Friday, November 18, 2005

Shame On Them

From Howard Dean (the blogger Nitpicker got into some of this in the Bob Casey post below, but here's more)...

I want to tell you about John Murtha. He's a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania. He's also a combat veteran and retired Marine Corps colonel.

Murtha spent 37 years in Marine Corps, earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. And for the last thirty years he's been one of the most respected voices in Congress on military issues -- universally respected by Democrats, Republicans and military brass alike.

Until now.

Republicans have disgraced themselves by viciously attacking John Murtha with such disrespect that not only veterans, but every decent American should be angry.

What did Murtha, a decorated combat veteran, do to draw fire from a White House led by a president and vice president who evaded service in Vietnam? He questioned their management of the war in Iraq. Here's part of what he had to say:

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region. ...

For two and a half years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. ...

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support."

Shameless Republicans immediately went on the attack. Dick Cheney, who has said that he had "other priorities" and collected 5 deferments while people like Murtha served in Vietnam, called Murtha's comments "irresponsible" and regretted that "the president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone." The White House spokesman, who has also never worn the uniform, pronounced himself "baffled" that Murtha, who volunteered for two wars, wanted to "surrender to the terrorists". A Republican Congressman said Murtha and others "basically are giving aid and comfort to the enemy".

Shame on them. Every one of us -- right now -- needs to let Jack Murtha know that we respect his service, respect his leadership, and respect his right to speak the truth. This man has spent his life serving us. The very least each one of us can do is let him know that no matter what dishonorable smear campaign Republicans wage we will be there with him.

Send Congressman Murtha a note telling him that you will not be silent while he is attacked:

I will deliver your message to him personally, along with my own thanks for his service to our country and his continuing courage in the face of threats.

Lies and manipulation characterized the Republican case for war, and lies and manipulation have been the primary weapon against anyone who questions their failed leadership.

First it was Senator Max Cleland, who left limbs in Vietnam, being savagely attacked in 2002. Then John Kerry, who received three purple hearts, being smeared in 2004. The history of this war has shown that Republicans value political posturing more than the service of America's veterans.

Republicans don't want a serious debate about Iraq because they know the American people are simply not with them. They cannot respond to the substance of Murtha's criticism -- or any criticism -- because they are wrong.

Jack Murtha is already fighting back. When told of Cheney's comments he reminded people where Cheney was while he was in Vietnam: "I like guys who got five deferments and have never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

But Jack can't beat this back alone. Show him that Americans know that Republicans should be ashamed of themselves:

Enough is enough -- we cannot allow another veteran to be smeared by George Bush's cronies.

Thank you for taking a stand.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- Here is the full text of Murtha's statement yesterday:

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

"General Casey said in a September 2005 hearing, 'the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.' General Abizaid said on the same date, "Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is part of our counterinsurgency strategy."

"For two and a half years, I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait - the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction - but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

"We spend more money on Intelligence that all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

"I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

"The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

"Much of our ground transportation is worn out and in need of either serous overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." We must rebuild out Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

"Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

"I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the condition on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included to Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have not received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects have been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American causalities have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

"I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won 'militarily.' I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are untied against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraq security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United Stated occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a "free" Iraq.

"My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

"This war needs to be personalized. As I said before, I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

"Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our obligation, to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.

"Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home."
It's time to bring them home.

Betraying Stewardship

This unbelievably insulting dreck appeared in this morning's Inquirer.

Go north to Alaska and tap oil reserves

Gale A. Norton
is the U.S. secretary of the interior

America is ignoring the light on the dashboard when it comes to energy.

We are in denial. We think that simply because we've always had abundant energy - except in the 1970s, when we were stuck in gas lines - we always will.

Americans were surprised when growing world demand for energy pushed the price of oil to record levels last summer and when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita drove gas above $3.60 a gallon in some places. We shouldn't have been. The warning signs of an energy crunch have been there all along.

It's time for denial to end.
So clever, so cute…so uproariously deceitful to somehow blame us for buying the gas-guzzling monstrosities that the automakers continually foist on us while our politicians refuse to fund mass-transit alternatives properly or support research and development into alternative sources of energy. So insultingly propagandistic to ignore the price gouging of the oil companies with Bushco’s blessing as a major factor in this present mess.

As interior secretary, I oversee public lands that hold vast amounts of oil and natural gas that the energy industry has proved can be produced in an environmentally safe manner.
Where have they done this? What is their documentation? What is their “credible and expert research” that proves that this can be accomplished?

As we've become more and more dependent on foreign oil, America has left this oil and gas untapped because of environmental concerns often based in emotion and not in fact.
Following Norton’s column at this post is information from Robert Kennedy Jr. that tells a wholly other story about this.

Take the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a potentially huge source of oil and gas. In 1980, President Carter and Congress set aside this remote coastal plain for oil and gas development.
Of all of Norton’s disingenuous remarks, this may be the worst. As you can read from this link:

"First set aside by President Eisenhower in 1960 as the Arctic National Wildlife Range, the area now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1980 when President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The legislation expanded the refuge and expressly prohibited oil drilling in the 1.5 million acre coastal plain, the area currently debated for oil drilling."

On Nov. 10, a measure to allow oil drilling in ANWR was dropped from a congressional budget bill. But we can and must develop this area for our energy needs, and I look forward to seeing the provision reinstated in House/Senate negotiations later this year.
By the way, based on the scientific evidence that I’ve read, the maximum amount of oil that could be taken from the ANWR would meet the energy needs of this country for about six months. This is at a cost of the potential extinction of scores of other species in the area.

Using modern technology, the oil industry can develop this area in winter with little environmental impact.
Again, see Robert Kennedy’s note below about this statement.

No one would say there won't be any impact at all. Rather, we can limit the footprint of development to an area the size of a regional airport in a refuge the size of South Carolina.
“The footprint of development,” huh? "Refuge in a regional airport"? "Size of South Carolina"? Could you try harder to baffle us, Madame Secretary?

Sorry, but I'm a very literal guy. I don't know what the hell you're talking about, and I need a picture.

Had we developed this area in the mid-1990s, Americans would have access to the oil from it today.
Sure we could have, assuming of course that we hadn’t already used it up by now.

Unfortunately, emotional arguments and our denial over energy have carried the day for a quarter-century. Opponents show pictures of Alaska, such as the scenic Brooks Range, that aren't even in the coastal plain area, to claim that energy development will despoil a natural wonder. They claim widespread harm to caribou populations, but U.S. Geological Survey studies and experience in other producing areas of Alaska's North Slope indicate responsible development will have little impact on caribou populations. They ignore the incredible technological advances in oil production.
At this point, given Norton’s penchant for data manipulation to suit her predetermined conclusions (as Robert Kennedy Jr. dramatically illustrates later), I don’t trust anything she has to say about how the environment won’t be harmed by “incredible technological advances in oil production.”

Likewise, consider the Outer Continental Shelf, which contains huge amounts of recoverable oil and gas that can be easily accessed. Currently, the vast majority of the OCS is off limits to production because of congressional moratoria and presidential withdrawals. Deferring to the wishes of coastal states, President Bush supports the continuation of these moratoria and withdrawals. However, some promising OCS areas not under moratorium or withdrawal could produce billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.
Where are these areas, exactly (oh, and isn't Dubya a nice guy for deciding to honor historical precedent and the wishes of our government for many years?).
Offshore oil and gas production has been proven safe. In fact, more than 150 times the amount of oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico from natural cracks in the seabed than is spilled from offshore production facilities.

Furthermore, these offshore wells endured the rage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without any significant spills.
Norton ought to check this link and read the information. I don't know how she defines "significant."

Amazingly, opponents still use the memory of the 1970 Santa Barbara oil spill to convince people to misrepresent the environmental risks in 2005. Again, they ignore the major advances in technology akin to what has happened in fields such as space exploration, medicine, and electronics.
Development of these technologies will not harm the environment to the same degree as oil drilling and exploration.

On shore, areas such as the Rocky Mountains potentially hold huge reserves of natural gas that can be developed in an environmentally sensitive manner through coal bed methane technologies. Environmental and energy policies of both Republican and Democratic administrations, dating back more than a decade, have supported development of this clean-burning fuel.
As already noted, Norton has a legendary reputation for altering or suppressing scientific data if it conflicts with her predetermined conclusions, which is perfectly in synch with Bushco's lunatic logic. She probably could point to a flawed study to support this paragraph also.

Update 11/20: I meant to come back to this and find out more information, and I came across this (excerpted below):

"'Most of the oil has been pumped out of the Rocky Mountain West. What's left is gas—conventional and coal-bed methane. With the latter, a technology barely 15 years old and therefore an experiment on public resources, you have to bust up the coal seam and pump out groundwater contaminated with a witch's brew of toxins and carcinogens. Ranchers aren't safe even if they graze their own land because, in virtually all cases, subsurface mineral rights were sold or leased to gas and oil companies at least half a century ago. The companies routinely drill in front yards and backyards. A recent study reveals that if you have a gas well within 500 feet of your house, your property value declines 22 percent.

'These guys made $4.5 billion in San Juan County last year,' continued (Tweeti) Blancett (an area rancher). 'But they barely do any site restoration; they want everything. And in the San Juan Basin there are three BLM enforcement agents to cover 35,000 wells. We either have droughts or gully washers, so when you disturb desert soil and don't revegetate, you lose it. This whole county is a disaster area. Our water is polluted; our air is polluted; our ground is polluted. They've ruined our ranch. With $4.5 billion coming out of one county in one year, New Mexico ought to be the richest state, not one of the poorest'.”

America certainly needs to do better on the energy conservation front. We rose to the challenge and became more energy efficient after the 1970s energy crisis. We must do so again. In an important step, the administration has proposed to raise mileage requirements for light trucks and SUVs in 2007, a decision that will save 10 billion gallons in gasoline over a four-year period.
As Arianna notes here, SUVs were held to a ridiculously low fuel standard anyway, even beneath that of passenger vehicles (which is what an SUV really is, after all). And I'm not even going to try and fathom the specious reasoning that assumes we'll automatically save gas because of "an administration proposal."

However, the need to do more for conservation does not obviate the need to tap into readily available energy resources. At a time when our domestic energy production is less than half of our consumption and falling each year, we don't have the luxury to ignore large oil and gas reserves on American soil. We must not let unfounded environmental concerns stand in the way.
"Unfounded environmental concerns"'s almost funny at this point.

Time to get out of denial. We must produce more oil and gas at home. We can do so while protecting our environment.
Of all of the Bushco screeds that I have had the great displeasure to read since Dubya was installed into the White House in January 2001, this could possibly be the most outrageous and despicable one yet. I actually think I could have picked it apart some more if I had the time to do more research. I feel like I need a hot shower to cleanse myself now.

Here, at long last is an excerpt from Robert Kennedy Jr. (from the U.S. Message Board, posted October 28, 2004):

The (Bush) administration’s leading expert in manipulating scientific data is Interior Secretary Gale Norton. During her nomination hearings, Norton promised not to ideologically slant agency science. But as her friend, Thomas Sansonetti, a coal-industry lobbyist who is now assistant attorney general, predicted, “There won’t be any biologists or botanists to come in and pull the wool over her eyes.”

In Autumn 2001, Secretary Norton provided the senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources with her agency’s scientific assessment that Arctic oil drilling would not harm hundreds of thousands of caribou. Not long afterward, fish and Wildlife Service biologists contacted the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which defends scientists and other professionals working in state and federal environmental agencies. “The scientists provided us the science that they had submitted to Norton and the altered version that she had given to Congress a week later,” said the group’s executive director, Jeff Ruch. There were seventeen major substantive changes, all of them minimizing the reported impacts. When Norton was asked about the alterations in October 2001, she dismissed them as typographical errors.

Later, she and White House political adviser Karl Rove forced National Marine Fisheries scientists to alter findings on the amount of water required of the survival of salmon in Oregon ’s Klamath River , to ensure that large corporate farms got a bigger share of the river water. As a result, more than 33,000 chinook and coho salmon died—the largest fish kill in the history of America. Mike Kelly, the biologist who drafted the original opinion (and who has since been awarded federal whistle-blower status), told me that the coho salmon is probably headed for extinction. “Morale is low among scientists here,” Kelly says. “We are under pressure to get the right results. This administration is putting the species at risk for political gain—and not just in the Klamath.”

Norton has also ordered the rewriting of an exhaustive twelve-year study by federal biologists detailing the effects that Arctic drilling would have on populations of musk oxen and snow geese. She reissued the biologists’ report two weeks later as a two-page paper showing no negative impact to wildlife. She also ordered suppression of two studies by the Fish and Wildlife Service concluding that the drilling would threaten polar-bear populations and violate the international treaty protecting bears. She then instructed the Fish and Wildlife Service to redo the report to “reflect the Interior department’s position.” She suppressed findings that mountaintop mining would cause “tremendous destruction of aquatic and terrestrial habitat” and a Park Service report that found that snowmobiles were hurting Yellowstone ’s air quality, wildlife and the health of its visitors and employees.

Norton’s Fish and Wildlife Service is the first ever not to voluntarily list a single species as endangered or threatened. Her officials have blackballed scientists and savaged studies to avoid listing the trumpeter swan, revoke the listing of the grizzly bear and shrink the remnant habitat for the Florida panther. She disbanded the service’s oldest scientific advisory committee in order to halt protection of desert fish in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that are headed for extinction. Interior career staffers and scientists say they are monitored by Norton’s industry appointees to ensure that future studies do not conflict with industry profit-making.
Update 11/20: By the way, in an unrelated item, here is a post about Kennedy's dad.

As I’ve said before, this is easily the most environmentally hostile presidential administration that I have ever had to endure in all of the years that God has granted me on this earth thus far. For this reason first and foremost above all others, we must fight these bastards with all of our strength and ability until their time is finally and mercifully over.

Remember This Next November

I dare anyone out there to try and defend this.

When I say “defend,” by the way, I mean try explaining how this benefits the vast majority of the people in this country instead of continuing to chop away at programs which help them to get a good education, escape from destitute circumstances and/or try to put their lives back together after suffering a medical catastrophe.

Try explaining how this is an act of fiscal responsibility when it will increase the budget deficit as the tax cuts on capital gains and dividend income are allowed to continue.

For the Repugs, this is a happy consequence of the strategy of running up outrageous deficits and then trying to paint themselves as “the party of fiscal management" or something by reducing government to a size “where it can be drowned in a bathtub" to quote the infamous words of Grover Norquist.

I know this abomination is going to be sorted out in some kind of House-Senate committee, but what this budget measure needs instead is a thorough dosing of lighter fluid and a lit match.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Because He's An Idiot?

It's a shame when the first one who thinks he knows, in reality, ends up being the last, isn't it? I'm referring to this feature article from the latest issue of Time Magazine.

With that in mind, here is a dose of the unpleasant reality from Paul Craig Roberts (this first appeared on on 11/8):


The October payroll jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows employment growth for the month essentially at a standstill. The economy created only 46,000 private sector jobs. The bulk of those -- 33,000 -- were in construction.

The domestic service sector of the economy, which has been the source of net new jobs in the 21st century, experienced no job growth in October.

In the 21st century, the U.S. economy has ceased to generate net new jobs in middle- and upper-middle-class professions. This is a serious economic, social and political problem that receives no attention.

There is a great deal of meltdown inside the U.S. economy. Manufacturing is hollowed out. The decline in manufacturing means a decline in the engineering and other professions that serve it. Knowledge jobs are also being lost to offshore outsourcing and to H-1b, L-1 and other work visas. In October, there were 81,301 corporate layoffs.

The government does not keep records of the U.S. jobs lost to offshore outsourcing and to work visas for foreigners. With so few jobs available in the educated professions, the future of U.S. universities would seem to be bleak.

In December 2003, Congress directed the Department of Commerce to complete a study within six months of the impact of jobs outsourcing on knowledge-based industries. The report due in June of 2004 was not released until September of this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act action, and only after the report was gutted by political appointees and reduced to 12 pages of PR quoting reports by organizations and individuals that have been funded by multinationals that benefit from shifting American jobs overseas.

Powerful lobbies that benefit from low-cost foreign labor have invested heavily in public relations campaigns to create the impression that American jobs have to be outsourced and foreign workers brought into the United States because there are shortages of U.S. engineers, scientists, nurses and schoolteachers. It is amazing that the occupations in which shortages are alleged to exist are the very occupations in which qualified Americans cannot find jobs.

Many economists mistakenly claim that offshore outsourcing and work visas for foreigners benefit Americans by lowering costs. But no country benefits from the loss of high productivity, high value-added occupations. The United States runs trade deficits in manufactured goods and advanced technology products. Last year, the U.S. trade deficit in advanced technology products was $36,857,000,000. As of August of this year, the U.S. trade deficit in advanced technology products is running 26 percent higher than in 2004.

America's volume exports are paper, waste paper, agricultural products and chemicals.

The Oct. 28 issue of Manufacturing & Technology News reports that Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Ford, Kimberly Clark, Caterpillar, Goodyear, General Motors, USG, Honeywell, Alcoa and Kodak combined exported 269,600 containers of goods in 2004. Wal-Mart alone imported 576,000 containers of goods.
Oh, and while Bush is lecturing the Chinese about Bibles, maybe someone ought to try to explain the following information to him:

The United States allegedly is a superpower with a highly developed economy. China is a newly developing country not far from Third World status. You might think that China would be running huge trade deficits with the United States, as China imports the goods and services necessary to continue its economic development and serve consumer wants. The trade statistics, however, tell a different story.

Last year, the United States imported $196,682,000,000 in goods and services from China and exported a mere $34,744,100,000 to China. The American "superpower's" trade deficit with China came to $161,938,000,000. To put this figure in perspective, America's trade deficit with China is 28 percent higher than American's total oil import bill.

Everyone talks about energy independence as if our future depends on it. Simultaneously, we are told that globalization is good for us in every other respect. But why is energy independence any better than manufacturing independence, or engineering independence, or innovation independence? U.S. imports of industrial supplies, capital goods, automotive vehicles and consumer goods all exceed U.S. oil imports.

In recent years, offshore outsourcing has caused the U.S. trade deficit to explode. Offshore outsourcing means that the production of goods and services for the U.S. market is shifted from America to foreign countries. This turns goods formerly produced in the United States into imports. Between 1997 and 2004, the U.S. trade deficit increased six-fold. Since 1997, the cumulative U.S. trade deficit (including the $700 billion estimate for 2005) is $3.5 trillion. The outsourcing of America's economy is a far greater threat to Americans than terrorists.

During the 1980s, economists spoke in doom and gloom terms about the "Reagan deficits." The cumulative U.S. trade deficit for the entire decade of the 1980s totaled $846 billion. The U.S. trade deficit for 2005 alone is 83 percent of the cumulative deficit of the Reagan 1980s. Yet, we hear very little doom and gloom. Economists now declare the trade deficit to be good for us. They mistakenly describe the trade deficit as a mere reflection of the beneficial workings of free trade. Economists have become mouthpieces for the corporate interests who benefit by deserting their American workforce and replacing them with foreigners.

This process of substituting foreign workers for American workers cannot go on for too long before the U.S. consumer market dies from lack of income and purchasing power. U.S. policymakers have no clue. The Nov. 4 edition of "Market Watch" reports that "wage growth is a chief concern of the Federal Reserve, which fears that wage pressures could imbed an inflationary psychology in the economy." This is amazing. U.S. wages are not keeping up with inflation. Real wages are falling, and the Federal Reserve is worried about wage pressures!

The Bush administration is squandering our few remaining resources fighting an insurgency in Iraq that the Bush administration created by invading Iraq. Meanwhile, globalization separates Americans from the production of the goods and services that they consume. Americans are expected to buy the products without having the incomes associated with their production. If the war in Iraq lasts another 10 years, as the Bush administration keeps telling us, the United States will find itself without the industrial capacity or borrowing power to continue with the conflict.
And remember this...Roberts is a Republican whose work regularly appears on

Finally, I came across this item about the Segway from September 2003 (source: Harper's Magazine, pertaining to Bush's gift of this item to the Japanese prime minister as noted in the Time story).

Six thousand Segway scooters were recalled because they tend to throw their riders when the battery gets low. President Bush was photographed falling off one of the $4,950 scooters in June, though he had simply neglected to turn it on.
Some punchlines write themselves, don't they?

The Surreal Bob Casey

Rick Santorum says the right to privacy doesn’t exist in the Constitution (failing to respect that the spirit of that right at least exists for many people), and Bob Casey, Jr. is silent. Rick Santorum says people who could not evacuate from a natural disaster (in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) should be penalized, and the same thing happens. Santorum continues to spew intolerant conservative garbage in his book, such as the statement that mothers who work do so, in effect, because they’ve been “egged on” by feminists at the expense of their kids, and we get the same thing.

Casey did attack Santorum in August, stating that Santorum isn’t putting pressure on Bush to come up with objectives and a timeframe for something that approximates a resolution in our favor in Iraq that will allow our people to start coming home. That was good. Did Casey keep up that pressure, however? Well, you can get the answer to that question from the news headlines since that time.

But lo and behold, Casey did attack Santorum on his cozy ties to “K Street” lobbyists (using eminently forgettable rhetoric in the process also, I may add). Casey was trying to “piggyback” off the still-unfolding Jack Abramoff scandal.

That’s a smart move, but I have news for Casey. Most voters, rightly or wrongly, don’t care about that stuff, especially when no direct link has been established to Santorum.

Politics (especially this looming campaign against Senator Scumwad) is often, when you get down to it, partisan, full-throated, primal “fire-in-the-belly” stuff full of memorable words, images, and events. Say what you want about Santorum, but he understands that. His actions make no sense at times to a logical mind, but the fervor behind his supporters has not so much to do with logic as it does with irrational, snarly rage at anyone and anything that opposes it. Santorum continually tosses “red meat” to his supporters so they never forget that he is one of THEM (though he recently feinted a bit in the direction of teaching “intelligent design” as religion instead of science, since that is, in effect, what it truly is).

I’ll be honest with you. I’m tired of reading stories about how badly Santorum is trailing in the polls. My prediction is that won’t mean a thing a year from now, since Dubya will come up with some feeble pretext for starting to bring our people home to boost the sagging hopes of his party, and that will end up changing the numbers. And will the Democrats have an answer when that happens? Based on what I see so far from Casey, I believe the answer, unfortunately, is no.

Another thing about politics – if you find yourself voting more AGAINST the other guy than you are voting FOR your own, your guy will lose. If you want proof of that (electronic voting fraud notwithstanding), see Kerry, John vs. Bush, George W. last year (and the quote from John Murtha in the story from this link about “holding your nose and pulling the lever for Casey,” or whatever, inspires NO CONFIDENCE in yours truly).

I think this link provides information that is food for thought. I know the site where it comes from basically endorses Chuck Pennacchio outright, but I don’t believe that invalidates its content.

We have to look at this seriously, people. I keep waiting for Casey Jr. to “light the lamp,” and all I see are short circuits. Let’s do something about this now before Santorum and the Repugs make their move.

Update 11/18: I know this post has to do with Bob Casey, Jr., but since I referenced what John Murtha said about getting us out of Iraq, here is some great background on Murtha from a blogger called Nitpicker (via Atrios).

Giving And Taking

A lot of other bloggers have been chiming in on the recent revelation that Bob Woodward had spoken with an as-yet-unidentified source in the Valerie Plame matter two years ago and a month prior to the time that Scooter Libby disclosed her identity, though Woodward kept silent about that until yesterday. From everything I’ve read, I think Arianna Huffington’s summary on this is the most comprehensive I’ve seen yet (Will Bunch’s from Atrios is another great one).

It’s hard for me to say something about this that hasn’t been covered already, but I’ll try. I should state at the outset, though, that it is beyond my comprehension how Woodward could have heard of Valerie Plame’s identity in the timeframe he has stated and about which he has testified to Patrick Fitzgerald and not told anyone at the Washington Post about it. It is also reckless and irresponsible for him to deride others investigating the story, especially when he now knew that it was a lot more than “laughable,” and “a junkyard dog.”

The unintended effect of the legendary reporting of Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the Nixon White House and the Watergate scandal is that it popularized “gotcha” journalism (though "60 Minutes," having debuted in the late '60s, made this popular on TV first), making the two celebrity reporters akin to gunfighters. When others saw the same possibilities (prodded by news organizations and their corporate benefactors who saw the potential profit), the entire news reporting business started to change. The tactics of the two were fine for anyone “cutting their teeth” in the news business, but it was inconceivable for long-time journalists who had cozy relationships with sources in government who were usually dependable.

As they expertly pieced together the story of the Watergate burglary, Woodward and Bernstein, as part of their journalistic “high wire” act, made some mistakes, the biggest of which was telling managing editor Ben Bradlee that it was OK to report that Hugh Sloan, who was in charge of the finances for the committee to re-elect Nixon in 1972, testified before a grand jury that H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, controlled the slush fund that financed the burglary and other “dirty tricks.” Also, Bernstein “confirmed” a story by giving the source 10 seconds to deny it, then telling Bradlee the story was good when the source declined to say anything.

Woodward has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding journalist, though he is most definitely an opportunist as well who, at this point, apparently fails to understand any more that the news, especially the Plame story, must be covered with the same dogged determination that he showed starting out in the business in the ‘70s. He helped give us a legacy of digging tenaciously and reporting as expertly as possible back then, but with his recent actions, he has tried to, in effect, take it back to benefit his own cozy circumstances with his own sources, a practice that he and Bernstein turned on its head some years back.

Woodward’s career may now be irrevocably damaged by his actions (after all, you know that someone always catches up with a “gunfighter” sooner or later). For an author who has been known to, at the very least, “gild the lily” in his books “Veil” (about the CIA of Bill Casey in the ‘80s) and “Wired” (about John Belushi), it is hard to think that this isn’t actually deserved, despite his contributions.

Woodward’s career began with reporting the scandal and legal consequences of the misconduct of one presidential administration. It is beyond ironic that it may now be coming to an end over the foibles of another presidential administration 30 years later.

Update: Arianna has more (via Atrios).

Update: Today's cartoon from Tony Auth in The Philadelphia Inquirer nailed it.

I wonder how many more times Woodward will be appearing on talky, though often informative, programs on C-SPAN to pontificate on "the lessons of Watergate" now?

Update 11/20: John at AmericaBlog buries Woodward and the "ombudsman" at the Washington Post, and deservedly so (hat tip once more to Atrios).

Pick Me! Pick Me! Pick Me!

(Catching up on a few things due to unexpected stuff yesterday…)

I checked out the Huffington Post this morning and saw that our dear friend Bill O’Reilly is going to publish what amounts to an Internet “enemies list” of sites that support his biggest critics (such as Media Matters and Atrios – Think Progress has the details). I had a momentary grade-school flashback (“S’ter! S’ter!) as I contemplated all of this further.

Everyone else can get hung up on the fact that this is an Orwellian convergence of McCarthyite hysteria and Nixonian paranoia for the new media age, but not me, no siree! I’m proud to stand up and take the “hit” for a good cause (several, perhaps even many I hope, especially since I reached my limit for the comment spam with the carpet guy leaving seven of them on Veterans Day to the point where I turned on word verification yesterday).

So, Bill…may I call you “Bill”?...oh all right: Mr. O’Reilly, I have but one request.


I’m sorry for all the nasty things I said. I’m sorry for all the ways that I portrayed you as a braying, dogmatic, frothing-at-the-mouth right wing lunatic who continually refuses to entertain an opposing point of view. I’m sorry for continually reminding everyone that you threatened to kill Michael Kinsley. I’m sorry for pointing out that I used pages from “The O’Reilly Factor For Kids” to line my cat’s litter box. Besides, if you took a minute to look around this site, you’d see that I link to the sites that you hate all over the place.

So please put me on your enemies list. I’ve taken so much time and space maligning you that, in all fairness, I think this is the least you can do to pay me back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Looking For A "Lewinsky"

This is a "G"-rated version of a notion I've heard expressed already elsewhere (from this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer - no shot on a graphic for this, by the way):

As a veteran, I should be outraged that George W. Bush turned Nov. 11, a day of remembrance, into an excuse for political attack. But nothing this White House does shocks me any more. What was scandalous was the content of his speech: That Congress had access to the same intelligence the White House did, that the intelligence itself was not manipulated, that the administration's claims about WMD were supported by "intelligence services around the world," and so on. These and similar statements have been repeatedly proven false. Will some intern have an affair with this guy so we can impeach him already?

Isaac Segal
Cherry Hill, NJ
Who knows? Maybe it would help Dubya with some recurring issues (though Atrios, quite rightly I think, says that this stuff should be taken with "a boulder of salt.")

If it's true, though, that Dubya's main contacts these days are women, then maybe he's abiding by the sentiment of Maureen Dowd's book title after all (see below).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fields Of Dreams (Nightmares?)

I probably shouldn’t get into this, but I will anyway. I may get dumped from a blogroll or two, though that certainly isn’t my goal. I’ll try my best not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The column appearing below from Suzanne Fields appeared in today’s Bucks County Courier Times (obtained online from the Jewish World Review), and ostensibly, it has to do with the new book written by Maureen Dowd titled, “Are Men Necessary?” Having read Dowd’s work, I respect her as a wit and an intellect. The fact that she beats up on Bush wins points for me, but she also took Clinton to task over Monica Whatsername, to be fair (she also didn’t back down when that zany traitor Zell Miller challenged her to a duel).

Maybe she really doesn’t like men generally. Maybe she’s just writing this piffle to stir things up because that’s the type of book her publisher is paying her to write (men will be “as ornamental as ice cream” one day, huh?). Also, since this must be a compilation of a lot of her prior columns with some new material, most of what she says shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I don’t think Dowd should have to apologize for her life (sounds a bit like the whole “Sex And The City” milieu where the women don some clingy, revealing, spaghetti-strapped evening number or drop $800 on a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos without so much as a bat of the eye.) On the other hand, I don’t think that gives her the right to pout and feel offended that Mr. And Mrs. Boring Whitebread America may actually have it better off than she does.

Anyway, in search of more information and opinion on this (I had a few minutes to kill recently), I made the mistake of finding and then actually reading Fields’ column, which follows:

Every generation confronts the poses and attitudes that define the era, and supplies the ammunition required to keep the war between the sexes going.
OK, here is rule number one if you’re going to be a conservative propagandist; if a battle or disagreement doesn’t actually exist, you must create one. It is impossible to try and communicate your message unless you are doing so in a state of conflict.

Flappers learned to drink and smoke in public, just like men. This was liberation that lasted, but nevertheless requires constant reinvention. The Charleston, with swinging arms and crazy legs, morphed into cozy cheek-to-cheek slow dancing to Sinatra, strings and brass.
Sure, there was “The Tender Trap” and the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies about conflict – or so I hear; I was too young then, you see :-) – but there was also style. You know, Cole Porter, Grace Kelly, "Ring A Ding Ding"…all that.

The Sexual Revolution, abetted by the Pill and feminism, brought rage to sex; men and women remained opposites while attracting each other. They learned to overcome hostilities to take advantage of new possibilities. They worked out some of the kinks through rock and roll. Burning bras was both angry gesture and sexy signal. Women felt freer, and men felt freer with them. But that had a downside, too.
I love the way conservatives in general like to give their revisionist history lessons, implying that everything that came before was somehow attributed to excesses of liberal decadence. Also, I should point out that nothing turns me on regarding women more than a flirtatious smile, a hint of cleavage, and the smell of burning latex.

In the postfeminist world of today, buttons and bows are back, but more women have careers, leaving aggressive posture at the office to indulge laid-back behavior when the sun goes down. Not always an easy transformation.
Don’t worry…she gets to Dowd’s book, eventually.

No matter where a woman finds herself on the timeline of gender politics, the key word, as any social Darwinian could tell you, is "adaptation."
Hey, I thought you guys favored "intelligent design"! Oh sorry, I forgot...that's "science".

We're not exactly hard-wired for the social changes. So men and women trapped in transition, looking for a mate to survive among the fittest, take casualties. The political implications of all this can be enormous, too, as any pol trying to figure out ways to exploit the gender gap could tell you.
That actually may be the truest passage of this entire screed.

Maureen Dowd, the tart tart of The New York Times op-ed page, reveals herself to be one of the walking wounded in her new book, "Are Men Necessary?" Hers is an Ideology of One. Beneath the wit, the intelligence, the brittle one-liners, the insights, you can hear the voice of a little girl crying in the night. She's a lot like the character Margo Channing in "All About Eve," played by Bette Davis, whom Mo loves to hate and quote.
And you aren’t “a little girl crying in the night” also at times, Ms. Fields? Also, I should note that “All About Eve” is a terrific movie.

"Funny thing about a woman's career — the things you drop on the way up the ladder so you can move faster," muses Margo Channing. "Nothing is any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed and there he is. Without that you're not a woman. You're something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you're not a woman." In spite of herself, Maureen bears witness to the truism even as she pins the blame on men. She believes, devoutly, that she has been rejected because men won't marry a powerful woman.

As photographed for The New York Times Sunday magazine, Ms. Dowd wears red shoes as a badge of courage, but she's tormented when she looks around at the terrible aimlessness and arbitrariness of the bodies strewn on the field of sexual warfare. She draws on pithy allusions from movies and poetry, which she shoots like scattershot. But it's the peek into her personal life, from interviews and publicity as well as several choice anecdotes, that suggests she's really writing a postmodern lament of love.
Maybe, but some specifics would be nice at this point. Can I have some actual analysis of the author’s work here instead of the author?

She could have called her book "The Love Song of Maureen Dowd." Like T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock, she can't understand how she got to this "tedious argument of insidious intent," which boils down to why, at 53, she's a childless spinster. Instead of asking, "Do I dare?" she asks, "Why didn't I?" Instead of measuring her life in coffee spoons, she pays it out in cold column inches. She counts the most sophisticated men and women of stage, screen and video as her friends, who "come and go/Talking of Michelangelo." But they can't answer exactly what went wrong with her love life, either.

Like so many authors, Ms. Dowd suggests that universal experiences grow from the acorns of her life and from those she has interviewed. But no great oaks here. The scientific research that answers the central question that men will eventually be irrelevant, or at the very least demoted to a nice but not really necessary second sex, is cleverly engaged but runs aground deep into the shallows. She's especially retro quoting Norman Mailer's jape that women have never needed a lot of men to perpetuate the species: " . . . all women needed were about a hundred semen slaves that they could milk every day . . . and they could keep the race going. So they don't need us."
Somehow I have a feeling that there’s more insight into Dowd’s work than this, but I don’t suppose I’ll discover that here.

She concludes that she has no conclusions. She has no answers for women (or men, either), only questions. She asks for no sympathy, but in the end remains a middle-aged female Prufrock, who could have written: "I am no prophet — and here's no great matter."
Isn’t that true of columnists generally, including (and especially) you?

To say that Fields has trouble separating her opinion from her subject matter anyway is definitely an understatement. I can certainly vouch for that in the political arena. When Trent Lott made those infamous remarks at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, describing the Civil Rights movement as “all these problems,” Fields attributed the controversy to “patronizing white liberal guilt.” She considered Elia Kazan, one of our great filmmakers who gave names to the McCarthy Committee in the 1950s Communist witch hunts, as a hero because he ratted out some members of “the left,” and thereby supported Bush’s war on terrorism (don’t ask).

I take all of this concerning Maureen Dowd with a grain of salt, to say the least. There are things men and women do well, and there are things men and women do badly. I stink at multitasking – I do it for my job because I have to, but I’m terrible at it around the house, especially with the young one running rampant. However, if I told my wife that her life was at stake if she didn’t reassemble the Sunday newspaper properly, then I might as well get the firing squad ready now. The point is that we work together in spite of our differences. We do the best we can, we make choices and we live with them. And I didn’t even have to write an entire book to tell you that.

As for Fields, she should return to doing what she does best, and that is grinding out her political journalistic sludge in a manner befitting her abilities. Besides, I get all the social commentary I need from watching “South Park.”

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tougher Than The Rest

I noted below that I agreed with the notion put forward by Pete Hill of Princeton that Rush Holt would be a terrific choice to take the place of Jon Corzine as he leaves the U.S. Senate to assume his new job as governor of New Jersey (and little Dougie Forrester today is crying; awww, if it weren’t for Dubya and the aftermath of Katrina, “I woulda won, I would won, I would won…baaawwwllll!!!!!").

I have to admit, though, that “Dubya fatigue,” if you can call it that, is setting in big time (especially in states which are “blue” to begin with). Also, I said at the beginning of the campaign that the Corzine-Forrester battle didn’t look like it was going to do anything to advance the cause of progressive politics, and I’m still waiting to be proven wrong on that (installing Rush Holt in the Senate, though, would be the best progressive development we could expect).

However, if the rocket scientist (which Holt literally is, by the way) somehow doesn’t end up with this prize, I can think of only one other deserving individual…


For most politicians, their barroom eyes shine “vacancy,” but The Boss knows what it means to steal, to cheat, to lie: what it’s like to live and die. He’s lost everything he’s ever loved or feared, including you and me and all that stuff we’re so scared of.

Lost but not forgotten, from the dark heart of a dream, is the man from Freehold, NJ, who can blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted.

I know Bruce once said, “I’m gonna push my way through that crowd, I’m gonna tear all the walls down,” and I know he means it. Like you and me, it seems that he’s been playin’ the game way too long, and it seems the game he’s played has made them strong. He’s no hero, that’s understood, but like all of us, he knows that, after every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe.


(Hat tip to HuffPo for both links minus CNN…)

Update 11/18: Typical petty Repug garbage...

If Only Kerry Had Said This

This letter from John Edwards appeared over the weekend.

Dear Friend,

I was wrong.

I wrote these words about my vote to authorize the Iraq war in a Washington Post op-ed piece and I want to share my views with you as well.

Almost three years ago, we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a very dear price. It is not right, just or fair that we made a mistake, but they pay for that mistake.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and to show that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the President -- and that I was being told by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: twisting intelligence to fit their pre-conceived views about Iraq's threat; failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it actually ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill that our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

The urgent question isn't how we got here, but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure.

What is success? I don't think it is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny.

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing American presence; building Iraq's capacity; and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of the imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals. Therefore, early next year, after the Iraqi elections and a new government has been created, we should begin the redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq. This should be the beginning of a gradual process to reduce our presence and change the shape of our military's deployment in Iraq.

Most of these troops should come from National Guard or Reserve forces. That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule outlining that as we certify that Iraqi troops are trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will withdraw.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort. We should bring Iraq's neighbors and our key European allies into a diplomatic process to get Iraq on its feet. It's not just in America's security interest for Iraq to succeed, but the world's -- and the President needs to create a unified international front.

Too many mistakes have already been made to make this easy. Yet we must take these steps to succeed. The American people, the Iraqi people and -- most importantly -- our troops who have died or been injured there and those who are fighting there today deserve nothing less.

America's leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. Over 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war; and over 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.

I applaud this "act of contrition" if you will from John Edwards. Such words and sentiments reflect the type of leadership this country truly deserves.

Also, to read more about KBR's activities regarding the Iraqi reconstruction (which Edwards refers to), please click here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bird Droppings

Boy, the Eagles are sure in it now.

No less of a personage than Jesse Jackson has hopped on the Terrell Owens bandwagon, saying that it's wrong for Owens to be suspended for the next four games and deactivated for the rest of the season.

I think Jackson is right, and the Eagles have only themselves to blame for this (as they prepare to play in "the national spotlight" against the team that thoroughly waxed them a few weeks ago). Jackson states the types of wrongs that a player could commit to justify the Eagles' treatment of Owens, and that sounds pretty logical to me also.

However, the Eagles can't turn back now on this. What will probably happen, though, is that everybody will "huddle up" and work out a deal where Owens gets paid to look for a new team and entertain the offers that surely will come his way.

At least, I HOPE that is what happens so they can put this sorry saga behind them as soon as possible. Owens can't return to the team, or else the Eagles would hopelessly lose face (after all, we're talking about a bunch of "ultra type A" guys here who see no middle ground anywhere to begin with). If somehow the Eagles refuse to pay and Owens pursues litigation to get paid and dresses it up as some kind of a civil rights violation or something like that (trivializing the true purpose of those kinds of laws, of course), it would be a bigger sideshow than anything that has transpired so far. Worse, if Owens pursues litigation and WINS, it will be just about IMPOSSIBLE for any team to discipline any player on related grounds as those the Eagles chose to discipline Owens. Such a precedent could probably also be used for other employees who felt they were wronged by their employers in other industries.

All of that being said, though, I should note something that I think is curious.

Today's CNN Quick Vote question (which I've used as a barometer on other stories, maybe more than I should) asks if you agree with Jesse Jackson on this, and 90 percent of those polled said no.


You know, I work with guys who have a lot of background in the financial services industry, and I've heard some dialogue like, "Man, can you believe Owens? He's hurting his marketability at the peak of his career. I read somewhere that he could be turning down about 30 mil in endorsements because of this." Some of these people are great in addition to being highly proficient in their jobs. Some of them, though, to quote Oscar Wilde, know "the price of everything and the value of nothing."

I think this is what the majority of the sports fans I come across are focusing on (that and the personality B.S. stuff - "he said, he said" if you will, between Owens and Andy Reid).

NASCAR drivers beat each other up and maybe they're fined a few Gs and suspended for a race or two (or penalized in overall points or something...I freely admit I don't follow that much). Bill Romanowski (onetime of the Eagles) commits assault on a teammate and doesn't receive ANYWHERE NEAR the amount of public vilification as Owens. Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks almost kills Steve Moore of the Colorado Rockies last year and gets the same treatment (in the States, anyway).

You know where I'm going with this, don't you?

Let me just respectfully suggest that we look at the overall circumstances of Owens situation and make sure that we can say, with total certainty, that that four-letter word that begins with "R" doesn't enter into the equation.

(I keep trying to finish up with this and return to beating up on Dubya, but this story just doesn't seem to want to go away...)

Update 11/23: OK, the Eagles won on this one. I'll give them credit where it's due.

Science In The Senate?

A GREAT letter appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now that Jon Corzine been elected governor of New Jersey, which Democrat will be appointed to the U.S. Senate seat he is vacating?

An "insider" pick such as acting Gov. Richard Codey or U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez would feed into negative perceptions about New Jersey's political culture.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt is a brilliant scientist, effective public speaker, and stalwart progressive. He is a leader on issues such as verified voting. He has spoken out against the Iraq War and President Bush's disastrous tax policy. He could become the first rocket scientist in the Senate. He is a reality-based statesman who would earn the respect of both Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Corzine gets to decide, but New Jerseyans should contact his office (732-729-9820; and ask that the decision be made carefully and with an open mind.

Pete Hill

I don't have anything to add, but only to second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth Pete's nomination. The only down side is that Rush's district would lose the best representative they've probably ever had, but the House's loss would definitely be the Senate's gain, especially with Frank Lautenberg's announcement in 2003 when he returned to the Senate that he wouldn't run again.