Saturday, March 11, 2006


1) The only consequence of the death today of former Yugoslav leader and unholy demon Slobodan Milosevic that I care about is the possible (hopeful) full withdrawal of our 1,700 troops from Kosovo as part of a 16,000-troop delegation to keep the Serbs and Albanians from slaughtering each other, a result of the inflaming of ethnic hatred in that area years ago for which Milosevic is primarily responsible. His demise in a jail cell is, for me, a perfectly appropriate sendoff.

I just remember how gorgeous Sarajevo looked for the 1984 Olympics, and then I remember how horrific it looked later as a result of Milosevic's war. That alone is justification for his fate.

2) Mama mia, how could I have missed this one? Someone start playing taps for the political career of Prime Minister Jesus, OK?

3) Did anyone pay attention to this story also? I mean, the scandal this guy was involved in was a big deal in the UK in the early 60s - ancient history, I know - and ended up being made into that movie with Sir Ian McKellen, John Hurt, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, and that guy from Fine Young Cannibals.

4) So now, with the closing of the Strawbridge's at 8th and Market streets in Philadelphia, what will happen to The Boar? What will happen to The Crystal Tea Room and Dickens Village? Will they all go the way of Veterans Stadium, The Ripley nightclub and Horn and Hardart's?


Friday, March 10, 2006

Trees Are Weeping With Joy

I was trying to think of an appropriate way to note my 700th blogger post (sorry for the self indulgence), and fortunately, Gale Norton provided it for me today.

“Returning to private life to spend more time with her husband,” huh? What a crock! (Think Progress has the lowdown, in which a wholly other reason is strongly suggested – hat tip to Atrios).

This woman wrote the most obnoxious, misinformation-filled column I’ve yet seen from a member of this administration, and believe me when I tell you that’s saying something.

“The mountains she loves so much,” I’m sure (loves to rip apart for strip mining, logging, and road construction, that is)…

A Road To Somewhere

This story has nothing to do with politics, but I wanted to say something about it because it definitely hits close to home for yours truly (local PA stuff).

I’ll try to summarize briefly in case you aren’t registered with the Inquirer (and speaking of which, it sounds like final bids for Knight Ridder were approved yesterday, and with Media News and Gannett as the apparent front runners and McClatchy lurking somewhere in the background, I’m sorry, but I just continue to get this sinking feeling that the Inquirer will turn into “News McNuggets” and the Daily News may go under altogether, God help us).

Getting back to the story…it has to do with a lady in Chester County, Pa. named Dolores Solitario, 73, who has lived in a farmhouse in that area for 50 years (and in case you’ve never seen one, Chester County farmhouses are, to me, works of art in their pastoral setting). She also has a kennel in her barn that houses 90 dogs and cats, some of which were rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Well, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has begun the eviction process so construction can begin on her property of an E-Z Pass “slip ramp” between the Valley Forge and Downingtown exits of the PA Turnpike. As the story states, the entire matter is in court at this time; the commission gave her what she considered to be a low-ball estimate on her property last September, and when she chose not to accept it, they almost immediately began the process to condemn her land (as commission spokesman Carl DeFebo said, 11 properties are affected by the ramp construction, but Soliario’s is the only one “being totally taken by the commission” – I confess that I do not know exactly what that means).

Before I say another word, I should point out how unique a governmental body the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission truly is. You see, they have no oversight. None. If you tried to get a record of how much they collect in toll revenue, they can flip you off with impunity. They schedule highway construction which frequently takes years without the first regard for cost or inconvenience to the motorists who use the turnpike most every day. Also, their rest stops are truly horrendous – I’ve driven in about half of the states in the area of the eastern seaboard of this country, so I know what I’m talking about here. So for the commission to decide to condemn her property after declining immediate acceptance of their offer is totally in character for them – I’m surprised her lawyer was able to get through to someone to initiate an action.

I applaud Mrs. Solitario for “sticking to her guns” and also trying to do what’s best for the animals under her care, and I think she deserves much more than “fair value” for her property, but I have to clench my teeth here a bit and side with those life forms at the turnpike commission.

What the story from Susan Weidener of the Inquirer doesn’t mention is that the struggle – and that is the correct word – to build this slip ramp has been going on for at least 20 years (I don’t blame Weidener for that because the story is about Mrs. Solitario and not the construction project as a whole). I spent more years than I care to admit driving the turnpike to get to work, and believe me when I tell you that this slip ramp would have truly helped me with costs for tolls, gas, and vehicle maintenance. I’m sorry that people’s property is affected by this construction, but what are the people who work somewhere in the HUGE maze of office complexes in East Whiteland Township (where the Route 29 turnpike construction will take place) supposed to do? This is where their jobs are located (what would YOU do?). Is it the fault of the employees that more employers don’t offer telecommuting, for example, or that flexible scheduling isn’t mandated by state or federal law (which would help traffic flow)?

Let me put it to you this way; the last major road construction project that took place affecting Chester County was Route 476, linking the turnpike to Route 95 as part of what will eventually become the Philadelphia Beltway when similar construction is finished a few miles south of yours truly at the junction of the turnpike and I-95 (Route 476 is commonly known in these parts as the “Blue” Route…four original color-coded plans for road construction were submitted, and the “blue” plan was approved). The planning for the Blue Route began in 1961 before the Berlin Wall was constructed, and due primarily to court challenges, the road wasn’t finished until sometime after 1989 after the Berlin Wall fell. That tells you something about the “speed of change” in these matters in that area of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Once again, I wish Mrs. Solitario all the best, but it is long past time for the slip ramp to be built.

The Pissant Pundit

This column appeared from Jeff Greenfield yesterday on CNN where he’s basically shaking a finger at this country and the politicians for scuttling (or so we’ve been told) the deal whereby Dubai Ports World will manage operations at six locations in this country (I say “or so we’ve been told” because, probably like you also, I know nothing about this so-called “American entity” that took DPW’s place).

Greenfield actually makes some good points about our sieve-like security for shipping container traffic, but then he states that the deal was killed because of our own xenophobia.

Hey Jeff, it’s a funny thing, you know, but see, those Chinese who provided cheap labor for us, those Japanese who were wrongly interred during World War II, and those European immigrants who came to our shores in the 1800s (and we’re talking about “my people” here, at least in part)…NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE FLEW PLANES INTO BUILDINGS AND KILLED AMERICANS!

Also, regarding your last question about who would be to blame if God forbid something actually got through our ports and detonated, causing a catastrophe, I believe the answer would be the Republicans in Washington for not funding local first responders properly (and also not doing more to build a communications infrastructure that could ensure a better response, including possibly a wireless network), but also the Democrats for not sticking to this issue throughout John Kerry’s presidential campaign and showing some imagination (I don’t recall Kerry ever appearing at the Port of Newark, for example), or trying to lay this issue out front and center so everyone can see just how truly vulnerable we are under the cabal currently in power in D.C.

Actually Jeff, you could read this from the former “big boss man” of CBS News and get an idea of how to approach this issue differently (you know…do some genuine digging as opposed to pontificating, but just make sure that you properly verify and corroborate any documentation you may receive, right?).

And by the way, here’s the latest on this from Ann Coulter:

While Mr. Bush was busy ordering secret phone taps and torture camps, obviously someone else secretly ordered the sale of our ports to the U.A.E. without his knowledge because he said he didn’t know about it until the deal was signed.

Just who is in charge? Is it Congress? It is certainly not George. Maybe whoever it is could be blamed for the other messes, like the Iraq war.

Just find out who is in charge and blame them for these last five years of disgrace and horror.
Once again, this is Ann Coulter of Bensalem, Pa., and the preceding letter appeared in this morning’s Bucks County Courier Times:-)

Update: And of course, the “wealth” perspective will have its say in the DPW deal gone bad of course (the phrase "Dubai debacle" pretty much states their position, I think). However, I have a suggestion: instead of the emissaries from the Gulf States meeting with Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer (and gee, I’m sure politics WAS NOT A CONSIDERATION IN ANY WAY in choosing them in this story, was it?) as per the suggestion of AEI fascist Phillip Swagel, let these emissaries meet with the families and friends of the 9/11 victims and explain what they’re doing to make sure terrorist money is never again funneled through any of their banks and used to carry out attacks that kill American citizens.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Don't Ask, Tell, Or Serve

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that universities accepting federal funding were not allowed to keep military recruiters off campus in protest of the Pentagon’s policy on gays in the military; I was surprised that the decision was unanimous.

I often wonder what would have happened differently, if anything, if Bill Clinton had chosen some other issue as the first thing he addressed as president. Aside from the fact that he was new to the job, he didn’t have the respect of the services to win their support, primarily because he did not serve himself (though he DID enlist for the Vietnam War, as he noted in “My Life,” but was not called). The result of this mistake was the stupid “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise, stating that gay men and women could serve without disclosing their sexual orientation, a mistake which ended up forcing 10,000 gays from military service.

I read an editorial in The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week (companion background articles here and here – registration required as always) that basically stated that the right of the military to recruit for our all-volunteer forces trumped the right of the universities to invoke the free speech clause of the first amendment of the Constitution in protest of the Pentagon’s policy. I have to very reluctantly agree with that because I think any infringement upon free speech is a “slippery slope.” Besides, as the court and the Inquirer noted, the universities are certainly free to protest the policy while still allowing access to the recruiters.

That being said, though, I hope the universities place strict requirements upon the recruiters by assigning them to certain areas of the universities and designate those places as the ONLY locations where they can seek recruits. I still remember vividly the scenes in “Fahrenheit 9/11” where recruiters chased kids all over shopping mall parking lots and told them all kinds of nonsense in an effort to get them to sign on. I’m not unsympathetic to them if they’re representing themselves and the services truthfully, but it was obvious a few of them weren’t doing that.

Also, this language from chief justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion for the court, was a bit startling to me:

"Law schools remain free under the statute to express whatever views they may have on the military's congressionally mandated employment policy, all the while retaining eligibility for federal funds," he wrote.

Roberts said law schools are not "speaking" when they aid students in the recruitment process.

"Law schools facilitate recruiting to assist their students in obtaining jobs," he wrote. "A law school's recruiting services lack the expressive quality of a parade, a newsletter, or the editorial page of a newspaper."
Are those the only means that Roberts believes the universities should have at their disposal to protest the policy? I’m not a “legal eagle” by any means, but someone help me out here please.

One of the things I wondered about after I heard of the Supreme Court decision was what other countries do concerning gays in the military.

Well, it turns out that the UK doesn’t have a problem, the policy of the Israeli Defense Force has been evolving over time towards acceptance since 1993 (ironic that they had more success that year on this issue than Clinton did), and the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany accept gays also, though Greece, Turkey and Italy (does not - 4/17/09 update).

The policy of Russia, though, appears to be harsher than that of the U.S.; they ban gays in the military in peacetime, but allow them in wartime. That sounds like the worst of both worlds (Update 4/17/09 - No further info on this at this time).

Oh, and by the way, now that the Supreme Court has issued this ruling, can those idiots in Congress abolish the Solomon Amendment now and forever, please?

A National Disgrace

The latest from John Edwards...

Dear Friend,

Where I come from, what matters the most isn't how much you have, it's how hard you're willing to work. Work gives pride, dignity, and hope to our lives and our communities.

But too many families are working full-time and have nothing to show for it. They are raising their kids in poverty and living in fear that one health crisis or pink slip will drive them over the edge. A single mom with two kids who works full-time for the minimum wage is about $2,000 below the poverty line.

The minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour for ten years--while costs for health care, housing, child care, transportation and everything else have skyrocketed and executive pay has steadily increased. Executives have figured out how to pay themselves more, while paying their workers less. It's a disgrace--but not a surprise--that poverty is up for the fourth year in a row.

It is time--past time--to reward work with an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Senator Ted Kennedy is reaching out to us for help. He has sponsored a bill to increase the minimum wage in three increments to $7.25 an hour. And he's asking us to sign on as citizen co-sponsors of his bill to show the broad base of support in the country for increasing the minimum wage.

We can win this fight. Last year, we were able to get 46 Senators to vote in favor of increasing the minimum wage, even though some supporters were out of town at the time of the vote. We can pass Senator Kennedy's bill this year, but only if people across the nation show they care about the issue.

I was honored and excited that Senator Kennedy had learned about the power of our online community. He's put his faith in us. Now we need to deliver our signatures to him.

You've heard me talk about the two Americas. One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life.

These concerns are catching fire across the nation. Right now, coalitions are working to increase the minimum wage through ballot initiatives in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Arkansas, Nevada, and Ohio. I am traveling to each of these states to work with local leaders and help energize support for these initiatives. And I want to take advantage of the momentum growing across the country to pass Senator Kennedy's bill at the national level. All workers--no matter where they live--need a boost in their wages.

Senator Kennedy and I plan to personally deliver your names to Republican Senate leaders. This effort is an important step toward creating One America. One America where you have something to show for it if you work full-time--a savings account, your own home, the chance to live in a good neighborhood with good schools, and the ability to afford college.

Believe me, the lobbyists for the business interests who oppose increasing the minimum wage have tremendous influence over Congress. A broad coalition of grassroots organizations, labor unions and religious groups are working hard to level the playing field. We need to show our strength in numbers--please encourage your friends and colleagues to become citizen co-sponsors of Senator Kennedy's bill as well.

Thank you for taking action and for all that you do.

Your friend,

Here's more from

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Go Back To School, Rummy

Shortly before I read Arianna’s great post today on how Bushco is set to hyperdrive in its campaign to spin blame for the disaster of Iraq towards “the liberal media” (they’re good at propagandizing and absolutely nothing else except “feathering their own nest,” and people are definitely wise to the former by now and growing more and more repulsed by the latter), I stumbled across a column in the Bucks County Courier Times today by “distinguished fellow” William Rusher of something called The Claremont Institute (which is closely aligned with The Heritage Foundation, which should tell you all you need to know right there). Rusher does the same thing that Defense Secretary (still holds the job…) Donald Rumsfeld did as described by Arianna, only Rusher was ridiculously clumsy about it.

I have no intention to link to Rusher’s screed or comment on it, because it is total nonsense and he and his minions would continue to spout this drivel no matter how thoroughly I may demonstrate that they haven’t the slightest clue of what they’re talking about (and their hammerhead readership would duly ingest it without question). I only mention it to demonstrate that “the word has gone forth” far and wide through all channels of the right-wing echo chamber to chant this refrain ad nauseum.

Rumsfeld, though, being the combative, incompetent whack job that he is, takes all of this a step further, as Arianna noted below:

But Rumsfeld truly qualified for the absurdist pantheon when he put his media-trashing aside long enough to put the blame for the White House's Iraq troubles squarely where it really belongs: "I think the biggest problem we've got in the country is people don't study history any more. People who go to school in high schools and colleges, they tend to study current events and call it history... There are just too darn few people in our country who study history enough." There you have it, America's biggest problem when it comes to Iraq: lousy high school history teachers. Damn them!
I think that, sometimes, we accidentally stumble into the truth (or we get dragged kicking and screaming towards it and are forced to face it in “the cold light of day”), and I think that’s what happened here, only in reverse. By that I mean that it is not the high school students who need a history lesson in this case, but our defense secretary, and I will do my best to provide one for him (hey, I’m just that kind of a guy).

I also think that, given the abysmal record of failure on the part of this administration in its conduct of the Iraq War (a prominent part of which is what passed for strategy for Rumsfeld and his stooge, Gen. Peter Pace), our defense secretary needs to reacquaint himself with his job, and one way to do that is by reviewing the words and acts of his predecessors.

The first individual I’ve highlighted for review is Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War (the predecessor title for the cabinet position) during World War II under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. I think these entries from this link are important for Rummy to consider:

As secretary of state at the beginning of the Great Depression, Stimson hoped to maintain American power without resorting to war. Though a strong partisan of army reform and military preparedness prior to both world wars, he energetically negotiated arms limitation treaties and took a hard line against perceived violations of international law, such as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Under the Stimson Doctrine the United States refused to recognize any territorial change effected by conquest, but lacking British support, the doctrine remained a paper declaration.
Not surprising, since America did not truly rise to global dominance until after World War II. Also…

A committed internationalist, Stimson favored an early sharing of atomic technology with other nations, including the Soviet Union, with the objective of limiting further military development of the technology. In the Truman cabinet, he fought against punitive treatment of Germany and Japan. Stimson envisioned a stable, American-dominated postwar order that would permit free trade throughout the world.
Sounds like the beginnings of “détente” to me (another word that Rumsfeld should look up and report on to prove that he may actually have learned something).

Now, let’s jump ahead in time a bit to look at William Perry, the first defense secretary of the Clinton White House (yes, I know Bushco HATES anything and most anyone from that era, but I would say that they’ve made such a muck of everything that they should look for help anywhere they can get it). Here is an excerpt from the speech Perry gave at Stanford University’s 104th commencement on June 20th, 1995 (with text from an accompanying news article).

In his commencement address Perry wove historical trends with personal anecdotes to illustrate his belief in the need to remain engaged -- as a nation, and as individuals.

Noting that "the ending of the Cold War has opened a door and the future is out there -- waiting to come in," Perry emphasized that American security is "inextricably joined with that of other nations." He traced the decisions citizens had made at two pivotal points in American history -- to adopt a policy of isolationism following World War I, and to become engaged in world affairs after World War II.

When he earned his master's degree at Stanford in 1950, Perry said, his outlook was "dominated by world affairs and national security issues." As a result, his generation was "determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past." He and his classmates were committed to building the United Nations, to rebuilding Europe through the Marshall Plan and to creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Today's challenge, Perry said, is for the United States to remain engaged in international affairs. He cited the examples of American military involvement in the successful international Persian Gulf campaign and current joint efforts with the former Soviet Union to dismantle nuclear weapons.

Talking about two visits he had made to Pervomaysk, the former Soviet Union's most important ICBM launch site, Perry said that he had seen nuclear missiles being removed from their silos and taken to a factory where they would be dismantled. "By next year this missile field will have reverted to a wheat field," he said to applause.
"Non-proliferation" is yet another phrase that Bushco would be well-advised to learn (I suppose the sale of nukes last week to India was meant as a great big middle-digit-raised-on-high towards Iran that is so typical of our red-state president, as well as a sap to a nation that's basically developing all of the software we use any more, but of course, in the process, Bush also kissed off the IAEA and the NSG which are, as the article explains, U.N. agencies, and Dubya also disregarded longstanding existing treaties as well.)

Perry ultimately urged graduates who were heading into the "global marketplace" to remain "engaged" in world affairs so that countries would never "fall back again to the tired old habits of war."
I read that passage and sighed with resignation over how much “the wheels have fallen off the cart,” so to speak (yes, that’s so “pre 9/11” of me, I know, but these goals have been totally abandoned in the name of lizard-brain-induced fear stoked by the current regime in power).

Perry’s successor under Clinton, William Cohen, gave an address to the American Legion Convention Center in 1997 and ended with this anecdote, which was more prescient than anyone could have realized:

Let me conclude with a quote from Churchill. George Jessel said: "If you don't strike oil within three minutes, stop boring." There is another quote: "A speech is like a love affair. Anyone can start one, but it takes considerable expertise to end it." And so I would like to end mine with the words of someone else. And it was a meeting that Winston Churchill had with one of our most distinguished journalists, by the name of Stewart Alsop, and they were spending the day together and indulging in libations that Winston Churchill was so famous for in consuming. They had dinner one evening, and they had several bottles of wine, and then a toast of champagne.

And then Churchill finally turned to Alsop and said, "America, America, a great and strong country. Like a horse pulling the rest of the world up out of the Slough of Despond." And then he looked very directly and coldly into Alsop's eyes, and he said, "But will it stay the course?"
As we ponder this (and we know the answer, don’t we?), I’ll jump WAY back for one last lesson, and that would be from our fifth president, James Monroe, who served as Secretary of War under his predecessor, James Madison.

In explaining my sentiments on this subject it may be asked, What raised us to the present happy state? How did we accomplish the Revolution? How remedy the defects of the first instrument of our Union, by infusing into the National Government sufficient power for national purposes, without impairing the just rights of the States or affecting those of individuals? How sustain and pass with glory through the late war? The Government has been in the hands of the people. To the people, therefore, and to the faithful and able depositaries of their trust is the credit due. Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.
Is any of this starting to sink in, Rummy? By any chance, are you somehow starting to realize just how far you fall below any reasonable measure when compared to your predecessors?

As I’ve said before, you and the rest of Bushco should be standing in a docket at The Hague facing a war crimes tribunal for your actions. You and your ilk have been blaming the media in this country for at least fifty years when your actions have been exposed, and this occasion is absolutely no different.

Churchill knew somehow that a bunch like this could someday take over our government. The fact that no leader of his stature exists or is likely to arise in this time is a source of eternal shame.

Update 3/9: Oh, so now maybe the media ISN'T making up the civil war in Iraq? Dumbass...

"Real Time" Update

(I might as well use the old name if I’m going over everything. Also, there are some bad words in this because I’m directly quoting people here.)

The show began with Bill Maher and Melissa Rivers performing a parody of the “red carpet” segment of the Academy Awards, which was hosted by Dubai Ports World. Rivers said it was “the first Oscars owned and operated by DPW,” and Maher immediately said, “Whoa, hold on there Melissa. The president said the Oscars are just being ‘managed’ by DPW.” The joke was that the attendees (including Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie) paraded by fully covered in burkas with Arabic men hurrying them along, while Maher exclaimed, “my don’t they look great. I’d love to investigate your port operations, Angelina,” while Rivers elbowed Maher. Someone supposed to be Dakota Fanning walked by also – a little girl completely covered also. Finally, someone supposed to be Madonna walked by wearing a full burka with a “merry widow” on the outside, and when Rivers asked her to come over and say a few words, the man hit her with a cane a couple of times to move her along faster. Maher said, “Didn’t Madonna look great, with that little number from the line of anti-Christian Dior.”

In the monologue, Maher said that all of Hollywood was gripped with “Oscar fever,” and the show was “so gay, that the seat fillers were actual seat fillers” (you had to be there, I guess). “Geez, gay cowboys, a gay writer, transsexuals…if the Oscars were any gayer, they’d be the Tonys.” Maher then noted the AP videotape that appeared that week of Bush being told Katrina will hit, and he doesn’t ask a single question, adding that, “it’s a shame his performance was too late for this year’s Oscars, because usually when you play a retarded guy, you win.” Of course, in response, the White House “counter punched” in response to the criticism and released a tape from 2002 "that clearly showed several moments going by without Bush fucking anything up."

Yep, it was another tough week for Dubya, as Maher said. “After skulking into Afghanistan, he did the same thing with Pakistan. Air Force One landed after dark with the lights off and shades drawn, and then bin Laden gave a speech and said ‘Bush can run, but he can’t hide’.” Also, “Karl Rove said that if Bush’s approval ratings dip any lower, he’ll have to arrive home the same way.” Maher then said that Bush, “gave a speech and said that Pakistan was a force for freedom in the Arab world. The only problem is that Pakistan isn’t free and it isn’t an Arab country” (God almighty…as Molly Ivins once asked, are there any adults in this administration?). That’s OK, Maher said, because earlier in the week, “Bush referred to the Indians as ‘native Americans” (that could be a serious remark, coming from him). Yep, “Bush isn’t sophisticated…in India, he saw a woman with a red dot on her head and he thought she had been hunting with Cheney – he was greeted in India by thousands of people waving American flags. The only problem is that they were on fire.” Maher also pointed out how good it is that Bush took this trip to “soothe tensions…if Pakistan nuked India, we’d lose a huge section of the American work force.” Returning to this country, Maher said that rapper Lil’ Kim was desperately seeking medical attention, worried that her breast implants are leaking, and today President Bush said that no one could have anticipated the breach of the titty bags.”

This actually led into the first satellite interview which Maher had with former FEMA director Mike “Horsey Time” Brown, and I have to admit that it took me a few seconds to recover from the shock of witnessing Maher talking to him. Maher said, “I saw the tape of Bush getting punked. Why did it come out now?” and I don’t think Brown really knew based on his answer (why am I surprised?), though I believe the AP had requested the footage under the Freedom of Information Act, and the request was recently granted (not sure, though). Maher asked Brown, “Do you feel vindicated?,” and Brown said that he “just wanted the truth to come out.” Maher asked, “Do you see a pattern with this president (in terms of not handling situations like this)…9/11, Katrina, Iraq?” (prefacing the question by acknowledging that he understood why Brown might not want to take a shot at Bush), and Brown said that he “saw overconfidence in Katrina; despite entreaties, I was still getting pillaged and I was expected to pull a rabbit out of my hat.” Maher then asked, in surprisingly blunt fashion I thought, “were you a crony?” Brown replied that “I got the job because I was friends with Joe Allbaugh, but he thought I was qualified.” Maher then asked, “what were your qualifications?” and Brown said that he’d worked in state and local government for a third of his career, and the rest of the time he’d worked as a lawyer with the Arabian Horse Association, brought in to clean up ethical problems, and he “was brought onboard FEMA to do the same thing and then worked his way up.” Maher, who kept mentioning refrigerators in trees as a symbol of the fact that much of New Orleans was still a mess, asked “How different would everything be if you were in charge?” and Brown said, “we would’ve cleaned it up in record time and under budget like we did with Manhattan after 9/11.” Maher then asked, “does FEMA have a plan for what to do if aliens attacked?” and Brown, quick on the uptake, said “I’d have to kill you if I told you.”


I will admit that Mike Brown had a good week last week. I saw the video; he looked like he was in charge and handling things, Bush looked like a pinecone, and Mike (“City Of Louisiana”) Chertoff was absent. In other words, I’m sure it was just another typical day for the Bush Administration.

However, Brown is still the guy who was nowhere to be found at a time when he was needed to coordinate the disaster relief effort, and when he was found, it was discovered that he was sending Emails back and forth to his administrative assistant concerning his dinner attire. Brown is STILL the guy who was responsible for that truck filled with ice that, due to myriad FEMA screwups, ended up driving the mileage of about halfway around the world before it finally arrived at a destination that would accept its shipment. I’m not going to bother to try and catalogue all of Brown’s other glorious moments such as those.

As Atrios and others have pointed out, the unpreparedness for Katrina and mismanagement of the relief effort represents a failure on every level of government, and as far as I’m concerned, it is the consequence of thinking and acting in accordance of Repug propaganda that we’ve been force fed over approximately 30 years telling us that “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” (click here to debunk that nonsense once and for all). When you put people who don’t like government IN government, what magically happens is that they end up doing a bad job of governing. As nearly as I can tell, Bushco has “plenty of chiefs, but not enough Indians,” so to speak (and I DO mean native Americans in this context). Given all of that, I see NO REASON for Mike Brown or anyone else in this bunch to be treated with kid gloves. They merit all of the ridicule that they deserve, partly because shame and contrition absolutely do not exist in these people (with the exception of Richard Clarke, who I always thought was too honorable a man to really be considered as a member of this bunch anyway).

Maher then spoke with Harry Anderson via satellite about New Orleans, and this segment might have been the funniest that I’ve ever seen in all of the times I’ve watched this show (got me out of my consternation from watching Brown). Maher asked Anderson (who was in New Orleans when Katrina hit) what the storm was like, and Anderson said “well, we found new ways for plasma TVs to fit through storefront windows” (I think that’s close to what he said…I have to admit that I was laughing so hard that I didn’t quite get everything). Maher said, “Dubya is Mr. Open Checkbook. Can’t he get some money to help get the refrigerators out of the trees?” (coming back to that again) and Anderson said, “Maybe he’s counting on Power Ball winnings to do that.” In response to a question about Mardi Gras, Anderson said, “It was like somebody slipped the whole city a ruffee – we haven’t gotten the shit cleaned up. We need to raise money. We have to add two bucks to a pack of cigarettes. We have to add a quarter to a beer. We have to get some money going here and stop looking like a kid with a bowl that Sally Struthers is pitching. We have to clean it up ourselves and not wait for the idiots from the top down.” Maher asked if the French Quarter was OK, and Anderson said it basically was, adding that “If God was trying to wipe out New Orleans, then He’s got terrible aim.” Anderson then said, “The upcoming election will look like ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – we have to start acting like grownups; drunk grownups, but grownups.” Maher asked, “Who do you blame?” and Anderson said, “The federal response was fucking tragic. Blanco is running around like Ms. Pac Man without the looks (oh man…). And Nagin? What can I say that he hasn’t said already? We need to clean house and not act like we’re on Mars.”

The panel discussion began with Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair magazine, Dana Priest of the Washington Post, and actor/comedian D. L. Hughley. Maher asked, “When Katrina was happening, shouldn’t this have been the last straw? Bush’s approval rating is at 34 percent. Would these guys still win?” and D.L. Hughley (who had a lot of good lines) said, “More people believe that Elvis is still alive. (Bush) can’t believe there are refugees in America. He’s failed the country on every level, and people who voted for him got what they deserved” (YES!). Maher said, “Even Cheney has a higher approval rating,” and Hughley said, “he’d better, or he’ll shoot you.” Maher then lamented that, “the Democrats should be making hay of this. The Republicans throw down the gauntlet and the Democrats do nothing.” Dana Priest said that “probably only six Democrats on the senate side actually read the pre-war intelligence report on Iraq” (coming from her, I’d believe that pathetic statement). Hughley then said, “Bush at least has the courage of his convictions, even though they’re wrong.” Graydon Carter noted that "he (Bush) speaks to the audience as if they're idiots. I think the reason he does that is because that's the way these issues were explained to him." Maher said that, "Bush didn't really win on his popularity last time. He won on scaring people that Kerry might do something stupid like, I don't know, sell the ports to the Arabs.”

Dana Priest then asked what I think is the $64K question, which is this: “what do the Democrats really believe?” Carter said, “the Democrats in Washington are trained to speak out of both sides of the issue,” citing Hillary Clinton on Iraq when Carter asked her, “why can’t you just say that you made a mistake on voting for the war?” Priest said, “She’s playing both sides – maybe she doesn’t believe anything…there are no easy solutions.” Maher said, “But she won’t even admit that she’s angry. The Republicans say, ‘Boy, Hillary Clinton sure is angry,’ and she should say, ‘You’re damn right I’m angry (when I see what’s going on in this country)’.” The Democrats should take their lumps and stand up for things, stand by their principles.”

(Note to Howard Dean: Contact the producers of “Real Time” and ask them for a verbatim transcript of what I just summarized in the preceding paragraph, then distribute it to every Democratic member of Congress as well as every party candidate running for office and make them READ IT ALOUD EVERY SINGLE DAY SO THEY NEVER FORGET THIS!!).

Graydon Carter then said that he thought Al Gore was an example of what everyone was talking about (re: a Democrat standing up for his or her convictions), mentioning that Gore has been “making the rounds on global warming…if we found a way to replace the internal combustion engine, say in three years, we could fix a lot of problems” (an interesting possibility that we’ll probably never see, though Carter is right). Hughley said “the Republicans have spent the last five years making people ignorant and afraid…J.J. in ‘Good Times’ could have run the country better.” Maher then said, “Yeah, but Gore used to talk to us like we were in third grade” (Really? I never felt that way, but maybe that’s just me. And how is that worse than Dubya even if it’s true?). Priest then mentioned the “health care plan of Hillary’s” as an example of the Dems “giving up and staying on the sidelines,” in Carter’s words (in addition to the Democrats caving, you can thank that obnoxious blowhard Newt Gingrich for carrying on and scuttling it, making sure the Democrats got credit for absolutely nothing). Maher then said that the Democrats “are fishing in the Republican pond. Why don’t they fish in the pond of 79 million voters in this country who don’t have good jobs or adequate health care…try to address THEIR issues.” There was some cross talk, and then Maher mentioned that “Bush plays the ‘faith’ card,” to which Hughley said, “If I hear one more time about this guy’s faith, I’ll lose my fucking mind! I watch these people do really vile things, and that’s Christianity?”

After some more discussion, it was mentioned by Priest that Bushco “is ‘reclassifying’ history in the National Archive under the excuse of ‘national security,” basically saying that they’re rewriting history. This is typically despicable on the part of our government, but it didn’t surprise me, unfortunately. A week or so ago, I posted something about what some historians considered to be the top 10 presidential mistakes, and I linked to the White House bio on Andrew Johnson, our president after Lincoln, and if you had read that, you would KNOW that stuff like that is getting changed by Bushco, because most of that was fiction skewed to the red state “base.”

Maher then picked up his “Oscar fever” theme once more, and said that, “when it comes to Hollywood, if you play a person afflicted in any way, you’re ‘gold’,” tying back to what he said earlier about Bush and listing a ton of movies that qualified: “Rain Man,” “My Left Foot,” “I Am Sam,” and others. He then led into a comedy bit with marquees for the phony movies “The Quadfather” and “Mr. Holland’s Lupus,” among others.

Maher then spoke via satellite with Bob Baer, the former CIA officer who wrote the book “Sleeping With The Devil” that was the basis for the movie “Syrianna.” Maher said, “As much as I can tell, the movie’s about oil,” and Baer said, “no doubt about it. Maher asked Baer if the CIA was the “enabler” (for our dependency), and Baer agreed, mentioning Saudi Arabia and its affluence and pointing out the now-familiar fact that “15 of the 9/11 hijackers came from there, we still don’t know who recruited them, and we still don’t know what’s going on in that country, but the CIA is still indicting Saddam Hussein over that 2002 national intelligence estimate. What’s going on?” Maher said, “Why doesn’t Bush just admit that we’re there for the oil?” which to me is an excellent question that should have been asked about three years ago before this mess got started, and Baer said, “I honestly don’t think the neocons knew what they were doing…I think they were clueless. They really didn’t know what they were doing when they got into Iraq, and there’s nobody to replace (Hussein) in the military. Maher then asked, “How serious a possibility is it to bring back Saddam?,” a question I really wish Maher wouldn’t ask any more because it really does amplify the ultimate pointlessness of all of this and thus creates more heartache for the families and loved ones of our dead and injured service people – I’m sorry, but that’s the way I feel. Baer said, “(Hussein) or someone like him had been running that place for 300 years, and Democracy won’t work. That’s the bad news" (I don’t recall that Baer had any “good” news behind that).

To point out how undemocratic that area of the world is generally, Maher said that “Bush is in Pakistan with Musharraf, who didn’t get his job from answering a want ad. He got in through a coup, but I guess we like him,” and Baer said, “We don’t support democracy ever in that area, including Dubai. All Arab sheikdoms are tyranny in a sense.” (Baer then also mentioned the 16 people killed in Pakistan when we attacked, ostensibly trying to get bin Laden, and said that we would never put up with that ourselves; that’s true, but I missed the context on that one.) Maher then said, “You must be pissed that Clooney put on 20 pounds to play you in the movie,” and Baer said, “I could have used the fact that Clooney played me as a pickup line back then, but not now.” Maher then mentioned the fact that Valerie Plame’s outing also blew the cover of something called Brewster Jennings, which I guess was supposed to be some kind of a front company (I think Maher joked that he had a 401(k) there), and Maher asked Baer, “how pissed are you about that?” Baer said, “It’s like blaming the CIA for the war, saying ‘we don’t care about you, only politics and money'.”

Returning to the panel, Maher said to Priest, as a follow up from Baer, that “a lot of what you wrote in the Post about CIA ‘black sites’ was classified. Do you think you did any harm?,” and Priest said, “we tried to be responsible…this government is cracking down on the press (re: the New York Times and the NSA spying story). Everything according to Bush damages national security,” adding that, “Since they have such a low opinion of the enemy, maybe that’s why they’ve never captured bin Laden” (yep, that figures for me too). Carter then said (tellingly, I thought) that “if you took an American from 2000 (who hadn’t been here since then) and then brought them back, they wouldn’t recognize this country. The devastation after 9/11 (is as bad as what happened on that day)”…some may consider that a bit of a stretch, but I don’t think it is by much.

Returning to the Oscars, Maher said “I think ‘Brokeback Mountain’ will win (you ‘bit it’ on that one, Bill)…is this really a ‘gay’ movie, since (the two male leads) are only together once a year on a fishing trip?” D.L. Hughley said, “Some people call it a love story, but porno is a love story to me,” with someone mentioning that it’s the only movie “where the hero gets it in the end” (ba-dump). Maher said, “Don’t the red staters believe that the gays control Hollywood?” to which Hughley asked, “Aren’t these guys red staters?” Graydon Carter said, “it’s very much like a 50s movie with Sidney Poitier…unfulfilled love and all that,” to which Hughley asked “A gay ‘Raisin’ In The Sun’?” Maher asked, “Is it easier to be famous now,” and Carter said, “If that person from 2000 returned now and saw that Paris Hilton is the most famous woman in the country, they’d be shocked.”

At that point, it was time for New Rules. Once again, it was nice to have watched a show without right-wing propaganda, though I’m sure that will change this week with the appearance of National Review commentator Ramesh Ponnuru.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

One Cartoon For Another

I just read a column in the Courier Times in which author John Hall (I guess he passes for the “liberal” point of view) stated that he believed Bush’s poll numbers will rise because he took an ill-advised and highly dangerous helicopter ride into Afghanistan, as “door gunners fired brief bursts of bullets down dusty flatlands” to cover Bush’s landing.

I guess we’re going to be subjected to “Bush bounce” stories as his numbers either flatten off or slide further from now until 1/20/09, at which time (barring impeachment) this intellectual flea will mercifully no longer take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Right Choice

Local PA political stuff (partly national also, I guess)...

This weekend, the PA Democratic Party endorsed Patrick Murphy as the candidate to run against Mike Fitzpatrick in the fall election for the 8th district U.S. House seat in Bucks County, Pa. And of course, the Bucks County Courier Times objected to the fact that a candidate had been endorsed before an actual primary vote had taken place, decrying the influence of money in the political process over all else.

They’re right, to a degree; I remember that I was a little miffed in ’04 that, by the time the PA Democratic Primary rolled around in May, the choices for president basically were John Kerry, John Kerry, and John Kerry (I thought he was the right candidate, and I still believe that, though he was done in primarily by the own internal chaos of his campaign, for which he has only himself to blame).

However, none of this should detract from Patrick Murphy’s credentials and understanding of what needs to be done on our behalf and his desire to get to work and do it. And political parties are recognizing the financial reality of campaigning absent of 100 percent public financing, which should be mandated by law.

But of course, before we get to the general campaign, we have to put that obnoxious blowhard Andy Warren out to pasture once and for all (with Ginny Schrader in tow). I know I said I’d take it easy on him awhile back – I must have been suffering an adverse antibiotic reaction or something.

I say this because the Courier Times published the following Guest Opinion from Warren last Friday, no doubt timed to try and influence (unsuccessfully, luckily) last weekend’s candidate endorsement.

Note: What appears below also was printed in the Intelligencer – it was practically the same writeup in both places.

Various false statements have found their way into the press and the political debate about this congressional race, attempting to equate my party switch with Patrick Murphy's record. I must set the record straight.
“False statements” implies something factually incorrect as opposed to merely an opinion Warren doesn’t like, but I guess that’s “splitting hairs” a bit.

The Intelligencer chastised me for calling Patrick Murphy an "opportunist." The exchange with the reporter occurred when it was revealed that on Election Day 2004, Mr. Murphy told "Roll Call Magazine" that he would decide where to move based on the election outcomes in the 8th and the 13th Congressional Districts. The reporter asked me: "Would you say that picking a congressional district based upon the outcome of the previous election could be described as opportunistic." I answered-and would still answer-"YES."
See, here’s the deal (and I realize, since Andy Warren doesn’t play nice with anyone, he really wouldn’t understand this); If Allyson Schwartz had lost her campaign against Melissa Brown for the 13th district U.S. House seat from PA a couple of years ago, then Patrick Murphy likely would have considered a run for that seat against a Republican incumbent, since Murphy lived in Northeast Philadelphia for a time also. However, since Schwartz won, Murphy wisely chose not to run a tough Democratic primary campaign and try to weaken a Democratic incumbent, instead wisely choosing to run in the 8th against a Republican. This is called Politics 101.

(By the way, speaking of Schwartz, I had to laugh at a story in the Courier Times yesterday. Though Mike Fitzpatrick got only a 61 percent approval rating on environmental issues from a “conservative environmental group,” the paper still praised him, with Fitzpatrick complaining that he’s judged for voting on environmental issues included in so-called “omnibus” bills – these are the types of bills that, for example, may have to do with an appropriation for military supplies for our people in Iraq, but some politician will throw in some “rider” at the end of the bill having to do with banning birth control funding for third world countries because abstinence education isn’t included. What does that have to do with funding for our troops? Good question. Who’s responsible for this nonsense? The political party that controls either the House or the Senate (in this case, the House) that allowed this to happen. Which political party, then, is responsible? Next question...

…and by the way, Schwartz’s approval rating on this issue, mentioned at the bottom of the story, was 94 percent. Here is a link to both approval ratings.)

Update: Here is more on Fitzpatrick's environmental con job.

I believe that banking on one of two Democrats to lose a general election before deciding where to claim residency is absolutely opportunistic.

Patrick Murphy has also said that he has been a "lifelong Democrat" who "grew up in the District." Both statements are false. He lived in Philadelphia in the 3rd Congressional District and moved away long before that neighborhood's recent inclusion in the 8th Congressional District. He only moved to Bucks County last year to run for Congress and he registered Democrat for the first time in his life a matter of months before I did. He was registered "No Party" in Lebanon County for twelve years from 1992-2004, with a less than 25% voting record, and he admits voting for George W. Bush in 2000. "Opportunistic" is perhaps a kind word with that history.
A lot of people have been “played” by Bushco, and at least Murphy is honest enough to admit that he was one of them. Once.

On May 16th, the Democratic voters in Bucks County will select its standard bearer to face off against a very formidable, home-grown, repeatedly successfully elected county office holder with an 83% voting record. A candidate with ZERO previous elected governmental experience, a 6-month permanent county residency, and a less than 33% voting record! (by that time) will not carry the day. Past records DO matter.
Oh, please. Warren did serve as a Bucks County commissioner, which, for my money, is a ceremonial job with barely any public visibility at all. He spent the majority of his career with Penndot antagonizing, in equal measure, residents of Newtown, Lower Makefield, and especially Montgomery County with his idiotic remarks as road construction projects were developed and commenced in those areas. The fact that this guy pulled down six figures for doing this is a testimony to “the Peter principle” gone insane and stench of patronage reeking from Harrisburg.

As to my party change, I joined the Democratic Party last year after years of agonizing about the Republican Party's tilt to the far right.
As Above Average Jane has noted so well in this post, you joined because you were passed over for a desired appointment within the Republican party.

In my 30+ years of political involvement, I have always been socially progressive and fiscally responsible-consistently supporting, for example, a woman's right to choose. I have never supported George W. Bush, instead voting for Al Gore and John Kerry. I think the Iraq war is the wrong war, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, and I support John Murtha's withdrawal proposal. I oppose our spiraling national debt, built on tax breaks for the rich and boondoggles for cronies. I am concerned about global warming and I support signing the Kyoto Treaty. I favor a fair, classless health care system and Social Security reform. Obviously, my views are not those of the Republican Party and I no longer fit there.
I’m actually “on board” with a lot of that, though if he thinks Social Security needs the type of “reform” we heard discussed from Dubya and the Repugs, then he honestly should go back to his old party as soon as possible.

Back last spring, I was quoted in the press as saying, "When one's philosophy is so out of step with the organization, one either sits silently by, hypocritically, or one does something about it. It was time to move on. So I did.”

This is the philosophic decision of a person with a conscience, not cynical jockeying for political advantage. I did not leave the Republican Party so I "could run for Congress as a Democrat." This is a major distinction between me and my opponent.

Thankfully, in America, party affiliation is not a one-and-done lifetime sentence. A strength, not a weakness, of our two party system is that one has the opportunity to leave ones party and join another that is more in line with his or her political views.

Many other Bucks County Republicans have taken this step, including Congressional candidates James Michener and Ginny Schrader, and U.S. Congressman Peter Kostmayer. In fact, I may be part of a growing national trend as socially progressive, fiscally responsible Republicans make the switch. I am proud to stand with the Democrats on issues of importance to us.
How very Karl Rove-ian of Warren to attempt to make this defect of changing political parties a strength instead of a weakness. As the Courier Times noted so well last week, this is easily more opportunistic than anything Patrick Murphy has ever done. And for Warren to mention his name with James Michener in the same sentence is laughably pompous; it’s also silly to align himself with Peter Kostmayer, someone who I think was a good public servant who ended up, rightly or wrongly, as the poster boy for the liberal elitism so genuinely despised in these parts (though, to be honest, I didn’t live in Bucks County when Kostmayer served here, so I can’t speak authoritatively on him).

I can bring years of experience and commitment to Congress and I can bring like-minded Independents and Republicans with me. In a district that has 30,000 more Republicans than Democrats, I ask that you look to the facts and give me your endorsement.
That’s an interesting exercise in speculative mathematics. Of course, you would think that the vast majority of those 30,000 Republicans will recognize Warren for the hothead that he is, especially after the RNC gets done pushing Warren’s buttons and watching him go off with one dumb remark after another, and then decide to go with Fitzpatrick, the “devil they know.”

Now, to read a well-reasoned opinion from someone truly in touch with what is going on in Bucks County, I now present this letter sent from Patrick Murphy in response.

Dear Fellow Democrat:

There is a name for people who attack Democrats based on half-truths and misinformation during a heated election.

We call them Republicans.

For the past week, Andy Warren has tried to distort my record rather than confront his own. He has spread lies and distortions in a last-ditch effort to change the outcome of tomorrow's endorsement meeting. It's exactly the kind of thing we would ! expect from Mike Fitzpatrick-not from somebody who hopes to represent our party, our district, and our country.

You see, Andy Warren and Mike Fitzpatrick are peas in a pod.

When Andy Warren and Mike Fitzpatrick were Republican County Commissioners together, they voted together 100% of the time. That's right, 100% of the time. Had Harry Fawkes uttered Andy Warren's name instead of Mike Fitzpatrick's in 2004, we would be endorsing a candidate to run against Andy tomorrow. Now, with his Republican career stymied, blocked, and over, he seeks to resurrect it by cloaking himself in our party's flag.

I have learned by watching men and women of real commitment, a real sense of duty, and a real sense of courage, what it takes to stand behind your values and your country. Those who seek to lead this country and to represent the people of the 8 th Congressional District should have some sense of that same commitment.

When I was younger, I didn't vote as often as I should have-but I came back from Iraq with my eyes opened; I have not missed an election since I got back to Pennsylvania, and I never will miss one again.

I am running for Congress to represent all of the citizens of the 8th Congressional District-because we need a change in direction in Washington.

Of course, I saw with my own eyes the mismanagement of the war in Iraq, but more importantly, when I came home and started talking to people, I realized how bad things are at home.
We need to fix the health care crisis in this country, including the disaster they call Medicare Part D.

We need to fully fund education to ensure that America remains competitive as the world economy becomes more globalized.

We need to wean ourselves from foreign oil and invest in alternative energy sources.

We need to protect our environment, including an improvement in Bucks County's air quality, a flood mitigation plan to help protect us from damage when the Delaware River floods, and we need a plan to preserve open space.

These are the issues you should expect your congressional candidates to address. These are the issues that your next Representative in Washington will face. These are the issues that Democrats care about. These are the issue that I care about.

As a child, I spent my summers fishing in Tyler State Park. I played hockey in Bristol, and I began college at Bucks County Community College. And when I returned from the military, I chose to make my home in Bristol.

Tomorrow's endorsement meeting is about choosing the best Democrat to take on Mike Fitzpatrick in November, and it is important that we do endorse a candidate. If we fail to do so, our Democratic candidate will emerge from the primary without the momentum and money that is necessary to defeat Mike Fitzpatrick.

I have appreciated the support given by so many of you over the past several months. I look forward to representing the Democratic Party in this election, but more importantly, I look forward to representing you and our families in Congress.


Patrick J. Murphy
The only statement I disagree with in Patrick’s otherwise fine letter pertains to his speculation that Andy Warren would actually have been elected to the U.S. House. Even Harry Fawkes, the Bucks County Republican Party, and the vast majority of 8th district Republican voters aren’t that dumb.

Finally, I should point out that, while I was at the nearby McCaffrey’s supermarket, I met a very nice lady who was trying to get signatures on a petition to get Warren’s name on the primary ballot. I assume that Warren has enough signatures by now, but in case he doesn’t, failing to sign the petition is a good way to put an end to his nonsense once and for all.

Update 3/8: Here's some great background information on the 8th district (the sentence "The only thing that separates Murphy from this seat is money" is a crucial fact that ties back to the first paragraph in this post).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar Versus The Heartland

To me, George Clooney's speech when accepting the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "Syrianna" was the most memorable moment from the Academy Awards last night. I guess the runner up would be the performance of "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" which I came in late on after putting the young one to bed (I'll have to watch more of the show over the next few days); apparently the number was heavily expurgated (no surprise, I guess), and it was unbelievable to watch a performance like that. However, if was joyful in a way, and it's always nice to see anyone cutting through the pretense that can engulf the show at times.

Anyway, without further ado, here is what Clooney said in part, for anyone who missed it:

"We are a bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in awhile I think. It's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talked about AIDS when it was just being whispered. And we talked about civil rights, when it wasn't really popular. This group of people gave an Oscar to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be part of this academy, proud to be part of this community, and I'm proud to be out of touch, and I thank you."
Another part of the show I try to watch (probably morbid on my part) is the "In Memoriam" feature where they pay tribute to the dead people, and the first person they remembered was the underrated actress Theresa Wright. She appeared in a ton of old movies, including "The Best Years Of Our Lives," "Strangers On A Train" (niece to that creepy character played by Joseph Cotten), and also alongside Marlon Brando in "The Men," Brando's first movie.

I'm mentioning this because, though I don't know exactly what happened when her name was read, I couldn't detect any applause from the audience, which I can never recall happening before. Maybe it just wasn't picked up on TV or something. I hope that's the case, because if not, it would have been a totally low class moment for a show which had some ups and downs (apparently Jon Stewart, who wasn't bad overall, made some crack about Rock Hudson, and I have no clue as to what was going on with Ben Stiller and that green gauze). Also, I was really bummed that "Good Night And Good Luck" was shut out, but there were a lot of other good candidates.

Well, harking back to Clooney's remark, I think it's a good idea to consider what is going on in the areas of this country where Hollywood is viewed as an utter den of iniquity and nothing more.

Let's see now...South Dakota is trying to make abortion illegal, Mississippi apparently wants to do the same thing, and Kansas (under idiot attorney general and fundamentalist nut job Phil Kline) wants to have medical personnel "rat out" girls who have had underage sex and seek treatment or counseling.

This country is slowly going insane, and Hollywood has absolutely nothing to do with it.