Saturday, March 25, 2006

What Balls

I can't imagine what kind of an effort these German scientists had to come up with to make this discovery, but I'm sure that now PETA and the right-to-lifers will form a coalition to prevent harvesting of cells from mouse testicles.

Of course, this kind of research could be going on in this country, but as Michael Specter wrote in his terrific article in the March 13th issue of The New Yorker:
"The war over the ethics of using embryos in research has proven costly to American medicine. Not only has it slowed the pace of progress but for the first time other countries have moved ahead of the U.S. The United Kingdom, for example, has established several centers for stem-cell scientists. The ban (on research into new stem cell lines) has also discouraged researchers from contemplating careers in what would otherwise be considered the most exciting area of medicine. Nobody disputes the promise of stem cell research, yet the moral complications that surround it are also real, and unlikely to soon disappear."
Also, according to C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General in the Reagan Administration (quoted in the article, who actually turned out to be a good choice, confounding the right-wing nut jobs):

"I have been away for some time, and I am more of a spectator now...but stem cell research is as volatile as any subject can get. People are completely driven by their beliefs or their desires. Not the facts. Scientists have hyped it, and often they act as if there were no ethical considerations at all. That is not true. But you have to weigh the facts, and (the Bush) Administration doesn't seem to take that approach. One thing I have learned is that belief doesn't change reality."
Speaking of reality (once more from Specter's article)...

"My friends in the European Union are ecstatic," (Alan) Leshner (the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) said. "Between the visa problems - preventing the best students from India and China from entering this country to study or work - and the stem cell ban, our competitors are just in heaven. While we are restricting research, the E.U. is working hard on ways to increase mobility. They are welcoming scientists from other countries. They are not fools."
As opposed to us.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Slam-Dunk Sob Story

Good letter today in the Courier Times from John Marchioni of Upper Makefield, PA…

The feel-good news story of the year: young Jason McElwain, the autistic high school basketball player from New York State comes off the bench to make basket after basket to rally his team to a spectacular victory. The stands empty of fans as they rush to congratulate him. Even President Bush rushes to New York to praise young Jason, telling reporters, “I watched him on T.V. and I wept.”

Imagine – America’s most notable chickenhawk president, who lied about the reasons for invading Iraq and is responsible for the deaths of an estimated 30,000 innocent Iraqis and over 2,000 brave, duty-bound American soldiers killed and thousands wounded; a president who turns a blind eye to the thousands of illegal immigrants crossing our open borders and the illegal employers who exploit them; who ignores the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to China and India and other countries. A president who cuts funds for America’s infrastructure (bridges, borders, ports and levees come to mind) and has a staggering deficit and obscene trade imbalance, borrowing from foreign governments. No national health care plan. Tax credits for his oil baron buddies. The list goes on.

Yet the President and a misty-eyed Laura still find time to trek to New York to give Jason some love. I suppose the 50 million citizens who voted for him are feeling the rapture.
It was 59, actually, or possibly more (doesn’t make it any less pathetic, though; more so if anything).

By the way, this story was the basis for the only funny moment on "Real Time" last week. Even though Jason Alexander is scheduled to appear tonight, I'm blowing it off. I'll catch the next episode.

Super Ben To The Rescue

Great moments in literary history...

The year: 1601
The location: Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

William Shakespeare commiserates with right-wing blogger Ben Domenech, who has just arrived via his time machine from the year 2006. As the person widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language pours out his soul to the “red state” voice of the Washington Post about his new play, Ben says, “Will, I read the draft. You’ve got to lose that line, ‘Don’t give anybody a shilling or two if you hope to see it again, because you’ll regret it’. A couple of problems with that. First, we’re in Denmark, so it’s the wrong unit of currency anyway. Second, Polonius wouldn’t say that to Laertes. It doesn’t fit with the character. Try, ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be.’ That works. Also, the title, ‘The Wicked Murder By A Corrupt Uncle King,’ is a howler. The main character is the crazy nephew. He’s in just about every scene. Call it ‘Hamlet’ instead.”

As Shakespeare rejoices at Domenech’s fits of literary brilliance, anticipating the smashing success of his new play, the WaPo blogging king realizes he’s suddenly needed elsewhere, so off he goes.

The year: 1744
The place: Philadelphia

A distraught Ben Franklin labors at his publishing house, sitting at his desk analyzing his accounts, worried about the possible failure of his publishing business because he thinks he no longer can conjure any more aphorisms or proverbs for “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” Franklin anticipates ruin if his publication fails, which will surely happen if he can no longer write such witty proverbs.

As Ben Domenech arrives, Franklin tells him, “I’ve stayed up so late working and worrying about losing my money and my business that I can’t think straight. I just feel kind of ‘dopey in the head’ any more.” Domenech immediately analyzes Franklin’s plight and, almost before he has time to think it through, says to one of our greatest Americans, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Upon hearing Domenech’s words, Franklin nearly falls out of his chair onto the floor in astonishment. “My God man, that’s brilliant! For you to come up with that is the stuff of genius! You have my eternal thanks. And I suddenly feel rejuvenated also. Why, I believe I can keep publishing this almanack from now until no later than 1757.”

Domenech humbly says, “You’re welcome. It was nothing. All I ask is that you don’t get too cozy with the French in a few years, OK? Now, I must take my leave. Duty calls once more.”

The date: March 4, 1933
The place: Washington, D.C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt is about to give his inaugural address as the 32nd President of the United States, and, feeling temporarily overcome by his enormous new responsibilities, does not believe that he can adequately summon the words to both ease the nation’s fears and rouse it to action as the country suffers through the Great Depression. At that moment, Ben Domenech arrives.

“Ben, thank God,” FDR cries out upon seeing him. “I’m lost, and so are my speechwriters. They gave me some new copy, but it was so bad that Fala piddled all over it. Even Lucy Mercer couldn’t come up with anything while we took a spirited romp in the rumble seat of the Willys-Knight. I fear everything at this moment.”

“Well, FDR, you know I am from a red state, and we consider you a traitor to your class,” Ben replies thoughtfully, “but I consider it my duty as a loyal American to do whatever I can for the commander in chief.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you,” FDR sobs. “My God, you have a gift, young man. I fear you’ll make a name for yourself in this town one day.”

Ben narrows his eyes a bit.
“All in good time,” he replies slyly. “Now, to work. This ‘fear’ thing you keep mentioning – I think we can use this.”


“Yes. Let’s see…let me think. Aha, I think I have it!”

“What?,” FDR replies anxiously.

“Try this…’the only thing we have to fear is (pause) fear itself’,” Ben announces.

“What does that mean?”

“Hell if I know,” Ben says. “But that’s the beauty of it. Let people think about it and figure it out for themselves. It all depends on how well you sell it.”

“Sell it?”

“Yeah. Say it with conviction. If you sell it right, people will believe anything.”

“I give the American people more credit than that,” FDR replies firmly.

“You’ve obviously never watched FOX News,” Ben states casually. “Now, Mr. President, I can do no more.
I’m afraid my secret it out, and I must depart. Good luck with World War II.”
I know that was a fanciful account, but apparently, it is as authentic as Domenech’s posts as the Washington Post’s “red state blogger.”

David Brock is right. Fire. His. Ass. Right. Now.

Update: Never mind (don't let the door hit you)...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Praise God, Watch The Ticker

Channeling Brendan, if that’s OK (as noted, he's all over today's Bush stuff; I'm thinking we're in the wrong gig also...)…


Yes Lord?


Faith Based Mutual Funds Booming

No, I must have missed it.


But…you’re The Almighty. The Big Kahuna. Why are you dissing people who want to make a buck but professing to do good work in Your name?




We’re talking “long-term investment horizon,” right?


Can’t tell ya’


I see the light. But I think I want to check this out some more.


Probably, but just to make sure, I’m putting in a call to Warren Buffett anyway.
There you have it. For anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to “invest in a prayer,” so to speak, I say unto you to keep close counsel on this, lest another think you possess “the jawbone of an ass.”

Katrina + Donation = Writeoff

“The Beautiful Mind” has done it again (courtesy of Brandoland and The Huffington Post).

If the mother wants to help the son, fine. However, I think doing so in the name of making a donation to the ongoing Hurricane Katrina relief effort is putrid beyond words.

And it’s not as if Neil Bush has been a straight arrow all this time anyway, as you can see.

Charity Shouldn't Grind An Ax

I’ve been up and down the last day or so with some minor ailments (nursing a swollen foot, ice on and off every 20 minutes), and that has something to do with the few posts lately. That may be the case for another day or so, I don’t know yet. We’ll see.

While I was flat on my back yesterday watching the Comcast channel, one of their public affairs shows (I guess that’s what you would call it) featured a lady named Frankie Mayo, whose son served in Iraq but has left the Army and is now a recruiter for the Delaware Army National Guard. She has started a non-profit business called Operation AC (for air conditioner…her organization has actually raised enough money to send 9,400 overseas, which is pretty amazing, as well as 14,500 heaters and 302 pairs of combat boots). The organization’s web site lists at least a couple of hundred other types of supplies that are needed by our troops in Iraq.

Ms. Mayo spoke at length about her organization and its efforts, for which it should rightly be proud. However, in the course of the interview, she uttered this little gem:

“(We have to do this)…because the mainstream media is beating up our troops.”
I was just about to throw the ice bag at the TV set when I was saved by the cat jumping onto my lap where the remote was and accidentally changing the channel (he’s a liberal too, no doubt).

When I was able to log on and find out more about this organization, it turns out that they have links to news reports that were aired on some of the so-called “mainstream media” that Mayo derided, as well as links to conservative propagandists like Glenn Beck, Michael Reagan, and Flush Limbore himself. Other links include Stars and Stripes and the Washington (Moonie) Times, so it seems that the organization is broadly represented, making me wonder why Mayo has a chip on her shoulder (and by the way, I have YET to find an example of the media “beating up on our troops,” though I see the attitude of, “look what our fine service people are doing for you, you lazy Americans” coming through all over the place…the work of the organization is commendable, but I wonder how much of the need they’re trying to fill was created by our government not doing what it was supposed to do for our service people to begin with).

(By the way, Michael Reagan’s web site is as obnoxious as he is. Try using the “back” button in your browser to get out of it and see what happens.)

As I investigated the Operation AC site some more, I came across a link to someone named Michael Yon (on Yon's preface page, Mayo gets in another dig at the “mainstream media”…how nice). It was news to me to find that Yon is a celebrated “warblogger” and photojournalist, whose work has been embraced by the likes of Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds (freeper alert, freeper alert…and of course, Yon, like the rest of the group, has it in for the so-called “MSM” also, standard issue if you will for these types…and I admit I have to be careful about that phrase also). Yon has documented the fighting in Mosul through the eyes of a combat unit called Deuce Four, and he has apparently written a screenplay based on his posts at the scene (the Operation AC site mentions that the upcoming movie about Deuce Four will star Bruce Willis, for whatever that’s worth).

As I read more about Yon from the Mudville Gazette (which I believe is a site of milblogs…I’m pretty new to this particular subject and still trying to find out more), I came across this item. It seems that Yon was contemplating suing the Army over credit of a photo of an Iraqi girl “killed by terrorists.” The photo was credited to a U.S. Army major, though Yon took the photo. However, the Army lawyer argued that the photo was property of the Army, since Yon signed the standard liability form required of all embedded journalists, thus giving up his right to compensation.

I guess, at the prodding of Reynolds, Malkin and others of their ilk, Yon was able to get the Army to bend the rules and give him the photo credit after all, which to me is typical behavior for these people. And I REALLY had to laugh when I read that Yon, a resident of Massachusetts, contacted his senator, a member of the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee, one Ted Kennedy by name, for help (talk about a conservative “having to eat humble pie” by pleading his case to their Number One Boogeyman of all time…and as you might expect, the commenters on the story all came down squarely on Yon’s side, calling the Army lawyer “stupid” and other names).

Am I being unreasonable to wonder why an organization that is ostensibly trying to perform charitable work would immerse itself in all of this shameless propaganda? Doesn’t it detract from the good they’ve accomplished to this point and as far into the future as long as our people are sentenced to serve in this desert gulag fighting this wretched war for Bush’s attempt at expansion of America’s empire?

All the same, if they’re helping our people, I would ask that you ignore Operation AC’s reactionary, jackbooted politics and consider doing the same through the organization also. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Real Time" Update (Sort Of)

I may have reached a crossroads with this show (the bad “B” word appears in this writeup a few times also).

Actually, before I mention anything else, I should point out that, as a result of the debacle that aired on HBO last Friday night, I’ve instituted MY OWN new rule, and it is this; if Maher ever allows Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican congresswoman from Florida) to appear on his show again, I won’t watch it.

I often wondered why this country has such an unbelievably idiotic policy towards Fidel Castro and Cuba (I know, I know…mean, rotten guy, serial human rights abuser, executions, prisons, should trim his beard, etc.) and after watching I R-L the other night (she’s of Cuban ancestry, as nearly as I could tell), I can understand why. I’ve read opinion columns from individuals who believe that the best way to get rid of Castro is to trade with Cuba and give the people of that country a taste of something better and motivation enough to want to overthrow him, which is easy to talk about I know, as opposed to our stupid embargo that does NOTHING to change Castro’s behavior and gives the people of Cuba more of a reason to dislike us.

But of course, I R-L thinks our policy is just fine, and one of her quick but brainless rejoinders on Friday was “many other countries trade with Castro, and that hasn’t changed anything,” and I’m thinking, “Yeah, but many other countries AREN’T US. And if you dislike him so much, WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL BUSH TO INVADE THERE INSTEAD OF IRAQ? YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THERE’S NO OIL, THAT’S WHY!”

This woman is easily the most repugnant individual I have ever seen on this program (previously, Kellyanne Conway held that dubious honor from last season). I R-L CONTINUALLY did nothing throughout the entire telecast except spew right-wing talking points that have been disproven as utter bullshit over and over and OVER and OVER but somehow STILL end up finding their way onto other TV and radio talk shows and FOX television and radio programs (of course). Oppose the fiasco in Iraq that has turned into civil war? “Oh, I guess you want to see mass graves again, and the Democratic elections there don’t mean anything to you.” Call for bringing our people home? “They believe in their mission – I was just over there – even though I know you (Maher) and everybody else here likes to laugh at jokes about the war.” The Jack Abramoff scandal? “42 of 45 Democratic politicians took money from Abramoff clients” (uh, Abramoff’s clients aren’t under indictment, so at the moment, taking money from them doesn’t constitute an illegal activity). Republican corruption? “Believe me, I’ve seen a list of politicians getting investigated, and there are plenty on both sides” (example?).

The panel discussion, aside from this misery, included someone called Michele Mitchell, author of something called “Our Girl In Washington.” Her comments were mostly vacuous and added nothing new. The other panelist was Richard Belzer, comedian and star of “Law and Order” I believe, and though he seemed to be a pal of Maher’s, the host left him hanging a couple of times.

Belzer committed what I suppose was a totally unpardonable mistake in the beginning of the roundtable discussion in that he called I R-L on her bullshit, stating that her attempt to equate the mess in Iraq with World War II was exactly that. This obviously got her agitated, so much so that Maher confronted Belzer to the point where Belzer actually apologized to her (it was a gentlemanly thing to do, with Belzer saying that this topic brings out strong reactions, though I R-L blew that off indignantly and continued unabated throughout the show, to the point where SHE was becoming even more personally indignant herself – I can recall Maher correcting her once, but since she kept on doing it the entire show, it would have been virtually nothing but argument trying to call I R-L on her ridiculous misrepresentations, and the show was just about that anyway).

To me, though, this is the typical scenario: conservative spouts bullshit, liberal calls this person, tempers flare, liberal apologizes. This is crap. Why exactly do we apologize anyway? Because we don’t back down from “the jump”? Even worse was the moment where, after Maher’s comedy bit nearing the end of the panel discussion where he made fun of the pharma companies (where Maher had some witty stuff: “Ho Loft,” an antidepressant for promiscuous young girls; “Sudafederline,” to open clogged nasal passages so you can breathe in your wife’s money; and “Preparation Zero,” taken for the runup to the Iraq War), Mitchell said, “Well, there’s no magic pill for Iraq,” aiming her remark right at Belzer while I R-L smiled at her and gloated, and I’m thinking, gee this is great – the only person who knows what’s going on in this panel, and now he’s being double-teamed.

So let’s talk about the remote interviews then, OK?

Maher interviewed Michael Stipe of REM after the monologue, who was promoting the “Bring ‘Em Home Now” concert on Monday at the Hammerstein Theater in NYC on Monday on the third anniversary of the war. Maher asked, “why is this important?” and Stipe said, “Veterans organizations are benefiting from it, and they’re marching right now to protest that the money, manpower and good will could have been used in the Gulf Coast region to help with the Katrina cleanup instead.” Maher said he “saw a report on the news about Kent State University in Ohio now as opposed to 1970, when the four students were killed. There’s no one protesting the war, probably because there’s no draft. You’re a 40-year-old guy who still has a lot of credibility with 19-year-olds on college campuses. Do they still have credibility with you?,” and Stipe (diplomatically, I thought), said, “We’re kind of a nation in inertia, and a fish rots from the head down. We have leaders who don’t encourage their constituency to speak out. We have a number of distractions that weren’t there in the ‘70s, including cable TV (but I’m glad you’re here, Bill). I think it might be harder to engage our country in how badly it is being run by the current administration.”

Maher then said, “The song you wrote after 9/11, ‘I Wish I Was Wrong’…it’s about our post-9/11 mentality. How do you describe it?”, and Stipe (very poetically, I thought) called it “’the great quiet,’ where no one raised a voice of dissent.” Maher asked, “Your father served in Korea and Vietnam. You could criticize the military and not get smeared. Do you vent about the war to your family? Do you vent to REM? Are you guys still together?”, and Stipe said that “REM is having an ‘open year’ after eight years of touring, and the band is getting ready to celebrate its 26th anniversary.” Stipe added that “it’s like being married to several people. That’s not a problem for me, but maybe for Peter (Buck) and Mike” (Mills…see, Stipe is gay, in case anyone didn’t know that).

“Getting back to your question, though,” Stipe continued, “my home is in Athens, GA, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet Max Cleland, a tremendous veteran who was called unpatriotic and pushed out of his position (because) some questioned how he lost most of his limbs on the battlefield. I find that repellent” (bless you for saying that). “As the proud son of a proud veteran, it’s offensive to me that the current administration is composed of war hawks who haven’t served and actually avoided service. They’re keeping our people in Iraq and taking our attention away from other problems, such as the Katrina cleanup.” Mentioning the concert again, Stipe said, ”We’ll use it kick off a nationwide tour, with Cindy Sheehan and Studs Terkel joining us in Chicago.” Stipe also mentioned that the tour may be coming to Penn State. Maher then asked, “Do you think your lefty politics will get you in trouble with Clear Channel?” and Stipe said, “REM really isn’t political, but we’re political people. Our first benefit concert was in 1982 for an environmental group. If Clear Channel doesn’t like our benefit concert activities, tough cookies,” to which Maher jokingly replied, “Hey, watch the language, Michael. This is HBO.” Maher then asked, “Assuming the war in Iraq is solved, what should be the next number one goal?” and Stipe immediately said, “the environment,” which Maher and I both cheered.

Concerning Lou Dobbs, he appeared in the midst of the panel discussion, mercifully providing a break. Maher asked sarcastically, “I get the vague impression that you hate Mexicans,” and Dobbs, going along with the joke, said, “Congress is taking a ten-day break…you can’t reform immigration if you won’t address it, if you won’t address it, you won’t control it, and you can’t control it without controlling the borders,” a response that conjured up some uneasy, Pat Buchanan-ish images of “Fortress America” for me, though Dobbs is a bottom-line kind of guy, and I could understand that. Maher then referenced the book that Fred Barnes was hawking a few weeks ago about how Dubya is supposed to be rebelling (against common sense, I always thought), and asked, “With corporations taking over, isn’t that how you act like a rebel, by standing up to them?” and Dobbs said, “you couldn’t be more correct. This is a terrible time to be a ‘C.E.O. president’. Corporations hold absolute sway, including over the White House and Congress.” Maher then asked, “Weren’t Ross Perot and Ralph Nader right to go after corporations the way they did?” (though I often wonder what life would be like had Nader decided to stay the hell out of the 2000 presidential election), and Dobbs agreed, especially in Nader’s case, saying, "The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans right now is no more than the most technical word I can think of, a skosh. They are both dominated by corporate money." Maher asked, “Which party is a better steward of the economy?”, and Dobbs said, “We created 22 million manufacturing jobs by 2000 but watched 3 million of them disappear (offshore) since then. This administration needs to reeducate the supposedly dumb American worker since, in the last five years, we’ve apparently become very stupid,” Dobbs said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I’ve already commented on the debacle of the panel discussion, so this now brings me back to our host.

During the “New Rules” segment, Maher made a joke about people who wear Bluetooth (TM, I guess) headsets and speak to what seems to be themselves, even though someone is likely on the other line (I admit that that’s a little odd also, and it puts me off a bit at times). Well, this was one of Maher’s witty remarks about that:

“If I wanted to overhear every tedious scrap of brain static rattling around in your head, I’d read your blog.”
Uh huh…

This is the second time this year Maher has made a joke about people who write blogs. That in itself is no big deal, except for the fact that, though we keep hearing and reading about the legendary volume of newspapers that Maher reads, we really don’t hear about him reading anything on the big-hit lefty sites. Does he not feel that what they say matters? I would say that that’s a bit of a double standard, given the fact that he can try out some new material in the form of a writeup on “The Huffington Post” whenever he wants. I realize that that comes with the star territory that Maher inhabits through dint of his hard-earned success. However, for someone who is seemingly so “hip,” he should realize that he could learn a hell of a lot from places like Atrios, The Daily Kos, Think Progress, Crooks and Liars, and the Media Matters site, among others, and at least acknowledge that on the show.

Also, regarding I R-L again, it was sickening to see Maher practically groveling to this woman; “We’re glad you could make it – welcome back to the lion’s den, ha ha.” Please. If he knew that all she was going to do was spout propaganda all night long, then HE SHOULD NOT HAVE GRANTED HER A FORUM! Or, is it more important for Maher to create some kind of “conservative/liberal smackdown” in the faint hope of acquiring a substantial conservative audience?

Well, you know what? I’m going to take a week and ponder this stuff and let Maher fend for himself, especially since he apparently thinks so little of bloggers anyway. I realize his show has been sailing along just fine without me for a little while, so I don’t anticipate much impact while I pass on this writeup. Hell, I don’t think I’m even going to watch the show on Friday. I made it through Carlson, Scarborough and others, but I R-L is where I draw the line, especially when Maher is going to suck up to her. It got so bad that, at the end of the discussion, I R-L actually called Henry Hyde “a great leader,” Mitchell said, “Speaking of leaders, why do the Democrats always seem to ignore Jimmy Carter?” and I R-L spoke right up and said “he was a bad president,” and Belzer, in utter exasperation, said sarcastically, “That was a good answer.”

If I wanted to watch a crappy performance like the one I saw last week, then I’d return to the Sunday gab fests, and that won’t happen. Besides, of the small volume of comments I get, none any more have to do with the “Real Time” updates.

So have fun, Bill. I may come back to this, or I may not. If you keep allowing right-wing shouters like I R-L to spout her garbage only partially challenged, that will be a really easy decision for me.

Fair Is Fair

I blasted Dick Polman a couple of weeks ago about a Bush column featuring a lot of political insider BS that I couldn't imagine that anyone cared about (all of it from Republicans, of course) with all supposition and no factual content whatsoever.

Well today, he called Bush very nicely on Dubya's most recent lies about Saddam Hussein and whether or not Bush stated that Hussein was linked to terrorism and al Qaeda.

Blog: Bush never made that link?

By Dick Polman
Inquirer Political Analyst

This is an edited portion of an entry in the blog of Dick Polman, The Inquirer's national political analyst. His blog can be found at

On Monday, in Cleveland, President Bush said: "I don't think we ever said - at least I didn't say - that there was a direct connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein."

Let's compare Bush's statement with the factual record:

In Bush's March 21, 2003, letter to Congress, justifying the launching of the war against Hussein, he said it was important "to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001."

On May 1, 2003, standing in front of the Mission Accomplished banner, the President stated: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding... . We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th... . With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got."

On June 17, 2004, Bush disputed the findings of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, which had just concluded that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Hussein and al-Qaeda. Bush begged to differ, saying, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda."

That's a sampling.
Lots of stuff going on with yours truly at the moment...hopefully more posts coming up soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Snow Needs A Slap Down

John Edwards gets it (but we knew that anyway)...
"We've moved to a star system."

--Treasury Secretary John Snow explaining why CEO pay skyrockets while workers' wages stagnate in The Wall Street Journal 3/20/06

Dear Friend,

I was fuming when I read Treasury Secretary Snow's defense of President Bush's bungled economy. To hear Bush and Snow tell it, the widening gap between rich and poor in this country is nothing more than the free market rewarding more deserving people. Sometimes I wonder how these people sleep at night.

Over the past few years, CEO and top executive pay has gone through the roof - often regardless of whether they are doing their jobs well. In just ten years, the average compensation of a CEO at the largest corporations jumped from $3.7 million to $9.1 million. That's an increase of almost 150%, and yet economists say the pay hikes haven't meant these companies performed any better.

It's wrong for the privileged few to keep getting raises while their companies aren't reaching their goals - or while their workers don't get a fair share of the pie. Some of these CEOs have even slashed pension funds, but found a way to reward themselves with massive pay hikes. This is wrong.

And as CEO pay shoots through the roof, the minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour for ten years -- which means someone can work full-time and still raise their kids in abject poverty. So CEO pay goes up 150% in just a few years, and minimum wage worker pay goes up 0% in 10 years. Whatever happened to getting a fair day's pay for a hard day's work? How can Snow think this is just or fair?

But Snow's skewed excuses get even worse. He also claims that the average income has increased since Bush took office. He's fudging the numbers -- his figures rely on averages, so massive gains from a few ultra-wealthy people throw off the whole picture. Median family income, which takes the temperature of the real lives of many millions of families, has actually fallen under Bush, and the incomes of the poorest families fell even further.

The only group to gain under Bush's economic policies was the top 5% of the wealthiest families in this country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Are we supposed to applaud a President whose economy benefits the 5% who need it least, and hurts the millions of Americans who need a strong economy the most?

Tell Secretary Snow it's time to create an economy that works for everyone - not just those at the top.

The same day that Snow was explaining away his boss's reverse Robin-Hood policies, The New York Times reported that conditions for African American men in the United States are rapidly declining. The share of young African American men without jobs has increased, and more than half of African American men in the inner cities do not finish high school. This report was deeply troubling, but not at all surprising, in George Bush's America.

Instead of just assuring that the rich will get richer, we need to create an economy that works for everyone. We should have policies that encourage and reward work like expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC reduces the taxes of low-wage workers and helps supplement their income, but 3 million Americans who are eligible for it don't claim it. We must change that - smart, effective programs like the EITC can encourage more young men to work and do more to provide for their families.

We should be reaching kids early with pre-kindergarten and Head Start. Nineteen thousand children stand to lose access to Head Start because of Bush's budget. It makes no sense to go after programs that have proven to be effective, just so we can give more tax cuts to the people who need help the least. It's time for policies that strengthen families and support all of our kids. Smart, effective policies would focus on the importance of the two-income family, of the involved father. And where fathers don't live with their kids, we need to enforce child support; yet the President has cut child support enforcement.

Please take a moment to tell Secretary Snow he has his facts - and his priorities - all wrong.

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

Your friend,

I was getting a bit concerned, actually. We hadn't had an example of a Bushco underling doing something stupid for a little while, but "Snowy" came through, didn't he?

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

There are times when I’m actually shocked by the lengths to which some people will go to attack liberals/progressives/anyone “left of center,” and this is one of those times. This inflammatory screed from Les Payne actually appeared last week, but it was picked up in a local-area paper a few days ago (and if you guessed that it was printed in The Bucks County Courier Times, then congratulations! You’ve just won a free “I Support My President, George W. Bush” bumper sticker – and yes, God help us, they actually DO exist).

You may recall that I praised George Clooney for his speech at the Academy Awards a couple of weeks ago upon receiving his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Syrianna.” Well, as you can see, Payne objected somehow to Clooney’s words in general, as well as his praise for African American actress Hattie McDaniel. What Payne said was so unbelievable that I thought the only appropriate thing to do is present his column in all its infamy and respond point by point.

Is George Clooney crazy? How could anyone otherwise in touch with reality put Hollywood on a high moral horse for awarding Hattie McDaniel a supporting role Oscar for rolling her eyes as a Negro nursemaid in "Gone with the Wind"?
If Payne thinks that that is the only reason why McDaniel won an Oscar for her role, then that is easily more racist than anything Clooney or any other Hollywood notable has said or done in recent memory. Such a notion is also patently false, proving that, assuming Payne ever actually attending a screening of “Gone With The Wind,” he surely must have slept through it. You see, Mammy (McDaniel’s character) frequently chastises Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh’s character, in one of her Oscar-winning performances) and ends up being the person who really runs the show on a day-to-day basis at Tara, the plantation where Scarlett grew up and returns after the Civil War.

Also, Payne should have paid attention to the interaction between Mammy and the character of Rhett Butler (played of course by Clark Gable, who – unbelievably – didn’t win an Oscar, losing out to Robert Donat in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”). In the beginning, Mammy clearly dislikes Butler, with Butler taking it in stride and joking about it actually (in inimitable Gable fashion), but as the movie progresses, they reach an understanding and gradually come to respect each other more and more, to the point where they are comforting each other in the aftermath of the devastating loss of Bonnie, Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter.

Yes, I know – there are some bug-eyed, “Who dat?” moments of caricature in the movie which, rightly, would be chastised by moviegoers now, but if Payne REALLY wanted to understand McDaniel’s character in the movie, he would have actually paid attention to what was going on.

When accepting his supporting-actor Oscar the other night, Clooney declared, "We gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be part of this Academy. I'm proud to be part of this community." Not since Marlon Brando played Don Vito Corleone has a Hollywood actor so publicly attempted to portray a great wrong as a great right. Let's look at the record.
Do you know what that statement means? If he’s talking about the Sacheen Littlefeather episode, doesn’t he have it backwards?

When Hattie McDaniel was given her '39 Oscar, Negroes were indeed forced to sit in the back of theaters - and Hollywood helped keep them there. McDaniel's role, as most others that Hollywood selected for blacks, was drawn from minstrel show stereotypes designed to dehumanize an entire race. Producer David Selznick premiered "Gone with the Wind" in Atlanta, knowing McDaniel would not be allowed to attend the theater.
Oh, brother.

First of all, stating that Hollywood “was trying to dehumanize an entire race” is just a bit of hyperbole. If Payne means that Hollywood created roles, say, prior to World War II for blacks that played to stereotypes in an offensive manner, I’ll give him that. The first concern of Hollywood now and always has been making money, which makes it perfectly typical among institutions in this country. Concerns of what you might call “social justice” were a close second, but second all the same.

As far as I’m concerned, it is truly a “chicken or the egg” kind of argument about whether or not Hollywood was a reflection of racial attitudes in this country or the other way around. I do know that name actors, primarily Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, got “on board” with the civil rights movement in this country beginning in the 1950s when it got started, even bringing along others such as Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. Of course, God forbid that Payne would mention that.

Another thing – the reason why “GWTW” premiered in Atlanta was because it was the hometown of Margaret Mitchell, the author of the book upon which the movie was based. As far as Payne’s charge that David O. Selznick chose that location to keep McDaniel away, it is to laugh. Selznick was an egomaniacal control freak who, though addicted in equal parts to gambling and amphetamines, nonetheless understood what kind of movies people wanted to watch. He was definitely not a racist, having attended school at Columbia University near jazz clubs in New York City.

The agreeable Negro co-star let Selznick off the hook by making herself "unavailable" for the premiere in the city where the modern Ku Klux Klan had been resurrected in 1915. The same year, Hollywood, not coincidentally, released "The Birth of a Nation," a movie vilifying blacks as rapists and glorifying as antidote the white knights of the Klan. This Hollywood endorsement of Klan values, more than any other single trigger, was responsible for the nationwide resurgence of this white racist terrorist group.
The Ku Klux Klan had been flourishing for years after the Civil War, long before “Birth Of A Nation.” To say that that misguided movie is responsible for the Klan is the same as saying that Billie Holliday’s epochal jazz standard “Strange Fruit” is responsible for lynchings.

But let's get back to Crazy George.
Yes, lets, since you apparently have no clue about anything else you’re talking about.

While McDaniel's "GWTW" role may well have reassured whites, it outraged blacks. They lambasted her role as offensive when protesting the film's premiere in Los Angeles and its showing in Chicago and New York, according to AMC's film biography, "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel." The late actress Nell Carter, interviewed in the film, describes a Hollywood of the '40s that slavishly cast black actors "as African savages, singing slaves and domestics."
As I said, it was a reflection of the times that has, happily, disappeared since. And by the way, what exactly does George Clooney have to do with that?

In real life, actress McDaniel traded group values for personal gain. "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week, than be a maid for $7," she said.
And this is supposed to be some kind of character defect on McDaniel’s part? She was an actress trying to earn a paycheck, in the same manner as some hack columnists I know.

Occasionally she did use her box-office clout to curb Hollywood's petit offenses. In "GWTW," she reportedly got Selznik (sp?) to drop her character's reference to "De Lawd" and got writers to drop "nigger" from the script.
Somehow I don’t think an actor, then as now, could really institute some kind of movement of “social change” for any particular race or ethnic group. Frankly, I don’t understand what Payne thought McDaniel could do.

Oh, and by the way, Payne should have someone proofread his copy for spelling of proper names next time.

Hollywood's larger problem with race is inseparable from America's. Art has the potential to slip the surly bonds of earth, as the poet suggests. But mired as it is in escapism, Hollywood shows no such interest.
Is it necessary for me to point out how ridiculous that statement truly is? Let’s see…Will Smith, Jamie Foxx (who won a Best Actor Oscar for “Ray” last year), Chris Rock (who hosted the Academy Awards a few years ago), Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett, both of whom were nominated for “What’s Love Got To Do With It?,” Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah…all of these individuals and more of African American heritage have rightly achieved success for their accomplishments.

Ultimate creative control in Hollywood resides with white boys who are as ignorant about race as they are insecure about just about everything else. "Most of the black Hollywood characters revitalize the racist interests of white America," said Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima in an online interview. "They either play a racist manifestation of white America's psyche or they play the psyche of the fantasy of white America in the way it looks at race relations."
As far as I’m concerned, that statement is a clumsy attempt to invalidate the successes of the people I just mentioned.

Even with this, they are rewarded not according to talent but for generally reassuring white America about its racial innocence. After remarkable performances in "The Hurricane" and "Malcolm X," films about two especially aggressive black men, Denzel Washington got his Oscar for portraying one of the most corrupt cops in the history of filmdom in "Training Day."
At this point, we have the victim mentality gone absolutely berserk. Washington also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a defiant slave soldier who came to a realization about whites, with some rough prodding from Morgan Freeman – another name that deserves to be mentioned – in the film “Glory.” Washington also played South African activist Steve Biko and a distraught father trying to save his son in “John Q.” Those are definitely roles beyond thug stereotypes.

Payne is actually right that Washington was robbed concerning “Malcolm X,” for which he gave a truly amazing performance in a great film. However, I believe that antagonism by Spike Lee towards the film’s distributor had a hand in the lack of recognition for the movie also. However, to say that there was some kind of “cause and effect” going on is downright stupid.

Yes, Mr. Clooney, Hollywood did award Hattie McDaniel an Oscar for entrenching in the minds of Americans black and white for generations the humbling image of the Negro woman as "Mammy." Some 63 years and a millennium later, Clooney's enlightened Hollywood aroused itself to award its very first Oscar to a black woman for a leading role. Instead of rolling her eyes, this time, the black woman, Halle Berry, earned her faux gold statuette by baring her breasts and feeling up Billy Bob Thornton before flinging herself into his lap like a slut gone wild in "Monster's Ball."
Oh, I see he’s finally returned to attacking George Clooney. OK.

“Monster’s Ball,” by the way, is one movie that I’ve managed to watch in “bits and pieces," but I have to admit that I’ve never seen it all the way through, partly because it’s pretty long. However, from what I have seen, there is a good deal more complexity to Berry’s fine performance than Payne will admit here. And by the way, can someone explain to me how Payne’s denigration of Berry in this manner is not racist also?

It is crystal clear why George Clooney is so very "proud to be a part of this community." What about the rest of us?
If the “us” that Payne imagines actually exists and really believes what he just wrote, then that group is as much of a relic as Willie Best – pictured.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Someone's Clueless, All Right

I read this column from Inquirer editorial page editor Chris Satullo Sunday, and I had a few different reactions. I think I have more “common cause” with Satullo than not, but he still said some things that concerned me.

Focus on mid-term elections instead

Where is it? ask the phone calls, e-mails and left-leaning bloggers. What are you waiting for?

Where's what?

The Inquirer editorial calling on George W. Bush to resign, that's what. Or one calling for him to be impeached.
I contacted PA State Representative Daylin Leach about trying to initiate impeachment proceedings, but he said he knew he wouldn’t be able to move forward with it because he didn’t have support. I should point out, by the way, that Leach doesn’t represent my district – I have Republican representation from Dave Steil and Joe Conti, for now. That’s as far as I went because I didn’t see hope in going further than that. I never contacted the Inquirer – maybe I should have, especially since they’ve published other letters on that topic, but I was trying to make my case at this site as opposed to elsewhere, which I thought was a better place to state my position.

People are peppering me with those questions because of something this paper's Editorial Board, which I lead, did in September 1998.

We called on Bill Clinton to resign.

Also, I guess, because of something we did in October 2004: published 21 issues editorials documenting why George W. Bush deserved to be fired by the voters.
You also published opposing editorials for most of those days, which I think was the journalistically responsible thing to do. As Satullo himself pointed out at the time, that was better than what the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page did, which was to publish a month’s worth of hosannas to Dubya in September ’04 without anyone making a case for John Kerry.

I concede the paradox: Why turn on a President you endorsed, but turn silent when the topic is impeaching one you deem a disaster?

To explain. We write editorials in hopes of doing two things: clarifying issues for our readers and having an impact on events where possible.

We called on Clinton to resign because we thought Democrats weren't thinking clearly, letting their anger at the other guys' venom trump their values and the nation's good.
I always wondered about that…Clinton was supposed to resign because the Democrats were too angry? Satullo also pointed out another reason at that time that was eminently more practical, and that was to install Gore and have him run in 2000 as the automatic incumbent. However, I still think that would have stained Clinton’s presidency to a greater degree than he actually deserved.

We thought that, as a paper that had endorsed the man twice, we had standing to tell Clinton he had to go, that what he'd done was too disgraceful and damaging to the centrist agenda.

Our fear was that Clinton's pigheaded deceits would hand firmer control of the government to his right-wing antagonists. Those foes overplayed their hand in 1998. But in 2000, Clinton's stubbornness brought us George W. Bush.
So George W. Bush is Clinton’s fault? Yeah, I guess ol’ Bill shouldn’t have been at the helm of all of that prosperity and non-war, huh? I suppose. And that business of the Florida recount fiasco and Gore’s slow uptake to some of the Repug dirty tricks, and Gore’s eternally dunderheaded decision not to let Clinton campaign with him in the swing states…that’s Clinton’s fault too?

Contrast 1998 with 2006.
I can’t – it’s too painful.

First, impact: What impact could a resignation editorial possibly have on George W. Bush? He's a guy who ignores good advice from his friends, let alone from a pack of pundits who harp on his flaws.
I have to admit that that’s a good point.

As for impeachment, print journalists haven't filled columns with chatter about it for the same reason they aren't writing a lot about Monmouth's chances of winning March Madness. It ain't going to happen. Not as long as Republicans control Congress.

The real focus ought to be the coming midterm election. Unless Democrats win at least one house of Congress, the President's policies will continue to elude serious scrutiny.
That’s an even better point – whatever resources we have at our disposal should be used to accomplish that goal above all others.

It seems the American public is thinking pretty clearly this time around. Pollsters say the level of public discontent with Congress and the nation's direction right now resembles the mood in 1994, when the Gingrich gang won.

Gerrymandered districts and the perks of incumbency still pose high obstacles to a Democratic triumph in the midterms (as does the party's own feebleness of mind). But a reverse '94 is plausible.

So what do liberal Democrats, full of pent-up bile, want to do? They want to embrace the one tactic designed to fritter away their chances: howling "Impeach!"
OK, let’s get something straight here. That sentiment plays into the “bloggers are crazy, especially the lefties” theme that our dear MSM cousins like to cultivate (at the time of the Harry Whittington shooting by Cheney, some lefties called that “Cheney’s Chappaquiddick,” which I said at the time was a nutty comparison partly because it gives that theme more potency). However, Satullo makes it sound as if people like me, who have the “Impeach Bush” banner in the right diagonal column…which isn’t going anywhere, by the way…want that goal accomplished above all others. I realized long ago that that’s not going to happen, as did notables like Arianna Huffington, but THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU BACK DOWN. When have the Repugs ever backed down about anything? So we gear up for the midterms as Satullo said, since taking a house of Congress will STILL be a huge challenge in the fall, let alone both.

Most disenchanted voters want Congress to be less partisan, to spend more time solving problems, less time gouging eyes. To win in districts drawn up to protect GOP incumbents, Dems need to attract moderates and independents who may be disappointed with W. but don't hate him.
As I said, when do Repugs ever back down? I disagree with Satullo in the sense that the Democrats can – and should – be partisan on this and lay the blame squarely where it belongs. But I agree with Satullo that the goal of such a tactic is ultimately to solve the problems that the Repugs have ignored.

These are the same sensible voters whose refusal to sign up for the unending persecution of Bill Clinton confounded the right wing in 1998.

Do liberals seriously believe voters will flock to this message: "Vote for me and I will put the nation through yet another bruising, distracting and ultimately pointless impeachment fight"?
No, that should not be the number one priority, as I jut said. The Dems will stand or fall on the issues, though I definitely support Russ Feingold’s call for censure. There’s nothing wrong with calling for impeachment, even if it turns out to be a totally symbolic gesture, though with this president, who knows what else he may do that would warrant such a call? Myself, I’m getting a little tired of this narrative that the Dems must completely cower in the face of Repug hostility to win. This is more DLC garbage that has gotten the party ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE.

Most voters have seen that movie and hated it. They saw how Republicans wielded the Constitution as a partisan club to harass a president they couldn't beat at the polls. By now, they also know how that farce distracted the U.S. government from dealing properly with little matters such as the rise of al-Qaeda.
An excellent point, though Satullo should give the people of this country credit for being smart enough to realize when impeachment proceedings are truly warranted and when they’re not.

What's more, as the New York Times reports, impeachment chatter has been a boon to demoralized conservatives. Instead of grousing about W. among themselves, they can do what they do best: unite behind a common enemy, liberals.
I don’t get this at all. So…we’re all supposed to shut up about impeachment because it mobilizes the right-wing zanies? I’ve got news for Satullo…THEY HATE LIBERALS ANYWAY, REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE SAY OR DO! I will, however, point out that, in the Inquirer yesterday, Satullo’s column ran alongside one by Jonathan Last, a Repug sympathizer who basically said, “Yeah, sure liberals, keep calling for impeachment,” no doubt in an effort to make Satullo’s remark a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yet bloggers on the left, sitting in digital silos as self-righteous and distorting as those of the right, have convinced themselves that blaring about impeachment is the ticket to victory. Clueless.
As I said, I never considered it “a ticket to victory,” but the proper response to Bush’s criminal conduct.

OK, I've avoided the central question: Does the man deserve to be impeached?

First, the GOP recklessness of 1998 makes it hard to recover any sound definition of the constitutional standard for impeachment: "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Myself, I'd rule out Iraq. Tragic as that skein of blunders has been, it was the product of delusional arrogance - of incompetence, not crime. That should be punished at the polls, not in the dock of the Senate.
I’ve called Bush’s war illegal since it was deliberately fought for reasons that were lies and intelligence information was willfully cherry-picked to suit the purposes of invasion. And assuming the Democrats somehow return to power in the fall – a big “if,” I know – how does that hold Bush accountable? So does that mean that Bush “skates” altogether on Iraq? He, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the cabal should be tried at the Hague, not forced to deal with the inconvenience of having to govern for real with an opposition party controlling Congress in a best-case scenario.

What about the high-tech surveillance the President approved without warrant or clear statutory authority? Impeachable offense? Hard to say. His post-9/11 impulse to snoop was understandable. What wasn't was his five-year failure to put the program on sound legal ground. Right now, though, not even Congress knows enough about the true story of the snooping to answer the question.
FISA stipulated that what Bush did was illegal (and is Satullo going to make me produce the link to the White House web site where Bush, in April ’04, said that he wasn’t doing something that he, in fact, WAS doing and HAD BEEN DOING FOR SOME TIME??). Beyond that, Bush, in typical fashion, basically said that he would continue to break the law, ignoring FISA until it was changed. That is grounds right there. That makes the president a criminal.

This president's most unforgivable offense has been the rampant evasion of American and international law that fostered the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. His despicable wink-at-torture mind-set violates the premise of the Declaration of Independence: All humans have inalienable rights, the right not to be tortured among them.

Yet torture is the impeachment topic least likely to generate traction with the public.

Maybe impeachment talk is just a way to vent spleen over an exasperating president. That's forgivable.

But as a strategy to prevent this man from doing more harm, it's foolish.
It’s hard to argue with what Satullo says about torture, since that goes hand-in-hand with his conduct of the war. However, as I said earlier, I believe it is important to keep “beating the drum” on impeachment as an option to punish Bush. It may or may not be only symbolic, but I don’t think we know completely at this point. God help us, but we’re stuck with Dubya as of now until 1/20/09.

Satullo mentioned earlier how frustrated the wingnuts got when about 70 percent of those American polled decided that the Clinton/Lewinsky thing wasn’t a constitutional crisis. Did that stop them or make them change their tactics?

Well then, it shouldn’t stop us either, should it?

Update 3/21 11 AM: Did you know that the IRS under Bushco wants to allow “third parties” access to your tax data?

Or that “our government” also wants to sell off forest land, by auctioning more than 300,000 acres of national forest to fund "a rural school program"?

Who do you think is responsible for putting nitwits in charge of these agencies that would consider this to be an acceptable way for our government to operate?

(Update 3/21 3PM - As a commenter noted, he always leaves his messes for someone else to clean up. How proud George H.W. and "the beautiful mind" must be.)

Every single day, there is some new battle to fight with Bushco.

That is why, every single day, regardless of whether we are "tilting at windmills" or not, we must call for impeachment. I know the logical consequence is that Cheney would get "the big chair," and that is basically the situation we have anyway, but that NEVER means that we should stop fighting.

A Pair Of Lightweights

This excellent Guest Opinion from Daniel Deagler appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on Saturday (the author hails from Plumsteadville, Pa.).

Lynn Swann has no prior political experience. He has never served on a school board or been a township supervisor. He has never run for state representative, sheriff or borough council. He has never spent a weekend knocking on doors, collecting petitions or working the polls. He has never gone to bed after 2 A.M. because he was presiding over a zoning hearing. He has missed (voting in) 20 of the last 36 elections. He is now by acclamation the Republican Party’s candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.

His vision on how to improve Pennsylvania is thin and is as modest as his political resume. His web site, Lynn Swann for Governor, lists three goals: 1) Creating Economic Opportunities: the greatest challenge of the next governor is to put Pennsylvania’s economy back on track; 2) Preparing Our Children To Compete: The most basic job of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is to provide an education that will lead to opportunity for our children; 3) Pennsylvania Values: Pennsylvania values have always been about hard work, determination, and the will to succeed.

That’s it.

He has offered no opinion on gaming in Pennsylvania, property tax reform, or health care for seniors. If he has any feelings on environmental initiatives, early intervention, biomedical research funding, the Liquor Control Board system, or business research and development tax credits he is keeping his own counsel.

He does have a dazzling smile.

In fairness, he has shown a great eagerness to make abortion illegal. In an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopolous,” when Swann was asked by Stephanopolous his feeling on Roe v. Wade, he said, “Well, if the Supreme Court overturned (Roe v. Wade), then they’ve basically said that, you know, you can’t have an abortion.”

When informed by Stephanopolous that a high court vote overturning Roe would leave it up to individual states to determine abortion law, Swann replied: “Well if they send it to the states to decide, as opposed to making a decision that abortions are illegal, then I would sign (legislation) making abortions illegal.”

OH, yes: Mr. Swann has come out against increasing the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.25, for more than 430,000 working families.

By contract, Gov. Ed Rendell is seeking re-election on his first term accomplishments, among them:

1) Making historic investments in education with focus on what works

2) Property tax relief and rent rebate programs for seniors

3) Growing Greener II – a $625 million environmental initiative
4) Continued reduction of business taxes especially the capital stock and franchise tax

5) Expansion of research and development tax credits and net operating loss carry-forward provisions

6) The governor’s $2.3 billion economic development stimulus package

7) Increasing the number of eligible seniors in the state’s prescription drug program PACE

8) Expansion of the children’s health program (CHIP)

9) Saving money for taxpayers by rooting out waste and streamlining government which has reduced state spending by $841 million (projected to over $1 billion by the end of the year) and which has achieved a net reduction in the number of state employees by more than four thousand since the governor took office.

It is true that few of the above-mentioned accomplishments would fit well on a bumper sticker. They are mostly dry and unglamorous. But government is mostly dry and unglamorous. Jesse Ventura discovered that. Arnold Schwarzenegger is discovering that now.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has now cleared the field for their own gimmick candidate. The Swann campaign is unencumbered by any challengers, any debate, and, practically speaking, any proposals. Their candidate is certainly unencumbered by by experience. But one has to wonder how having no other Republican challengers can ultimately help him when he’s face to face with a political professional of national reputation who has been in high elected office for the better part of the last 30 years.

Lynn Swann has basically skipped training camp, the pre-season, the season, and the first three rounds of the playoffs. Good luck in the Super Bowl, Lynn. Bring your towel.
You can read more here if you're inclined to do so.

And Why Is This A Surprise?

You’ve just got to love the “moral values” crowd, don’t you? (courtesy of HuffPo and Crooks and Liars).

I’m not sure what else Mary Carey could have expected from a bunch that has so little regard for women generally, particularly pertaining to workplace issues (please note the lack of Republican cosponsors of legislation introduced by Tom Daschle in 2003 as well as the fact that it has been stagnating for over three years).

I believe that their behavior towards Carey and their lack of movement on Daschle’s legislation are part and parcel of the same mindset (and please don’t try to equate this with the consensual activity of Clinton and that certain intern who wore a blue dress, OK?).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

No Peaks In Sight

So "Darth" Cheney surfaced long enough to let us all know he hasn't shot anyone lately. How considerate of him.

This gives me an excuse to link to Hendrik Hertzberg's latest excellent column on Cheney in The New Yorker (from a proud member of the reality-based community.)