Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Starr Chamber Returns

Just to refresh our memory, here is John Conyers testifying before the Clinton impeachment hearing over Ken Starr's ridiculous (and wasteful) exercise in trying to investigate the private life of a president who truly abided by his oath of office and executed his job in an otherwise faithful manner on behalf of the vast majority of the people of this country (as opposed to you-know-who):

"Today's witness, Kenneth W. Starr, wrote the tawdry, salacious and unnecessarily graphic referral that he delivered to us in September with so much drama and fanfare. And now the majority members of this committee have called that same prosecutor forward to testify in an unprecedented desperation effort to breathe new life into a dying inquiry."

"The idea of a federally paid sex policeman spending millions of dollars to trap an unfaithful spouse or (to) police civil ... litigation would have been unthinkable prior to the Starr investigation."

"While an independent counsel can and should pursue a case with vigor, I and many others believe that Mr. Starr has crossed that line into obsession."
And now, he's baaack, practicing his - shall we say - interesting notions of the law and jurisprudence.

I guess old habits really do die hard.

Friday, February 10, 2006

As Humble As Mussolini

I thought of David Crosby’s quote about Joni Mitchell immediately after I read this rant from Michael Smerconish at The Huffington Post yesterday. He’s all in a state over the fact that, apparently, his gig as guest host on “Scarborough Country” didn’t generate the ratings he had hoped for.

Smerconish, for my money, is smarter than your typical Repug barking head. I’ve read some good columns from him, actually. However, I just had to “sit back right easy and laugh” (to quote The Boss also) after this one.

His hostility to his audience is almost refreshing in its honesty. He chastises them for not tuning into the segments of the show that he favors (only 90,000 for the "Joe Schmoe" award, where Smerconish wanted to nominate Donovan McNabb and no doubt resurrect the entire "'black on black' crime" remark related to Terrell Owens), while all the while he seems to pay more attention to the statistical data of who is and isn’t tuning in to him than the actual content of his program.

This quote in particular stood out for me:

My point is that even in the context of a hard news cable program like Scarborough Country, the nation has more of an appetite for (American) Idol than a mom who drowns her five kids, or the Muslim world ablaze over a cartoon with religious implications.
"Scarborough Country" is hard news? That's the funniest remark I've heard all week! Besides, if he's going to chastise his audience, it should be because the market for in-depth reporting (such as "Frontline" or "CBS Reports"...going way back, I know) apparently doesn't exist to the degree that it did years ago (based solely on ratings). The Andrea Yates story and the Muslim cartoon violence stories, in and of themselves, are practically "trash TV" anyway.

Well, to me this all is called “cause and effect.” Smerconish and his ilk perennially support Republican candidates who have consistently screamed about “deregulating” the electronic communications industry for years, eliminating the “fairness doctrine” and enabling corporate mergers of media companies that ensured that “the voice” that represented the largest market share would be heard above all others. Combine that with the gradual scaling back or outright elimination of social studies programs in schools dependent to one degree or another on public funding, along with the periodic, full-throated cry by David Horowitz and other Repug lackeys of “liberal bias” in arts and humanities curricula (as well as episodes such as the one with the Dover, PA school board and the "intelligent design" debacle) and what you eventually get is what you have now. That is, for the most part, an audience of historically challenged, rationality-impaired media junkies who would sooner try to shove a copy of “Poor Richard’s Almanac” by Ben Franklin, for example, into the tray of their PC’s DVD read-write device than actually try to read it and find out how to better their lives ("A book? What’s that? How many gigs does it have?").

And OF COURSE these people are going to tune you out and watch “American Idol,” “Lost,” “24,” and the Super Bowl, obsessing on which new commercial was good and which one wasn’t. I mean, why not? Do you think they would actually try to BETTER THEIR LIVES THROUGH ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE or something?

From the sound of it, it sounds like you should be standing up and taking a bow (“Mission Accomplished”) instead of braying like a brat over it. Give yourself a good slap in the face and count your blessings, because I’m sure you’ll never run out of real or imagined liberal foibles that you can exploit to your full-throated, haranguing gain.

(I know, I know, ultra-snarky for a Friday…the weather people around here have us nuts over the possibility of a foot of snow over the weekend, and I’m particularly keyed up – I crave your indulgence).

Joe Knows

Sometimes, the "Senator From MBNA" nails it, as he did in this morning's Inquirer.

Protect our infrastructure now
The administration has no plan for fighting terrorists on American soil. Here's a start.

By Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.

President Bush has put huge efforts into chasing terrorists around the globe, but he has no plan for fighting them on our soil. Two months ago, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission flunked his administration on its homeland-security preparations, saying it's time "we stop talking about setting priorities and actually set some" to protect our trains, ports and other infrastructure.

Last week, in his State of the Union address, the President had the chance to lay out a plan. He said he has "authorized a terrorist-surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaeda operatives." In a word: wiretaps.

Everyone is for intercepting calls from al-Qaeda. But eavesdropping is not a nationwide security strategy. He is approaching this the same way he prepared for Hurricane Katrina. His lack of preparation didn't work there, and it won't work here.

Our infrastructure needs protecting. Every day, millions of people pass through train stations. Every day, 90-ton rail tankers filled with deadly chlorine gas roll unprotected through neighborhoods. If one were attacked in an urban area, 100,000 people could be killed or injured. But, astonishingly, the commission has discovered that the administration is willing to let another year go by before it starts to tighten things up.

Police, fire and rescue units still cannot communicate with each other or with federal agents. We haven't consolidated terrorist watch lists to ensure that known terrorists will be caught whether they are trying to board a plane, get a student visa, or get stopped for speeding. Checking airline baggage for explosives - the one area where you would expect action - has, in the words of the 9/11 Commission, "not been made a priority."

We must take immediate action. Following the State of the Union address, I proposed a measure to bring up the grades on our homeland-security report card. It would provide $41.97 billion over the next 10 years to improve on those areas where we received a "D" or "F" from the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, and it would provide critical funding for other areas where security is lagging.

The measure could be paid for by closing tax loopholes, including those that allow corporations to use abusive tax shelters (such as leasing foreign subway and sewer systems, $34 billion savings); that let oil companies avoid taxes on foreign operations ($9 billion); and that withhold taxes on government payments to contractors like Halliburton Co. ($7 billion). Ask Americans: Would you rather spend money securing ports or for wasteful tax loopholes? They would say: Make our ports safer.

Here are the steps I've proposed and that the President should take:

First, provide more funds to add local law enforcement personnel. Two-thirds of the country's largest police agencies are facing officer shortages. Unbelievably, the President's response has been to kill the one program that helped local agencies hire officers. It won't be a Marine with night-vision goggles who stops the next attack; it will be a local police officer who happens to be in the right place at the right time.

Second, give first responders reliable communications equipment that allows them to talk to one another. Good communication is crucial to all emergency situations - including natural disasters. We have drastically underfunded this effort, and I fear we will pay for this penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach.

Third, develop a plan for rail and transit security. Last summer's attack in London showed how vulnerable rail systems are. We have done virtually nothing to upgrade our defenses. If we will simply do the basics - increase police presence in stations, add canine patrols to sniff for bombs, improve security fencing and lighting, and install closed-circuit cameras - we can greatly increase security.

Fourth, expand our use of new technologies, including machines that screen air cargo for explosives and examine shipping containers for radioactive material. We should integrate our terrorist watch lists and improve information sharing among agencies.

Finally, invest more funds and enforce tough regulations to better protect the systems we rely upon most: our electricity grid, computer networks and chemical plants.

The Bush administration should be embarrassed by the grades it received. Business as usual is no longer acceptable. The President needs a plan to achieve marks that will make the American people proud - and safer.
I'm still plenty steamed at him and Carper for caving on the bankruptcy bill, and Biden looked like a whining baby after the Alito hearings. But on this issue, it is a gross understatement to say that the Dems need this kind of leadership.

"Passing" For A Pundit

I was trying to figure out how to say something about Black History Month, but Mary Matalin gave me the perfect excuse today with this little gem, which she came up with on “Hannity and Colmes” (another hat tip to Atrios – Kos pointed this out, and I’m sure Steve Gilliard will have something better than this post shortly).

(I have a question: I honestly don’t know this, because I have MUCH BETTER things to do in my life than subject myself to propaganda on Faux News, but what exactly does Alan Colmes DO on that program? I mean, is he a total cipher? Does he have a pulse? Does he just sit there waiting to get conked on the head, not unlike a whack-a-mole? James Wolcott, in the piece I linked to below in “Stacking The Deck” where he criticized Don Imus, basically said that most liberals “don’t have any balls,” and apparently Colmes is Exhibit A in that argument.)

OK, now back to Matalin.

Her statement is absolutely laughable party because she made it in de facto defense of a presidential administration which, in effect, declared war on African Americans by totally abdicating its responsibility to coordinate evacuation and rescue efforts of the city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (and don’t worry…I don’t mean to absolve the state of Louisiana and ESPECIALLY New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin or police chief Edwin Compass by pointing that out). Also, as noted here by Julian Bond, the net effect of Dubya’s scheme to privatize Social Security would be “to double…the poverty rate among older African Americans, pushing most African American seniors into poverty.”

I know it was a coincidence that the funeral of Coretta Scott King happened to fall during Black History Month, but Matalin’s ridiculous partisan bile is all the more irritating because she happened to release it at this time. As noted at the site of The History Channel…

Every February, Americans celebrate Black History Month. This tribute dates back to 1926 and is credited to a Harvard scholar named Carter G. Woodson. The son of former slaves, Woodson dedicated his life to ensuring that black history was accurately documented and disseminated.

In an effort to bring national attention to the contributions of black Americans, Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week in 1926. He chose the second week of February in honor of the birthdays of pivotal black supporters Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

From Jackie Robinson to Tiger Woods, Harriet Tubman to Barack Obama, Black History Month pays tribute to inspirational African Americans from the past, as well as those who will continue to make history well into the future.
I am grateful that Mr. Woodson started this tradition, but I have to admit that I think it’s a bit silly to designate a particular month to a particular race (and, as Chris Rock noted caustically once, “the shortest month of the year too”). I think people of either sex and all races, creeds, and ethnicities should be recognized and appreciated for their contributions each day (OK, cue the theme – “we aaare the world, we aaare the children…”).

And of course, during Matalin’s idiotic diatribe, she states that “one party has completely taken itself out of the game here.” Gee, you don’t think she’s talking about the Repugs, do you? Of course not. Well, who does that leave?

Well, as long as she’s bashing the Dems again, I should mention the following (again, courtesy of The History Channel from their “This Day In History” page):

1989 Brown elected chairman of the Democratic Party

Ronald H. Brown, a former Supreme Court lawyer and leader of the National Urban League, is elected chairman of the Democratic Party National Committee. He was the first African American to hold the top position in a major political party in the United States.

Brown, born in Washington, D.C., in 1941, was raised in New York City's Harlem, where he worked as a welfare caseworker before joining the U.S. Army. After holding important positions in the National Urban League, an advocacy group for the renewal of inner cities, he became a member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar and served as chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As chairman of the Democratic Party, Brown played a pivotal role in securing the 1992 election of Bill Clinton, the first Democratic president in 12 years. In 1993, he was appointed America's first African American secretary of commerce by President Clinton, a capacity in which he served until April 3, 1996, when he and 32 other Americans were killed when their plane crashed into a mountain in Croatia. Brown had been leading a delegation of business executives to the former Yugoslavia to explore business opportunities that might help rebuild the war-torn region.
For a time, I thought that Brown’s fundraising mail was incessantly annoying, but I came to realize that doing that was a necessary part of his job. And I also remember that, shortly after he was killed in the plane crash, I had to write to senior management at The Vanguard Group to get them to lower their flags to half staff, which they did not do for a few days even though President Clinton called for a week of observance; they eventually did so when the week was nearly over, leaving me to wonder how this bunch of Main Line GOPers would have acted had this happened to a Republican commerce secretary in a Republican administration.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Taking The Fight To Dubya

While he crows about thwarting a supposed terrorist strike in Los Angeles that nobody seems to know anything about (and by the way, numbskull, it's the "Library" tower), some Dems running for Congress who have fought for real gathered in Washington yesterday.

Among them was Patrick Murphy, and here's more on our own 8th district "Fighting Dem" (from

Iraq war veteran joins Dems in push for congressional seats
By: SARAH LARSON (Thu, Feb/09/2006)

A generation ago, three of every four members of Congress had served in the military. Today, barely one in four has - a statistic Patrick Murphy aims to change.

Murphy, an Army lawyer who served in Iraq for seven months and practices with Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia, is one of at least 11 Iraq and Afghanistan war vets running for Congress across the country, 10 of whom are Democrats. He's one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District, a seat held by Republican Michael Fitzpatrick.

A new political group, Band of Brothers, which supports Democratic veteran candidates, says 56 military veterans are running for Congress this year as Democrats. On Wednesday, Murphy joined many of them in Washington, D.C., for a rally on the Capitol steps.

They share a dislike for the war in Iraq but differ on how to handle it. Some, like Tammy Duckworth, running for Illinois' 6th District, say the United States should have put more resources into pursuing Osama Bin Laden, rather than invading Iraq. Still, she doesn't advocate an immediate withdrawal.

"It wouldn't be in our national interest to leave Iraq in chaos and risk allowing a country with unlimited oil wealth to become a base for terrorists," Duckworth says on her campaign Web site. She lost both her legs and shattered her right arm after a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit of the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting on Nov. 12, 2004, north of Baghdad.

Other Democrats, including Murphy, say they would pressure President Bush for a quick end to the war.

"I would demand that the president actually give us a plan to bring the troops home this year," Murphy said.

That would mean all troops, except for a strategic strike force based in Kuwait that would be available to help the new Iraqi government, he said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is downplaying the significance of the Democrats' surge in veteran candidates.

"Rather than influencing the party, more often than not, they are adopting the Democratic Party's surrender message," spokesman Ed Patru said Wednesday. "There's only two positions on Iraq. There's finish the job, and there's the surrender message, leaving before the job is done."

Patru said his party has 38 congressional candidates with military experience, but "we don't broadcast it." He argued that Democrats are making a concerted effort to recruit veteran candidates to offset the party's "credibility gap" on national defense.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Jen Psaki disputed that, saying the veterans' campaigns grew of their own accord.

Murphy said his conscience led him to enter the race after he returned from his deployment overseas.

"I was a witness to our failing foreign policy in Iraq, and when I came home, I saw it wasn't just Iraq," he said. "This administration has not looked out for average American families, with its tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent and making it harder for folks like myself to go to college, when they cut educational benefits."

Murphy, 32, credits his military training with honing leadership skills that he says will help him make the tough decisions needed in Congress.

After attending Bucks County Community College, Murphy transferred to King's College in Wilkes-Barre and joined the Army ROTC program. He graduated in 1996 with a double major in psychology and human resources management and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

He graduated from law school in 1999 and began his active duty service in the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps. He spent five months in Bosnia in 2002 and was sent to Baghdad in June 2003.

Murphy also has taught law at West Point and was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

By the end of December, he had $147,527 in his campaign coffers, reported to be the most of any of the Democratic Iraq veteran candidates. His Democratic opponents in the race have raised much less. Former Bucks commissioner Andy Warren had raised more than $38,000 while retired management consultant Fred Viskovich had nothing to show in campaign expense reports filed last month.
Thanks to (sssshhhhhh...) for the information.

And speaking of our military, how's this for "supporting our troops" from Bushco?

Repugs Still Hate Kids

Joan Ryan’s excellent column today on the disgusting hypocrisy of Bushco on the issue of choice spurred me into looking a little bit harder at whether or not this administration is looking out for those who, hopefully, will go on after us. Actually, I can see without too much examination that, like just about everything else, they’re falling down in that department also.

Well, let’s just say that, for the sake of argument if you’re an expectant mom, that you have delivered your baby without complications. Congratulations, especially since the rate of premature births is on the rise in this country (as noted by Dr. Nancy Green in this article).

As you and your family learn to care for your newborn child, you should also consider this, a pretty comprehensive laundry list of how Bushco has betrayed families and continues to do so, and here is a link to an article explaining how most women not just in this country, but around the world, are thoroughly wise to the con by now also.

Of course, the White House provides information for women, infants, and children which is helpful, and that’s a good thing, including instructions in basic care including feeding and immunizations. However, as most of us know, funding is where “the rubber meets the road,” and here is a link to an analysis by AFSCME of the 2006 Bush budget for selected states (including Pennsylvania). I thought these passages told the true story:

• Child Care: The Bush budget proposes a five-year freeze on child care funding that will effectively cut the number of low-income children receiving child care assistance by 300,000 in 2009. Currently, only one in seven eligible children receives child care subsidies.

• Child Welfare: President Bush has once again proposed his risky, untested option for states to convert their foster care entitlement programs into fixed-funded block grants. This would leave the states financially responsible for any surge in foster care cases due to severe economic downturns, spikes in drug use, or other societal changes. The budget cuts federal funding support for the foster care program by $252.5 million.

• Head Start: President Bush proposes to increase funding for this highly successful program by just 0.6 percent, not even close to an adjustment for inflation. He also reiterates his risky plan to allow nine states to merge their Head Start programs with state-run child care programs.

• Other Nutrition Programs: The budget proposes to eliminate funding for the Community Food and Nutrition Program. It also cuts the Commodity Supplemental Food Program by $3 million, which would mean a drop in caseload of 45,000 people. Proposed caps on discretionary spending will leave WIC, Meals on Wheels, and other nutrition programs vulnerable to program cuts in the years beyond FY 2006.
And it’s not as if they’ve never betrayed kids before, right?

Basically, when it comes to Bush’s budget (as I pointed out in Everybody Bend Over a day or so ago), defense and homeland security did well (hopefully the money will be spent wisely…I can dream, can’t I?), and everyone and everything else “took it in the neck” (the more things change…).

Just remember: barring impeachment, 1/20/09 is Bush’s Last Day (and now and forevermore, THANK YOU RED STATE VOTERS!).

Bushco's Fear Factor

As a public service, I should notify you as to the next four false alarms that will take place in our nation's capital in an attempt to panic the voters of this country into choosing Republican candidates in November (in light of this story - I have my sources on this):

- Bill Frist will pass through a metal detector when entering the Capitol building, and instead of the normal tone, the machine will create a sound not unlike that of the song "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.

- A rat with a vial of white powder tied to its back will be set loose inside the office of Repug Rep. Heather Wilson of the House Intelligence Committee, but instead of anthrax, it will turn out merely to be crack cocaine traced ultimately to former D.C. mayor Marion Barry instead.

- As a result of information recently provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Karl Rove identifying a new suspected "enemy combatant" who bears a resemblance to a prominent Democrat senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold will be forced to undergo a full strip search in front of Congressional security personnel, which will reveal only that he wears a red, white, and blue speedo.

- A two-seater Cessna turbo-prop will violate airspace within the nation's capital, dropping reams of leaflets which will shower the Mall in Washington, D.C. Upon examination, it will turn out that the leaflets contain an illustration of Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter in bondage attire on all fours, with Ted Kennedy standing behind them holding a whip. The subsequent riots that will ensue in the south and midwest will last for days, resulting in the federalization of all local law enforcement agencies and any state National Guard units not currently serving in Iraq.
And it sounds like "our gal Hil" is calling them on it this time!

Update: Is he kidding me? (Brendan is all over this today, as well as Denny Hastert and Bill Frist "loving our kids"...oops, getting ahead of myself.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stacking The Deck

I would imagine that most of us are aware of the current controversy going on about remarks made at the funeral of Coretta Scott King by Jimmy Carter and The Rev. Joseph Lowery, so please allow me to add my voice to the chorus stating how ridiculous it is for anyone to object to their comments (I don’t know what Imus said about the funeral, by the way, but Imus is an insect unworthy of mention anyway as far as I’m concerned, so I pay him little regard).

Update 2/10: This brilliant column shows why Wolcott is who he is (first hat tip of the day to Atrios).

Update 2/11: This is a great post from Al Franken comparing the Coretta Scott King funeral to the memorial for Paul Wellstone and his family, to refute the Repug argument about "liberals and funerals."

(I look at it this way; I and many others had to endure a boatload of historical revisionism about the Reagan presidency when Ronnie Baby died a year and a half ago, so the least some of the right-wing peckerheads can do is look the other way when someone at a service for someone they oppose actually speaks the truth - and how sad is it that they opposed MLK and Mrs. King?).

(This occurred to me a few minutes ago...I've seen some photos of the ceremony for Mrs. King, but I couldn't locate "the beautiful mind" anywhere, though I could have missed her. If not, I wonder what happened. Did the presence of so many "Negroes" at the ceremony remind her of her encounter with Katrina's victims in the Astrodome and scare her away? Or did she - gulp - actually have an attack of conscience and decide not to show her face out of shame?).

Part of the reason why I’m bringing up the funeral and some of the coverage is because I came across this CNN link where Miles O’Brien and Jeff Greenfield, two widely known members of our bought-and-paid-for corporate media, are quick to chastise Carter, Lowery and others who sympathize with them, but, as always, give the right-wing bloviators a pass. I find it humorous that Greenfield was surprised by “how quickly this became an item within the other side, within the political right.”

Why? Aren’t you aware of how lefty and right-wing bloggers (with myself, again, being a “little fish” in the former category) watch this stuff and each other (the “big-hit” sites, anyway) so we can fire at each other? The way I see it, this is a necessary exercise, but there’s a lot more “sport” in it for some of the other bigger names, I would speculate.

This, though, is the main reason why I want to point out why Greenfield, who I once respected as a legitimate journalist, has now completely “gone over,” as far as I’m concerned. As he and O’Brien continued to flap their gums about what they thought all of this meant, Greenfield uncorked this little gem that communicates to me that he is now a true partisan.

I do, however, think that in a more subtle way, this actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush. I mean, he came to the funeral, changed his plans, made a gracious speech. And I think for people who are not politically committed -- I mean, if you don't like George Bush, this was fine. If you like George Bush, this was horrible.
To me, it sounds like a wash. If you like Bush – and God help you – you’re going to despise anything those damn lefty, terrorist-loving libtards (love that one) do anyway. If you utterly loathe him, like me, you’re going to be very happy about the fact that, as one astute commenter pointed out (at Think Progress, I believe), Dubya was forced to listen to Carter and Lowery and other people who properly eulogized not only Coretta Scott King but her husband also, sitting and squirming all the while because he was out of his protective “bubble” full of either his fawning sycophants or our service people who have no choice but to afford him the respect of his office and endure his idiotic statements.

Given all of that, how can someone who pretends to be objective consider this as something that “actually rebounds to the credit of President Bush”?

Also, though I know Greenfield is partly trying to understand the Bush-lovers by stating what may appear to be “horrible” to them, I think that this column by Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Huffington Post will portray something that truly qualifies (particularly this noted excerpt, from a post dealing with the separate issue of the Ken Mehlman/Hillary Clinton dustup, and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see where I come down on that one):

Hmmm…. Do Clinton’s conclusions reflect anger, or an accurate assessment of an administration which has gutted the treasury, eroded the environment, added millions to the rolls of those without health insurance, botched this medicare prescription drug plan, increased those living in poverty, divided our society, rolled back our hard-earned civil rights and liberties, ruined our reputation, frayed our military, undermined our security, and overall weakened America? Perhaps, Mr. Mehlman, the Senator's onto something. I think there are a lot of citizens who are mad as hell about what's happening to a nation they love. Have you checked out the polls on how many folks believe this country is heading in the wrong direction?
What she describes above is more “horrible” than anything Greenfield or O’Brien can imagine, as far as I’m concerned.

(By the way, I realize that I could spend huge amounts of time at this site, even more so than usual, dissecting a vast array of MSM nonsense like this, but the people doing God’s work at Media Matters For America are much better at it than I will ever be.)

OK, now let’s move on to Cokie and Steve Roberts, shall we?

This appeared recently in The Bucks County Courier Times as a sap of sorts to the moderate-to-lefty types among the paper’s readership (toss yours truly into that mix, of course). To properly refute the column, it will be necessary for me to reproduce it here (and by the way, please take note of the's important because the senator from their home state turns out to be their "white knight").

Update: I meant to point this out yesterday, but the Robertses, in this previous column, came up with this bit of faux journalistic fluff from fantasyland:

Backing (John) Roberts (for Chief Justice) won't alter the court's "balance," since he would replace a like-minded jurist, the late William Rehnquist. And by breaking the vicious cycle of partisanship that grips Washington today, Democrats might even help their cause by eliciting a similar gesture from the president.
"A similar gesture" from the president, huh? Tell me what state of inebriation you were in when you saw Dubya EVER grant an act of conciliation to a member of the opposition party?

OK, now the column...

FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA. — In a cartoon by Nick Anderson in the Louisville Courier-Journal, two Democratic donkeys are pondering Samuel Alito's elevation to the Supreme Court. "Where did we go wrong?" asks one. "November 2004" answers the second.
I have to reluctantly admit that that’s a good point, though the column quickly goes downhill from here.

Exactly. All the talk that Democratic senators failed to interrogate Alito and reveal his flaws is beside the point. The court has moved to the right because Democrats lost the last presidential election and gave ground in the Senate. The real question now is: can Democrats reverse that trend in 2006 and 2008?
Actually, read Cenk’s great analysis on this from “How The Repugs Rig The Game” in the upper right corner of this page (with help from chicken dems, I should add) to get a lot better of an understanding of what happened with Alito.

Sen. John Kerry demonstrated what the Democrats should not be doing: pandering to their own left wing.
Get ready for another sap to that same DLC and “Third Way” bunch that does nothing but lose elections any more, in case you hadn’t already guessed that that was coming (and I love the casual ease with which the punditocracy so easily dismisses our concerns, don’t you?).

His last-gasp, half-baked attempt to lead a filibuster against Alito showed again that Kerry is in the grand tradition of Al Gore and Michael Dukakis — defeated Democrats who fail to grasp a basic truth about modern American politics.
I don’t know whether or not Harry Reid knew Kerry’s filibuster was coming – that really should have come from Reid, but in all fairness, he got left hanging out to dry on the John Roberts nomination by the same bunch who tuned out Kerry on Alito. I also noted the perverse manner in which the Roberts team applied the same “broad brush” to Gore and Dukakis…gosh, generalizations in lieu of actual investigation and analysis comes so easily for them, doesn’t it? I don’t think Gore should run again either, but at least he’s been showing a spine over the last year or so, which is plenty more than I can say or ever will for his former running mate and others in his party.

In 2004, only 21 percent of the voters called themselves liberals, while 45 percent said they were moderates. And it was Kerry's failure with white middle-ground middle-class voters in swing states like this one that cost him the election.
I would argue that electoral fraud in Florida and Ohio played into that also, but I will reluctantly agree with the authors that Kerry’s team fundamentally misunderstood the dynamic of the 2004 election, and that was who would keep us safer. The fact that Kerry lost on that is tragic partly because that election was eminently winnable for him with the right strategy, even with the red state zombies chanting “Only Dubya can save us and keep the gays from marrying, only Dubya can save us and keep the gays from marrying…”

An analysis by Third Way, a Democratic think tank, concluded that these voters "feel that Democrats are hostile to, not champions of, their interests."

So how do Democrats change that perception? A new ABC/Washington Post poll provides some clues. When asked to rate President Bush's handling of 10 key issues, a majority approved of his performance on only one — terrorism. That's the core of the president's political strength: Americans think he will keep them safe.

Democrats have to challenge that assumption. They have to ask a version of Ronald Reagan's famous question in 1980: Are you really safer than you were four years ago?
They could try, and they should, but you guys would still allow them to get drowned out by the right-wing noise machine (just stating a fact, that’s all).

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed surprise at the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, her words had a painfully familiar ring. This is the same administration that was surprised by the insurgency in Iraq and by the flood in New Orleans. Do you really trust them? Do they really know what they're doing?
I actually agree with a good bit of that analysis, but you’ll get a good laugh out of their conclusion.

In the same poll, at least 60 percent disapproved of Bush's performance on three issues: Iraq, health care and the budget deficit. Those numbers suggest possible Democratic campaign themes aimed directly at middle-of-the road voters.

Every hospital rebuilt in Baghdad is one not repaired in Biloxi. Every year under Bush, a million more Americans have lost health insurance. Cutting taxes again in the face of rising deficits makes no sense — and every voter who runs a household knows that. As for incendiary social issues, moderation also sells. Americans favor legal abortion, but don't mind reasonable restrictions. They want gay couples to have civil benefits, but not legal marriages. Democrats can stay true to their principles without alienating the voters who determine elections.

For guidance, party strategists should pay attention to Democrats who run well in red states. In Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson, who faces re-election in the fall, refused to filibuster Alito, but explained his vote against the nominee by repeating key words: Alito was not a "centrist" or "impartial" or "independent."
Oh, that’s truly a hoot.

Let’s see now, Nelson voted for CAFTA, the tort “deform” legislation, and the bankruptcy “reform” bill (as noted here by David Sirota, and as always, when any politician talks about “reform,” make sure you hang onto your wallet.)

So even though Nelson voted against Alito’s confirmation at the floor vote, he didn’t support Kerry’s filibuster (a la Lieberman). So he didn’t have the courage of his convictions to truly follow through and oppose Alito if he believed he was a bad judge because he didn’t want to stand up for what he believed in (either that, or he wanted to make sure nobody thought he was one of those bad “lib-uuu-ruuls”). I see now.

Oh, and did I mention that Nelson voted for the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the Supreme Court?

At town meetings, Nelson stresses "energy independence" and rails against the administration for refusing to require higher fuel efficiency from big auto companies.

And he lambastes Bush for opposing legislation that would enable Washington to negotiate lower prices with big drug companies. This is exactly where Democrats need to be: in favor of working families on basic issues, from the air they breathe to the pills they swallow.
And Kerry and the senators who supported Alito’s filibuster don’t believe in those causes also?

Then there is Tim Kaine, the new governor of Virginia, chosen to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union. Few labels have hurt the Democrats more in the last 40 years than the "anti-faith party."
A slur gladly repeated by you, Greenfield (who, again, implied that the conduct of some Democrats and their sympathizers during the Coretta Scott King funeral was “horrible”) and your like-minded pool of media stenographers, as we know.

The rising power of the religious right has obliterated the tradition of progressive believers like the Rev. Martin Luther King, but Kaine, in Jerry Falwell's home state, is resurrecting that tradition.
Can someone please explain to me what that sentence means (“obliterated the tradition of progressive believers…”)? I’ve read it about six times, and I have no bloody idea what the hell the author is trying to say.

His campaign ads stressed his service with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras and he says bluntly of his public career: "I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for a commitment to serve other people, and that commitment to serve other people is rooted in a very fundamental thing — and that's my religion." Calling the Democrats the "anti-faith party," he says, is "just flat wrong."
Second time you’ve managed to repeat the slur…I’m sure a lot of people who hadn’t given that a though now have it ingrained in their minds. Good job!

If the Democrats want to stop complaining about Republicans judges and start picking their own, they can begin by listening to Bill Nelson and Tim Kaine.
I have a suggestion for the Roberts team (and I mean the writers, not the judge). Try traveling above the Mason-Dixon line next time to ACTUALLY TALK to some of the people you’re writing about (i.e., those baad Northeastern Democrats, as well as those other brave souls who supported the Alito filibuster because they saw him for the wingnut that he truly is – more info here).

I want to point out, though, that I admire Tim Kaine in many ways. I think he “hits a lot of the right notes.” However, he supports the war in Iraq. I understand that probably plays well in his home state (though the opposition is growing), but I think he must show a principled disagreement and say enough is enough on that vital issue.

As I read and considered all of this, I realize how truly splintered the Democrats are, and it is crystal clear why many people would consider them viable as a default alternative only. This has always been the case, though Bill Clinton was able to work the political miracle of getting enough of the party leadership to play along (unfortunately, the party organization atrophied also, which Howard Dean and others are working to correct as hard as they can). Also, even though I despise Karl Rove with words that I won’t use here, it is also obvious how effective he has been in driving a wedge among the members of our party on the issues. And I see no illumination at all into that from the empty media vessels I’ve highlighted here, nor do I expect that I ever will.

A Kind Of Symmetry

I mean, doesn’t it make sense (a cartoon president decrying cartoon violence, that is)?

I guess the next thing we’re likely to see is Tom (not Jerry) accidentally slamming Buddha on the head with a nail spike attached to a board, or Wile E. Coyote dropping an anvil on the Dalai Lama in pursuit of the Road Runner. Maybe I should dig that plastic wrap and duct tape that Tom Ridge said we needed out of storage to protect myself from the subsequent rioting that will follow - could it be that I'll need it after all? I guess, then, the highest level of terror alert will be changed from "red" to "a-thea, a-thea, a-thea...that's all folks!!"

As I (like you) watch this story unfold, the one question I have is this; what the hell do Muslims who are law-abiding and truly practice their faith think of all of this.

I think this provides a pretty good answer (and item #2 points out that “peaceful” demonstrations should be staged, by the way).

Update 2/8: Trudy Rubin, as usual, sizes this up pretty well (registration required).

Whoops, Don't Do It Again

Sorry...I know this has nothing to do with politics, but this hits on one of my pet peeves.

I think Mrs. Federline (for now) should review the information from this link, particularly the following excerpt:

- Never put baby in the front seat of a car with a passenger air bag. Have the car seat checked for proper installation by a certified car seat technician.
- Never hold a child on your lap or in your arms in the front seat. In a crash, the child could be crushed by the dashboard or by the force of an air bag.
I happened to read or hear about another account of this incident, and apparently, the photographers weren’t as intimidating to her as you might suspect, though I know it’s all supposition. However, if she’s having a problem with too much attention, she should get a damn bodyguard or two to worry about this stuff and make sure that her kid is safe!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Stop, You’re Killing Me!

As long as we’re in sort of a humorous vein today, I guess I might as well keep things “light and breezy” by making us revisit the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

I’m doing this because the Bucks County Courier Times, exceeding its usual standard of wingnuttery, published a column a couple of days ago from Dr. Earl Tilford of Grove City College. In it, he attempts to draw a comparison between something that approximates Bible-belt religious zeal and the fundamentalist crazies who are trying to kill us.

I say that the paper exceeded its usual standard because, in the process of reflecting on all of the murderous images we have witnessed to date from Bushco’s war for oil and expansion of dominion, Tilford (to whip us into a good fit of lizard-brain-induced fear and illogic, I’m sure) recalls a conference in Princeton, NJ (automatic tip off of some traitorous, commie liberal activity by mention of that location, right?) that his denomination participated in last month where a professor referred to “the images of unforgettable horror at Abu Ghraib.” This was Tilford’s response:

Professor, a guy tied to a bed wearing woman’s panties on his head or a pile of naked dudes with bags over their noggins and a female soldier draped over them are fraternity and sorority initiation pranks…not “unforgettable horror.”
Oh…so you consider what transpired at Abu Ghraib to be “pranks,” Doctor? Something akin to a joke, I suppose?

I would ask that you read this and try to imagine how you would feel if, in the event that you were captured or tortured also, those holding you captive defiled religious icons of importance to you or made you undergo something that otherwise made you feel contaminated spiritually. I somehow doubt that you would consider it to be a “prank.”

Or read this account from Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker that outraged the world, particularly this excerpt (partially repetitive, I admit):

The photographs tell it all. In one, Private England, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, is giving a jaunty thumbs-up sign and pointing at the genitals of a young Iraqi, who is naked except for a sandbag over his head, as he masturbates. Three other hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners are shown, hands reflexively crossed over their genitals. A fifth prisoner has his hands at his sides. In another, England stands arm in arm with Specialist Graner; both are grinning and giving the thumbs-up behind a cluster of perhaps seven naked Iraqis, knees bent, piled clumsily on top of each other in a pyramid. There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded.
I think the question we have to ask is this (posed by Maureen Dowd and others): What exactly are we trying to accomplish?

Are we trying to obtain some kind of credible information that we can use to fight the enemy in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere (and never forget, by the way, that they WOULDN’T EVEN BE IN IRAQ if we hadn’t blown the place all to hell without something that approximated post-invasion planning)? OK. Well then, why don’t we isolate these people, or (and HERE’s an idea) try giving them some other motivation to cooperate?

Maybe it’s possible that the vast majority of these nut cases who want to blow themselves up and take us with them will never come around. I’ll grant you that. However, I don’t care what someone’s affiliation is…we are all materialists at heart, whether we want to admit it or not. That’s a very slim thread, if you will, to hang onto in this, and I’ll admit it. However, the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay will have NO MOTIVATION WHATSOEVER to want to work with us or cooperate if all we do is torture and humiliate them (to say nothing of the inconvenient fact that it VIOLATES THE GENEVA CONVENTION anyway!). It will radicalize (and no doubt, has already) people who were “on the fence” who we should be trying to win over in this.

Doctor Tilford, I would respectfully submit that a good, Christian man such as yourself should consider this before you once again speak with some kind of assumed moral authority in this that we partially lost by our own monstrous conduct. We must fight fiercely, of course, but we must fight wisely also, with the full understanding that we must do so in compliance with teachings and faiths of people throughout the world who would fight with us.

Everybody Bend Over

These are the individuals and groups feeling pain from another ridiculous Bushco budget.

However, despite this story, the following business concerns are doing quite well:


(among others, of course...)

Does that about cover it?

A Being With Nothingness

Now, seriously, I have to ask…what would any given week be truly worth without yet another stupid quote from Pat Robertson?

(hee hee…what a knee slapper, right? It’s all the fault of those drunken, decomposing French existentialists, isn’t it? What a laff riot!)

Also, I should point out the following related to a legitimate religious leader (getting serious here):

One of the CNN Quick Vote questions today is, “Did Coretta Scott King impact your life?” Eighty two (82) percent of those who responded said no.

Three simple words come to my mind when I read that:

I pity you.

A Reflection

I wonder if the man considers the great sacrifice he made for our country and then wonders how he could let himself be the pawn of such a shameless bunch of scoundrels. Considering his courageous service, how can he then decide to align himself with this amoral bunch of carpetbaggers? That, to me, is the only rationale for his childish partisan outburst.

I know I’ve already considered this previously, but it’s still hard for me to understand (especially on behalf of people who, practically to a person, did nothing when the call came to serve except run away as fast as they could).

I’ll just chalk it up to one of life’s great mysteries and leave it at that.

P.S. – Speaking of McCain’s handlers, Gonzales (according to Atrios and others) is apparently citing the actions of everybody under the sun (defense analysts, dead former Presidents including George Washington – yes, you read that correctly) as a precedent for Dubya’s domestic spying. I guess he’s not going to cite Nixon, though, which would be appropriate actually.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Protect The Franchise

The latest from Democracy For America...

The survival of our democracy demands that every vote be counted accurately. That's why Democracy for America members around the country are working with Congress and other organizations every day to ensure the integrity of your vote. We have made some progress. But this is crunch time. The mid-term elections are just eight months away. We must act now to ensure that our voting systems produce accurate and verifiable results every single time.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Congress has resisted every call for real reform. Well, we can't wait any longer for Washington to act. The way to protect our elections is to go right to the source by reaching out to town and county election officials. In most areas, these officials have the power to ensure fair and accurate voting systems even if our federal government won't act.

Today, we call on our county election officials to demonstrate that their systems use paper-ballots that allow a) voters to verify their choices; and b) officials to conduct meaningful audits and recounts. Add your name to the call for accountability:

Paper-ballot voting is the gold standard because it is the only way to ensure an auditable paper trail. Both the non-partisan Government Accountability Office and the bi-partisan Carter/Baker Commission have resoundingly condemned touchscreen electronic voting systems as lacking even the most basic security and reliability. In one test after another, electronic voting systems are failing at rates of 30% or higher.

It's time to let our local election officials hear from us. We can use the grassroots network we've built to bring real voting reform to our country. And we'll do it our way: from the bottom up, one county at a time.

Sign the call for accountability:

After you sign the petition, Democracy for America staff will work with you and thousands of others around the country to make sure your voice is heard by delivering your signature to your local election officials.

Casting a vote is the most fundamental action we take as citizens. But unless we act now, that fundamental right may be undermined by failing technology, and unaccountable election officials. It is our responsibility to ensure that -- in 2006 -- every vote is counted accurately.


Tom Hughes
Executive Director
Democracy for America
P.S. - The coalition on this campaign includes:

- Mainstream Moms
- VoteTrust
- Verified Voting

Wheel Of Journalism

“Step right up and give this baby a ride. Stop on the red for Repug-approved right wing propaganda. Stop on the blue and get filtered and reasonably sourced information with occasional lefty nuttiness. Stop on the orange to find out the sex of Brad and Angelina’s baby.”

What the hell am I talking about? Good question.

It seems that the Inquirer’s political analyst Dick Polman wrote another “What’s Wrong With The Dems” column today (registration required), though I have to admit that he did his homework, talking to a lot of the right people, including David Sirota and referencing Chris Bowers. However, I get the impression that Polman took the most incendiary quotes he could find to make his case. Still, though, he raised many valid (though unfortunate) points.

However, he couldn’t resist “taking a spin over to the red area,” so to speak, with this remark:

Some Democrats want to paint Republicans as the corrupt pals of special-interest lobbyists - Democratic chairman Howard Dean likes this tactic - but others think the issue is a yawner for most Americans, who recognize that Democrats aren't pure either (Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid took Indian casino money, too).
Putting aside the fact that it’s often a self-fulfilling prophecy to write “Most of the American people think…” about something, especially if it’s negative, thus feeding into the cycle of negativity even more, it should be noted that IT IS NOT ILLEGAL to accept campaign donations from Indian casino operators UNLESS THEY HAVE BROKEN THE LAW. It looks bad (at a minimum) for a politician to accept a donation when legislation affecting the donor is involved…at a maximum, it could be a felony.

However, there’s a big difference between taking money from Jack Abramoff and doing so directly from an Indian casino operator, and Polman totally compromises himself when he “muddies” the two of them together like that.

Take Me To The River

This letter appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer last Friday (PA local politics...).

I am president of Cement Masons and Plasterers Union Local 592, which was described as one of the "dissident unions" that voted for Sen. Rick Santorum ("Santorum siphons off some unions," Jan. 26). Being on the "dissident" side of the AFL-CIO is not bad at all, especially in the political arena.

My local endorsed Ed Rendell over the AFL-CIO's candidate, Bob Casey, in the governor's primary when Casey was ahead. Casey lost, and organized labor (except the building trades) had more egg on its face than a casino buffet.

Santorum's not perfect, but the man will say what he feels and not back down.

He told me that he would never vote against the Prevailing Wage Law, the union construction workers' lifeblood. I believe him. He is trying to get the Delaware River dredged, which would produce good-paying jobs.

As far as good-paying jobs go, when will the Democrats in Congress stop boasting "I voted to raise the minimum wage" and start strengthening and making new laws on collective bargaining? When will they put into trade agreements the right for our unions to organize in countries like Mexico without interference from those countries?

I am elected by members of Local 592. They trust me to do what is best for them.

My endorsement of Santorum is the right choice.

Mike Fera
Let me say at the outset that I can recall hearing Clinton speak about NAFTA a year or so ago, and he said that the right of workers to organize and negotiate wages through collective bargaining was included in the original agreement, but it was stripped out by the Republican congress before NAFTA was signed into law, which is completely believable to me. Also, as noted in the article from this link, Clinton opposed efforts to exclude the formation of a WTO "working group" on labor rights (the article is ten years old…I’ll keep looking for any updates), so, despite his business-friendly tendencies as president (which were necessary), I think Clinton did what he could, even though I was snookered in on NAFTA also years ago by him and others, and I’ll never make that mistake again.

However, I wanted to mention Mr. Fera’s letter because he touched on an important issue in this area, and that is the proposed dredging of the Delaware River from 40 feet to 45 feet. It sounds like this has been studied to death, though I don’t know if an Environmental Impact Statement on the project has ever been completed (though there’s a lot of information related to that here).

I don’t like messing with the environment either, but I’m prone to think we should be weighing the cost/benefit on this. Rendell is solidly for the project, of course, and I hope he’s bringing Jon Corzine around also. Based on this article, I think Jeffrey Nash of the DRPA and Rob Andrews are clueless.

Another factor to consider is that Delaware also needs to sign off on this, and to my knowledge, they have not done so or agreed to shoulder any part of the cost of the dredging.

I’m concerned about this partly because I can easily see Santorum and the Repugs turning this into a wedge issue as the PA Senate campaign progresses. Anyone who has to rely on the “good graces” of somebody like Santorum, as Mr. Fera does, truly has my sympathies. However, Mr. Fera is not some garden-variety wingnut spouting typical “die, liberals, die!” nonsense. He has to look out for the members of his local, and though Bob Casey (who FINALLY has a website, and it’s not too bad, actually) is on record against CAFTA and probably would support dredging, I haven’t been able to find any statement from him yet on this.

The problem is that I can see Santorum and the Repugs hammering on this issue if it isn’t resolved soon, because all of the players involved are Democrats. I am quite sure that Ed Rendell is making that eminently clear to Jon Corzine, and probably to Governor Minner of Delaware also.

Oh Yeah...That Football Game

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning the Super Bowl yesterday. I’m happy for former Eagle Bill Cowher and a team with a great tradition of winning. I was particularly glad to see this happen also for the sake of Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, and Duce Staley. I had a feeling this might happen after Denver knocked off New England earlier (REALLY hard for a rooting interest in THAT game) and Pittsburgh wiped out Denver soon after that.

With that having been said, I should also point out that I saw very little of the game (though I was around for Willie Parker’s great 74-yard TD run). This is because I find it very hard to deal with the fact that the commercials and the entertainment are a priority for the event as opposed to the actual athletic contest itself. The ratio, when I managed to watch, was about three minutes of game versus five minutes of commercials. That’s ridiculous.

I also have a problem with the utter pomposity of the NFL anyway. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue gave what he called his “State Of The Game” speech during the two weeks between the divisional championship games and the Super Bowl, timed to coincide somewhat with the “State Of The Union” address, a circumstance for which I believe the phrase “massively full of oneself” was invented. Also, I believe this was the fortieth time the game has been played, but I’m just guessing. The whole “roman numeral” thing is, as far as I’m concerned, another symptom of what I just described.

Also, speaking of the two-week interval before the game is played, I think they should get rid of that and make it one week only (a long shot, I know). There is ONE REASON ONLY why there is a two-week interval, and that is to create so much hype and nonsense that you end up saying “Dear God, please let this end so they can play this bloody game and be done with it,” which is exactly what the NFL wants.

Actually, we entertained some people we hadn’t seen for awhile yesterday, and believe it or not, we had such a good time that we didn’t want to ruin it by turning on the game. Of course, I guess we should have caved in to the instincts of gluttony and massive consumption and done so, obsessing on every possible obscure detail of the game and the way it was presented, but silly us…we just said no (even though the game, happily, was telecast on ABC and NOT FOX!!).

And gee…I would say we’re just A LITTLE BIT HYPER-SENSITIVE at ABC (as well as massively hung up and anal retentive anyway, largely because of the illustrious FCC) if we’re bleeping non-profanity from a 62-year-old rock star. So Mick Jagger isn’t allowed to sing, “You make a dead man come,” is he? Well, I have news for you. That lyric was originally written by Tom Waits anyway (the legacy of Janet Jackson’s 40-year-old, diamond-studded, exposed African American boob lives on). Also, something else Jagger sang of a mildly political nature was bleeped also (our Great Father Dubya wants nothing but his pabulum in our warm milk, remember people?).

Update: Never mind...Brendan set me straight on the "Rough Justice" and "Cocks" thing. I guess somebody "set the wayback" for Victorian-Era England when we weren't looking.

One final note: with all of this having been said, it should be pointed out again that the game featured two teams who have done very well in an area of offense neglected by the hometown “Iggles”.

So, Andy Reid, if somehow you are reading this, I have two words for you:

Running Game!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

As Ye Sow...

Kevin Ferris spewed the output of another Dubya wet dream all over the editorial page of the Inquirer today (I won't even bother to link to it or comment on it, since I have better things to do at the moment), but Chris Satullo wrote a particularly excellent column today that everyone really should read that stands directly in opposition to Ferris' nonsense.

Contempt for the job of governing has created problems
By Chris Satullo

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan pounded home one of the most potent slogans of all time: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Reagan's axiom sliced through the sloppy thinking and overreaching that had come to plague liberalism. It launched a new political era.

Now, 25 years later, we sit at the exhausted edge of that era. The "blame government" riff is running out of gas, conceptually and ethically.

Now, a corrective statement needs to be pounded home:

If you think government is the problem, you'll have problems governing. People who think government can do no good will be no good at running the government.

Three proper nouns account for the plunge in approval experienced lately by President Bush and the Republican Congress: Iraq, Katrina, Abramoff.

These three fiascoes are linked by a theme: They stem from the mistakes people make when they disdain the notion that skillful governing can improve people's lives.

What are the hallmarks of skillful governing? Well, surely they include listening, building consensus, planning for contingencies, defining the public work to be done, summoning talent and resources equal to the task, monitoring the work to limit waste and error, assessing results with clear eyes, holding people to account.

Katrina was the event that led many Americans finally to grasp how inept their government had been in Iraq.

Katrina was a crisis citizens could grasp, unlike distant, confusing Iraq. Here they could see vividly the same sins alleged in Iraq, sins arising from a failure to take seriously the duty of governing:

Warnings ignored. Plans not made. Clueless paralysis at the cusp of crisis. Cronies indulged in key roles. Resource needs unmet. Spin and blame-shifting substituted for honest assessment.

In both Iraq and the Gulf Coast, the waste and chaos that have plagued reconstruction can be traced to ideological contempt for the job of governing.

Much has been made of the no-bid contracts lavished uncritically on companies such as Halliburton and Fluor. It's a mistake, though, to see this only as Dick Cheney and others feeding old pals and favored donors.

Even if Cheney had never run Halliburton, even if these companies never donated a dime to his party, he would do the same things. He's acting on a deeply held but flawed principle: Business will always and everywhere be more effective than government.

He just can't grasp that good governing involves more than tossing the car keys and credit card to the titans of industry and getting out of the way. You have to distinguish public interest from corporate interest, shape the work accordingly, monitor it carefully, and refuse to indulge bad work.

The nation is run by people who savor power but disdain governing. The Abramoff scandal shows the wages of that combination. It also underscores why turning public works over to corporations often produces poor results for taxpayers.

If you assume government is too inept to do anything useful itself, then you reduce its role to dispensing contracts to the companies that "get things done." This turns sleazy deal-brokers like Jack Abramoff into VIPs.

Once you're there, abandon hope that corporations will do public work well. Businesses work efficiently because smart customers and strong competitors spur them.

But the contemptuous culture of cronyism turns government into the dumbest customer around. Pressure for results evaporates when corporations can keep their elected customers happy simply by tossing around junkets, campaign donations, and promises of well-paid sinecures down the road.

Thus the slogans about government ineptitude become self-fulfilling. They invite the incompetence of shrugged shoulders, even as they drive smart, dedicated people away from public service.

Republican activists sense how Katrina and Abramoff have exposed the limits of their ideology. That's why they now are desperately, hilariously spinning FEMA's fumbling and Congress' scandals as proof that government can't be trusted.

No. What can't be trusted is the arrogant crowd now governing so badly. The damage they've done will take a generation to undo.

Right now, it's hard to spot any replacement crew capable of the cleanup.

But the first step in summoning better leaders to the fore might be to toss Ronald Reagan's exhausted slogan onto the scrap heap of history, where it belongs.
Absolutely. And by the way, Bushco is STILL trying to intimidate scientists (this is a recording, this is a recording...).

Somewhere, Al Capp Is Smiling

This is why democracy will never work the way we want it to in Iraq or other Middle Eastern countries. It is because we continue to misunderstand the mindset of that region, and it is likely that that will always be the case.

I realize the cartoon used images of the prophet in a way that was sacrilegious, but guess what? It's all FAIR COMMENT.

Trudy Rubin nails it again on this (registration required).