Friday, December 23, 2005

A Christmas Nightmare

Before I say another word, kudos to Sam Seder of “The Majority Report” for taking on Bob Knight of the Christian Family Focus Values Fascist Coalition during a recent fracas on CNN moderated by scary right-wing uber-babe Kyra Phillips last week – transcript here.

(Yes, I know that really isn't the name of Knight's organization, but as far as I'm concerned, it's just another wingnut bunch trying to ruin the holiday season.)

(Another note: I rewrote the lead to this post because, despite my temporary incapacity, that does not absolve me of the duty to communicate correctly using the English language.)

OK, without any futher ado...

My wife in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter’s nap (aided by a few vodka shots and frosty “Stein” full of Dinkelacker Dark on my part), when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but stuporous images about the following:

- The Easter Bunny lobbies Dubya with supposedly top secret intel that Santa Claus has weapons of mass destruction (it would come out later that EB did this out of jealousy because he thought Kringle was getting way too much attention from the kids instead of him; EB also did this to hide the fact that he had been convicted of embezzlement by a Jordanian court).

- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appears at the U.N., holding up a sprig of mistletoe, stating that she has proof that Santa has found a way to use it to spray mushroom gas or other invisible, deadly toxins with it. She ends her statement with this quote: “with a bunch of these, he could take out the entire New York City subway system.” It will be discovered later that this information was obtained by “water boarding” St. Patrick.

- Health and lifestyle gurus across the country decry Santa Claus for contributing to the obesity epidemic facing our country by virtue of his appearance.

- Bill O’Reilly launches a boycott of any retail store, newspaper, TV or radio station that refers to Santa Claus as part of Christmas because “he’s contributing to crass commercialization in opposition to strict adherence to Christianity, the one true faith.” O’Reilly then goes into a hysterical, obscenity-filled rant against Jews, Muslims, cat torturers, the U.N., liberals, and
Andrea Mackris.

- Dick Cheney appears on Rush Limbaugh and states that he has “incontrovertible evidence” that Santa Claus is working on a “dirty bomb,” when in reality what was presented to Cheney by Karl Rove was some reindeer poop scraped off the roof shingle of the home of a member of Dubya’s “Pioneer Club” of campaign donors. The New York Times breaks this revelation in an Op-Ed page column by former senator Tom Daschle, which spurs Judith Miller out of retirement to write that Santa stuffs his sleigh with toys made through slave labor in third world countries, with Santa knowing full well that half the toys are defective. Miller also writes a “tell all” book about the escapades of Mrs. Claus, who supposedly participated in multiple orgies while Santa made his deliveries, engorging herself at the expense of some renegade elves and some heretofore unknown sugar plumb fairies.

- Fox News organizes and sponsors massive book burnings of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore.

- James Dobson encourages the head of the FCC to ban all Christmas music from the radio airwaves until from December 24th to 12:01 AM EST on December 26th (probably not a bad idea, when I come to think about it).

- School boards throughout the state of Kansas incur millions of dollars of litigation expenses because of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits filed over whether or not Santa Claus evolved or suddenly appeared through the benevolent wish of a cosmic life force.
After all of this, I awoke in a panic and checked to see if everything was safe and secure in the house, knowing that we could still take solace from this holiday season (take that, O’Reilly!) of peace and joy, awaiting the potential of gifts from “the big man” and, more importantly, joyous expectation of the arrival of The Little Child from Bethlehem. Fortunately, all was well.

And then I made sure the cat was OK.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An Angel Returns To Heaven

I had been meaning to post about this all week, but I did not have the consent of the family and I had to be careful not to violate HIPA regulations. Fortunately, however, John Morrison of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote this wonderful tribute instead:

Mary Kate Marlow, 11, a very special girl


ONE CAN only hope that Mary Kate Marlow knew of the positive impact she had on people.

People were drawn to the little girl in the wheelchair, whether in school, church, a shopping mall, the street.

What was it about Mary Kate that drew people to her? The sparkle in her eyes, a countenance that many described as angelic, her strength as she coped with a hopeless disease?

It wasn't what she said, because Mary Kate could not speak. In fact, her only voluntary movement was the blinking of her eyes.

Yet, this little girl managed to go to school every day, where she was adored and fussed over by both teachers and fellow students.

"The kids fought over who would help her out of her wheelchair and push her into class," said her aunt, Kathy McCabe. "Her classmates couldn't have been more accepting of her."

Mary Kate died Sunday of complications of nueral axonal dystrophy, a congenital, progressive condition that gradually paralyzed her. She was 11 and lived in Holland, Bucks County.

Jake Weiner, a 9-year-old classmate at the Newtown Elementary School, might have said it best when he wrote to Mary Kate's parents shortly after her death.

"I learned a lot about Mary Kate and how she communicated with her eyes. Because we spent time together, I was able to understand her really well. Her eyes told me a lot about her, her thoughts and her friends.

"There are so many good things I can say about Mary Kate. She was a great listener. I could always talk to Mary Kate and tell her about the things going on in my day. I knew that Mary Kate was someone I could talk to if something was bothering me or if I just wanted to talk.

"Mary Kate was happy. I could tell this by the shine in her eyes."
In class, Mary Kate wore a device called a SCATIR (Self-Calibrating Auditory Tone InfraRed) switch that fit over her head and her eyes to record her blinks in a computer. She was one of the first to use the new technology, developed at the University of Michigan.

That was how she was able to respond in class as she took the school's sixth-grade curriculum.

"She was very communicative," said her aunt. "She was a fascinating little girl. She never questioned anything about her life.

"It was amazing the good she brought out in people."

Her mother, Eileen, Kathy's sister, said it's difficult to define the impact Mary Kate had on others.

"We took her to church every Sunday and people would just be drawn to her," said Eileen, a critical-care nurse at Nazareth Hospital. "She was more than just a girl in a wheelchair. She was something beyond that. She had an angelic countenance, her eyes just sparkled.

"If you believe everyone has a mission in life, that was hers, the effect she had on people.

"She loved being with people. It made her happy. Her nieces and nephews would come into her room and talk and sing to her, and her eyes would get wider."

"She touched so many lives," said her father, Tom Marlow, an executive for Kinder Morgan Corp. "She always gave to people."

Tom recalled the time Mary Kate met an uncle who was skeptical of her ability to communicate.

"She just closed her eyes for a couple of seconds and that was how she said, 'Hello Uncle John.' He was convinced."

Mary Kate also is survived by her brother, Tommy, 6; her grandmother, Kathleen Conklin, and a "special aunt," Sister Maureen Conklin.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Bede the Venerable Church, 1071 Holland Road, Holland. Friends may call at 6 this evening at the Fluehr Funeral Home, 800 Newtown-Richboro Road, Richville. Burial will be in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Children's Hospital Pulmonary Medicine, c/o Dr. Howard Panitch, 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia 19104

You cannot possibly imagine the love, sacrifice, and dedication that the Marlow family poured into Mary Kate's life during her years on this earth, by the way. And from what I heard about the viewing tonight, it was truly touching, full of tributes from everyone, including Mary Kate's classmates mentioned in Morrison's column.

It is a crime for any parent to have to bury their child, and it is an obscenity for any parent to have to bury their child this time of year. However, we who were close to Mary Kate (we are friends of the Marlow family by virtue of the fact that my wife provided critical care for Mary Kate and the young one has played with their son) know that, as difficult as it is to accept this, we must find a way to do just that and know that she is at eternal peace at this moment. Beyond that, we are sure that she is playing and chatting up a storm amidst fields of eternal sunshine with bows in her curly, chestnut hair dangling in the wind.

The life of any child is a gift from God, and that was never more true than in the case of Mary Kate. Though we celebrate the coming of the savior at this time of year (we who are Christians), we know that Mary Kate, having left us here on earth, now enjoys eternal life. May we all live lives of the type she lived that will allow us the blessing of joining her one day.

In The Spirit Of The Season

Yours truly is currently facing a collision of illness and heavy holiday/workload B.S., so I only have this important reminder for now from Dr. Dean (I'm also working on something that isn't ready yet...I'll put it out there as soon as I can):

Over the next few days we will gather together with our families and loved ones to celebrate the holiday season. As we take the time to remember the ones we love and welcome the New Year, it is important not to forget those who have suffered and sacrificed so much in the past year.

In particular this holiday season the families of our wounded, brave service men and women and the families displaced and devastated by the Gulf Coast Hurricanes deserve our special attention.

This time of year can be especially hard for families with a service member who has been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. At the time when a family most wants to be together, the unfortunate reality is that many wounded service members must receive specialized medical care great distances from their families.

A foundation called Fisher House creates comfort homes, built on the grounds of major military and Veterans Administration medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to loved ones during their hospitalization. Every year Fisher House serves more than 8,500 military families.

As we send our thoughts and prayers to all our troops and their families, and express thanks for the sacrifices they make on our behalf every day, I ask that you consider supporting the Fisher House Foundation by clicking

As the headlines disappear for those affected by the hurricanes and their aftermath, the suffering continues. Tens of thousands are still scattered across the country in temporary housing.

We need to rebuild. We must provide homes for those affected and rebuild the communities that have been torn apart. Habitat for Humanity has been instrumental in building new homes for those who lost everything this past fall.

Habitat for Humanity is the American community at its best -- people coming together to achieve a common goal for the common good. Please consider helping them continue their vital work by volunteering with your local chapter or making a contribution


All of us at the Democratic Party wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.

Thank you,

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Also, please read about Rep. John Conyers' effort to censure and impeach "Our Kid," as Brendan calls him.

Posting will be sporadic into the first week of January. Thanks for hanging in there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

God Bless Us Every One, Even Him

In response to this item from The Huffington Post, I would like to republish these words from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof:

Let us all pray for Bill O'Reilly.

Let us pray that Mr. O'Reilly will understand that the Christmas spirit isn't about hectoring people to say "Merry Christmas," rather than "Happy Holidays," but about helping the needy.

Let us pray that Mr. O'Reilly will use his huge audience and considerable media savvy to save lives and fight genocide, instead of to vilify those he disagrees with. Let him find inspiration in Jesus, rather than in the Assyrians.

Finally, let's pray that Mr. O'Reilly and other money-changers in the temple will donate the funds they raise exploiting Christmas - covering the nonexistent "War on Christmas" rakes in viewers and advertising - to feed the hungry and house the homeless.

And please, please, please, PLEASE Mr. O'Reilly, don't forget me!

(By the way, my guess it that this great column by Hendrik Hertzberg did it.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

For The Love Of America

As we prepare for the holidays, I think it’s time for all of us to reflect on our country in general and our government in particular. Yes, I know I do that regularly here, as do any of you who choose to read this content.

In the spirit of the season, I would ask that we temporarily suspend any rancor and ill will towards people we view as adversaries (well, not for too long I guess, especially since Atrios found a quote from Dubya dated April of last year stating categorically that he would not conduct wiretaps on American citizens without court approval, and also because other sites (most notably the L.A. Times) have reported that the New York Times knew about the wiretaps by Bush before last year’s presidential election, but chose not to report it at the time.

OK, that’s it; sorry I got off track. Now, it’s back to “playing nice, goodwill towards men,” etc.

I think we should all be looking for ways to improve our government, and this presidential administration in particular. That is necessary because, based on the most recent information I can find, President Bush (trying to afford a measure of respect here…I may need to slap myself to stay focused) received no “bounce” whatsoever from his most recent speeches on Iraq.

So here is what I have in mind – I’m just going to “throw it out there” and see if it flourishes, moults, or gets run over by a panic stampede.


Short of your resignation or impeachment, that is the BEST POSSIBLE solution to the problems facing you at this moment (and how pathetic is THAT?). You and your handlers fancy yourselves as masters of spin, dictating the language and controlling the pictures to create an impression that puts you in the best possible light (generally anyway, with some glaring exceptions, especially recently).

Oh, and by the way, please have Karl Rove leave the room immediately. What I will ask in this post is something that requires independent action on your part, which I realize is something he will never allow.

I know the immediate ramifications of any action taken on your part based on my suggestion. Basically, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the other Pharisees who support you would immediately call for an intervention followed by a burning of you in effigy in anticipation of actual physical violence against your person. That is why it is critical that you make any announcements related to this idea outside of the continental United States.

I also know that the individuals I just mentioned have an awful lot to do with your installation as President and persuading their like-minded, blinkered, intellectually emasculated flock of red state sheep to vote for you again in 2004. Basically, without them, you’d be driving your “RV” into a ditch in Crawford somewhere after too much “Dickel Brothers Sour Mash” (oops…sorry; stop it! Bad doomsy, bad doomsy – pardon me while I chastise myself). With this in mind, I ask that you recall the potential for greatness that somewhere could possibly exist in your administration and what it could take to achieve it (more than anything that could be summoned in the entire cosmos, I’m sure, but I’m trying anyway). I’m only asking that you somehow make an attempt to follow in the path of your predecessors for the sake of posterity.

President Eisenhower worked with the Democratic senate (led by Lyndon Johnson) in the 1950s to create civil rights legislation. Bill Clinton gave the Republican congress virtually everything they wanted in supporting NAFTA. Hell, even Nixon (one of the all-time-leading anti Communists) went to China (and, as far as we know, he didn’t even call in anywhere for “take out”).

What I’m saying to you, Mr. President, is that you have to show some “leadership” (a frightening concept, I know). To do that, you must bridge divides and make peace of a sort with those who hate you (well, only a few at a time anyway, since we’re talking about half the country at this point).

Your followers will accuse you of some kind of Clintonian sellout if you start populating your government with supermodels and uber-gorgeous female personalities. But doing something like this will show that you know how to learn from your “betters.” It will mark your transformation into a leader who many more people will take seriously from now on. I know you've taken a step in that direction already with Condi Rice and her "angry, black dominatrix" thing, but you need to do more, sir. You need to do so much more.

Some will be shocked. Some will be mortified. Some will ask, “What took so long?” Still others will no doubt climb to the top of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and take a swan dive into the next world (probably not one where they want to go, knowing them vaguely as I do).

I mean, let’s look at some of your current cabinet members. Your Commerce Secretary is a man named Carlos Gutierrez, about whom I know virtually nothing. I have a feeling that he’s skilled and eminently qualified. Get rid of him and bring on Paris Hilton instead.

Hey, she started a little internet cottage industry by making that porn video of hers. I’d say she knows more about commerce than some government lifer or “K” street lobbyist.

You labor secretary is Elaine Chao, who typically dresses and looks like a person selling insurance. Give her the boot and tab Britney Spears for the job. Actually, I’d let Spears have her child first before you do anything (yeah, I know…what a cheap joke about labor). The only person whom Chao could appeal to in a similar fashion would be a middle aged Asian man who longs to feel stirrings in his nether regions once more as he purchases a term life policy.

I can think of at least two other reasons why Spears would be a good fit. One is that she’s going to need some kind of a steady job after she has to play sugar momma to her man whore husband in the divorce settlement (I sometimes wonder how Kevin Federline could have pulled this off, but the only reason I can think of is scatological in nature and not appropriate for this site). Another is that she deserves a payoff from your administration for her totally vacuous show of gum-chewing support to Michael Moore in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Another way to improve the scenery is to appoint Jessica Simpson as the new head of the FCC as opposed to the Dobsonite zombie currently taking up space in that position. She knows just how much to show her rack and shake her cans within the limits of decency in that video for “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” the lame cover of the 60s hit by Nancy Sinatra, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only qualification that she needs.

So there you have it, Mr. President. Ensure your place in history for what thus far has been a mistake of a presidency by making some “eye candy” part of the equation. Besides, I’ve inadvertently received all kinds of Email generated by Repug sympathizers pointing out how conservative women are hotter than liberal women. Well, try “walking the walk” as long as you guys can “talk the talk,” OK?

Thank you, sir, and Seasons Greetings you, the missus, and your non-serving-in-Iraq daughters.

P.S. – If this post doesn’t give my “hit count” a spike, then I might as well give up.

Monday, December 19, 2005

March Single File To Your Doom

I just went to CNN’s site and saw that the Quick Vote question was, “Do you agree with President Bush that secret wiretaps are needed to protect the American people?,” and 41 percent polled actually said yes.

Unfortunately, I thing the “lemmings” analogy from some commenters to this story (via Atrios) is frighteningly appropriate.

(Oh, and if someone can detect some particle of brainwave activity between both Katie Couric and Tim Russert, I’d appreciate it if you’d notify me.)

Sit Up And Beg

So Joe Klein of the august MSM corporate publication Time Magazine (which I don’t miss subscribing to one bit, by the way), in the most recent issue, has decided that it’s time to “pin a few medals” on individuals who, in his estimation are worthy of this supposed great honor for their accomplishments during the prior year (with everyone else’s “end-of-year highlights” lists rolling out all over the place, whether we want them to or not). As I will attempt to illustrate, Klein maintains true lapdog form in his biased and oversimplified comments.

Klein’s column is called “In The Arena” as an homage to Theodore Roosevelt, which is praiseworthy enough. The first person Klein cites as worthy of tribute, however, is none other than Dubya himself. Klein acknowledges disagreements with Bush, but also gives Bush credit to acknowledging a Syrian dissident named Dr. Kamal Labwani numerous times in speeches. I applaud the brave sacrifices of Dr. Labwani, but Klein mentions that Bush has acknowledged the mistake of supporting “repressive regimes in the region.”

That’s funny coming from Bush, who, along with his family, has been playing “footsie” with the House of Saud – one of the most repressive regimes on earth – for years. Also, I know Pakistani president Musharraf is now a “good guy” since he has supposedly been helping us in the “war or terrorism,” all the while turning a blind eye to nuclear profiteer Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Also, I’m long past tired of hearing justifications for the Iraq War for human rights reasons when that wasn’t the basis upon which it was sold to us (but I should point out that Klein stated in a prior “Arena” column that the reasons for the Iraq War don’t matter to him any more).

The reasons for the Iraq War ALWAYS matter. The fact that Klein needs to be reminded of that is beyond pathetic.

Also, this quote from Klein irked me as well.

“He (Bush) has had a difficult year.”
“Difficult” is relative, isn’t it? Dubya has quite rightly lost some of what people perceive as a measure of populist prestige (yeah, I know…real scary, but I know of more than a few individuals who look at Bush that way – just keep spiking the “kool aid” and everything looks fine, I guess), but that is the extent of his losses. Try explaining how Dubya’s year has been “difficult” to an Iraq War veteran who has lost a limb, or the family or friends of an Iraq War veteran who has died, or an Iraqi family that has taken no side for the insurgency but still paid with the loss of life of a family member or friend or wounding of same, or the loss of electricity and running water in a climate where disease is flourishing, most notably affecting children. They could teach Dubya a thing or two about their “difficult” circumstances.

Klein also acknowledges that Bush has finally renounced the use of torture. As I stated earlier, how pathetic is it that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into that realization? Also, from what I read, Condoleezza Rice still traveled around Europe telling lies about how we don’t send detainees to other countries for torture. Why should they believe us when we have about zero credibility with them at this point anyway?

Next, Klein mentioned “The Governator,” though Klein, as an opponent of the death penalty, criticized Schwarzenegger for the execution of “Tookie” Williams. Klein, however, immediately pissed away the goodwill he engendered on that in my book by complimenting Ahh-nold on “taking on the powerful teachers and nurses unions.”

Oh course, far be it for Klein to acknowledge that The Governator has been more than a tad disingenuous in dealing with the unions himself.

Klein then chose to salute John McCain for his courage, which is a given in terms of his military service. Unfortunately, his service in politics has turned out to be another matter. However, I do share a bit of agreement with Klein in his praise of Repug Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. I’ve been back and forth on Graham also, though he has done the right thing by pointing out that Dubya has failed to be accountable on Iraq. However, when all is said and done, Graham is a Repug after all, and that trumps any praise I could give to him.

This column by Klein would have counted as nothing but a typical, garden-variety homage to the Repugs, and I would have dismissed it as such, had it not been for this next-to-the-last paragraph in the column:

Speaking of judicial nominees (linking back to Graham), Senator Barack Obama deserves notice for his criticism of Democratic advocacy groups that opposed the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in their usual vituperative fashion—even though Obama himself opposed the nomination. "Whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose," he wrote to the puerile liberal Daily Kos blog. Thanks, Senator, for taking a stand in the service of civility.
It should be noted that Obama’s position on the issue of the Roberts nomination, though commendable, is ground that he had to make up as far as I’m concerned because of his support of the fraud bankruptcy bill earlier this year (along with the scandalous help of other Democrats, including John Kerry).

What really got me, though, was Klein’s slap at the bloggers who opposed the Roberts nomination. I would take personal umbrage at this, but I know I’m not that big of a fish in the overall scheme of things, so I won’t. Even though it was a losing battle, I’m glad that I fought it.

However, I DO resent Klein’s attack on The Daily Kos. The Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “puerile” as “juvenile, childish, and silly.” If Klein has a particular problem with this blog, then he should tell us what it is. As for me, Kos and Atrios are required reading for me on a daily basis because I find a wealth of information from the individuals who contribute to those sites (volumes more than anything I ever received from Time as a magazine and especially Klein’s column in particular, which is a big reason why we let our subscriptions lapse).

I find The Daily Kos to be the exact opposite of Klein’s description. Is it irreverent from time to time with occasional salty language? Yes. But I find the name-calling on the right-wing sites to be even worse. And by his own name calling (admittedly with $10 dollar words instead of swearing), Klein is no better than what he is criticizing.

So, while acting as a right-wing propaganda tool, Klein has shown only a token attempt at balance in his writing and instead plies his trade as a true hack, masquerading behind some sort of long-ago-earned liberal “cred” that he has now soiled beyond all recognition.

Go trot back to your Bushco handlers and ask them how high they want you to jump to receive another tasty treat, Klein, and spend more time reading Kos, Atrios, Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, this site if I may be so bold to make that suggestion, and other lefty blogs that are out there. You may actually learn something.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

No Pulitzer For You

While the Philadelphia Inquirer publishes Letters To The Editor chastising Hillary Clinton and singing hosannas to Joe Lieberman for his support of the Iraq debacle (in a Sunday Review and Opinion section misnamed with the vague moniker of "Currents," which seems to shrink each at five pages), and supports the victory of the McCain Amendment on torture (which is good, but how pathetic is it that Dubya fought that as ferociously as he did?), here is what that august bastion of journalism at its ivory tower on 400 North Broad Street had to say about Dubya's decision to spy on Americans without court oversight.


I'm sure an editorial is forthcoming, and it may be excellent, but timing has a lot to do with this stuff. Meanwhile, MANY newspapers in this country have already spoken out against it (all you have to do to note which ones is to go the The Huffington Post). This includes the Kansas City Star (in RED STATE territory, for crying out loud).

Let's stop printing these dippy columns on men and women's relationships and your cutesy Christmas stories in space that should be taken up with the words of more writers like Trudy Rubin, OK?

Update 12/22: To be fair, they nailed it today (registration required). The problem is that everyone else beat them to it.