Friday, October 07, 2005

The Alpha And The Omega

(…of news reporting and broadcast journalism, anyway)

I’m going to find some way to see this movie about Edward R. Murrow. I don’t really have anything else to say about it yet, except that I’m sure it will provide some context that is desperately needed today, not just regarding the news business, but how too many people unquestioningly accept the spoon-fed pap that passes for information without realizing that they are not being informed enough to make the correct decisions as citizens.

So basically, this is a free plug, for whatever it’s worth (and thanks to George Clooney…by the way, there were a lot of problems in the fourth “Batman” movie, but he should’ve been wearing the costume through all four of them).

Update 10/14: Clooney's movie, based on this review, sounds like a masterpiece.

(By the way, in their day, Murrow and his "boys" would have walked rather than put up with something like this from their network.)

Update 10/10: This is what the above Media Matters link is referring to, by the way (with Freeh and his self-sastisfied mug showing all of the loyalty to his boss that Brutus showed to Caesar).

Time For More Funny Numbers

Here is what I noticed from this story:

1) How common a practice is it for any presidential administration to go back and “revise” job estimates that they had already announced? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. Why would they do it? Has it been done by any administration besides Bushco? Inquiring minds want to know.

2) It is mentioned on two occasions, once in each of the first two paragraphs, that these numbers were affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (the job loss total includes, I’m sure, the 3,000 municipal workers laid off by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin - update 10/08: and isn't it just precious that there's no problem getting money for "pork" from Congress, but 3,000 people have to lose their jobs because FEMA doesn't have enough scratch? Bushco does it again!). For more overkill, I minimized the window on my PC showing the CNN story and how was the window identified at the status bar at the bottom of the screen? It was called “Katrina-affected September job loss less than forecast.” Gee, do you think something besides Katrina affected the numbers? Do you think it was the fact that THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE SUCH A TERRIBLE JOB OF DEVELOPING GOOD PAYING JOBS WITH GOOD BENEFITS? DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT HAVE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT?

(Sorry for the “shouting.”)

3) The justification for the headline of “Job losses not so steep” comes from the fact that ONLY 35,000 jobs were lost in September as opposed to the 150,000 that were projected by “experts.” Only in the through-the-looking-glass world of Bushco could this be considered as progress.

(Actually, as per usual in these types of stories, there are so many statistics being thrown around that it’s very hard to figure out exactly what’s going on anyway, which is completely intentional as far as I’m concerned.)

Welcome To Reality

I guess even Pope Benny sees “the handwriting on the wall” (and let us not forget that His Holiness was the one who issued the edict that pro-choice Catholic politicians – i.e., John Kerry running in ‘04 – should be barred from receiving Communion, which certainly steered Catholics and others towards Dubya…Chris Floyd wrote a scathing piece months ago about what could have been a link between Bushco and the Vatican, and what their common interests were, and if I can track it down, I’ll link to it here).

By the way, I found the item above from The Huffington Post.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush Crony Alert

I think we should all be particularly wary of any member of Bushco who has been entrusted with overseeing an agency or department that interacts with an industry or activity that pertains to everyday health and safety issues. I think the living, breathing presence of Mike Brown justifies that attitude.

So when I saw this item today from Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt pertaining to a potential outbreak of Avian Bird Flu (isn’t that redundant, by the way? Just asking…), I became suspicious enough to do a bit of investigating. I quickly found this link to a “10 Questions” investigation into Leavitt by the Center for American Progress (it may take a godawful long time for the information to appear from their site, but it’s worth the wait).

Actually, I have to admit that Leavitt has a tough act to follow coming into the job after Tommy Thompson, who once wondered aloud at a Congressional hearing why al Qaeda had not yet poisoned our food supply. I think he was “put out to pasture” soon after that. This excerpt from a CNN article that I link to later was, shall we say, an “interesting” way to pay tribute to him also.

During his tenure, Thompson has led the department through the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease; the lethal spread of anthrax-laced letters and this year's shortage of the flu vaccine.

How did Thompson “lead” the department in the case of mad cow, I wonder? By trying to get Congress to pass tougher laws on food safety and provide more money for enforcement of existing regulations (oh, sorry…there I go being a “do gooder” again and slowing down the wheels of profit generation, “the inexorable life blood of corporate America.”). Also, there’s a lot of suspicion about the source of the anthrax-laced letters, with some conspiracy theory buffs thinking it was some gambit by Bushco to keep everyone on edge to try and maintain a hold of paranoia on the “true believers,” so I don’t see how Thompson could get much credit for fixing that made-up crisis (actually, if it was a sick prank, those responsible should have been prosecuted - n'est-ce pas, Bulldog?). Finally, how do you “lead” anyone through a flu vaccine shortage if you’re not actually supplying more of the vaccine (I heard that, by the time Thompson knew that some extra vaccine was available last year, it had to be destroyed because it had expired...Update 10/07: If Thompson had done such a great job, then why did Clinton and Roberts have to introduce the legislation mentioned about halfway down the page in this article?).
Back to Leavitt…As it turns out, he has an interesting background (I say that a bit sheepishly). As nearly as I can determine, he still holds a sizeable investment in Leavitt Group Enterprises, the 27th largest insurance broker in the country, and also has extensive holdings in pharmaceutical companies (all completely legal of course).

Leavitt’s resume starts to get a bit dicey when you look at his tenure as governor of Utah. As American Progress explains:

As governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt sponsored a controversial Medicaid waiver program, which the Bush administration has touted as a way for states to deal with budget shortfalls. But the waiver program is far from an adequate solution to the problem: it works by siphoning benefits from the poorest beneficiaries to pay for an extension of a "narrow benefit package" (for instance, Utah's program doesn't include hospital coverage) to some adults not previously eligible for Medicaid. Families USA Director Ron Pollack said the program was "like robbing Peter and Paul to pay Phil…It will result in many thousands of low-income people being placed at risk of losing their Medicaid lifeline."
This item also caught my eye (when a federal court ruled that Utah "had violated the constitutional rights of every child in custody," but it took the state a decade to comply with the ruling).

There is only one way to describe the condition of Utah's Division of Child and Family Services during Leavitt's tenure as governor: reprehensible. From 1993-1996, ten children who were under DCFS care died. Ultimately, the case came to head when the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, Calif., filed a class-action lawsuit "on behalf of 17 children who had been horribly abused and neglected in Utah's foster care system." The court eventually ruled that "the state had violated the constitutional rights of every child in custody." Though Leavitt's supporters defend him by saying that he had simply been unfortunate enough to inherit the quagmire, the near decade-long period that it took for the state to fall in line with the court settlement – which demanded an overhaul of foster care and an increase in training and case oversight – fell squarely during Leavitt's time as governor. The state's child protection service continues to be monitored to this day.
So let’s see now; Leavitt under funds Medicaid in Utah and allows its Division of Child and Family Services to deteriorative to the point where a lawsuit had to be filed to force the agency to perform its job properly. With such glowing accomplishments to his “credit,” what job do you think Leavitt would be qualified for next?

Why, the EPA of course (and I found this paragraph in the link to be particularly informative).

It’s interesting that Leavitt’s tenure (at the EPA) has received very little press attention. He is more of a behind-the-scenes operator than was his predecessor Christine Todd Whitman, who was on several occasions embarrassed by White House retractions of her public policy statements.
And, as you can read here, Leavitt was such a sound steward of the environment in North Dakota also.

And from “Clear The Air”…

Monday, August 11, 2003

Statement Of Angela Ledford Director, Clear The Air On EPA Administrator Nominee Gov. Mike Leavitt

"Governor Leavitt's misguided belief in voluntary approaches is music to the ears of big business and a death knell for the thousands of people that die prematurely each year from power plant pollution.

"While it is true that Leavitt helped to develop a multi-state agreement for dealing with regional haze issues due to air pollution, that agreement only came to fruition when federal rules were enacted - the very rules that would be gutted under Bush's Clear Skies initiative.

"The President has chosen someone who sings from the same hymnbook as big energy and will leave the rest of us out of breath.
You would think that, having built such an impressive resume in government service with “such a focus on results” (don’t you love how Dubya says stuff like that without mentioning who benefits from those “results” and who doesn’t?), Leavitt would be tempted, at this point, to rest on his laurels and “call it a career,” deciding to live off the income generated from his stock in pharma companies and the family insurance business and jaunting up to his mountain retreat in the Range Rover when the mood hits him.

Sure, you would think that, but as it turns out, his country needed him to make a muck of another government agency that Dubya, Grover Norquist and the rest of Bushco want to starve of money and ultimately destroy. That, of course, would be the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Leavitt was appointed last December, so now, almost a year later, he is back to warn us that we’re not prepared in this country in the event of an Avian Flu pandemic hitting this country.

OK, so what is your plan? To continue to make these pronouncements from Washington in an attempt to scare us? Do you plan to lobby for additional funding besides the $3 billion Congress has appropriated for production of the vaccine? Do you plan to coordinate with FEMA in the event of a flu outbreak in this country to quarantine and treat those afflicted (of course, that assumes that Dubya puts someone in permanent charge of FEMA who is competent and not a buddy with irrelevant prior experience).

Oh, and it’s SO UNLIKE this administration to SCARE US in an effort to whip people into a frenzy so they will be less inclined to question the unbelievable lunacy of its policies (and did you notice how all of the color-coded warnings mysteriously disappeared after the election)? How can I go on living my life if I don’t know whether or not the threat level is magenta, chartreuse or burnt pineapple?

Unfortunately, I see the same thing coming from Leavitt on the potential for a breakout of avian flu…different degrees of warnings for different days getting shouted all over the place from the dear MSM and the barking head brigade to try to consolidate Bushco’s dwindling support. Of course, since this trick has been pulled already, I don’t know how effective it would be the second time around (and the tragedy would be that this type of a public health disaster would require a quick response from the jaded and frustrated individuals – such as myself, I admit it – who are tired of being subjected to the Pavlovian conditioning of these crooks in “the war against terror”).

So let’s recap: we have a former governor of Utah beholden to the pharma and insurance industries who gutted the state's Medicaid reimbursement program and ignored the state’s Department of Child and Family Services and, while EPA administrator, did nothing to enforce standards against industrial pollution and helped corporations skirt them in the process, and this individual has subsequently been put in charge of this country’s most important health agency that may be in charge of responding to a potential avian flu pandemic hitting this country for which he apparently has no plan involving the coordination of state, local and federal agencies to provide care and treatment other than to say, “You’re not ready, you’re not ready, you’re not ready”…


Another glorious, shining example of our government working on our behalf, isn’t it?

God help us all.

The Smokescreen Didn't Work

Gee, do you think Dubya gave a speech like this...

To divert attention from this?

(Oh, there I go again living up to my site name again, I guess.)

(This note, by the way - posting will be sporadic for a little while...lots of corporate oppression at the moment. I have a couple of ideas I want to develop, and I hope to get to them when this blows off.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rattling 22 Cages

(You knew I was due for “a long one,” didn’t you?)

I referred a few days ago to “a special project” I was working on, and I’m now ready to unveil what it is.

I know right now everyone is focusing on Dubya’s nomination of Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court, and I have to admit that it’s interesting and a little bit fun to watch all of the political theater going on; all the posturing and fits by people like Richard Viguerie telling “the base” not to support Miers (as well as George Will’s tantrum that I linked to previously). I cannot possibly imagine why they would feel this way because Miers is anti-choice to the core, but I must tell you that, the minute I start to understand the thought processes of a “social conservative,” that will be the day when I will be officially ready for the “booby hatch.”

(By the way, and correct me if I’m wrong of course, but didn’t Dick Cheney do the same thing Miers did when he was looking for a Vice Presidential candidate to run with Dubya for 2000, and that was to throw out all the applicants and put himself on the ticket instead? Apparently, Miers reviewed a list of SCOTUS nominees and threw them out also in favor of herself (and we KNOW what that says about Dubya that, in both cases, that was considered to be acceptable behavior).

Well, even though everyone is looking towards what proves to be an interesting process with Miers, I am still contemplating the utter cave-in of the minority party on John Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, it is astonishing to me that nary a word was mentioned by our dear MSM cousins of the fact that it is unusual to say the least that a sitting SCOTUS justice was not named as Chief Justice (I suppose, logically, the only one who would have been considered would have been Scalia, and it’s hard for me to get upset that he got rooked on that deal).

Just as a reminder, here is a list of the 22 Democratic senators who voted to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice:

Max Baucus (MT)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Robert Byrd (WV)
Tom Carper (DE)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Russell Feingold (WI)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Herb Kohl (WI)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Patrick Leahy (VT)
Carl Levin (MI)
Joe Lieberman (CT)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Patty Murray (WA)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Ben Nelson (NE)
Mark Pryor (AR)
Jay Rockefeller (WV)
Ken Salazar (CO)
Ron Wyden (OR)
In light of this most recent example of Democratic acquiescence on the Roberts vote, I prepared the following letter and sent it to all 22 Democratic senators who voted for the Roberts confirmation via “snail mail”:

Dear Senator,

I am writing to you with a request based on your vote to confirm John Roberts as Chief Justice for the United States Supreme Court.

I’m not sure if you were familiar with the following information, but even though Roberts has been confirmed, I wish to bring this to your attention. These are highlights (if you will) of Roberts’ activity in appointments he held prior to his confirmation, specifically regarding the area of civil rights (from Tom McMahon of The Democratic Party).

Metro Broadcasting v FCC (1990)

Roberts argued against letting the FCC use affirmative action in distributing broadcast licenses. This case was a rare instance of the Solicitor General stepping in to block an action of the federal government to increase opportunity.

Board of Education of Oklahoma City v Dowell (1991)

In a brief signed by John Roberts, the Solicitor General's office argued against a court ruling that ordered a school district to prevent racial segregation. Roberts's brief opposed the efforts of African American families to argue that Oklahoma schools would become segregated again.

Freeman v Pitts (1992)

Roberts signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court decision that required a Georgia school district to ensure its schools were fully desegregated.

Lee v Weisman (1992)

Roberts filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that a school district should be permitted to invite clergy to lead public prayers at a graduation ceremony.

Voinovich v Quilter (1993)

Roberts co-authored a brief supporting an Ohio redistricting plan that minority voters said violated the Voting Rights Act by concentrating minority voters in a small number of districts.

It has always been my understanding that The Democratic Party has championed civil rights over the last 40 years, beginning with the passage of the Voting Rights Act and other “Great Society” programs passed during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, your vote in the Roberts confirmation stands in stark contrast to that shining legacy. It is safe to say that, personally speaking, your action does not represent any cause or organization to which I have owed my allegiance over many years.

That is why I am asking you to leave the Democratic Party.

By voting to confirm John Roberts, you have shown that you now are more closely aligned to the interests of The Republican Party than those of the party to which you currently profess your support.

The division and disunity shown in the Roberts confirmation vote is the reason why the majority of the people in this country do not trust The Democratic Party to govern this country in a responsible manner. How can they trust the party when the party cannot even govern itself? How can they think that The Democratic Party can owe allegiance to anyone when its leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, professes his opposition to Roberts, but then 22 Democratic members of this body choose to ignore Reid’s advice?

Howard Dean has said that there is “a respectful disagreement” among the members of the party on the Roberts confirmation. As the minority party, the Democrats can’t afford “respectful disagreement.” They are supposed to act LIKE A MINORTY PARTY IS SUPPOSED TO ACT! They are supposed to act as the Republican Party acted under the first two years of President Clinton’s administration, and ESPECIALLY the way the Republican Party acted for the rest of the Clinton presidency (introducing articles of impeachment against Bush, whose crimes far outweigh any of Clinton’s misdeeds, is a good start).

When George W. Bush became president, he said “Trust me, I’m a ‘compassionate conservative’,” and we know what has happened with that promise. When he decided to go to war against Iraq, he said, “Trust me, Saddam Hussein has WMD.” Now, John Roberts appeared before the Senate and said, “Trust me, I’m not an ideologue.” As Harry Truman once said, “how many times do you have to get hit over the head before you realize who it is who’s hitting you?”

To assist you in the process of changing your party affiliation, you can use your computer to navigate to the following secure Internet web address:

You can complete the form (a partial sample is attached) and include all pertinent information, including areas of special interest where you can bring your expertise to create legislation that favors the party and its agenda.

If the 22 Democratic senators who voted to confirm John Roberts leave the Democratic Party, the party will be relegated to minority party status for many years to come. However, if the party continues to split in two on key votes such as the Roberts confirmation, that is going to happen anyway.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.


The Liberal Doomsayer

(Yes, I really did attach a sample of the GOP registration form with my letter.)

Are they going to do what I propose in the letter? Of course not. But the reason why I did what I did was primarily because I was sick and tired of watching Democrats in Congress hand Bush easy victory after easy victory after easy victory (and why do I have this sinking feeling that Bushco outfoxed Harry Reid on the Miers nomination? God, I hope I’m wrong in that one.)

Of all 22 of the Senators on the list, I hated calling out Pat Leahy the most (and apparently, Carl Levin stood up today for an independent commission to look into allegations of torture by our military, and Levin is absolutely right to do so). Russ Feingold had stood tall recently until that vote also. But even though Kerry, Clinton and Obama voted “nay” on Roberts, they each also voted for the tort “deform” legislation and the fraud bankruptcy bill.

Update 1/2/07: I found out later that I was incorrect on Kerry and Obama voting for the bankruptcy bill - I relied on incorrect information in that case.

Update 6/30/08: I should have added that Clinton didn't vote on the bill because it was the day that Bill needed a bypass operation (h/t to Avedon Carol for that).

Basically, the Democrats (as usual) have to get themselves together and get on the same page and NEVER FORGET their core constituency. If they do (as I said in the letter), they might as well be Republicans.

I have to admit, though, that the brightest hope is that the Party apparently has so many candidates willing to run from the ground up to rebuild its base. How cool is it that Paul Hackett is taking on Mike De Wine for the Senate seat in Ohio? The only problem is that the Swift Boat Liars will have plenty of time to reform themselves and come up with more slime on Hackett. Also, as we know, fellow Iraq War vet Patrick Murphy is taking on Mike Fitzpatrick for the U.S. congressional seat in our district (three other Iraq War vets are running also for the U.S. Congress).

What I did was probably simple minded, but If nothing else, I’m trying to reconcile the idiotic disconnect between what the organization is telling its “grass roots” supporters and the conduct of the national party leaders. The Republicans win, unfortunately, because…they…march…as…one…on…all…levels. The Democrats will NEVER win anything again unless they learn this and fix their problem.

If somehow I hear from any of the senators on this, I will let you know.

Update 10/10/05: As Atrios noted yesterday, The National Review recently had a 50th anniversary bash (white hoods were optional, I'm sure), and a Republicrat on the list above attended the festivities. I'll give you three guesses...

Update 10/11/05: Wow, did some guy named Marshall Wittman of the DLC get his shorts in a knot with Gilliard, Kos and Atrios over what I referred to above. I'm too far below the radar to rate a mention on that...that's OK.

Update 6/30/08: Concerning Hangin' Judge JR, is everybody happy now?

In Tribute To “Painful Chromosomes”

I know everybody in the world has already picked up on this, but I will also because it’s fun to read George Will in a state of apoplexy. I’m even going to ignore his silly attack on diversity and the McCain-Feingold law on campaign financing.

Will is actually right about a few things he says here. However, it remains a pity that such melodic prose comes from an utterly closed and vituperative mind (See George, I know big words too!).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stone Gathers Moss - Film At 11

(and "Babs too, later on...)

That may have been the easiest caption I’ve ever written.

You know, the thing that makes me sorriest about the Kate Moss situation is that her three-year-old daughter now knows from every media outlet in the English-speaking world that mommy has a problem with the snowman (not the fun, cuddly kind either of course). But as for Moss herself, let her get help and try to straighten herself out without all of the tabloid gossipy BS, OK (and yes, I know that’s WAY too much to ask because she’s a beautiful blonde who has “fallen”).

And out of nowhere comes another vixen with the same hair color (real or not…I wouldn’t know about such things) who also needs a boost (so to speak) with her career (I was actually going to ignore all of this until I heard Sharon Stone refer to Jesus, and I realized that this was such a preposterous media moment that I had to acknowledge it somehow). Nothing like showbiz “sympathy” to warm the cockles of my heart.

And finally, as long as this has to do with “Hollyweird,” I saw that Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb are teaming up again to write a song about the Iraq War. I don’t care if the song turns out to be any good; it’s just nice that somebody in celebrity land is actually trying to say something about it on their own (or at least not this fawning, faux country, “soft focus on farmland and pickup truck” nonsense).

Actually, I’ve been thinking about Babs a bit, since I think, in light of the vote on John Roberts (more on that forthcoming) and the apparent cave-in on Harriet Miers that the Dems are contemplating (sending up a bit of a trial balloon to see how fast it gets shot down), they need to “get some true religion” again, and who better than Streisand “to lay on them,” maybe in the form of a song (maybe in the form of a song that goes EXACTLY like this)…

Don’t tell me not to give, I’ve got deep pockets
Stacks of cash to make your eyes pop from your sockets
I’m giving to the Dems ‘cos the country you’ve betrayed

The right-wing revolution, try to derail
Don’t wait for Libby and “turd blossom” to go to jail
Call me up to find a clue ‘cos the country you’ve betrayed

And if I blow it on “Larry King” sir
I’ve already got the “golden ring” sir
Because you know I’ve made it

I’ll step up for liberal causes, forsaking glamour
Dubya’s head’s a plank and here comes a brand new “hammer”
I’ll have to lead the way, ‘cos the coun-trryyyy…
(Here comes the big finish – go for it, Babs!)

(…and the crowd goes wild! Give her the Oscar now!)

Bringing The “War” Back Home

(I put “war” in quotes because I’m not talking directly about Iraq.)

So Franklin Graham is at it again, huh? He believes (according to the article) that “God has a plan” for what was formerly a “sinful” New Orleans, and that the destruction is apparently a precursor to some type of heavenly revival.

“Reverend” (and I feel the same way about your use of that title as I do about Louis Farrakhan’s use of it), why don’t you go to the “My Hometown” link in the right column of this site, go to “Bring It On,” and watch the movie and try to get some clue about people’s suffering from the Katrina catastrophe before you insult our intelligence by trivializing it into some imaginary epochal struggle between good and evil, according to the processes of your tiny mind that generate something that passes for coherent thought? Besides, I thought you guys were supposed to be all about compassion, understanding, and reconciliation. Isn’t it way past about time to retire the whole “onward Christian soldiers” act?

Actually, I realize that this is a “war,” according to Graham (a byproduct of “the culture war,” another Repug-originating catchphrase, the origin or meaning of which I’ve never completely established to date despite my best efforts). I realize, to his thinking, this is a “war” between “us” and “those not like us.” To him, it can apparently be fought anywhere on the globe (whether it is in Iraq or New Orleans).

Under that assumption, then, please explain how that modus operandi is different from that of al Qaeda?

You May Be Shocked

This is something that you are not going to see very often, and that is actual, real-world information from people living with the consequences of our country’s energy policy, which, at this moment, ranks as a total, abysmal failure because we have done barely anything at all to promote alternative sources of energy and effectively use our natural resources (as I’ve said before, we learned absolutely nothing from the ‘70s).

I saw this and I had to link to it (and wouldn’t it be nice if MORE stories were actually covered in a way that measures their impact upon our lives, as opposed to serving as forums for one special interest group or another to pontificate in some utterly pointless manner?).

A Tip Of My Hat

By the way, I know that I’ve received a few comments, mostly anonymous, to a lot of these posts, and I appreciate it, even though I know quite a few are auto-generated based on certain names or keywords. However, they all count as “hits,” and that works for me. Also, I apologize for not responding directly more often to real, actual people who have something to contribute.

I basically have no qualms about someone plugging a site in the process, unless it pertains to something which I find to be completely objectionable; once, someone was trying to plug a site described as “anti-gay and anti-Planned Parenthood” and I roundly blasted this person. She probably never read what I said, but I took a shot.

I’ll keep trying to produce the best content that I can within the usual constraints, and I’ll plan to continue allowing anonymous comments unless they get out of hand with plugging stuff that I don’t wish to see on this site. I also want to allow anonymous comments unless the “trolls” get out of hand. I haven’t heard from them for a little while now, but they tend to attack in packs when they make an appearance, so we’ll see.

The Silent Senator

Quiz time: With the grand jury report on the pedophile priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia continuing to send shock waves everywhere, who have we not heard from recently?

(By the way, I must confess a certain amount of disgust as I heard our deacon lament about abortion again on “Respect Life” Sunday with the scandal looming like “the elephant in the room”…first and foremost, like AIDS, abortion is a public health issue and should be treated as such – I couldn’t imagine someone doing that to life, which begins at conception as far as I’m concerned, but this issue is FAR more complicated than any of the shouters, especially the conservative ones, make it out to be. Also, some of the “pro life” people who decry what I consider as a sound “pro choice” policy are also against stem cell research and other methods of conception other than the traditional one, which makes these people wrong off the scale anyway as far as I’m concerned.)

I’ll give you a hint: he’s an obnoxious, arrogant, sanctimonious liar who pretends to be a good Catholic.

Give up?

OK…it’s none other than Little Ricky “Scumbag” Santorum!

Hey, Mr. Sanctimony, why don’t you try to peddle that “decadent liberal culture causing the problem of pedophile priests” crap in the archdiocese of Philadelphia as long as you’ve said the same thing about Boston? Afraid you might lose the little votes you might actually get from this area next year?

You’re nothing but an embarrassment. Go back home and find a hole to hide in for the rest of your existence (and by “home,” I mean your REAL location in Virginia, not your rented one in this state).

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tom DeLay, Get Out Of PA!

Patrick Murphy has more on the connection between "The Hammer" and U.S. 8th District Representative Mike Fitzpatrick.

Also, Ohio Rep. Kenny Hulshof has set an example in the U.S.Congress that Fitzpatrick would be wise to follow.

Note: Light blogging today...working on a special project that I hope to unveil soon.

Cool It, Mikey

As we recall former FEMA horse salesman Mike Brown's belligerent attempt to save his sorry butt before Congress last week, let us read this report which appeared in today's Inquirer, courtesy of the New York Times News Service.

Tons of ice, all for nothing

FEMA overbought for Katrina, and truckloads ended up in storage.

By Scott Shane and Eric Lipton

New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON - When the definitive story of the confrontation between Hurricane Katrina and the U.S. government is finally told, one long and tragicomic chapter will have to be reserved for the odyssey of the ice.

Ninety-one thousand tons of ice cubes, that is, intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm. It would cost taxpayers more than $100 million, and most of it would never be delivered.

The somewhat befuddled heroes of the tale will be truckers such as Mark Kostinec, who was dropping a load of beef in Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 2 when his dispatcher called with an urgent government job: Pick up 20 tons of ice in Greenville, Pa., and take it to Carthage, Mo., a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Kostinec, 40, a driver for Universe Truck Lines of Omaha, Neb., was happy to help with the crisis. But at Carthage, instead of unloading, he was told to take his 2,000 bags of ice to Montgomery, Ala.

After a day and a half in Montgomery, he was sent to Camp Shelby, in Mississippi. From there, on Sept. 8, he was waved onward to Selma, Ala. And after two days in Selma, he was redirected to Emporia, Va., along with scores of other frustrated drivers who had been following similarly circuitous routes.

At Emporia, Kostinec sat for an entire week, his trailer burning fuel around the clock to keep the ice frozen, as FEMA officials studied whether supplies originally purchased for Hurricane Katrina might be used for Hurricane Ophelia. But in the end, only three of about 150 ice trucks were sent to North Carolina, he said. So on Sept. 17, Kostinec headed to Fremont, Neb., where he unloaded his ice into a government-rented storage freezer the next day.

"I dragged that ice around for 4,100 miles, and it never got used," Kostinec said. A former mortgage broker and Enron computer technician, he had learned to roll with the punches, and he was pleased to earn $4,500 for the trip, double his usual paycheck. He was perplexed, however, by the government's apparent bungling.

"They didn't seem to know how much ice they were buying and how much they were using," he said. "All the truckers said the money was good. But we were upset about not being able to help."

In the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kostinec's government-ordered meandering was not unusual. Partly because of the mass evacuation forced by Hurricane Katrina, and partly because of what an inspector general's report last week called a broken system for tracking goods at FEMA, the agency ordered far more ice than could be distributed to people who needed it.

More than a week after the storm, FEMA ordered 211 million pounds of ice for Hurricane Katrina, said Rob Holland, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which buys the ice that FEMA requests under a contract with IAP Worldwide Services of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The company won the contract in competitive bidding in 2002, Holland said.

Officials eventually realized that the amount of ice was overkill and managed to cancel some of the orders. But the 182 million pounds actually supplied turned out to be far more than could be delivered to victims.

Of $200 million originally set aside for ice purchases, the bill for the Hurricane Katrina purchases so far is more than $100 million - and climbing, Holland said.

Reports such as Kostinec's have stirred concern on Capitol Hill, as more wearying evidence of the federal government's incoherent response to the catastrophe.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) expressed astonishment that many truckloads of ice had ended up in storage 1,600 miles from the Hurricane Katrina damage zone in her state, apparently because the storage contractor, AmeriCold Logistics, had run out of space farther south.

"The American taxpayers, and especially the Katrina victims, cannot endure this kind of wasteful spending," Collins said.

Asked about trips such as Kostinec's, Nicol Andrews, a FEMA spokeswoman, said: "He was put on call for a need and the need was not realized, so he went home. Any reasonable person recognizes the fact that it makes sense to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and place your resources where they may be needed."
Update 10/20: Liar, liar, pants on fire...

Bush Has Lost His Mind

(What little of it there is, anyway...)

There's a reason why Atrios and Kos are "the last word" among lefty bloggers. Here is the former's take on Bush's latest Supreme Court nomination.

HARRIET MIERS [according to John Podhoretz of The National Review]
I am going to assume that this is a classic Bush head-fake gambit. If I'm wrong, I will spend the weekend banging my head against a concrete wall. This is the Supreme Court we're talking about! It's not a job for a political functionary!
I'd link back to Podhertz's column, but I think "The Corner" pulled it.

And CNN reports that this woman isn't even a judge!

Any Democrat who DOESN'T challenge this should automatically forfeit his or her job.

Update 10/03: OK, someone set me straight that 30 other SCOTUS justices had not been judges (that number apparently came from Dubya himself, which means it deserves thorough scrutiny), including Rehnquist (not a glowing precedent as far as I'm concerned). The point remains, though, that Miers is still WAY too close to Dubya to be considered seriously.

Update 10/04: Here is more on Bush's nominee from David Sirota (anyone who is actually surprised by this should be encouraged to go stand on his or her head in a corner somewhere). Here is still more on Miers from Molly Ivins.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

How Many Dead Justify An "Experiment"?

I stumbled across a book review in The Philadelphia Inquirer by someone named Mark Yost, an associate editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial page, who reviewed a book by Ralph Peters called "Expanding America's Global Supremacy," and if there was ever a book title that gave me the "heebie jeebies," that one is it. From the review, Yost states that Peters is "a former Army intelligence officer and columnist."

The review keeps mainly to the book contents, though Yost does start to stray into editorializing near the end of the review with this:

(In the book) the press takes some much-deserved hits. Peters takes to task not just obviously partisan outlets like al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya, but the U.S. media as well.

"As our media enemies openly did all they could to undermine first our destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime and then our reconstruction of Iraq, American journalists insisted that the only issue that mattered was freedom of the press." He correctly states that the U.S. media, "more concerned with the spook of censorship than with terrorism and atrocities... defended their unscrupulous brethren without reservation."
That's a pretty damning accusation, and of course there's no follow up in this review on that (I don't know if there's any follow-up in the book either, but I'm not going to spend any of my hard-earned money to find out). It's also interesting how Yost's own bias comes out in this review (he correctly states that the U.S. media...), though I suspect he'd be one of the first people to scream about presumed bias from any writer who didn't support the war. Also, I think it's absurd to allege bias in war reporting when all of the reporters were embedded and were only allowed to report on what the army approved anyway.

Well, it only gets worse from this point on, as you can see.

Despite all that's gone wrong in Iraq, Peters believes we'll prevail.

"With its divided population and a tradition of oppression, Iraq is the ultimate laboratory of change in the Middle East," he writes in a chapter aptly titled "Why Iraq Matters." "The experiment under way will shape the region's future for decades to come."
The "experiment"? This war wasn't originally sold to us as "an experiment." It was sold to us on the basis that Saddam Hussein had WMD, nuclear missiles tipped with chemical weapons that could wipe out cities. It was sold to us based on The Niger Letter stating that Saddam Hussein was trying to enrich uranium to make nukes. THAT is how this war was originally sold to us. When these reasons were exposed for lies, too many people voted for the liars anyway and they were returned to office last year (showing approximately the same mental capabilities as the jurors in the O.J. Simpson criminal trial as far as I'm concerned).

Here comes the big finish.

That's something, I think, that the neocons - including the one in the White House - have always understood and gotten right. Thanks to Ralph Peters' new book, more of us may understand that and be willing to stay the course in Iraq. The future of the planet depends on it.
"More of us?" Again, the pro-war bias couldn't be more obvious. And the final sentence sounds like it came straight from an RNC press release.

I don't typically read book reviews as much as I should (though the Inquirer had Newt Gingrich reviewing some conservative screed by any one of 'the jackal pack,' twisting the reference from Sen. Joseph McCarthy a bit, which I immediately disregarded), so maybe this kind of editorializing has become more common. Still, though, I would like to read a review that is objective enough to allow me to make up my own mind and not pander to my political inclinations one way or the other. But maybe that's too much to ask from the Inquirer any more.

Update 10/3: I guess Mr. Yost and Mr. Peters think that this is appropriate for our press corps, seeing that they're "in league with the enemy" and all that.

Here's A Mirror...Take A Look

Note: Anyone who isn't Catholic may not be able to properly digest this post...sorry.

In church today, the gospel reading came from St. Matthew (as have most of the readings during this liturgical year), and it had to do with the parable of the vineyard owner who leased his vineyard to tenants who killed the owner's servants and, ultimately, the vineyard owner's son, leading to Jesus telling the Apostles, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." There's much more to the reading than that, but rejection was part of what was going on, something that was emphasized again in the homily.

I would say that John Salveson, founder of SNAP who is mentioned in the column that follows by Tom Ferrick, Jr. of the Inquirer, could teach the Catholic Church a thing or two about rejection.

It comes down to a question of faith.

After the storm and fury over the D.A.'s report on sexual abuse of children by priests, the issue for Catholics is this:

Do you have faith in the leaders of the Philadelphia Archdiocese to handle this problem?

Do you believe they have the people and procedures in place to make sure it will never happen again, and if it does, to swiftly punish the abusers?

I don't know what your answer to those questions would be, but John Salveson's is a simple and direct "no."

Salveson has been in the news lately as local leader of SNAP - Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

His lack of faith in the church apparatus is based on personal experience. He lives and works in the Philadelphia area now but was born and reared on Long Island, where he was sexually abused by a priest from age 13 to 20.

He complained to his bishop about the priest in 1980. Eight years later, the abusive priest was still serving in parishes, and church officials had shut the door on Salveson.

They paid attention only after he stood outside the abuser's parish one Sunday - along with several TV news cameras - and handed out flyers publicly outing the offender.

Salveson believes the church's current anti-abuse efforts are more an example of "risk management than pastoral concern."

I confess...

He says only outside forces can be effective, which is why his group this week will propose legislation to remove the statute of limitations on sexual-abuse cases. It keeps the cops and the D.A. in the picture.

He believes the church's old-boy network will lapse once the clamor has died. Don't look for it to change.

"You don't go to a hardware store to buy a quart of milk," is the way Salveson puts it. "You can go every day, and they still won't have milk."

It comes down to a question of a confession.

Church officials have been contrite, but as Catholics know, before contrition must come the confession of sins.

Most of the abusive priests who appeared before the grand jury invoked the Fifth Amendment. No confessions there.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, in his pastoral letter, threaded the needle with care:

He said there were cases of past abuse by individual priests and offered "sincere apologies" to victims of abuse. But he rejected the grand jury's finding that there was a coverup by the archdiocese.

Rigali was protecting his predecessors, Cardinals John Krol and Anthony J. Bevilacqua. He was protecting the archdiocese from legal exposure - to criminal charges and civil suits.

Justice denied

That explains his motives, but how does that lead to reconciliation?

It comes down to a question of justice.

Was justice done? The grand jury didn't think so. It was furious that it could not indict the priests for abuse, or charge the archdiocese with a cover-up. "A travesty," they called it.

But the law is the law. The statute of limitations had run out.

Experts will tell you that with this crime, victims often do not step forward for many years, so great is their trauma and shame.

There is, as Salveson said, "a lot of denial - individual and collective" - among victims, abusers, authorities, the public.

Not only can no criminal charges be filed, any civil suits by the victims will be rejected because of the statute of limitations, according to a ruling Wednesday by the state Supreme Court in a victim-abuse case.

This is why SNAP plans to ask the legislature to pass a bill allowing a one-year window for the victims to file civil suits seeking damages.

If such suits were allowed, it would expose the archdiocese to millions of dollars in damages. It would, indirectly, place a great financial burden on the region's Catholics.

But the alternative is what? What are the victims left with?

No confession. No punishment. No justice. No faith.

Thing One And Thing Two...Again

Thing One - GO PHILLIES! Even if you don't pull it off, congratulations on keeping it close and having a good year (we'll see if it somehow turns into a great one).

Update 10PM: Ah, but for one of thost losses against the Mets last week, or one of the home games against Houston...oh well, thanks anyway guys.


Maybe I'm being too rude by pointing this out, and I apologize for being shrill, but guess what? She comes across, with every single stupid pose of hers with that smug look on her face that I'd like to wipe off by any means necessary, as being A TOTAL BITCH! No wonder young girls are so screwed up if they think this pampered princess that's totally removed from reality is someone to be considered as 'a role model.'

(OK, I've calmed down now - sorry for 'shouting.' Thanks for indulging me.)