the absence of leadership), do you know that Dubya STILL has not vetoed a single spending bill send across his desk (I probably linked to this already, but I think it deserves another “prop”)? He should be known as “The E-Z Pass President”.

Update: OK, to be fair, I'll let him crow about this for a moment or two, temporarily putting aside all of his garbage concerning the war; this does a little towards establishing stability, but not a lot (and I agree with Ron Wyden).

Katrina And The Waves

There are two things we can do about the hurricane hitting Louisiana and Mississippi at this moment:

1) Donate money to the Red Cross, as The Daily Kos points out, since they know how to coordinate relief efforts with FEMA and other agencies (and I'm afraid this is going to be the mother of all relief efforts, so to speak).

2) Pray.

To get some idea of what we could be faced with, go here to read the blog of Miles O'Brien of CNN. Short of the tsunami, this could be catastrophic.

Also, here is a link from Refdesk and the National Hurricane Center about the costliest hurricanes over the period of 1990-2004.

(I wonder which group Pat Robertson is going to blame for this disaster, claiming that it's God's wrath against them, no doubt?).