Saturday, May 06, 2006

Read Me, Hear Me, Arrest Me

This story explains why Judge Harry Edwards is my new hero.

So the Bushco FCC lawyer, Jacob Lewis, went to Judge Edwards and argued, in essence, that Internet service providers that offer telephone service should allow for law enforcement authorities to tap into their lines. Lewis said that this would be consistent with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, intended to make it easier for law enforcement to tap into land-line phone conversations.

Edwards basically laughed at Lewis, saying that the 1994 law didn’t address Internet telephony in any real or even implied way.

As I read this, I wondered who the individual was who was in charge of the FCC now that Colin Powell, Jr. was out of the picture.

Well, the person in charge is some Repug acolyte named Kevin J. Martin, whose wife used to work for Cheney (figures, right?). And since Martin hails from North Carolina…well, being a Repug, you can just imagine who Martin feels he has to go back and grovel to in a gesture of fealty of one type or another.

That person, of course, would be Jesse Helms (or his foundation anyway, given Jesse’s poor health these days).

In a speech last October to The Jesse Helms Center (and somehow I’m sure this group doesn’t spend its time discussing the subtle nuances and pithy commentary in the prose of Garson Kanin or The Algonquin Round Table), Martin uttered this item of interest:

Speaking on the issues of content and public reaction, the Chairman cited a steady increase in complaints to the FCC about broadcast standards. More than a million complaints were filed in 2004. One option presented to alleviate the problem was to expand the latitude of local licensees to choose specific network programming that they deemed appropriate for their community.
“A million complaints filed in 2004,” huh?

You remember 2004, right? The time the 40-year-old, diamond studded, African-American boob of Janet Jackson protruded all over the viewing screens of America during the Super Bowl halftime show. Got the “moral values” crowd all in a tizzy, if memory serves.

Well, as you can read from this link to a Buzzmachine column by Jeff Jarvis, there is PLENTY OF REASON to doubt the validity of that one million number.

But we know this is yet another con from this administration, right? They want to find any possible way to control and regulate ALL CONTENT, whether it is in print or electronic form. “National security,” “community standards”…the Bush Administration and their lackeys will continue to trot out these tired excuses to whittle away at our rights.

Judge Edwards saw through this and slapped FCC lawyer Lewis down appropriately. So here’s to a man who stood up to this bunch of crazed, reactionary zealots.

The only problem is that we know they’ll be back, and we can only hope and pray that a judge like Edwards hears their next case. Someone sympathetic to Bushco (and they’ve stocked appeals courts all over this country with their “fellow travelers”) may end up granting the administration an audience next time, which could be the beginning of “the slippery slope.”

Let's Not Forget Chuck

This letter appeared in this morning's Bucks County Courier Times from Judith Gordon of Lower Makefield.

Why I am voting for Chuck Pennacchio for U.S. Senate:

Chuck Pennacchio is neither Santorum nor Santorum lite (aka Casey).

Chuck Pennacchio supports a woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her body.

Chuck Pennacchio was against the Iraq war resolution sending our troops into harm’s way. He supports a timeline and exit strategy.

Chuck Pennacchio speaks with knowledgeable passion on issues.

As directory of the History Program at University of the Arts, Chuck Pennacchio knows how to apply history to today’s events.

Chuck Pennacchio supports a living wage.

Chuck Pennacchio wants to protect the environment by promoting innovative industries and energy sources.

Chuck Pennacchio supports universal health care.

Chuck Pennacchio believes education is the basis for ensuring opportunity for all Americans. We must take the initiative and fix the problems with our schools.

Chuck Pennacchio takes no PAC money. Therefore, he is only responsible to Pennsylvania’s citizens, not special interest groups. This is the only way to end the cycle of corruption.

And by the way, more great letters are popping up in support of Patrick Murphy and chastising Andy Warren appropriately.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Hope For Change

I made reference below to Patrick Murphy’s Guest Opinion in today’s Bucks County Courier Times. Well, here it is.

We need to change the direction in Washington. The Republican Congress has continually turned its back on working families. We need leaders, not political rhetoric, to stand up and make a difference.

Congress gave our seniors Medicare Part D, a confusing mess that benefits the drug lobbyists who wrote the bill more than the seniors who need help. We’re paying more than ever at the pump and the president just got the memo that we’re addicted to foreign oil.

The cost of a college education has never been higher, but Congress cut $13 billion from student loans this year. And we’ve gone from a balanced federal budget that brought record surpluses to an all-time record deficit in just six years. Congress controls our spending, but continues to pour billions into special interest spending. Families in Bucks County are being squeezed, and Congress is asleep at the wheel.

I spent seven months as a captain in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army. I saw firsthand that this administration has left our men and women hanging out to dry with no end in sight. We didn’t have enough troops. We didn’t have enough equipment. And we didn’t have the tools we needed to win the peace once we toppled the Saddam regime.

The short-handed, short-sighted planning in Iraq opened my eyes to the failures of this administration. Their arrogance in failing to listen to the experts, such as Gen. Eric Shinseki, who said that we needed several hundred thousand troops if we wanted to win the peace, was underscored by their lack of commitment to those of us on the ground.

I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, where my father was one of 7,000 police officers keeping the city of 1.5 million people safe. In al Rashid, Baghdad, the 82nd Airborne was responsible for keeping law and order. Al Rashid had the same size population, but there were only 3,500 of us. So when I heard this president say that we were well staffed in Iraq, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew we had to change the course over there.

When I came home and had the honor to work for Sen. John Kerry’s campaign in Pennsylvania, I traveled the state and had hundreds of conversations with people from all walks of life. Through these conversations, I saw that we’re not just on the wrong track in Iraq; we need to change the direction here at home as well.

We need a prescription drug plan that is written for the benefit of our seniors. Drug lobbyists wrote the bill we got, and as a result, Medicare can’t even negotiate or purchase drugs in bulk (as the Veterans Administration does). The pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they want. In Part D, the D stands for “disaster.” It needs to be scrapped and rewritten to provide a real benefit to seniors, not just postponed like others suggest.

We need an energy policy that invests in alternative energy sources rather than continuing to rely on foreign oil. We should be investing in hybrid technology and alternative fuel sources. Rather than giving billions in tax breaks to oil companies that pay nothing to drill on public land while gas hits $3 a gallon, Congress should insist on energy independence. We have the American ingenuity here in Pennsylvania to make that happen. There are alternative fuel companies that started right here in Pennsylvania and they’re looking to expand. If Congress would invest in alternative energy, we could pay less at the pump and bring good-paying jobs to Bucks County.

Finally, we can bring the troops home from Iraq and be safer at home if we pursue a national security policy that is tough and smart. As I’ve spent my mornings at SEPTA stations this month, it’s been obvious to me that we’re not doing everything we can to secure mass transit in this country. Pennsylvania has more nuclear reactors than any state other than Illinois, but I don’t feel safer. We need a responsible phased withdrawal from Iraq that brings the National Guard and Reserve home to serve their intended purpose – to keep us safe here at home.

And that’s why I’m running for Congress. It’s time that we send leaders to Washington who will bring a fresh perspective and new priorities. We cannot continue to believe that politics as usual will bring a different result.
A couple of months ago (I think), I said in a post that Andy Warren should give up and contact Ed Rendell about trying to get his old job back at PennDOT. I don’t know if he read this great Guest Opinion from the Democratic nominee who will defeat him on May 16th, but if Warren hasn’t followed up on that now, he should immediately after having read this well-crafted piece from a visionary candidate who has done his homework.

20 Months To Prove Him Right

Porter Goss once said in an interview with Michael Moore that he wasn't qualified to work for the CIA, which of course made him the perfect candidate to run the agency given Bushco's track record in these matters (see Brown, Michael; Chertoff, Michael; etc.).

Today he bowed to the incovenient reality.

Update 5/5: Interesting take on this from georgia10...

Update 5/6: Curiouser and curiouser...

“Real Time” Update

I had another problem with the show this week, and I’ll get to it later on.

The show opened with Phil The Flag Guy from the “International House of Flammable Flags” selling “self-burning crosses” (running on electricity and “your hate”).

In the monologue, Bill Maher noted that Exxon-Mobil’s quarterly profit was $8.4 billion, “and there’s still no toilet paper in the bathroom.” He said that that was such an obscene amount that “the Republicans didn’t know whether to launch an investigation or masturbate.” And to show the White House’s efforts at energy efficiency, “the smoke that comes out of Bush’s ass is now clean-burning ethanol.” As for Dubya, “I’m beginning to think he’s not that bright – he wants to see the movie ‘Flight 93’ but he doesn’t want anyone to tell him the ending.” Concerning the flap over the Spanish version of The Star-Spangled Banner, Maher said, “I don’t care. I just don’t want the Mexicans to play it on their car horn.” He also mentioned “Operation Falcon” which is apparently rounding up “sex fiends” and stated that, between that and the rallies against Mexicans, “it was a bad week for Charlie Sheen.”

George Clooney then appeared via satellite, pointing out that he just got back from Darfur. Maher said, “What should we know?” and Clooney said, “there is real genocide going on…state-sponsored murder,” mentioning that he was motivated to do something after reading Nicholas Kristof and Samantha Power. Maher asked, “What can we do?” and Clooney said, “Our government and military are doing a little…we need to prop up the African Union (I believe Danny Glover said the same thing a couple of months ago),” with Clooney noting that 2 million of the 6 million people in that area have been “bombed out of their homes.” Maher asked, “Why can’t we bomb the area like we did in Kosovo” in an effort to end the genocide, and Clooney said that a better alternative is to put pressure on China and Russia in the U.N. to stop blocking the Security Council votes that would increase diplomatic pressure on those responsible (the “janjaweed,” I believe). Maher asked if racism was a factor in the reason why there isn’t more coverage, and Clooney said, “A little. If it got a tenth of the coverage of the Natalee Holloway case, for example…” Maher said that he thought people such as Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are making “a wise use of celebrity” by attracting attention to their causes, and Clooney said, “we don’t want to turn around 10 years from now and wonder ‘what the hell were we thinking?’” Maher then mentioned a bunch of stars who are conservative and a bunch of stars who are liberal, and asked, “I don’t know if being liberal makes you right, but does it make you more talented?” and Clooney laughed and chalked it up to “natural selection.” When Maher asked him for advice for the Democrats, Clooney said quite simply, “Have a position.”

(By the way, I was wondering if Maher would be impolite enough to ask Clooney about the dustup he had with Arianna Huffington recently over whether or not Clooney wrote a blog, but he didn’t. I knew it was a longshot.)

The panel guests were Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, actor Sir Ian McKellen (who apparently is going to be in the movie “The DaVinci Code,” playing Teabing I’m sure), and journalist Michelle Martin.

The discussion started out on the price of gas, and McKellen said that “in the UK, gas taxes go to public transit, and in this country, they go to Exxon-Mobil,” with McKellen noting that more people should be walking and riding bikes. Though I agree with that sentiment, Frank correctly (I thought) pointed out that “people were encouraged to live 40 miles away from work. We shouldn’t punish these people (by telling them all to live closer to their jobs…which isn’t practical anyway). The answer is to tax the extraordinary oil profits, temporarily suspend the gas tax, and get serious on conservation.” Martin said that “Bush had a policy, and it was to drill in the ANWR” (I think she was being serious). Maher said, “The Republicans look at the mess they’ve created and say, ‘someone should fix this’.” Frank pointed out that there has been a major fight over conservation since the Carter Administration between the Democrats and the Republicans, and McKellen said, “The gas is running out. That’s the news. In my home in London, I have solar panels that I use to generate electricity, and sell it back to the power company. Why can’t the U.S. do that?” (excellent question).

Concerning the immigration issue, Maher asked, “Why can’t we crack down on the businesses who hire the illegals?” and Frank said “We (Congress) are talking about this…we are and we aren’t…many of the conservatives who are now screaming tried to dissuade law enforcement authorities because there was no reliable form of ID.” Martin added that “it went on the backburner because of 9/11…it was an irritant to Mexico,” with Frank noting that “The Republicans are divided on this issue. Maher said that “Bush’s ‘guest worker’ program derides citizenship…’welcome to my house, now clean my bathroom’.” Martin blamed the Democrats for not talking about this issue earlier because “it has a net effect on wages,” which I think was a curious thing for her to say since the Democrats have been trying to get the minimum wage increased for years (and I believe Maher pointed that out in the “back and forth” that went on). Frank said “We should get rid of the guest worker program, legalize as many workers as we can and raise the minimum wage” (I hope that man serves forever…every word out of his mouth made sense).

Maher then discussed CEO compensation, citing the usual horrible stats of how their compensation has gone up against that of the rest of the workforce (some usurious level like 500 percent or something), and Frank said, “Bush can’t understand why he doesn’t get more credit for the economy (almost too funny for words)…he says the economy is doing well; gross domestic product is up but so is economic inequality. It’s a real economic misallocation of resources.” Martin then asked, “Why are 40-60 million people without health care? Why don’t we focus on that instead?” and Maher asked, “Don’t you think those two issues are connected?” Frank then pointed out that he filed a bill (HR 4291) about executive compensation that stated that those figures should be published.

Concerning the appointment of Tony Snow as White House press secretary, Maher said Scott McClellan stepped down “because he wanted to look sweaty and uncomfortable at home.” Maher got in a bit of a good word for Snow since Snow had appeared on the show before, though Maher pointed out that Snow referred to Bush as “impotent” and “an embarrassment,” and that led into a funny video segment of Maher’s supposed audition for the job of White House press secretary.

Everything was going fine up to this point.

I read from the HBO site that Maher was going to interview Victor Davis Hanson about his new book (something to do with man’s eternal conflict or something…to be honest with you, I don’t remember the title, and I don’t care), and I had my fingers crossed because he is one of the chief apologists for the Iraq debacle, with Maher commenting on Hanson’s friendship with Dick Cheney and saying that, “Cheney liked your book so much, he turned it into a war” (and of course, Hanson sat there stone faced when Maher said that). Hanson eventually replied and said, “War is the nature of man, but so is the Democratic process.” It started to go bad when Hanson (who kind of reminded me of Francis Dolarhyde in the movie “Red Dragon”) said, “Cheney had no desire to go to war (actually funny to hear Hanson say that with no acknowledgement of Dubya, who is supposed to be running things of course), but he was confronted by Saddam Hussein in a post-9/11 world.” Maher then went after Hanson to his credit, pointing out all of the trouble spots in the world and saying, “I never understood that (re: why we had to intervene militarily in Iraq but nowhere else), but this week Iraq got a new leader, and nothing on the ground changed.” Hanson replied something to the effect that, in this war, there have been ebbs and flows and changes in leadership not unlike during the battles of Cold Harbor and The Wilderness in The Civil War, and at that point, I got so disgusted I shut the TV off again (again, not because of Maher).

Some may think I’m being thin skinned, but I’m sorry. I quite simply am not going to waste my time listening to freeper garbage trying to justify the debacle in Iraq any more. The week before, Heather Higgins compared it to The Battle Of The Bulge in World War II (the Nazis “last throes,” if you will). This week, Hanson compared it to The Civil War.


Besides, I’m sitting there watching Hansen spout this garbage, and I’m thinking, you know, YOU look like a reasonably fit man. Why don’t YOU go over to Falluja or Mosul or some other God-forsaken outpost in Iraq with a gun and not enough armor and try to stay alive, and THEN come back home and write a book about it?

The show was generally entertaining, and I could have easily listened to the panelists for another hour. Maybe I will again someday.

No Relief In Sight

I don’t touch on PA state politics nearly as much as I should (possibly because The Inquirer's excellent metro columnist John Grogan, who keeps an eye on these things, has been on some kind of a sabbatical or something for a little while, though he's due to return shortly), but the individuals in Harrisburg who tried to ramrod through a 2 AM pay raise on the last night of the preceding legislative session fumbled the ball again recently on the issue of property tax relief (with Repug representative John Perzel being strangely absent for this decisive vote).

I thought Tom Ferrick’s analysis on this was pretty good, so I’ll let him take it from here.

I Knew This Would Happen

Steering off politics again here (please bear with me)…

The Bucks County Courier Times has a space at the bottom left corner of Page One of the Sports page for quotes from sports personalities, and this is today’s quote (concerning the upcoming Kentucky Derby):

“I love lawyers. I know all about lawyers. If there was a Lawyer Johnnie, Lord knows, I’d put my house on it.”

The quote pertains to a horse called Lawyer Ron who is apparently favored to win (I don’t know the odds).

The person who uttered the quote is O.J. Simpson.

O.J. Simpson.

You remember O.J., right? Great college running back with USC, solid NFL career primarily with the Buffalo Bills, spokesman for Hertz Rent-A-Car, actor in the “Naked Gun” movies, analysts on ABC’s Monday Night Football, generally well liked and respected for a time, and…uh…wait a minute, now. There was something else. Don’t remind me – it’s on the tip of my tongue, as they say.

Oh, yeah, I remember now. He was tried in criminal court in California and acquitted in the double murder of wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in October 1995 by a bunch of virtually brain-dead jurors in south central Los Angeles who believed that, somehow, Mark Fuhrman planted DNA evidence all over the crime scene in an attempt to frame the former NFL star (of course, as Vincent Bugliosi explained in one of the many good books about the trial, Fuhrman could not logically have done that, though as far as I’m concerned, logic had very little to do with the criminal trial). Simpson was convicted of wrongful death in the civil trial that followed (and as far as I know, neither the Brown or Goldman families have seen one dime of the approximately $33 million judgment rendered against Simpson).

So this is the individual who the Bucks County Courier Times thinks is newsworthy enough to merit a mention in a “celebrity quotable people” kind of vein?

This is utterly deplorable. What short memories some people have.

(By the way, the paper also has a great Guest Opinion from Patrick Murphy today.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The "Wet Noodle" Rep

This Guest Opinion in the Bucks County Courier Times this morning shows how vigorously Mike Fitzpatrick stands up to Don (The Defense Secretary You Have) Rumsfeld. Why, if writing letters were the same as firing bullets from a gun, Rummy would be pushing up the daisies by now.

Regarding your April 26th editorial about my thoughts on whether or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be relieved of his position.

For the past several months, the two individuals running in the Democratic primary have engaged in a non-stop race to see who can capture the attention of the far left.
As you will see, Fitzpatrick will talk about the politics related to Rumsfeld’s continued presence in the Bush Administration extensively (and with typical peevishness: “as I said,” “as I repeated”) before even attempting to address the cost of Rumsfeld’s abysmal failure in the job in human terms.

And of course, Fitzpatrick has to throw out some code language right away, being the good wingnut that he is…”far left” creating an immediate caricature that his audience can relate to and despise on cue.

In doing so, they have repeatedly tried in vain to pull me into their primary and align me with the far right. Instead of tackling the differences between their two platforms, or discussing issues of immediate importance to the district, the candidates have gone out of their way to paint me as a right wing conservative while ignoring my voting record that clearly demonstrates my independence.
I thought this was supposed to be about your position on Rumsfeld (though, to be fair, I admit that he’ll get back to it after these words from our sponsor).

By the way, I have sections in the right column of this page called "Read About The Eighth District," and "The Tom And Mikey Show" that contain interesting reading for your edification.

As I have repeated in the past, I do not think it is appropriate for me to take part in an ongoing dialogue with the two Democratic candidates for Congress before the May primary election. I firmly believe that the voters should choose who will represent the Democratic Party without my intervention. I look forward to a healthy debate with my opponent in the general election.
Going “off topic” yet again…

Nonetheless, I have stated as early as January that I support a withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.
Smooth move to say that without committing to a timeframe (though according to Joe Biden, they’re being pulled out even as I write this).

However, as I stated in an April 2nd letter that I sent to Secretary Rumsfeld, I have avoided use of our government’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan for purposes of political self-advancement and grandstanding.
And I’m sure that just warmed the cockles of Rummy’s coal-black heart…how nice.

For the sake of our troops overseas, I have preferred to address this issue with respect.
While our people continue to get maimed and/or die in this war based on lies and exacerbated by Rumsfeld’s incompetence, to say nothing of the sacrifices of innocent Iraqis…”with respect” of course.

My political opponents have called for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation. I have not. I agree with my Democratic colleague, Sen. Joe Lieberman, when he said that as to “whether Don Rumsfeld should continue to serve is up to him and the president at whose pleasure he serves.”
And by the way, to contribute to Ned Lamont, click here.

Personally, I have had serious concerns over the prosecution of the war on terror.
Another Repug code phrase, of course…no, it’s not the Iraq Debacle, or the Iraq Quagmire. No no no! It’s the NOW AND FOREVER NEVER, EVER ENDING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES WAR ON TERROR!

You’ve done well using the playbook, Mikey. Go get a nice, big, fat wad of untraceable cash from the RNC that you can use for walking-around money.

Last May, I traveled to Iraq to investigate concerns that our troops were not being supplied with adequate armor for their vehicles. While visiting armoring facilities, I learned from troops that newer technology was needed to meet the evolving and growing threat from IEDs. After returning home, I wrote to Secretary Rumsfeld expressing my concerns and met with DoD staff; actions that led to the implementation of improved anti-IED technology in Iraq.
Notice that Fitzpatrick doesn’t say whether or not the troops got their body armor for themselves or their vehicles or how many of their humvees received this glamorous new, “anti-IED technology.”

Oh, and as long as we’re talking about the safety and care of our troops (“supporting” them, if you will), can Fitzpatrick please explain why he opposed expanding access to the military’s TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of Reservist and National Guard members, even though 20 percent of all reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage? (HR 1815, Vote #221, 5/25/2005)

Concerning charges of over billing by contractors in Iraq, I voted for an amendment that would have denied the use of funds for awarding contracts to any contractor who mismanaged government funds (HR 4938 Roll Call No. 60).
Of course, good luck trying to prove that a contractor did that.

I’ll tell you what, Mikey. Contact your House colleague Louise Slaughter and tell her that you support her call for a modern-day “Truman Commission” to investigate contractor fraud in Iraq. I’ll take that seriously, OK?

Following that vote, on April 2nd, I wrote to Secretary Rumsfeld expressing my constituents’ concerns regarding over billing practices by private firms awarded contracts by the Defense Department.

I strongly opposed the secretary’s stubborn and misguided attempts at preventing Army intelligence officers from testifying openly on the Able Danger program that could have predicted the 9/11 attacks.
Uh oh, Fitzpatrick is channeling “Crazy Curt” Weldon. This is not a good thing (of course, according to Curt, had those officers been allowed to testify, we would have found that Clinton was responsible for letting those who perpetrated 9/11 get away with it – you know that, right??).

I have expressed my position to the DoD that our presence in Iraq should be temporary and that no permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq should be constructed.
You can see how well Rummy and company listened to him here.

(Oh, but that’s only going to be an “embassy” the size of 80 football fields. Riiiight…)

Finally, I have expressed my strong opposition to Secretary’s Rumsfeld’s continued support of the School of the Americas because our tax dollars should not be spent to train and educate tomorrow’s Latin American strongmen and dictators today.
Yep, we only sanction torture in areas of the world where we can actually steal somebody’s oil, right?

I firmly maintain my belief that our troops serve with honor and distinction. They deserve to come home with honor and a sense of accomplishment.
What courage to take a stand which no one in his or her right mind could possibly oppose.

They should return home soon under a structured troop withdrawal plan developed by military personnel on the ground in Iraq – not Washington politicians or candidates for Congress.
Really? I find that to be interesting. No input from Bushco at all regarding when our people will come home? Sure. How dumb do you think we are, Mikey?

Update: Speaking of Rummy, I want to buy Ray McGovern a beer (and I love the part about him almost getting ushered out even though he was only exercising his right of free speech…what a great country we’ve become, huh?).

It's Right Here, Senator

Congratulations to our esteemed Senator Arlen Specter for managing to grab a headline last Friday from the Washington Post in true publicity-seeking fashion, along with related quotes about “standing up to Bush” and other mantras that play well with those ill-manned, unkempt, nasty little liberals out there (like me).

This is the same man who, of course, brought us the legendary “magic bullet” theory during the JFK assassination (which pierced Gov. Connally’s shoulder in the motorcade, zigzagged into Kennedy’s arm, and somehow managed to signal for a left-hand turn before it then changed course and disintegrated a part of the president’s face all by itself). And who can forget his inquisition of Anita Hill (and yes, I know there were issues on both sides in that mess).

More recently, upon ascending to chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and making a bold statement on behalf of preserving a woman’s right to choose, he then oversaw and supported confirmation of perhaps the most radical anti-abortion justice this country has ever seen (I say “perhaps” only because John Roberts may end up outdoing him over time).

Last February, his committee called Attorney General Alberto ("It's Only Torture If It Inflicts Bodily Harm.") Gonzales to testify about Dubya’s warrantless spying, and Specter didn’t even swear Gonzales in! Now, Specter is waxing indignant because there apparently isn’t enough furor (apparently none that he can see anyway) over Dubya’s decision to play Big Brother to us all.

Senator, the answer to this quandary of yours is simple. We don’t trust you. How can you expect our support on this or any other issue when you sell us out over and over and over?

Update: Time for "The Arlen Two-Step"...shake it for the left, and then, when the cameras are looking the other way, shake it for the right.

Watch Out, Vlad, Or He'll Shoot

"No legitimate interest is served" by turning energy resources into implements of blackmail, huh?

Why not, Dick? You don’t want the Russkies to cut in on “your action”?

This is funny coming from the author of Bushco’s secret energy policy authorized by the veep, Ken Lay, and apparently no one else. Nope, you guys never resorted to “blackmail” (or misinformation at the very least) during the ongoing battle over whether drilling should be allowed in the ANWR, did you?

The whole thing is nuts (which, apparently, describes Cheney’s state of mind these days anyway).

Update 5/10: Another lesson in "cause and effect," courtesy of the nut jobs running our country...

Let Him Rot

I thought U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema got this exactly right, acting on the recommendation of the jury.

Aside from the fact that the prosection could not tie Moussaoui more directly to the 9/11 attacks, life in prison is appropriate for this criminal.

Don’t give him drama, or fanfare, or a soapbox from which he can pelt us with more propaganda. Just give him a gray, cement cell, a lumpy cot, open sink and toilet, and as many years at it takes for him to eventually fade into memory and suffer a slow, inexorable death.

Andy Needs A History Lesson

It must have been quite a show yesterday on "Radio Times," the program hosted by Marty Moss-Coane on which Patrick Murphy appeared, spoke, and fielded questions about the campaign. You can read the details below:


May 3, 2006


Dan De Rosa


Levittown, PA - May 3, 2006 - Andy Warren just can't seem to get his facts straight, or even remember his own history. On WHYY's Radio Times this morning, Andy Warren kept forgetting where he's raised his campaign money, which candidates he's supported, and even his actions on the Point Pleasant Pump. It's time someone reminded him of the facts.

"Andy Warren has selective amnesia when it comes to his history as a Republican," said Josh Nanberg, Campaign Manager for Patrick Murphy. "The discrepancies between the record of Andy Warren, Republican office holder and the rhetoric of Andy Warren, alleged Democratic candidate for Congress lead me to believe that he will just say anything to get elected."

Here are the facts about Andy Warren:

On former Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood:

RHETORIC: "When the incumbent congressman became our congressman. Jim Greenwood was the Congressman, and Jim was a moderate Republican, he believed in a lot of the issues I believed in." (02:00-02:10, WHYY Radio Times, 5/3/06)

RECORD: "Andrew L. Warren , one of Greenwood's two opponents for the Republican nomination, portrays Greenwood as a political liberal who is out of touch with both his party and his constituents." (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/13/86)

On the Point Pleasant Pump:

RHETORIC: ".let's just make one thing clear, as a County commissioner I was the one when there was a referendum [on the Point Pleasant Pump] we, and the majority commissioners, would abide by it, and we did." (45:47-46:02, WHYY Radio Times, 5/3/06)

RECORD: "In the spring of 1983, voters in Bucks County passed a referendum asking the commissioners to withdraw from the project."

"As county commissioner, Warren is best known for his role in the Point Pleasant Pumping Station project. Soon after taking office, he and Elaine P. Zettick signed contracts to build the pump, which was designed to take water from the Delaware River for use at the Philadelphia Electric Company's nuclear generating station at Limerick. Warren and Zettick spent much of the next four years defending their decision to build the pump, which environmentalists claimed would destoy the river. In the spring of 1983, voters in Bucks County passed a referendum asking the commissioners to withdraw from the project. (Allentown Morning Call, 3/25/95)

On preserving Bucks County's environment:

RHETORIC: "This morning I had a choice. I could have driven in here, by myself; or taken the train out of Langhorne, and I happened to take the train out of Langhorne. If everyone who drove to Philadelphia just one day a month took public transportation, which I believe is a possible immediate alternative, we could save tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline immediately. One issue is a change in our lifestyle, the way we transport."

REALITY: "It was only supposed to be a meeting held by state officials to answer the public's questions about how the new U.S. Clean Air Act will change the way people commute to work. But commissioners from Bucks and Montgomery counties blasted the new law, which will require employers with 100 or more workers to reduce the number driving to work alone.Bucks Commissioner Chairman Andrew L. Warren complained that the five-county Philadelphia area is being forced to comply with the regulations because its air severely violated smog standards four years ago." (Allentown Morning Call, 5/25/93)

On Campaign fund-raising:

RHETORIC: "85% of all the funds that I've raised have been raised within Bucks County" (24:25 - 24:32, WHYY Radio Times, 5/3/06)

REALITY: 47.4% of Andy Warren's itemized contributions are from outside the 8th Congressional District (Federal Elections Commission: Report of Andrew Warren for Congress: )

On impeachment:

RHETORIC: "An impeachment is a hearing." (12:20-12:22, WHYY Radio Times, 5/3/06)

REALITY: If the House of Representatives votes to file the articles of impeachment against the President, then the Senate, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding, votes on whether the President should be impeached. (Article II, Section 4, United States Constitution) It is not a hearing. Andy Warren fundamentally does not understand the role of Congress.

On Changing the Direction of the Country:

RHETORIC: "We want fresh ideas..." (25:01 - 25:02, WHYY Radio Times, 5/3/06)

REALITY: The Warren campaign has yet to come up with an original idea or proposal to change the direction of our country-either at home, or abroad. Instead, he has chosen to run a "me too" campaign that adopts others' positions as his own and to engage in a purely negative campaign that focuses on trivial issues and divisive attacks. (The Bucks County Courier Times, 4/19/06)

Beyond all of this, I can tell you that Warren must be in trouble for sure. His “leadership team” fell down today; there were no letters in the Courier Times attacking Patrick Murphy on the “residency issue” today. You’d better get it together, people!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Spring Of Our Discontent

This topic has absolutely nothing to do with politics, but I have to vent about it.

As an ice hockey fan who has followed the home team for many years (though I'm not nearly as involved with the team or the sport as I once was), I should point out to anyone who may be interested that we in this area are currently engaged in our annual ritual of wondering what we’re going to do now that the Flyers have flopped in the Stanley Cup playoffs again.

(Two caveats immediately: First, we didn’t do this last year because the season was cancelled, and second, we didn’t do it the year before that because the team progressed almost to the finals. Those, however, are two rather dramatic exceptions.)

I would probably be keeping my mouth shut (figuratively) if it weren’t for the fact that now, the sports media geniuses (and maybe the radio shouters also…I don’t know because I’ll never listen to them) are floating the idea that coach Ken Hitchcock could be canned.

That is utterly ridiculous (typical, but ridiculous).

Hitchcock has molded that team as best as he could from a bunch of disparate parts into one that, as I mentioned, legitimately challenged for the Cup two years ago. He has also won a Stanley Cup as coach of the Dallas Stars in the 90s, an era that remains somewhat in most people’s memory.

Also, the excuse has been floated now and throughout the year that injuries to top players Keith Primeau and Kim Johnsson had a lot to do with their early exit. OK, but I would argue that the play of the Buffalo Sabres, a chippy team I’ve never liked that happens to be built to win the way the game is being played now with the rule changes, was the deciding factor.

We go through this stupid ritual every year…early season pronouncements that the Flyers are going to seriously contend for the Stanley Cup because we have Player X now or Player Y now, and the team is highly competitive throughout the year, but they go down in flames when it matters (and it happened again this year…I admire Derian Hatcher, who was acquired to play defense, but he’s practically done and way too slow at this point – Peter Forsberg, when healthy, may be the best there is, but through no fault of his own he was frequently injured and only has a couple of years left before he breaks down entirely).

No, there is one person responsible for the fact that this team continually folds year after year (and last night’s 7-1 drubbing in the clinching game for the Sabres was truly a dark moment).

That person is Bob Clarke.

Yes, I know he seems to have a halo about him because he and goaltender Bernie Parent were chiefly responsible for the Cup victories in the 70s (might as well be the stone age now), but he continually assembles teams of big, slow, retread veterans built to make ONE RUN and ONE RUN ONLY for the championship. Hitchcock has done the best he could molding together a team of disparate parts (some talented young forwards, two fine goaltenders, forwards who probably wouldn’t even be in the NHL if they played for other teams, and immobile defensemen), but it isn’t good enough.

In the Buffalo series, the Sabres received offensive production from every single forward. The Flyers received production from their top line (Forsberg, Mike Knuble – a good Clarke acquisition, I’ll give him that – and Simon Gagne) and practically no one else. The Flyers had NO ANSWER WHATSOEVER for Buffalo’s speed and precision offensive play.

As a result of this latest debacle, I have a request.

For the next five years, I don’t want to hear the word “Flyers” and “Stanley Cup” mentioned in the same sentence again. That is about how long it will take to reassemble this team with the right players so that it can be truly competitive again. I’m sick and tired of this stupid shell game that our sports media vermin and Stepford Flyers fans play every year – I honestly try to avoid it, but it’s tough (and by the way, fans, the Flyers will have to genuinely stink for a year or two before they can be fixed to be Cup-competitive…are you willing to be patient enough for that to happen?)

And the person to reassemble this bunch through the draft and free agent acquisitions will not be Clarke. Hitchcock won a Stanley Cup in Dallas because team general manager Bob Gainey knew how to go out and get players who could get the job done (and I believe Clarke actually preceded Gainey in the job also).

This team will never win the Stanley Cup with Bob Clarke as the general manager. The sooner everyone involved wakes up to that reality, the better.

At least the Phillies have won three in a row. Let’s see if there’s any room left to jump onto that bandwagon.

They Don't Know Jack

It’s bad enough that Bushco has approved domestic spying in violation of the FISA. It’s bad enough that they planted a partisan at White House press conferences who once ran a military porn web site, with the intention of having this person lob softball questions on behalf of the administration. It’s bad enough that they cherry-picked information from intelligence analysts to support their flimsy case for going to war in Iraq.

Now they want to, in essence, pick a dead man’s bones in search of “classified” information that they want to suppress and, quite possibly, destroy outright.

As reported here by CBS News (and also by TIME Magazine recently), the FBI contacted the family of legendary reporter Jack Anderson recently in order to search Anderson’s files (Anderson died earlier this year at age 83).

This is completely consistent with the Bush mindset of ruling outright as opposed to performing the duties of governance as spelled out for the President of the United States in the Constitution, which, you’ll recall, Bush swore to “preserve, protect, and defend” not once but twice.

Revisiting Bush’s wiretapping scandal, this story from The Nation explains the historical context behind the FISA.

Also from The Nation, this article explains how Bush installed Allen Weinstein as national archivist, a historian who, according to the article, “has been criticized for failing to abide by accepted scholarly standards of openness.” As noted in the article (from two years ago):

Bush's move is part of a larger pattern of expanded White House secrecy, starting with its fight to conceal the names of members of the Cheney energy task force and continuing with the recent effort to prevent the 9/11 Commission from revealing such documents as the now-famous Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001. It's true that all Presidents want to control access to their papers, but it's the responsibility of the archivist to see that access is "free, open, equal, and nondiscriminatory," as the Statement on Standards of the American Historical Association puts it.
This link takes you to a collection of articles on this administration’s penchant for propaganda and disinformation as part of Bush’s “ceaseless push for power” (hat tip to The Existentialist Cowboy).

It would seem that a “tug of war” is coming between the Anderson family and the FBI over the papers in question from the legendary journalist, who was refuted to pick through the garbage of the FBI’s infamous J. Edgar Hoover in search of information. As son Kevin Anderson said, “I wish Dad were around to enjoy it.”

I would argue that, given the times in which we live, it is incumbent on anyone in the online community to carry forward Anderson’s relentless legacy of holding people in power accountable for their wrongdoing because, as Spencer Tracy noted so prophetically in the film “Inherit The Wind,” “fanaticism and ignorance are forever busy, and need feeding.”

Update: Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky "stare down the beast" in Anderson-esque fashion here.

Che-me On Her!

(Hey, I haven’t inflicted a really bad pun for a little while now; I was due for one).

You’ll probably ask yourself, “Doomsy, what on earth were you smoking that made you want to visit the blog of Michelle Malkin?” Well, I was checking around to get information on the immigration rallies post I wrote yesterday. In the process, I accidentally stumbled across her site.

And of course, I came away enlightened.

You see, the whole thing is an anti-American conspiracy concocted by (three guesses, the first two don’t count)...none other than THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (America-hating socialists all!). And this photo is the proof! And they TOOK UP A COLLECTION to raise money to find new ways to spread their commie propaganda.


OK, to be honest, I’m bringing this up to link to this great post by Robert Scheer which hits me where I live a bit (the comments are decidedly mixed, though, and like others I’m sure, I’m still pondering this whole issue, though I retract what I said yesterday not one bit).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Peddle It Somewhere Else

At this time, I think it's appropriate for all Bucks County 8th district residents to properly salute Andy Warren for making us endure one of the most mean spirited and misinformative political campaigns that we have ever seen (granted, though, that many residents have lived here longer than I have).

Acting as a willing accomplice on Warren's behalf was Ginny Schrader, one of Warren's campaign co-chairs. In this capacity, she wrote a scurrilous Guest Opinion attacking Patrick Murphy last Sunday.

Well, Ginny, guess what? Someone else besides me was paying attention.


May 2, 2006
CONTACT:=A0 Eric Schmeltzer,


NEW YORK - Sunday, in a local newspaper, a representative for Congressional candidate for Pennsylvania's 8th district, Andy Warren, attacked the war service of Patrick Murphy as inadequate background for service in Congress.

Jon Soltz, an Iraq veteran and Executive Director of Iraq and
Afghanistan Veterans of America Political Action Committee (IAVA PAC) released the following statement in response:

"We veterans of the war in Iraq immediately call on Andy Warren to stop all backhanded and disgraceful attacks on Patrick Murphy's honorable service in war in Iraq, and tell his staff and advisors to do the same

Only someone who never served in combat could so cavalierly discount its benefits to the making of a person and a leader.

"It is undeniable that Iraq is the number one issue of 2006. The war affects every aspect of American life. Patrick's seven months of service in the war make him uniquely qualified to go to Capitol Hill and add a credible voice in the debate on the war. In this race, only Patrick Murphy, as an Iraq vet, can go to Washington and hold all elected leaders accountable for the decisions that have adversely affected our troops in the field, and when they return home.

"Patrick Murphy has shown courage, maturity, and leadership under the most challenging of conditions, and has shown an incredible understanding of his community, and its local issues, as well.The people of the 8th district should cast their vote with pride for Patrick Murphy, who will be their warrior in Congress."

Ginny Schrader, Warren's campaign co-chair, wrote in the Sunday Bucks County Courier Times, "Murphy's entire candidacy rests on seven months in Iraq. My husband's granddaughter (and mine by love) has recently married a soldier who did two tours in Iraq.Under the present theory, would two tours in Iraq qualify him to run for the Senate?"

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC is the only political action committee headed by a veteran of the war in Iraq, exclusively to benefit the campaigns of those Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans running for political office.
In case we haven't established this by now, I'll remind everyone that this is Andy Warren's campaign platform:

Patrick Murphy's residency Patrick Murphy's military service Patrick Murphy's residency Patrick Murphy's comparative lack of local government experience Patrick Murphy's residency Patrick Murphy's military service Patrick Murphy's residency Patrick Murphy's comparative lack of local government experience Patrick Murphy's military service and Patrick Murphy's residency.

That's it.

Warren likes to look beyond Primary Day on May 16th to the day when all of the 8th district's imaginary "moderate Republicans" will flock to his side, helping to sweep him to victory over Mike Fitzpatrick and thus send him to Washington in November. Putting aside the utter lunacy of such a proposition, I should point out that, by engaging in his childish campaign, Warren has helped reinforce the perception in the mind of some voters in this district that the Democrats are nothing but a bunch of spoiled little brats arguing back and forth with each other over childish nonsense. How Warren thinks that could possibly help him in a general election is beyond my comprehension.

Far from actually taking the hint, Mimi Reimel of Middletown, PA kept up this pathetic background noise with this sickening attack letter published in the Courier Times on Monday:

The Courier Times muddled editorial that trivializes both the residency requirement for congressional candidates and a politician's credibility leaves voters nowhere.

Patrick Murphy's misstating his residence is, indeed, an important issue for two reasons:
Can we try to put this “issue” to rest now, please? Patrick lives in Bucks County now. He USED to live in Northeast Philadelphia in an area that ended up as part of Bucks County through redistricting. God, this is tired...

Honesty really does matter: When a young politician starts out fudging on facts, we are wise to wonder what's next. Patrick Murphy wasn't raised in Bucks County and he wasn't a "paratrooper," both of which he's said often in person and on his web site. Living in Philly or being a claims adjuster in Iraq are both respectable; lying about them isn't.
This woman must be drunk. I can’t think of any other explanation for such a potentially libelous charge that Patrick Murphy would lie about his military service with ZERO PROOF WHATSOEVER (except, of course, in the beverage of choice of which Ms. Reimel may have been consuming as she wrote this). And “a claims adjuster in Iraq”? It’s almost too funny, really (trying to conjure up an image of Patrick wearing a three-piece suit and carrying a briefcase knocking on a bombed-out Falluja tenement on behalf of a property/casualty insurance company).

How can voters "move on" to the "real issues" when the candidate displays such a credibility gap? This is a "real issue."
To you, I know it is, seeing as how you’re affiliated with a reality-challenged candidate like Andy Warren. I wonder what the “over-under” is on how much longer his campaign will stay afloat until it runs out of dough?

True residency does matter. Residency isn't just about having a street address here; it's about really "living" in and connecting to a community. Sure, you can rent a Bucks County apartment and run for office from here, but that says nothing about a candidate's commitment. Andy Warren has lived in Bucks County for 50 or more years, taught high school and coached track here, ran for office here, served 16 years as a county commissioner here and he did all the other things a real, live, involved person did here.

This is not about showing an address on your PECO bill; it's about showing participation and concern for your community and the politics of it. Do we need or want the National Democratic Party airlifting in and bankrolling candidates they think are good for us? That subverts the process and mocks the whole reason behind the residency requirement.
Yes, Ms. Reimel, “honesty does matter,” as you stated earlier, and “subverting the process” is a bad thing. However, I would call enlisting the help of Jane Faust, who was convicted of voter fraud, to challenge the signatures on the petition of Patrick Murphy and not owing up to it “subverting the process” also. And I would say that not acknowledging in your letter that you’re part of Warren’s “leadership committee” is being dishonest as well. Another example of dishonesty would be Warren’s claim that he voted for Bill Clinton as well as George H.W. Bush.

Oh, and I love the part about the Democratic National Committee "airlifting in" candidates, as if the national organization is solely behind Patrick Murphy and no one else is. Well, I don't think Reimel should worry too much about that. She'll discover that Patrick has broad, grass roots support everywhere when Andy Warren gets steamrolled in a couple of weeks.

What we do need are active, concerned citizens who "know the neighborhood" and are willing to speak up for us, and our community, in Congress.

Mimi Reimel
A similar screed was also published today in the Courier Times today by Pete Thompson alleging that Patrick Murphy purchased an apartment in New Hope in order to fulfill the residency requirement. Actually, I’m waiting for Warren to claim next that Murphy caused the McCaffrey’s Supermarket fire in Lower Makefield over a year ago, with his lackeys subsequently distributing flyers all over the district with “proof” of that charge also. THAT should get Warren the nomination for sure.

(Hmmm...could Pete Thompson be a relation to Sally Thompson, who is ALSO on Warren’s “leadership committee”?).

I would say that the “Swift Boating” of Murphy by Warren has indeed begun. This time, however, this sickening tactic will yield a completely different result than it did in 2004.

Can’t Ya’ Handle It?

(Note: This post is written in Philly-speak. If you require translation...sorry.)

So, youse guise in Joisey donwanna pump yer own geeass? Whatcha tawkin’?

I mean, we been doin’ it few yeeaahhs in Fluffya. I jus drive my cherry red ’98 Camaro downtatha Lukoil ad 55th an Passyunk and do it no problem. Youse too hifalutin aw sumptin?

Later wid youse…

(OK, I know, but really...Corzine's supposed honeymoon as governor is at an end, I'm sure we can all agree on that. But all he's proposing is that New Jersey join every other state in this country on this issue except Oregon. Can't the guy get a break on that much at least?)

Update: Speaking of pumping gas, I'm on board with this great idea from The Bulldog.

How The Mighty Have Fallen - old post

I didn’t know whether to laugh or sigh when I read the item below (from today’s Business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer).

Verticalnet to appeal Nasdaq's delisting notification

Verticalnet Inc. said it would appeal a delisting notification it received last week from Nasdaq. The stock exchange told Verticalnet it was subject to delisting from the Nasdaq Capital Market this Friday because Verticalnet shares had not maintained the minimum $1 bid price required by Nasdaq rules. Verticalnet said it expected its appeal to prevent delisting until it received a hearing from Nasdaq's listing-qualifications panel. Among the proposals listed in Verticalnet's proxy statement for its May 19 shareholder meeting is a request to perform a reverse stock split. That would, in effect, raise the company's share price while reducing the number of outstanding shares. Verticalnet's shares closed yesterday at 37 cents, down 3 cents.- Akweli Parker
As the blogger Saint Nate mentions here, Verticalnet, for a time, was probably the darling of local area tech stocks during the “ which turned into dot.bomb” phase of the ‘90s. As nearly as I can recall, the company was trying to establish “virtual warehouses” in anticipation of other companies climbing onboard during the tech boom that many thought would never end. For this one-time giant to be delisted is truly a pitiable fall (I interviewed there once, at a time when the share price hovered in between the $90-$100 range).

If the company can’t trade, with its stock hovering below a dollar a share as it is, I can’t see how it can continue to exist in its current form. But don’t look to me for business advice – I could have sworn that Unisys, a company in even more dire straits, would be “pushing up the daisies” by now also.

Update 7/7/06: As reported in the Business section of today's Philadelphia Inquirer, VerticalNet has met NASDAQ listing requirements and will remain as a traded stock on that exchange.

Update 6/1/07: Here we go again...

Update 10/26/07: Let me guess, then (re: this); if you act now and purchase our supply-chain data management software, you get a free calzone?

A Bad Idea, But A Good Start

Sometimes the “senator from MBNA” gets it right, and I have to admit a newfound respect for him since I saw him on “Real Time with Bill Maher” recently. Then again, it’s possible that I’m just SO HAPPY TO SEE SOMEONE VYING FOR THE PRESIDENCY WHO HAS A BRAIN that I’m overlooking some of his more wishy washy moments, such as his failure to support Russ Feingold’s call for censure and his support of the fraud bankruptcy bill.

What Joe Biden is proposing is the partitioning of Iraq by Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions (I know it’s hard to find the portion of the article identifying what Biden said, since this is the Houston Chronicle after all, but trust me, it’s there; and Scott McClellan, in one of his “swan song” moments, immediately shot it down).

I can’t recall that this has ever worked throughout recorded history, notably during the days of the British Empire. This could also create an opportunity for Iran to annex the Shiite territory – by force, possibly – which would not bode well at all. However, such partitioning would likely reduce the sectarian violence (I mean, how could it hurt as an attempt at this point?) and reduce the burden on our people and the Iraqi forces of trying to determine who belongs to which tribe in the ongoing effort to keep from getting killed.

Given all of those points, of course Bush would pan it. It’s too logical, isn’t it?

Qui Es Enfrentar Problemas?

(Translation: Who is confronting the problems?)

(Speaking of problems, I'm having tons of them again with connectivity today: doing my best to work it all out...)

We know about the demonstrations by those in support of rights for illegal (or “undocumented”…to me there’s no difference) workers held across the country recently. This, to me, is the logical consequence of employers consistently providing employment to people without obeying labor laws and practices.

I mean, these people are here and making their presence felt loud and clear. Those here legally are screaming that the illegals don’t represent them (such as Mel Martinez, that model of civic responsibility). But the illegals are standing up for themselves and, in a quite literal way, fighting for their lives. And to measure their impact, consider that approximately 90 percent of the container traffic processed through the Port of Long Beach in California was disrupted yesterday. That’s a staggering number.

(Note: I haven't been able to find a link to that Long Beach item online, but I heard it on NPR this morning.)

I don’t have that much to add to this, to be honest, but I’ll try to provide some more background that I think is interesting.

To begin, I think employers in this country who hire the illegals should acquaint themselves with the Fair Labor Standards Act (which Dubya and the Repugs amended in August 2004 to screw white collar workers out of overtime pay). Next, this link takes you to a transcript of testimony from a man named Matthew Reindl of Great Neck, N.Y., a small business owner who testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims about a year ago concerning the effect of illegal immigrants (his remarks are thorough and very enlightening).

Also, concerning the illegals themselves, what of those who aspire for citizenship? What of those who wish to show their patriotism (and yes, they can still feel that way as far as I’m concerned even though they’re breaking the law…maybe if Vicente Fox in Mexico would actually deliver the jobs he promised, as Jorge Ramos of Univision pointed out a few weeks ago on “Real Time,” then that might stem the flood into this country somewhat).

Well, we know about “Nuestro Himno'” the Spanish version of the National Anthem that was recently promoted by British music producer Adam Kidron (and we also know that Bush panned it…leave it to him to get it wrong), but did you know that a Spanish version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written already in 1919?

(I included the Inquirer link because it contains the English translation, which I think is beautiful.)

You can also read from this link to Atrios, by the way, about how Bush, even though he decried the Spanish version recently, sang it anyway while campaigning in the past (almost too pathetic for words).

To me, the bottom line is that the illegal/undocumented workers aren’t going to go anywhere and we’d better figure out some way to make them legal eventually or else they’ll flex their newfound muscle again and cause a devastating impact to our economy (you can’t know how ironic it is that your humble narrator feels this way, by the way, since my profession has been severely affected by offshoring, but we have to face reality).

We can continue to listen to demagogues like Tom Tancredo and try to ship the illegals all out of here and watch the economic impact, or we can come up with something better than Dubya’s “Guest Worker” program, ever mindful of the fact that this problem was created by lawbreaking businesses who turned their backs on the workers already here (Oh, but everything changed after 9/11, didn’t it? Please…) so they could turn a quick buck.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ginny Goes A-Gunnin'

I’m still trying to get over the shock of reading this Guest Opinion the Bucks County Courier Times printed yesterday from Ginny Schrader.

Service in Iraq Is No Preparation for Service in Congress

I think it is fair to say that no one wants to see Mike Fitzpatrick out of Congress more than I do. My personal opinion of our congressman does not matter in this piece, enough to say that I want to see a Democratic Congress and an end to one-party rule in Washington.

Now comes the hard part; who is the better candidate to take on Mike Fitzpatrick in November? I have some unique qualifications to answer that question. Not to leave anyone in suspense, I am sure that Andy Warren is the better candidate for the task.
That didn’t come across as the most positive endorsement I’ve ever read, Ginny. You’re “sure” that Warren is the better candidate? Well, I’m “sure” he isn’t.

This time around, some Democrats in Washington have decided that all they need to do is throw an Iraq War veteran at the voters and the deal is done. They are recruiting candidates that don’t necessarily even live in the district in which they are running. Even though this sales pitch has been a terrific boon to national fundraising, in this instance, it is a bad mistake that will come back to haunt them in the general election. It doesn’t sit well with voters that outsiders dictate who the local candidate should be.
Can you provide specifics here to support this charge, Ginny? And by the way, if you’re referring to the “Fighting Dems,” I should point out that they have been primarily supported by The Daily Kos and The Majority Report on Air America radio. The last I checked, Kos was based in California (though diarists contribute from across the country) and Air America broadcasts nationwide. How you can claim that this movement is based in Washington is something that escapes me.

Even though the national polls show a backlash against Bush, with more people in favor of a Democratic Congress, when we drill down those polls to individual districts, a large number of people think their own congressman does not need to be replaced.
What does that have to do with the 8th Congressional district in Bucks County, Pa.?

Unfortunately, President Bush is not on the ballot this time. The congressional election in November will come down to individual qualifications, experience and representation on local issues. In these circumstances, Warren is by far the better choice. He has served his community as a teacher, coach, supervisor, county commissioner and district administrator for PennDOT in the Rendell administration.
“Teacher” and “coach” is nice, but irrelevant. And yes, Warren did serve as a supervisor in Warminster, Pa. and a Bucks County Commissioner (by the way, as commissioner, Warren served with Mike Fitzpatrick, where their votes were identical). And as far as his PennDOT district administrator job goes, Warren would do well to keep his mouth shut about that, since he created or worsened so many fires with inappropriate language.

He has the age, experience, and personality to go up against Fitzpatrick on each issue. His stands are down home Democratic, fighting for the middle class and wanting jobs and prosperity for Bucks County.
Well, he has the age (more boilerplate nonsense).

With Andy against Fitzpatrick, voters will be comfortable that they know each candidate well and bizarre negative ads that are thrown at a novice candidate will not stick. People are much less swayed by negative advertising when they feel they personally know the candidate well.
According to who? You?

Ginny postulates a couple of her theories about political campaigns here, which is actually funny when you realize that she’s either lost every one she’s participated in or dropped out of them. This is the first: that somehow negative ads can only hurt “novice” politicians. I know she’s still smarting from that utterly reprehensible attack ad Fitzpatrick and the Repugs ran alleging that she gave money to Hezbollah, but we know the Repugs will do that stuff to anybody. John Kerry wasn’t exactly a novice when the Swift Boat Lying Liars for Lies slimed him, was he? And we know how much of a difference that made, unfortunately.

Make no mistake Patrick Murphy has a future in politics. He is a quick study and learning how to play the game but his entire candidacy rests on his service in Iraq. My husband’s granddaughter (and mine by love) has recently married a soldier who did two tours in Iraq. Under the present theory, would two tours in Iraq qualify him to run for the Senate?
I had to read that last sentence a couple of times because I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Who the hell does this woman think she is to so quickly discredit veterans who choose to run for office (with these veterans usually – but not always – running as Democrats)? She starts off the paragraph praising Murphy but then sticks him in the ribs, metaphorically speaking, with that last remark about her grandson-in-law (I guess that’s what this guy is).

This is something right out of Andy Warren’s playbook, by the way. Schrader is hardly innocent herself, but it’s obvious that she’s copying Warren’s smarmy tactics.

Being a veteran, even though a wonderful credential cannot be the only credential (sic). Murphy went from college (in Wilkes Barre), to law school (in Harrisburg) to a tour in the military and now to candidate in one fell swoop. He needs to live here, he needs to vote.
This is, again, harking back to Warren’s incredibly tired refrain that Murphy is supposedly an outsider.

Patrick Murphy does live here, and he has ALREADY ACKNOWLEDGED the supposed voting record “issue.” This is more relentless Warren negativity in the face of a bright, promising candidate who has more to offer than Andy Warren ever will.

Having only been registered a Democrat for eight months longer than Andy, he needs to get more familiar with important local issues and get some seasoning. As the saying goes, all politics are local.
Does that explain why you yourself have never served in county government, yet you feel that you’re capable of recommending that path for someone else?

Not all lessons can be learned in seven months as an attorney in Iraq. Most of life’s lessons are taught over years of work, experience and a great deal of listening.
OK, Ginny. Let me ask you this, then.

Would Warren have any clue about proposing revisions to Medicare Part D? What does Warren propose concerning ethics reform in Congress? Any thoughts on Bucks County's poor air quality and the frequent flooding in Yardley?

Patrick Murphy speaks to all of these LEGITIMATE issues at his website, and I can find some boilerplate on the environment at Warren’s site and very little else.

Also, Schrader makes it sound like Patrick Murphy only served in the military as a lawyer (which, by itself, is still commendable), when in fact (from Dana Reddington's Inquirer article available from Murphy’s website)...

"In May 2002, he (Murphy) was sent to Bosnia for four months. Trained as a paratrooper with the 82d Airborne Division, he served in Iraq for seven months beginning in June 2003 as a lawyer with the Judge Advocate General Corps. He handled courts-martial and adjudicated claims by Iraqi families against U.S. troops."

Back to Andy, he has really hit his stride now. I saw him at a debate, and he was terrific.
Would we be able to depend on you telling us he if has ever actually been bad? And, as co-campaign chair (how many does Warren have anyway? I know he has more than two), isn't it part of your job to see him debate?

He has always known the local issues and has real plans for this district. Don’t forget, on May 17th, the day after the primary, we will need independents and moderate Republicans to vote with us to make the change in Congress. Andy is by far the stronger candidate to do this. Andy knows and understands the voters we need and many of them have voted for him in the past.
Specifics? Anywhere in sight? Hello??

And isn’t it just a hoot, by the way, how Warren/Schrader just automatically assume that they’ll win the nomination in a couple of weeks, and somehow as if by magic, these mythical “moderate Republicans” will automatically join them also? Can someone explain to me how a “moderate Republican” would vote for Warren over Fitzpatrick (especially, as mentioned previously, their voting records were identical when they both served as Bucks County commissioners)?

We have only one chance to replace Mike Fitzpatrick. Once a congressman has been elected twice they solidify their power. Only Andy can fight him toe to toe. We may not get this chance again. Please don’t waste it.
This is the second of Ginny’s two imaginary rules about politics. The first, as mentioned above, is that negative campaign ads only work against “novices”. The second is that it is impossible to defeat an incumbent politician who has served more than two terms. Granted, it is very difficult to do that, but it isn’t impossible.

(To be honest, I think it would behoove Ginny to spend more time proofing her copy for grammar and punctuation errors than speculating on things she apparently doesn’t know about.)

Also, I pointed out above that Ginny Schrader basically derides and ridicules not just Patrick Murphy, but every other “Fighting Dem” with her comments. Aside from the fact that her attack is patently unfair (I would even go as far as to call it cowardly), she basically disregards Kos and organizations affiliated with the Democratic party, all of whom have significant presences online and have supported the “Fighting Dems.”

These organizations were critical for Schrader in her campaign against Fitzpatrick in 2004. Granted she lost, but without the money raised online for her, she wouldn’t even have finished as close as she did. In fact, Schrader was receiving money and support and, for a time, she didn’t even know where it was coming from. Attacking those organizations that once supported her two years later is an interesting way to say thanks as far as I’m concerned.

At least The Philadelphia Inquirer did the right thing today and cast its support for Patrick Murphy (link here).

Speaking of newspapers, I want to point out something for us to follow up on pretty quickly.

As I’ve noted in the past, the readership of The Bucks County Courier Times is basically pretty conservative, probably because of the older demographic of the area. Stemming from that (I think), more residents get their information from print media than they do online.

My point is that I’ve seen a lot more letters supporting Andy Warren regurgitating the same stupid pro-Warren boilerplate than I have for Patrick Murphy that could present some of Patrick’s sterling qualifications. This is bound to have somewhat of an impact, unfortunately.

For anyone reading this whole lives in the 8th district, we need to get moving on this. Please write a Letter To The Editor in support of Patrick by noon Wednesday May 3rd. That’s the deadline to ensure publication before the May 16th primary. I will take care of this as soon as I can tonight. Click here to Email your letters; please provide name, address, and home and work phone numbers because you’ll be contacted for verification prior to publication. Thanks.

A final note: I posted last week about my adventures trying to enter a critical comment to one of the posts at Andy Warren’s blog, and I linked to my actual unpublished comment and subsequently linked to other unpublished comments.

What I found out late last week was that not only does Warren have his blog set up for comment moderation, which he is completely entitled to do (even if choosing not to publish critical comments is pretty chicken), his site administrator bans the IP addresses where critical comments originate so that any future comment attempts from that address will be automatically disallowed.

If that isn’t the action of a little tin god enamored with his own delusions of infallibility, I don’t know what is.

An Infamous Anniversary

Atrios and Think Progress point out very well, I think, what this day represents in part (as far as Bush is concerned, anyway).

By the way, do you know that Dubya's flight suit photo-op on the Abraham Lincoln was filmed off the coastline of San Diego, but the ship was turned around so that wouldn’t be apparent? I guess the idea was to make it look like Dubya was in the Persian Gulf.

I know this linked column from Frank Rich is ostensibly about Hurricane Katrina, but he mentions that here.

Sam Who?

So “suppliers have lost control of the market” huh, Sam (and by the way, thanks for letting us know that we even HAVE a Secretary of Energy by demonstrating that you’re actually alive).

(I guess Bob Casey, Jr. is next when it comes to demonstrating whether or not someone still has a pulse, but that's a whole other rant.)

Sam, you can maybe, MAYBE use that argument concerning oil from Nigeria, but as far as our other major suppliers (Venezuela and – in sweet Bushco dreams – Iraq), our “with us or against us, axis-of-evil” foreign policy is responsible.

Does Iran have a nutty president? Yes. Is that Bush’s fault. It sure is, when he isolates moderates like Khatami and lets idiotic nationalists like AhMADinejad look legitimate.

Just to refresh your memory on Samuel Bodman, here’s a link back to a prior post and his shady activities running his old business.

Speaking Truthiness To Power

I would guess that at least a few people who may be reading this are aware of the performance by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner on Saturday night. If not, you can read about it from these detailed posts by Peter Daou and Chris Durang from The Huffington Post.

Trying to capitalize on that (I’m sure), “60 Minutes” aired an interview correspondent Morley Safer conducted with Colbert last night. I don’t know if this was a new broadcast or a rerun.

Some of Colbert’s “schtick” included this…

When 60 Minutes visited, Colbert was reviewing a piece to air that night (on “The Colbert Report”) — an interview with the congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands, Donna Christiansen.

"Isn’t it time to drop the whole virgin act?" Colbert asked Christiansen in his interview.

"What would else would we call ourselves?" she asked.

"Trollop Island? … The Been Around The Block Islands? ...The Not Until The Third Date Islands?" Colbert joked.

"Can we just leave it at Virgin Islands?" she replied.
As far as growing up was concerned...

Colbert has been going for laughs since he was a child, growing up near Charleston, S.C., in a large very family. He is the youngest of 11 kids.

Despite coming from Charleston, Colbert does not have a trace of a southern accent.

"At a very young age, I decided I was not gonna have a southern accent. Because people, when I was a kid watching TV, if you wanted to use a shorthand that someone was stupid, you gave the character a southern accent. And that's not true. Southern people are not stupid. But I didn't wanna seem stupid. I wanted to seem smart. And so I thought, 'Well, you can't tell where newsmen are from,'" Colbert explains.
As far as life-altering experiences that probably affected his career, I would guess that it takes a lot of strength and courage to overcome this type of a family tragedy, especially with humor...

"It has been said, I don't know if it's any truth to it, that all good comedians have some painful experience in their in their lives. Any truth to that thesis, do you think?" Safer asked.

"Sure," Colbert replied. "My father and two of my brothers died when I was 10. I think I did my best to cheer my mom up."

The three were killed in 1974 in an Eastern Airlines crash.

Asked if the tragedy still affects his life, Colbert says, "I know that after they died, nothing, I was 10, you know? I was still in school. It was in elementary school. But nothing seemed that important to me. And so, I had immediately had sort of a, I won't say a cynical detachment from the world. But I would certainly say I was detached from what was normal behavior of children around me. It didn't make much sense. None of it seemed very important. And I think that, you know, feeds into a sense that acceptance, or blind acceptance of authority, is not easy for me."
The entire interview can be accessed from here.

My lefty “betters” in the blogging world have already been gushing over Colbert’s wonderful performance at the dinner on Saturday for the last two days. To that, I only wish to say thank you to Colbert for what was actually quite a courageous performance which was also truly funny.

Update 5/3: And as you might expect, our dear corporate media friends have been either ignoring Colbert's performance or focusing on some Bush impersonator who appeared also. Meanwhile, Digby (via Atrios) recalls another performance by a host at this event years earlier which was much more brazen but looked upon more favorably.