Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Real Time" Update

(Note: It will not be possible to write this and avoid profanity in the process of describing what went on, including a quote that contains an “F” bomb, so consider yourself warned.)

(Also, the last time I worked on this writeup I took a shot at the good folks at Blogger because of the hard time I had saving this information. Sorry about that - I should've kept that "offline.")

Bill Maher, in the comedy bit that began the show, pretended to be a weatherman providing the forecast at “Shitstorm Center Five,” showing a map over Washington D.C. during the “Accu-Prosecutor” forecast: “If you’ll look at our national map, you’ll see that Harriet Miers has completely disappeared. Look for blanket indictments early in the week with rank stupidity following soon afterwards, with returning insurgency in Iraq by week’s end.”

In the monologue, Maher noted that “President’s Bush’s visit to Argentina (for the Summit of the Americas) ended badly…he’s coming back.” Bush was supposedly quoted as saying,” It’s our duty to end poverty. We can’t just wait for hurricanes to do it for us.” Also, “thousands of people rioted, overturning cars, carrying signs saying ‘Bush Go Home,’ etc. That’s nothing compared to what would’ve happened if he’d showed up at Rosa Parks’ funeral.” Maher said that he didn’t think Bush truly understood Parks’ importance, since “he sent a floral display to the funeral that said ‘Go Greyhound’.” Moving to Tom DeLay, Maher said that if DeLay goes to prison, “HE may have to give up his seat to a black man.” Concerning the bird flu, Maher said he has a parrot that instead of saying “polly want a cracker,” it now says, “I’m bleeding out of my rectum” (hey, the season’s winding down and they’re running out of material). Finally, since Denver, CO just passed an ordinance saying that it’s now legal to have small amounts of marijuana, “The show will return in February from its new studios in Denver.”

The first guest to appear via satellite was Tom Daschle, former Democratic senator from South Dakota. Maher asked Daschle about the maneuver that Harry Reid pulled last week using Rule 21 to call a “closed door” session of Congress, and Daschle didn’t really have anything of interest to say about it except to give Reid credit. Maher then explained how the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), broke up the committee report into two parts: the first dealt with the gathering of the pre-war intelligence, and the second dealt with how the intelligence was used by Bushco. Conveniently for Bush given the campaign versus John Kerry last year, the deadline for the second part of the report didn’t come until after the election. Maher then asked, “do we always have to stomp on their (the Republicans) feet to get something done?,” and Daschle just smiled and pointed out the obvious, that “we don’t have the majority, so we won’t get their cooperation, but we’re moving in the right direction.” Maher then pointed out to Daschle that he was going to Iowa to make a speech, and “there’s only one reason politicians go to Iowa, and that’s to run for President,” and Daschle continued to smile and not say much and changed the topic to setting a timetable to get our troops out of Iraq and, in turn, send 20,000 of them to Afghanistan because “we haven’t finished the job.”

Regarding “Plamegate,” Maher wondered why the Democrats can’t make this more of an issue “since it’s obvious that Cheney was behind this,” and Daschle correctly said that “we have to take this investigation wherever it goes.” Maher then said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 on a platform of ‘honor and integrity,” while Daschle laughed a bit to himself, and Maher asked, based on a column in The New Yorker, how the members of the U.S. Senate could be “beating the stock market by about 12 percent.” Daschle then used that as an opportunity to comment on Bill Frist’s SEC woes and asked, “what did Bill Frist know and when did he know it?”

(It was no surprise, by the way, that Daschle used that opportunity to take a shot at Frist, since Frist, as noted in the Wikipedia article, violated a longstanding Senate tradition when he traveled to South Dakota to campaign for John Thune, Daschle’s opponent in the 2004 Senate election, a contest which Thune eventually won of course. I’ve already stated my opinion elsewhere that Thune is a lightweight being propped up by Bushco for strategic advantage, but I have to say that Daschle, during his time as Senate majority and minority leader, made fun of Bush’s problems with substance abuse which was uncalled for and not wise at all politically. Given that, the tactics of the Repugs in Daschle’s campaign cannot be condoned, but they can be understood, I think.)

The panel discussion then began with trashy filmmaker John Waters (“Pink Flamingos,” which I watched once in my other life while experiencing an altered state of consciousness, was truly the most revolting cinematic experience of my life), right wing loudmouth Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, and Mary Robinson, former president of the Irish Republic from 1990-1997. Maher noted that a lot of people are gloating over Bush’s bad polling numbers, though the Republicans (who say they represent “the real man”…please) anticipate some kind of a comeback from Bush on that, and Scarborough said that “The common man across the board was offended by Bush’s handling of Katrina, and when you combine it with the Harriet Miers nomination and the leak investigation, that plays into it also.” Maher then asked, “Doesn’t that just make Bush a bad president?,” and Scarborough pointed out that presidents often have low second-term approval ratings (as I watched this, I thought Scarborough was the most skilled right wing propagandist between he, Tony Snow and Tucker Carlson before him…Scarborough said some things later that were ridiculous, but he also said something about the Valerie Plame matter which was right on the money, I thought). John Waters chimed in and pointed out that “you can’t tell Republicans and Democrats apart usually. My assistant is a Republican, and she did a nude scene in one of my movies” (trust me…it got better with him).

Mary Robinson then chimed in with her wonderful brogue and said “let’s look at Ireland.” She pointed out her election in 1990, serving until 1997 when Mary McAlese won in a fierce election of her own, and Robinson recounted an anecdote of a small boy in Ireland wondering if he could grow up and be president too (from other women that might have come off as a condescending remark, but I thought Robinson made her point beautifully). She said we have to look at “the other context,” which I took to mean the leadership qualities of a president whether they’re a man or a woman (I totally agree). She then used that comment to lead into her concerns about Bushco’s desire to use torture and referenced Abu Ghraib and said she wanted America to have a good human rights record again.

John Waters noted that Bush was booed at Rosa Parks’ funeral, saying “that’s the worst review you can get,” and Maher said that Bush’s excuse was that he “had lunch and dinner with Charles and Camilla." Scarborough then said that Bush should’ve gone to the funeral, but then quickly went back to the issue of Bush’s approval ratings with a really absurd comparison between Bush and Reagan.

Scarborough pointed out that Reagan’s numbers were down also in his second term, but that, after “Star Wars” somehow helped transform eastern Europe and led to the fall of communism (oh brother…see below), Reagan’s numbers went back up by the end of his presidency. Turning to Iraq, Scarborough said “does anyone think we can transform this region of the world in two years?” (with Scarborough given to fits of excitement bordering on apoplexy by now).

OK, my response – first of all, “Star Wars” had NOTHING to do with the fall of communism. How could it? The system hasn’t been deployed, I’m not sure it can be, and it’s very possible that that will never happen anyway. PR pressure from Reagan and this country was a factor, but a small one. The rise of Solidarity with Lech Walesa, the spiritual leadership of Pope John Paul II, the push for democratic reforms inside Russia by Andrei Sakharov, and the recognition by Mikhail Gorbachev that Communism was doomed…acknowledged even by Richard Nixon, an infinitely smarter individual on foreign policy than Reagan ever was…were the REAL reasons for its historic fall. Also, with Gorbachev, Reagan had a foe who understood that the Cold War had to end, though Gorbachev never renounced Communism. Still, though, Ronnie Baby and Gorby were able to make nice on the world stage to the point where it made Reagan look stronger than he really was. However, that’s the way it is in politics generally. Dubya, on the other hand, is not going to benefit from Osama bin Laden turning himself over and declaring a truce and reparation for his cowardly, barbaric acts. That is the ONLY way that Dubya’s numbers could come close to Reagan territory when “The Gipper” left office, so basically, Dubya is hosed and, aside from more domestic screwups, can only “run out the clock” and hope his approval numbers tick upwards. And as far as “transforming that area of the world,” I think Dubya has done that pretty well. However, he hasn’t done it in the way he intended. Scarborough also mentioned something along the lines of it being as ridiculous to blame Bush for terrorism in Iraq as it was to blame Reagan for the human rights abuses in Central America during his administration. To refute this moronic statement, I would suggest that you read about the School of the Americas and the history of Nicaragua including the life of early revolutionary Augusto Sandino, for whom the “Sandanistas” were named, to get an idea of our own horrific intervention in that area of the world. Yes, the Sandanistas were oppressors in their way, but so were the Contras who we illegally funded by our government. Finally, the person who deserves the most credit for Democratic reform in Nicaragua isn’t Reagan. It’s Jimmy Carter, who helped mentor Daniel Ortega, the country’s first president. If you don’t want to believe me, fine. Believe historian Douglas Brinkley, because he documents this in his book about Carter called “The Unfinished Presidency.”
Maher, in response to Scarborough’s comments before I digressed, said that “to go in with this idea of telling everyone ‘don’t you want to be more like us?,’ but to then torture people – how stupid do you have to be to think they’ll buy that?” (good question). In response, Scarborough went into this rap about how great the Iraqi election was (I don’t remember exactly what he said because I was too disgusted by what he’d said before, and also because he was shouting again). Mary Robinson pointed out that “it’s hurting America that the torture is going on,” and Maher (probably in response to something from Scarborough) said, “People on the right say to people like me, 'Oh, you hate America.' And I always say, 'No, I love America. I want it back. 'I don't want you representing it. I don't want torture representing it.' If I hated it, I'd be okay with being represented by the torturers,” and the crowd gave him a well-deserved ovation.

Update 11/14: Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald (reprinted in the Inquirer) offers some very well-reasoned analysis on this also (registration required).

Scarborough, however, leapt back into it and asked “Who supports torture?,” and at the very moment I thought it, Maher said, “Please. It comes from Cheney and Rumsfeld.” Scarborough argued again, but Mary Robinson said, “That’s how it seems in Europe (and all over the world? That’s what she meant anyway). The U.S. used to be a champion of human rights, and it has dipped its standard.” While the applause for Robinson’s remark continued, Scarborough ranted “if things are better three years from now, will you give Bush credit?” and I don’t remember how that was answered (I’ve already answered that question for myself…no: no more than I give Lyndon Johnson or Nixon credit for today’s capitalist economy in Vietnam). Maher said, “Maybe we should have supported Hussein and concentrated on other dictators,” which I’m sure he meant to get Scarborough steamed more than anything else, but I thought was a good point (I said all along that Hussein was a buffer against Muslim extremism, which is our true enemy).

Continuing with torture, Scarborough said, “maybe we should define what torture is (good idea – surprised HE said it), asking if “water boarding” Sheik Khalid Mohammed, who was the U.S.-based architect (if that’s the word – murderer would be better I guess) behind 9/11, constitutes torture, and Maher immediately said yes (not sure where John Waters was in all of this). Maher then asked an excellent question, I thought, wondering why all of the “chickenhawks” support torture when the people in our government who have served, notably John McCain, Chuck Hagel and John Warner, oppose it. Scarborough’s response was that “the yahoos were responsible” for the standards breaking down (talking about Abu Ghraib of course), and at that point, I just kept saying “only a few minutes to New Rules, only a few minutes to New Rules.” Mary Robinson then asked another good question, wondering why the U.S. doesn’t work with the U.N. regarding torture, and Scarborough immediately went off again, saying “we shouldn’t have to put up with self-righteous criticism from them, since they included Libya as a member nation on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.” Robinson agreed that that was ridiculous, but said that that was another issue. Robinson also pointed out, echoing her earlier statement about how this country is viewed by the rest of the world on this, that other countries are astonished that we’re blocking an investigation into torture of detainees held at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Scarborough, changing the subject yet again in an attempt to blame the rest of the world instead, pointed out that the vote on the referendum in Iraq was put on page 24 of a U.K. newspaper (Scarborough was just in that country, see, and he felt obliged to point that out in an attempt to show bias against the U.S.).

I said earlier that I thought Scarborough was a more effective propagandist than Tony Snow or Tucker Carlson, and I definitely didn’t mean that as a compliment. I considered him to be a truly obnoxious individual, making baiting remarks towards the audience in the typical snarly Repug mold and even interrupting Mary Robinson repeatedly at one point when she was talking, with Robinson showing the grace to not tell Scarborough what he truly should do to himself. Why anybody would choose to endure this character on his MSNBC TV show is another of life’s great mysteries as far as I’m concerned.

Maher then introduced Dr. Sanjay Gupta via satellite, and Gupta immediately joked that he could offer Scarborough some valium if he wanted it. Maher asked Gupta about the bird flu: “I’ve got 35 people on my staff. How many will be here when we get back?” Gupta pointed out that this could turn into a lethal virus if it’s transmittable. Maher then wondered aloud if this wasn’t another case of “the boy who cried ‘plague.’” Gupta pointed out that we’ve had three major pandemics in the last century, referring to the worst one in 1918, and said this could potentially kill many more people than an Anthrax attack. Gupta noted that, though we live in a “culture of fear,” this could affect many more people than, say, what is transpiring in Iraq. Maher then said, “I don’t trust the pharma companies. By the time we get a vaccine for it, it could be a different flu,” and Gupta said, “You’re right,” and Maher said, “I was hoping you’d argue.” Gupta said that a vaccine could help “a little bit.” Maher then wondered “if we were healthier, boosted our immune system and cleaned up our lifestyle – would it make a difference?” and Gupta acknowledged that there are some kind of immune system-boosting drugs out there (didn’t know that) but he seemed to be noncommittal about them, preferring more study instead. Gupta concluded with, “I’d like to agree with you, but 50 million people have died in these pandemics, and they all weren’t eating shit,” quoting back from Maher’s original question.

Maher then led into a “phony products” segment, since he’d referred to the pharma companies earlier, and he started with “Oil Of DeLay,” which helps Republicans save face, “Balls” Mentholyptus drops “to help Democrats find their testicles,” and the new bottled water called “FIMA” – “Loot” for it by name (hmmm…).

Discussing the Valerie Plame matter, Maher seethed when he talked about how the Repugs are attacking her even though they profess to be the party “on the side of national defense,” especially since Plame was an undercover spy and – right-wing lies notwithstanding – nobody knew who she was. This is how Scarborough responded:

"The fact that you've got Republicans now in charge of national security, and they are outing a covert agent at a time of war, it's just inexcusable. And those Republicans that support that, they're the Republicans that, quite frankly, are just interested in power and not interested in the things that they said they were going to do when they came to power."
I was astonished to hear such an eloquent remark from him, especially since he had tried so hard to cover for Cheney and Rumsfeld on the torture issue.

Going back to the bird flu, Mary Robinson noted that “there could be a ‘silent tsunami’ of children in Africa dying over this,” and John Waters immediately said, “think of the possibilities for an exploitation film,” which made me cringe a bit, though I know he was being tongue in cheek. Maher said that, by not funding contraception, Bush hurts Africa on this, and of course Scarborough returned to Repug form, stating that Bush has been “more aggressive in Africa,” while I think to myself, “shall I point out again how badly Bush has underfunded the Millennium Account (see Question #3) to fight disease in Africa?” Robinson then pointed out the policy of abstinence (assuming you can even call that a policy, of course) doesn’t work with Muslim men in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that “girls are six times more likely than boys to get HIV, and I know a friend who knew a young girl there who said that 25 percent of her friends were HIV positive. Aside from an ‘ABC’ policy of promoting abstinence over contraception, why don’t we have a ‘DEF’ policy, which could stand for, ‘Don’t Eliminate The Future’?” As applause briefly broke out and subsided, Waters said, “Maybe the ‘DEF’ could stand for ‘Don’t Ever Fuck’,” and everyone roared, including Robinson (sorry – call me a pig if you want, but that was the best line of the night).

Turning to the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court (and by the way, I’m truly wondering at this point how much of a fight that’s going to be, since Frank Lautenberg is sending out very clear signals that he supports him, probably because Lautenberg supported him earlier for the U.S. Court of Appeals and probably doesn’t want to deal with some kind of right wing jihad over it at this point…can’t totally say that I blame him), Maher said, primarily to Scarborough, “you just want to get him in there so he can strike down Roe v. Wade” and Waters pointed out that Alito supported gay rights in 1972, “but a lot has changed since then.” After Scarborough pointed out the obvious, namely that conservative judges “want to dramatically change the balance of power,” Mary Robinson pointed out that conservative judges actually change more existing law than liberal judges (damn, why can’t she serve in THIS country?). This led into “New Rules,” with some edgy stuff about encouraging Alito to bomb an abortion clinic “to prove himself.”

This note…when “Real Time” returns in February, I think I’m going to confine myself to the highlights of the show and not try to capture everything. I’m not exactly sure how all of this reads to you, but it’s a “bear” to put all of this together, and I don’t know if I’ll have the time for it in the future. I’ll do my best, though.

Friday, November 11, 2005

You Friends Of Robertson?

Even though this clown from The Federalist Society exposed the Repugs' racist underbelly with this remark (and Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, lowered himself even further in my book by not repudiating it), the religion that I try to practice in my imperfect way, ridiculed by the "KKK" reference, teaches me to "turn the other cheek," even when it is apparent to any sensate life form existing on this planet that ignorance is currently flourishing at that moment.

Let's hear Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Malkin, Beck, O'Reilly, Michael Medved and their ilk scream about this offensive behavior the way they frothed and carried on when John Kerry appeared at that celebrity benefit last year at Madison Square Garden during the election and laughed slightly when Whoopi Goldberg and others made crude jokes about Bush, with Kerry stating that the people on stage with him were everyday Americans. The conservative yapping heads sure were apoplectic over nothing on that occasion, weren't they? Well, I'll be waiting for their repudiation of Romney and Walpin (and I'm sure the only thing I'll hear will be silence).

Actually, I have to give Walpin a bit of credit. I'd meant to add a link to the web site of The Federalist Society on this page under "The Dark Side," and I'd forgotten to do that. He just reminded me with this remark, and I just took care of it.

This "Pony" Knows No Other Tricks

Today’s CNN Quick Vote question is “Do you think the Bush Administration manipulated the prewar intelligence on Iraq?”

Yes – 76%
No – 24%

Nothing else Dubya says here matters (as Brendan says at Brandoland, “Downing Street memos people, Downing Street memos…”).

I could exhaustively refute his speech, but I and better lefty bloggers have already done that at various times and places.

And by the way, we’re up to 2060 dead and counting.

Another thing (1): I know Dubya isn't going to answer this, so I'm putting it up here for review anyway.

Another thing (2): Atrios lists a chronology of lies from Bush on this, including his supposed desire for a peaceful end to this before invading after Congress had already approved the resolution to use "force." Even though our elected representatives (like many other people) were letting their "lizard brains" run wild, as it were after 9/11 (re: fear and paranoia replacing actual thought) and not doing their jobs, Bushco fed that and capitalized on it, leading to this current mess. Anyone thinking rationally would wonder why a president would ask for a resolution to "use force" (meaning what, exactly? Air strikes? "Full invasion" should have been stated in the declaration.), receive it, and then say he was still seeking a peaceful solution. Were we "going in" or weren't we? (and of course, we were come hell or high water as it turned out).

Update 11/15: E.J. Dionne recalls how we got to where we are now.

(The "Real Time" update is coming, I promise...lots of nutsiness at the moment and also a lot of nonsense to refute from Joe Scarborough.)

Update 11/13: Sounds like Dubya has some work to do on this whole "Support Our Troops" thing of his.

Smite The Jawbone Of An Ass

I apologize to everything in the universe for this post.

I should totally ignore the repugnant vertebrate life form whose repellant face appeared under the banner of the front page of today’s issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer, but I didn’t do that. I should simply laugh at his bogus attempt to claim some notion of a moral high ground that exists for him only in his selfish imagination, proclaiming to the residents of Dover, Pa. that they somehow had invoked God’s wrath by voting off their school board eight historically and educationally challenged oafs who believed that “intelligent design” was actually science, and in the process, proclaimed a triumph of common sense that those living in Kansas and elsewhere would do well to emulate (story from this link).

But no, I decided to comment on it anyway. And for that, I humbly ask your forgiveness.

Update 11/14 1: Boy, did John Grogan of the Philadelphia Inquirer nail it (registration required).

Update 11/14 2: I think Little Ricky is finally beginning to understand just how bad his polling numbers really are.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

For Those Who Defend Us

Joan Ryan brings us the story of Alex Nicoll in honor of Veterans Day tomorrow, November 11th.

And here is my remembrance.

A Little Red, Mangled Porsche

If this blog is ostensibly about anything in particular, I suppose it would be politics more than anything else because there is so much going on that I believe is worthy of comment. I know, though, that I’ve been dabbling a lot in the local sports world lately, mainly because of that guy…you know, the uh…football player who formerly played for the Eagles, I think? And what are his initials again?

Well, as Mike Sielski of the Bucks County Courier Times reminds us, a stunning sports-related tragedy occurred in this area 20 years ago today, and I believe it is necessary to say something about it again.

Also, this links to a post from T-Nation which is borderline R-rated, for those keeping track of that sort of thing, though author TC makes some terrific points about personal responsibility (Pelle Lindbergh, I believe, was an extremely responsible person who made one terrible, terrible mistake).

The mistake is that, as a twenty-something individual who happened to be an elite athlete and one of the finest goaltenders in the National Hockey League at that time, he basically thought he was indestructible. This is typical of most young men (mainly) at that age, I think. That’s what I believed for a time, anyway. It’s what led him to drink to excess that fateful night in New Jersey (he displayed no outward signs of his thorough intoxication by all accounts).

I’m reminded of this because of the recent spate of fatalities from car wrecks that have occurred in our area, with young men and women either killed, maimed, or suffering other emotional damage from which they will have a difficult time trying to recover.

If you’re reading this and know anyone prone to engage in this high-risk behavior, please tell them about Pelle Lindbergh and what happened to him. If you yourself act this way, please read this post and all the text from the links.

I’m nobody special, I know. I’m not a football tight end telling you not to take drugs. I’m not some politician telling you not to drop out of school. I’m just a parent trying to help who is older and a bit wiser from his own mistakes.

"I Am Dubya Here!"

I was curious to learn more about Robert Zoellick after this story appeared on CNN today. It seems that he is in Darfur (and how often does news about THIS place of the world typically show up in the beloved MSM?) trying to mediate in that impoverished and troubled area, and in the midst of this, he calls out Regional commissioner Sadiek Abdel Nabi (I’ll put aside the fact that that’s a ridiculous diplomatic faux pas for now).

After some investigation, it turns out that Zoellick is one of these free-trade zealots (no “news flash” for Bushco, I admit) preaching the gospel of capitalism with the strong-armed assistance of the World Trade Organization.

My question is this: what the hell is he doing on a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, of all places?

I realize that “free” trade is highly of interest to the “haves,” not just in our country but everywhere else in the world, but in order to sign an agreement with a viable trading partner, doesn’t that country have to be “viable” to begin with? Call me crazy, but shouldn’t you send in the diplomats first in an attempt to reconcile that mess and worry about the payoff later?

Oh, and did I also bother to point out Zoellick’s connection to Enron?

Yes, I know it’s easy sport to poke fun at Bushco’s underlings, but Dubya and his people make it impossible to resist doing it.

She May Need A Jump Suit Again

So that bastion of the Fourth Estate, Judith Miller, recently retired, having worked out some kind of severance package with the New York Times (probably including a pledge of silence from Bill Keller as a trade for getting this journalistic accident out of his life forever, though the Times is hardly innocent in her mess of course).

Well, as part of my minor contribution to the festivities, I’d like to propose that Miller receive the following mementos to truly commemorate her efforts:

A gold watch permanently set at 12:01 AM on July 8, 2003 in honor of the day you found out from “Scooter” Libby that undercover spy Valerie Plame was Joe Wilson’s wife

A DVD of the documentary
“The Fog of War” by Errol Morris, in which Robert McNamara confesses that we must understand our enemy if we are to be engaged in battle, a goal which was nowhere to be found in your biased and sloppy reporting

Autographed photos wishing you good luck from
Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke, two other journalistic pretenders

A “naughty nightie” which reveals your “assets” only to senior officials of the Bush Administration

A new set of kitchen cutlery, since you’re so adept at trying to chop, slice, and dice the reputation of individuals far more worthy than you (Joe Wilson by name)

An iPod (TM) with the following pre-programmed songs:

“I’m Your Puppet” (James and Bobby Purify)
“Lies” (The Knickerbockers)
“Someone’s Been Telling You Stories” (Dan Fogelberg)
“Find The Cost of Freedom” (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)
And if you ever contemplate returning to journalism, consider this.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Earth To Bob

The Booman Tribune (hat tip to Atrios) provides all the reason I need to add Chuck Pennacchio's web page to this site.

The campaign to prop up Scumbag Santorum has already begun, by the way, in case anyone hadn't noticed. A quarter-page ad by the American Hospitals Association appeared on the Op-Ed page of The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday and praised Santorum for the "medicare reform" recently passed. I can't possibly imagine what kind of "old-boy, under-the-radar" shenanigans transpired to make that ad a reality.

The morning and afternoon "glow" of victory was nice, but now we have to get back to the business of putting together the best campaign and nominating the best senatorial candidate. Besides, we could be looking at a whole other landscape in only a matter of months. It's inconceivable that Santorum's numbers could become respectable, but stranger things have happened.

And They Called Clinton “Slick”

I was really going to lay off this story of the oil company scoundrels peddling their corporate lies on Capitol Hill today, until I read this quote from John Engler, former Republican governor of Michigan, in response to a question (speech partly, I know, but I support her) from Barbara Boxer about how the phrase “shared sacrifice” doesn’t exist for the energy industry, even though we’re all going to get hosed if this winter is a bad one and our heating bills are high and these guys will “skate” as per usual:

"Demagoguery and demonization will not reduce energy prices or solve supply problems in the long run," he (Engler) said. "Our energy supply and infrastructure have suffered from 25 years of increasingly restrictive government policies that have made it almost impossible to access and refine the resources we have. The Senate should dispense with the theatrics and get serious about America's energy supply."
You have GOT to be KIDDING ME!!

The energy crooks have had the easiest time of their lives for the last 25 years under Reagan, Poppy, Clinton, and Dubya. And now Engler is actually going to cry “poor mouth” even though these clowns have been too busy gouging us to get serious about supporting development of alternative energy sources?

Fortunately, Jim Hightower provides a dose of reality from this link (under “Conservative Hypocrisy,” a redundancy if one ever existed). Also, this link provides some additional background as well as a link to a related Smirking Chimp article.

O Happy Day

I'm more relieved than anything right now. It's a cloudy, overcast day, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm in Nassau in the spring, it's about 85 balmy degrees outside, the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, and the "Bahamian jacks" are "schooling" around my ankles in the crystal clear water.

As noted already, Tim Kaine and Jon Corzine both won and are now governors-elect in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively.

Also, Ron Smith and Greg Caiola are now newly-elected members of the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors. Great work, guys!

Congratulations also to my fellow township residents who did the right thing. Ron and Greg will work with Steve Santarsiero to form a Democratic majority on the five-member board and work with Republicans Pete Stainthorpe and Grace Godshalk to help us all make Lower Makefield the best place that we can for our families and our future.

This isn't a time for partisan gloating. This is a time for reaching out to each other to try and get things done together. That being said, though, I should express my eternal relief that Fred Allan and Darwin Dobson will now have to pack up those obnoxious blue and white billboards of theirs and save them for another day which, hopefully, will never come. Also, it was good that Gary Cruzan made a respectable showing, since, at another time in different circumstances, he could run again, win, and serve the township also.

So now it's done, and it's all good. Thank the Lord.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, we can rest up for a few months and gradually prepare for the next goal, which can be summed up in four words:

Little Ricky, you're next! Also, Fitz's "green" credentials are solid, but aside from that, he's got a lot of problems (a big one of which is detailed here).

Update 11/8: Silly me...forgot to mention that Ahh-nold's ballot initiatives all lost in CA, as well as the fact that the eight knuckleheads on the Dover, PA schoolboard who wanted "intelligent design" to be taught as science were all voted off the board yesterday. Well, I'll be a "monkey's uncle" (too easy...sorry).

Update 11/10: Bravo, Robert Scheer! (man, did he get old...)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

T.O. Is So So, Ah Bientot

(Hey listen, I've had to endure every kind of idiotic permutation of the consonant-vowel combination of "T" and "O" today along with related words that apply to this whole fiasco, so I'm DEFINITELY allowed to concoct something of my own.)

OK, so Owens apologized, but Andy Reid said, "Nyaah nyaah, you're still done with us." Also, great USA Today sports columnist Ian O'Connor agreed with the Eagles course of action.

Here's what I think again (and it turns out that I was wrong earlier...Hugh Douglas does have some kind of PR-related job with the Eagles after all):

With Owens gone, the Eagles have a built-in excuse now for tanking their season. I think their "brain trust" saw that they had NO SHOT of returning to the "big dance" in January, so they threw this whole "accumulated offenses" rap at Owens to use him as a scapegoat.

I'm sure it was Owens' fault that the Eagles ran for 45 measley yards on Monday night against the Washington Redskins, the team with the worst running defense in the league. And I'm sure it also was Owens' fault that Brian Westbrook, the team's second best offensive player now behind Donavan McNabb, wasn't even on the field on the 4-and-7, last-play-of-the-game call by Andy Reid where McNabb threw the interception to end it.

Hey, I don't like Owens personally either, but let's consider this about football players. Sure, they have to keep themselves in shape basically 24-7 unless they're linemen, and even THAT is debatable, I know, but basically they ply their craft for only 6 months a year. Pre-season starts in late July, they may play 3 games that don't count from July until August, then 16 regular season games with a "bye" week, then a maximum of 3 playoff games if they get to The Super Bowl, then the Pro Bowl maybe which they could blow off, and they're done. Compare this with the NHL, where they could play from September through June if a team gets to the Stanley Cup Finals; the NBA, where they play approximately for the same duration with MUCH WORSE of a travel schedule, and they crash into each other with no padding and land on a hardwood floor; or Major League Baseball, where they play 162 games, many in scorching heat. Yes, I know football players have to put up with a great deal of pain while they're playing and after they're done, unfortunately, and no professional athlete has it easy with travel I know, but on the other hand, look how handsomely they're compensated (and yes, I know that was hard won and shouldn't be messed with).

Also, I'm tired of this argument that Owens "was hurting team morale." I don't know about your employer, but mine really doesn't care about "our morale" (they SAY the opposite, but that's another story of course). For that reason, I DON'T CARE about the "morale" of the Philadelphia Eagles. They're getting paid to such a degree that they can overlook any "morale" issues and do their jobs. Segregate Owens if you have to, but I wanted to see him on that field doing what he does best.

I think longtime sports columnist Bill Conlin of The Philadelphia Daily News had a good take on this situation today.

Experts in the area of pathological behavior will study the meltdown of Terrell Owens from All-Pro to All-Psycho... The purged Eagle is headed right for feature-article status in the New England Journal of Medicine. Maybe he'll even get a syndrome named for him, the true measure of the white-coat big time. You know the guy has hit the controversy lottery when national straight news talkers such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh set aside FEMA, bird flu and their other topics du jour to take a few whacks at the banished Big Bird... My thoughts? Let's see, last I looked, T.O. was headed for the Pro Bowl and had broken no team-discipline rules. He has had no busts for drugs, date rape, attempted manslaughter, DUI or concealed deadly weapons, and I doubt that Andy Reid has a fine for serial stupidity or parched lawn. I'm not sure T.O. has even been cited for spitting in a public place or jaywalking. While I acknowledge he is the most malignant strain of locker-room cancer since Wilt Chamberlain forced his trade to the Lakers, it's hard for me not to comment that if the same rules had applied to another rebel named Richie Allen nearly four decades ago, No. 15 might have had about a 20-game career. Imagine if T.O. had whipped out a can of spray paint and scripted "Why?" in the end zone after a score. What if he had failed to show up for a game, then spent the next 3 weeks stonewalling his coach and GM? What if he left three straight games after the third quarter? What if he charged at a heckling Donovan McNabb during warmups and suffered a major shoulder injury during the ensuing brawl?

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Michael Irvin, who drew a thunder of sadistic cheers when he was gurneyed off the Veterans Stadium field in 1999 appears to be enjoying the hell out his role as ESPN's Mr. Interloculator. I'll bet the guy fell asleep smirking after T.O. swallowed the Birds-unbeaten-with-Brett-Favre-at-QB bait like a starving trout hitting a dry fly. Did the former Cowboy, no choirboy himself, cross some kind of ethical fine line? Come on... We all feed on controversy like a heroin addict feeds on a free kilo. Hot-wire sound bites are like the tracks on a junkie's arm. Try speaking four sentences in a row to make a cogent point, and the host starts shaking his head off camera and looking at his watch. A soft answer used to turn away wrath. Now, it turns away viewers.
I disagree with Conlin's assessment of Beck and Limbaugh as "straight news talkers" as opposed to the willful propagandists that they truly are, but he's right on the money otherwise. Also, why anyone would pay attention to the meandering, self-indulgent and clueless utterances of two egotists like Owens and Michael Irvin anyway is one of life's great mysteries, as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday Night Roundup

A quick one...

The Bulldog Manifesto - Join Barbara Boxer's boycott of oil companies drilling in the ANWR.

The Brad Blog - Electronic voting problems in Ohio, Virginia, and California (the beat goes on, unfortunately...).

Crooks And Liars - "Scottie" McClellan keeps squirming...good!

Itsez - Incumbent NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg spends a mega-gazillion dollars on the mayoral race, and it looks like it's going to pay off, unfortunately.

Liberal Serving - "Mindless Entertainment Is The Handmaiden Of Fascism" (how true...).

The Martian Anthropologist - Bush says no to torture while Cheney says yes (guess who wins THAT argument) and "Scalito" favors strip searching 10-year-old girls (nice guy).

Naked Wisdom - Speculation on Hurricane Katrina that I need to read some more (Voltima, please work on the background so it's easier to read - thanks).

Pixel Monkey - Information on "trust-based networks" (techie stuff that may be too deep for yours truly to comprehend...I'll try again; haven't forgotten about the final "Real Time" Update for '05 either).

God Bless Dick Durbin

This is EXACTLY how the opposition, minority party is supposed to act, and this is EXACTLY what needs to be said in response to the deterioration in Iraq. Sorry that I don't have much else to say about it at the moment, but I thought that what Durbin said was so good that it should stand basically without comment.

And if anyone tells me, in essence, to shut up and leave Bush alone because questioning him wouldn’t be “supporting our troops,” I’m going to let fly with the most guttural profanity that you can imagine.

Help Kaine And Corzine

This is the day when it matters, you NJ and VA voters who may be reading this. Let's smack down the candidates of "the party of Dubya," but more importantly, elect the right people for the job (it's not too late to give somebody a ride to go vote).

This diary from The Daily Kos is great reading, and here and here are additional links.

Speaking of "President 35 Percent Mandate," Cenk goes out on a limb a bit here and engages in a bit of name calling, but I'm sorry...he's absolutely right (and God help us - barring impeachment, three plus more years of this awaits; as always, a big, sloppy wet kiss goes out to you red state voters for this).

(Also, I think the Eagles are about on a par with the Arizona Cardinals right now without T.O., Cenk, so that might be a good game.)

One more thing...if you have a half hour or so to kill and absolutely nothing else to do in your life at the moment (and you haven't voted in NJ yet - big "ifs," I know), you might want to take a look at some prior posts regarding Forrestine '05 from this site:



Update 11:13: And Texas, keeping true to red-state form, approved a referendum for a state constitutional ban on gay marriage, continuing to march proudly backwards to the 19th century...

It's Always The Quiet Ones

I think the counts brought against “Scooter” Libby by Patrick Fitzgerald for his involvement in the Valerie Plame matter pale in comparison to the true crime that Libby has committed, and that is his childish, bizarre, and unintentionally funny perversion of the English language.

This links to a CNN story about a novel Libby wrote years ago called “The Apprentice,” and this links to a column in the “Talk Of The Town” section on The New Yorker magazine which provides the R-rated details.

This “moral values” crowd never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

An Ounce Of Prevention

Local PA politics…

I posted this last May on the old site the day after the primary election, but I think it would probably make more sense to do that now the day before.

I have a question for anyone living in PA riding around in a vehicle with a “Support Our Troops” sticker on it who may be reading this: How many of you voted in yesterday’s primary elections?

If you didn’t, then you’re really not, “supporting our troops”, are you? You’re not doing your duty as a citizen to participate in the most critical responsibility you have to ensure the continuation of our way of life which they are defending.
Consider that my admittedly small contribution to “get out the vote” for tomorrow (and I’m seeing fewer and fewer of those things on vehicles, by the way – even though they’re wearing out and rusting the paint, our people are still getting killed and maimed over there; why is it less important to show the flags/stickers now than it was before?).

As long as I brought up the subject of the stickers/pins/decals etc. in favor of the Iraq War, let me repost this link to a GREAT speech Bill Moyers gave last May in which he addresses this subject in an articulate, moving way.

Finally, here is my quickie voting guide for the Lower Makefield Supervisors election tomorrow:

Fred Allan – Abstained on vote for the Octagon Center from Matrix Corporation of Cranbury, NJ, the big-box retail mess that would have blighted our area. Also distributed campaign literature last May alleging that he worked with Jim McCaffrey of McCaffrey’s Supermarket more than any other LMT supervisor for funding of community development, which is a lie.

Darwin Dobson – Voted FOR Matrix and made off with campaign funds to renovate his shore home (and, along with Allan, are responsible for those huge, obnoxious blue and white billboards that are EVERYWHERE!).

Gary Cruzan – An interesting alternative; accomplished in his career with, however, no record in government service. Has gone on at length about how he was one of the first to fight the Octagon Center, which is true. My problem with Cruzan is that, as supervisor, he would likely form an alliance with the “over 55” block of voters who will eventually move into our area as part of the revised Octagon development project and support NO FUNDING for ANYTHING. I don’t like taxes either, but I’m a long way from retirement, and we need to benefit from that revenue. Also, he has blue signs for “Republicans for Cruzan,” orange signs for “Democrats For Cruzan,” and red signs for “Independents for Cruzan” all over the township. He says he’s “beholden to no one.” Sounds to me, though, like he’s “beholden to everybody.”

Ron and Greg – Support our families, support smart open space development, and support fiscal responsibility (that is, spending when necessary but usually holding the line). Ron, Greg, and Steve Santarsiero would form a Democratic majority and put us in better shape to go after
“Little Ricky” next year.

Hypocrisy Defined

A couple of weeks ago in a post called “Betraying Our Kids,” I referred to this web site that Bushco concocted called the Presidential Prayer Team for Kids and commented on the odious fact that our tax dollars are being used for this utterly shameless disregard of the separation of church and state upon which our country is based.

Well, this week the site profiles the family of Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito, and as another blogger noted last week (can’t remember who), Alito’s family was posed under the portrait of a certain president who preceded Dubya and was born in Hope, Arkansas during the press conference announcing the Alito nomination. Of course, you would not know that from this photo, since the top of Bill Clinton’s head was effectively chopped off (a secret wish made real to a certain extent for Dubya, I suppose).

Also, the Presidential Prayer Team site this week discusses the faith of former President Lyndon Johnson. Of course, no mention is made that Dubya and his cohorts have done and will continue to do everything they possibly can to grind the reforms Johnson sponsored as part of his Great Society legislation on behalf of the poor, working people, elderly and minorities completely into dust.

The Face Of Anarchy

Atrios had a good post yesterday, I thought, concerning the rioting in France, stating that its roots lay more with the riots in this country from the 60s more so than anything tied to terrorism (that is, the rioting stems from the denial of economic opportunity and social acceptance, though those actually are “seeds” from which terrorism can flourish of course). The Inquirer’s report yesterday stated that some of the rioters have organized well and are using blogs and cell phones to communicate with each other (tools currently used by terrorists to attack this country and elsewhere in the world), which certainly lets me know that someone has organized them.

Of course, this begs another question for me; if they have the means to acquire this technology, why are they using it to blow up buildings and set cars on fire instead of trying to find work and build their lives? However, I have never lived in that area of the world and I admit that there’s a lot about it that I don’t understand.

Also, my online reading about this once again proved how bizarre the radical right-wing element is in this country. Instapundit, which is supposed to be mainstream, said something along the lines of “the second front opened by the American Left is collapsing,” or some such paranoid delusional nonsense, and I won’t dignify the other right-wing sites with further comment. I then realized that I could populate my own site with all kinds of interesting content if I were not bound by the moral constraint of trying to tell the truth as best as I can as well as the scientific realities of the laws of time and space.

In search of legitimate information on the subject of immigrants living in this country (immigrants being defined for my purposes as individuals who have come to this country since about 2000 or so...ultimately, just about ALL OF US are immigrants from one point or another), I came across this link that provides government information, likely from the Bureau of the Census.

You can probably see where I’m going with this; I’m trying to determine if something like what is going on in France could happen in this country. It definitely could. Actually, it did in the 60s to a point with the race riots, but it wasn’t as organized as what we’re seeing now – it was more sheer rage and vandalism for its own sake and not some coordinated effort to attack the government. That was the stated purpose of groups such as The Weathermen, but fortunately, that was a small fringe element by comparison.

We should try to understand the true domestic threat in order to prevent it, of course, so I went to the FBI’s web site to read the latest stories and profile updates of suspects. There are a few stories about preventing nuclear terrorism as well as “cyber crime,” missing person stories, and scams related to Hurricane Katrina. All of the work to fight this is commendable. However, I couldn’t really find out anything on the fight against domestic terrorism, which may be by design, I’m not sure. I did, instead, find this link from the Southern Poverty Law Center which provides information regarding hate group activity in this country.

I think if anything such as the riots in France were to take place in this country, it would be from groups such as those that spawned Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. These people are coordinated across the country in strategic areas and can mobilize quickly with other groups (you can get an idea from the map accessible from the SPLC site). Our most recent immigrant arrivals have not dealt with the simmering, longstanding hostilities that those in Europe have dealt with, leading to the recent events in France. However, I think it would take a particular event or charismatic and cunning individual to bring the “homegrown” terrorists together, rally supporters, or recruit followers (I’m thinking the Branch Davidian or Ruby Ridge incidents, though on a larger scale).

All of this is possible, though, and that is why we must be vigilant and use our imaginations to try to prevent it, or elect or appoint people who echo these sentiments in their words and actions. Bashing immigrant populations to satisfy an intolerant reflex will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem and wrongly antagonize others who would otherwise support us.

(By the way, on a somewhat related note, I should point out that the shareholders of Knight Ridder, the parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer, want the media company to put itself up for sale because they don’t think it can compete effectively with other electronic media for advertising dollars. I think this would be a tragedy for a genuinely effective news organization that provides content that is as unfiltered by corporate censorship as it can be for this day and age.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Run, Bugsy, Run

I guess, aside from "Bill and Hil," "Warren and Annette" would be the runner up as far as a celebrity Democratic husband and wife team? Nice that they're trying to steal the little mo' that Ahh-nold has left.

I think this is the stuff of good movies (or at least halfway decent ones). Do you agree?

No To Dobson and Allan

Local PA political stuff again (Election Day is Tuesday - as they say in Philly, "vote early and often")...

Dear Fellow Lower Makefield Resident,

I am writing on an issue of concern to many residents; the Matrix site and the future of our township. As you may know, before I was elected to the Board of Supervisors two years ago, I served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Residents Against Matrix. We worked hard to stop the original Matrix proposal because it would have been wrong for our township (my note: it was a "big box retail" development project).

To avoid any future Matrix-like projects down the road, we need two things: people on the Board who respect the views of our residents and who don't have any personal agendas and an open government that keeps residents aware of what's going on. We can have both of those things by electing Ron Smith and Greg Caiola supervisors next Tuesday, November 8th. Here's why:

Ron and Greg are committed to serving residents, not developers. Unlike their opponents, they have not accepted any money from developers. They also share my commitment to preserving open space - including Patterson Farm - and stopping bad development before it starts. Allan and Dobson? When Allan was a supervisor, he abstained on the Matrix issue, hardly a show of leadership. For his part, Dobson was a supporter of the original Matrix plan.

Ron and Greg also support my call to televise township meetings, and want to notify more residents when a land development project is proposed. The first time that you learn about a developer's plan for your neighborhood should not be in the newspaper. Ron and Greg are the only candidates who support these measures.

With Ron and Greg's help on the Board, we will be able to prevent another Matrix from happening and we will put Lower Makefield on the path to an even brighter future. I ask that you vote for Ron Smith and Greg Caiola on Tuesday November 8th.

Thank you.


Steve Santarsiero
Lower Makefield Township Supervisor
There is some new Dobson and Allan propaganda floating around here that Ron and Greg want to build a "town center" at Edgewood Village by trashing the surrounding landscape. That is approximately the same material that was recently spread around Shady Brook farm in preparation of next spring's growing season (which draws both flies and Republicans, alternately).