Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sports Of All Sorts

In case you missed it earlier this week, newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver (and former Olympian) Jeremy Bloom presented Dubya with a jersey this week (or tried to) during a White House ceremony honoring the athletes, making some joke about "sucking up to Dubya" in the process.

It is my sincerest wish that, during one of the opening full-contact Eagles practices this summer, Bloom decides to run a crossing pattern right in front of strong safety Brian Dawkins, who will doubtless hit Bloom so hard that the wideout will be separated from the ball as well as some of his body parts.

Also, I don't give a rat's ass about Barry Bonds and his chemically-assisted achievement today. Instead, let's all say a prayer for the horse.

Update 5/21: From hockey beat writer Tim Panaccio in today's Inquirer:

Barry Bonds refused to autograph his 713th home-run ball in Philly (he hit it about a week or so ago). It reminded us of something Jeremy Roenick said days before he was traded from the Flyers to Los Angeles. "There is no one too busy that they can't sign their name," J.R. said. "Sometimes you are rushed, so you sign as you walk. But for someone to say, 'no' to a fan is a slap in the face and an outright insult. I don't care if people make money off my signature. I am not one of those guys that would say you can't do that. I make enough money in my career during my lifetime, why would I worry if someone makes five or 10 bucks on my autograph?"
Bonds is a joke.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Murphys Unite!

I guess Dubya has to do something to break the monotony of making speeches only "the Malkinites," as Atrios calls them, are listening to and riding in dune buggies while trying to look presidential.

Bush to headline event for Gerlach, Fitzpatrick

The president remains a popular draw on the Republican fundraising circuit, a party official says.

By Kori Walter
Reading Eagle

Pennsylvania Republicans facing stiff re-election battles for Congress this fall figure President Bush still packs a powerful fundraising punch despite his low job approval ratings.

The president is scheduled to headline a fundraising event on Wednesday in downtown Philadelphia for Rep. James W. Gerlach, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

GOP supporters will pay $5,000 for a VIP reception and photo session with Bush and $1,000 for dinner.

Gerlach, a Chester County Republican whose 6th Congressional District includes parts of Berks, is seeking a third two-year term.

He will face Democrat Lois Murphy, a Montgomery County lawyer, in a rematch of a 2004 contest, which Murphy lost by less than 7,000 votes.

Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican, is seeking a second term against Patrick Murphy, a Bucks County Democrat and an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War.

The president's approval ratings dipped to 30 percent among Pennsylvanians, according to a May 11 poll released by Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Conn.

But Mark Campbell, political director for the Gerlach campaign, said he is thankful for the president's fundraising help.

"Another way to look at it is Lois Murphy has Howard Dean, a radical leftist, and (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, from San Francisco, and we have President Bush," Campbell said.

A Lois Murphy campaign spokeswoman said Bush's visit shows that Gerlach has marched lockstep with the Bush administration.

"Bush is rewarding Gerlach for carrying his water on Capitol Hill for the last four years," spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus said. "It's clear that Jim Gerlach is Bush's right-hand man, and people of the 6th District have had enough."

Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Bush remains a popular draw on the GOP congressional fundraising circuit.

Recent presidential appearances raised $620,000 for an Indiana Republican and $820,000 for an Florida Republican, Patru said.

"The president is a tremendous ally for House Republicans working to maintain a majority" Patru said. "On the fundraising trail he remains popular among the grass-roots supporters."

In the 6th District race, Gerlach had slightly more than $1 million cash on hand while Murphy had $961,6222, according to the most-recent Federal Elections Commission reports.
And how "independent" is Mike Fitzpatrick again? Good question...

Bark, Freeper, Bark

Some nonsense is just too confrontational to ignore, such as this Letter To The Editor in today's Philadelphia Inquirer by some life form named Scott Durham of Haddonfield, NJ:

As I watch President Bush's poll numbers supposedly drop every day, with the media continually bashing him with glee, please let me make four quick observations.

First, by a very high percentage, I assume, the pollsters making these calls are liberals, with the questions slanted in their biased way.

Second, any logic would presume that the pollsters are reaching a heavily skewed audience of Democrats at home. (We Republicans are out making money, and hiring people, to keep the economy going.)

Third, I'm 49 years old and still waiting for a pollster to call me. For some reason I don't think I'll ever get the call.

Last, and most important, if an election were held tomorrow with Bush against any Democrat, GW would win convincingly and overwhelmingly. The American people would go into the voting booth and, through common sense, realize that the economy is growing and in great shape and that President Bush is killing terrorists before they kill us.

It's as simple as that. Period. End of story.
Well, here is at least one way that Durham is wrong (and Haddonfield is such a nice town; I can't believe it's inhabited by people exclusively like this guy).

Oh, and by the way, to send an Email to this tool and tell him what you think of him, click here.

Taking A Good Thing Too Far

As you might expect, this story from CNN was of particular interest to me (going to stray a bit from politics here).

There are other people I know and know of who put in a lot more time than I do plunking away on their keyboards in the same way I am at this moment, but still, I absolutely have to know when to break away from this stuff from time to time for at least two reasons: 1) I have to preserve my sanity, and 2) I have to get on with other things in life.

The story quotes Dr. Diane Wieland of nearby Lansdale, Pa., who I believe is a psychiatrist and has treated numerous individuals with what you might call “Internet addiction.” I give her credit for recognizing and trying to treat an emerging problem that shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.

The reason why I’m saying something about the CNN story, though, is because of a phrase from Dr. Wieland that appears towards the end which caught my eye, and that phrase is “online marital infidelity.” That made me a bit curious, so I did some Google searching on it, and the only other occurrences of this phrase that I could find were in articles from other sites that either duplicated the article from CNN (or maybe CNN duplicated the article from elsewhere?) or contained text that was either written by or referenced to Dr. Wieland.

So, it seems like Dr. Wieland is the only person making this diagnosis.

I don’t have a science background, and I have to assume that the phrase “online marital infidelity” came out of Dr. Wieland’s clinical work with patients who may envision that this describes their online behavior in some cases. I don’t know what her politics or moral beliefs are. I SINCERELY HOPE that this diagnosis resulted from actual science and not a superimposition of her beliefs onto others.

Still, though, I think this represents a “slippery slope.” We know what infidelity is. It really isn’t a solo activity. And the fact that someone would assign it to another person who did something alone is kind of scary, actually. I could imagine a court proceeding where Dr. Wieland could be called as an expert witness and describe symptoms of “online marital infidelity” that could possibly be prejudicial to a defendant.

If someone believes that they have engaged in this type of behavior, then personally I think that is a matter they should discuss with some kind of spiritual counselor, whether it is a minister, a rabbi, a priest, or another designated person. I don’t think saying that someone’s behavior constitutes “infidelity” is a decision to be made by any life sciences professional.

On a wholly other note, I should point out that the “Real Time Update” for the finale of Bill Maher’s latest run of shows (with R&B singer John Legend, Richard Clarke, and Dr. Cornel West) will appear here sometime next week (taking my time with it since the show is now on hiatus and scheduled to return August 25th).

Friday Repug Roundup

Before we get excited that Repug Jeff Sessions of Alabama chided the Senate today for trying to pass immigration legislation, I think we should keep in mind what Sessions said recently about Dubya’s domestic spying, which is an infinitely more important matter as far as I’m concerned.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, argued that the program "is not a warrantless wiretapping of the American people. I don't think this action is nearly as troublesome as being made out here, because they are not tapping our phones."
All the same, you just broke ranks (albeit for a comparatively minor cause). Your fellow wingnuts will remember you.

And why did I know that Jim (“Outraged By The Outrage Over Abu Ghraib”) Inhofe was behind the proposal to establish English as the national language? The only thing more pathetic is the fact that 64 percent of those polled in the CNN website's "Quick Vote" question thought it was a good idea (ugh).

By the way, I think this post from The Liberal Avenger is more than a bit illuminating concerning the note CNN tosses in as an aside near the end of the immigration/English story that Bush “often peppers his speeches with Spanish words and phrases.” How can this be done by someone who can’t even master proper English?

Killing The Messenger

We should be warned that the upcoming U.S. House contest between Repug Mike Fitzpatrick and Dem Patrick Murphy for the 8th district seat here in PA is going to one great big “snit-fest,” and I would imagine that the fits of pique will be coming just about entirely from Fitzpatrick’s side.

I actually feel an almost microscopic thread of sympathy for Fitzpatrick here. He hasn’t had anyone to challenge him on this con he’s running that he’s some kind of a moderate Republican (a breed which doesn’t exist anymore as far as I’m concerned), so by reflex, he probably feels that we should all just assume that he doesn’t do anything wrong. Fortunately for us all, Patrick is here to change that.

I say this because, as reported in the Bucks County Courier Times today (the paper has some good reporters – I just hope that they never decide to join the Editorial Board, or else they’ll become hopelessly compromised), Fitzpatrick introduced a bill that would “require schools and libraries to install screening software to block children from viewing (commercial social networking websites) and require the Federal Trade Commission to set up a Web site with information on the dangers of sites such as MySpace,” quoting from the story.

Patrick Murphy thinks this is a bad idea because it would “trample constitutional rights and do nothing to protect children.”

I agree. I would also add that passage of this bill would initiate legal challenges that, in all probability, would end up overturning it anyway (I say that because that’s what frequently happens with this type of legislation, since it depends on the definition of “obscenity,” and also what constitutes “a commercial social networking website,” as stated in the bill’s language…hell, that could include blogs like this one – PERISH THE THOUGHT!). Also, given Murphy’s legal background, I would assume that his objection would be well founded on that basis.

My own concerns of a secondary nature notwithstanding, I should mention that Murphy’s suggestion is to hire more police to search online for predators (it almost makes TOO MUCH sense to do that instead). After all, these cretins who prey on kids are just going to go somewhere else instead if they can’t go to schools or libraries.

And doesn’t Fitzpatrick care about what happens when kids access these sites when they’re NOT at a school or a library? I think this legislation should be called “The School And Library Immunity From Prosecution In The Event That Something Awful Happens To One Of Our Kids” Act.

Besides, what Fitzpatrick communicates to me with this wrong-headed bill is that he thinks kids use these sites just for gossip and chatting with friends. Suppose they use these sites to complete school assignments also? Why take away the option to go to MySpace and other sites for that purpose and maybe learn something because of the vermin out there (whose existence isn’t their fault anyway)?

Here’s another idea: instead of trying to pass this bill and grab some publicity by taking away something that most of our kids use with no problem whatsoever (punishing the many for the few, as always), why doesn’t Fitzpatrick SUPPORT ADDITIONAL FUNDING for our schools and libraries so they can hire people to monitor how our kids use these sites, instead of taking away the right of the kids to use them to begin with?

Aside from pointing out what I think are the flaws in Fitzpatrick’s legislation (and you KNOW something is up when Crazy Curt Weldon signs on as a supporter), I want to draw attention to Fitzpatrick’s typical, petulant, kicking-and-screaming response to any criticism, which he demonstrates again here.

Mikey said that Patrick “seems more interested in the constitutional rights of online predators than he is about protecting young children,” and Murphy “ought to be ashamed for opposing it.”

We heart you too, Mikey (nice to see that you’re upholding the best Repug tradition by trying to belittle and denigrate anyone who disagrees with you any way possible).

Update: Isn't Mikey the best? And yep, Booman, it's definitely something in the water, and 200 per day is probably a "low ball" estimate.

Why J. Dennis Is An Idiot

So the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives bloviates that “families who make $40,000 with two kids don’t pay takes,” huh?

What appears below is an excerpt from the tax tables published by the Internal Revenue Service, obtained from As you can plainly see, Hastert is wrong.

And in case you can’t see the graphic too well, you can access the same information from this link.

Nice to see that the Republican House leadership is so familiar with the U.S. Tax Code, isn't it?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Freedom To Wet Your Pants

Aiiieeee!! Please NSA, spy on me now so I can save my civil liberties (I mean, that must be the message from Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, when he says something like this, which isn't even an original quote, by the way). And don't tell me what you're doing. IT'S TOO TERRIFYING!

At least "old Europe" is trying to make Bushco accountable for secret behavior such as torture in other countries by means of "extraordinary rendition" (the subject of this piece by Nat Hentoff, who is truly a fine columnist when he's in non-freeper mode).

I Report, You Decide

Dubya In A Buggy

Dukakis In The Tank


Stick To Acting

Dear Mr. Gandolfini:

“Reinstate the draft,” huh? And “finish it”?

First, try making a legitimate case for invading the sovereignty of another country before a community of nations before you decide to do it anyway. Then, try listening to the generals who actually know what combat is about (re: Gen. Eric Shinseki) when they tell you that they will need many, many more troops than you’re willing to provide for them. And most importantly, try to have a clue about post-invasion planning so our troops and innocent Iraqis aren’t getting blown apart indiscriminately.

This isn’t a situation where you decide to shoot someone in the head or bludgeon them in numerous ways to get what you want (apparently, it is necessary for me to remind you of that).

And as for the draft, if anyone tries to get ahold of the young one to carry out the dirty work of this gang of crooks, it’s possible that I may visit upon them the vengeance you inflict on your enemies on a weekly basis on your TV show.

And by the way, that includes you.

A Payoff By Any Other Name

As the recently-defeated Democratic candidate to run against Mike Fitzpatrick would say (I’m referring to Andy Warren), “this is just crazy.”

So now it appears that the U.S. House Ethics Committee is prepared to move forward on investigations involving ties by Repug Rep Bob Ney of Ohio and Dem William Jefferson of Louisiana (Ney, of course, is the one with ties to Abramoff).

(By the way, georgia10 over at The Daily Kos made a good point recently about why the people of this country have a low opinion generally of Congress apart from whether one is talking about Democrat or Republican members, and that is because these members generally aren’t identified by their party in the media. That’s a problem, but I would also point out that the candidates themselves should do a better job of that, certainly in their campaign literature and correspondence. I’ve noticed that a lot in the course of being subjected to their ads and noticing their road signs encouraging people to vote for them, and my guess is that you have also.)

The stated reason for the sudden spasm of activity by this committee is that co-chair Democrat Pete Mollohan (update: his name is Alan per commenter, not Pete) of West Virginia has stepped down due to an investigation into money he supposedly directed into a nonprofit group, and Repug co-chair “Doc” Hastings supposedly will have a better working relationship with the new Dem in Mollohan’s role, Howard Berman (and speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s pissant spokesperson Ron Bonjean made some snide remark to that effect).

Well, Ron, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a bit strange that Hastings should be allowed to continue in HIS role in charge of this committee, seeing as how HE has been linked to Abramoff also.

Also, Hastings accepted a $7,800 trip to England on behalf of a company he “championed” for a multibillion-dollar contract at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. This article provides further details, including this excerpt:

BNFL (the company in England that paid for Hastings’ trip) won a $6.9 billion federal contract in 1998 to convert 54 million gallons of nuclear waste into glass for permanent storage. The contract was promoted by Hastings, who offered amendments to the Defense Authorization Act to pay for Hanford projects, including BNFL work.

But in October 1998, the General Accounting Office began questioning the contract as too lucrative for the company. Hastings continued to defend the contract.

The trip to the U.K. took place in January 2000. Four months later, the Department of Energy abruptly terminated the BNFL deal when it learned the cost could soar to $15.2 billion.
Let’s see now...the year was 2000. Who was still President then and watching out to prevent rampant fraud? Oh yeah, it was that Clinton guy, wasn’t it?

The 2004 trip to Stuart Island was paid for by the Washington Group International, according to the Web site PoliticalMoneyLine. Washington Group International, based in Idaho, is a major contractor with the U.S. government in Iraq and also is involved in the Hanford cleanup. The company was Hastings' top contributor to his 2004 re-election, giving $10,200.
And Hastings has the gall to criticize Mollohan or anyone else regarding ethics? For 10 grand, when Washington Group tells Hastings to jump, he’s going to ask “how high.”

This is what passes for proper legislative conduct under Republican governance, and this is a big reason to vote out every single Republican in November.

We've Still Got Your Back, Russ

Kudos to Russ Feingold for standing up to Arlen Specter in the Senate on the farcical attempt to approve and ultimately pass an amendment to the Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage (oh, but Arlen is such a progressive Republican, isn’t he? And he’s opposed to the amendment but he wants to bring it to a floor vote anyway even though it has little chance of passing? Senator, why don’t you show some ACTUAL BALLS and try pointing out the sheer stupidity of this exercise?)

To me, this whole matter should be left to the states to decide, and if the Republican party has a scintilla of integrity, they would feel the same way since they preach “states rights” about virtually everything else all the time.

And speaking of Wisconsin politicians, am I the only one who finds it a bit odd that a Republican congressman from that state appears to be the point person on the whole debate regarding another attempt at pandering to the Repug “base,” and I would of course be talking about the proposed immigration “reforms” chiefly affecting the southwest area of the country? I know Sensenbrenner is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and this falls into his purview, but it seems strange to me that some other Repug who would be affected more directly, like Kyl of Arizona or Cornyn of Texas, isn’t being featured in this also (not that I give a rat’s ass about good Repug strategy – I’d prefer to see them fall on their collective faces, actually – but it’s just a thought).

One final thought regarding Senator Specter: I should point out to you, Arlen, that we ALL, in different ways, are “protectors” of the Constitution. If somehow that basic fact of life concerning our government has escaped you, then you should resign immediately.

Future Schlock With Dingbat Pat

As I said a couple of days ago, if he were to run as a Repug for President again in ’08, the wild, unbelievable quotes would be nonstop (like this one - truly shocking that the word of God apparently speaks out of Pat’s butt).

Since we’ve now had our national weather update, let’s go to Rick Santorum for our regional forecast:

An unusually dense low front of conservative evangelicals is moving across our area from the southwest, colliding with a gathering of high pressure from the Penn Hills school district, which is seeking a $38,000 refund for cyber school attendance that my kids weren’t eligible for. The two forces are likely to gather together and rain down misery all over my $292,184 McMansion in Herndon, Va.
It should be said, though, that Little Ricky will have a hard enough time holding onto his day job apparently based on this story, so I think he should forget about meteorology for now (or maybe pick it up after Casey defeats him in November and he needs a new career?).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Make These DINOs Extinct

(I have to point two things out right away: 1) The abbreviation stands for Democrats in Name Only, and 2) We need these traitors to keep taking up space for now until they can eventually be replaced.)

So Dubya signed more tax cuts into law today, thus continuing to drown this country in a sea of red ink. What a waste of DNA, protoplasm and other bodily fluids this guy is!

I should be fair, though, and point out that he had some accomplices to this crime; namely, those who voted in favor of H.R. 4297, the original tax cut legislation that passed in both houses of Congress.

Blaming Republicans may be a bit of overkill at this point; I say that because, though they deserve it, they’re really not going to do anything against the bidding of those pulling their strings. No, I’m particularly steamed at the Democrats who stabbed us in the back yet again.

And they are as follows:


Cuellar (as in, “the wanker Henry”…we’ll get him next time, Ciro) (my bad - mixed up Cuellar with former House Repug Bonilla...)
Davis (TN))


Nelson, Ben (NE)
Nelson, Bill (FL)
I want to focus on these three guys in the Senate and point out what odious characters I think they are. They’re the best argument for Dr. Dean’s 50-State strategy that I’ve found so far. The sooner we find someone to eventually replace them, the better.

So Ben Nelson supported Strip Search Sammy, voted to cut funds for Head Start, supports a Federal Marriage Amendment, and voted to end debate on John Bolton. What party does this guy belong to again?

And Mark Pryor voted for the Dubya/Cheney Energy Swindle Legislation and is, according to a report in TIME Magazine, a voice for “Third Way Democrats” (as soon as I hear that phrase, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end and I wait for the inevitable freeper endorsement along with it – see, he voted with Dubya 58 percent of the time and still says he’s a member of our party).

This brings us to Bill Nelson who I must support by default since he’s running against Cruela DeVil to retain his U.S. Senate seat from Florida (and doing well, I should add, though Katie Harris is helping him by pretending to shoot at reporters). That being said, though, I should point out what this guy is truly all about (supported CAFTA and tort "deform" legislation also).

These are the people who roll over on us time and again and then come back to us asking for votes. Well, we need some of them for now.

But after you decide to help them, contact Dr. Dean and pledge your support so he can find better people for next time; with any luck at all, this will be their “last dance.”

Spy or Die

The Philadelphia Inquirer published this rabid bit of freeper propaganda a few days ago (I guess the title of this post reflects the craven fear they’re trying to instill again just in time for another election).


Data-mining is the president's duty
By Andrew C. McCarthy

The latest outbreak of controversy over Bush administration efforts to protect our nation from terrorist attack starkly demonstrates that the left and civil liberties extremists are determined to alter the system the Framers bequeathed us in fundamental and dangerous ways.
Uh, no. The person who is altering the system in fundamental and dangerous ways is Dubya by acting with no oversight of our courts, not “the left,” “civil liberties extremists,” or other freeper boogeymen.

Justice Robert Jackson had been U.S. attorney general in the administration of FDR, the lion of the left who unapologetically eavesdropped on American citizens suspected of collusion with the enemy during World War II.
I realize we’re starting to get into a philosophical disagreement here, but the difference is that there was a real possibility of invasion onto our shores during World War II. You had German submarines patrolling off the Jersey coast near Atlantic City, for example. FDR had to be concerned about Japanese or German agents in this country trying to blow up factories or munitions typically used by nation-states in more conventional type of warfare (though I don’t mean to absolve him here of wrongful internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry). Dubya, however, is spying on about 100 million Americans, according to Richard Clarke, and as he has said, we can’t ALL be terrorists.

In 1948, writing for the court, Jackson asserted that the president, "both as commander in chief and as the nation's organ for foreign affairs," was obliged to gather secret intelligence, and that it "would be intolerable" for federal courts to "review and perhaps nullify actions of the executive taken on information properly held secret." Such actions, Jackson elaborated, "are wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government, executive and legislative." They involve political judgments "of a kind for which the judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility."
I would need more time to review McCarthy’s exact source material here because he’s doing some very selective transcribing of quoted material (gee, do you think he’s doing this to change the meaning of Jackson’s original opinion?).

Jackson was retracing a path stretching back to Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Lincoln, as well as such giants of the law as Justices John Marshall and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Indeed, Holmes wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in 1909, "When it comes to a decision by the head of the state upon a matter involving its life, the ordinary rights of individuals must yield to what he deems the necessities of the moment. Public danger warrants the substitution of executive process for judicial process."
Again, Holmes wrote this during a period when more conventional type of war (sorry if that sounds too sterile or antiseptic) was looming with Germany (the difference is that back then, there was a more finite definition of a beginning and an ANY president power indefinitely is tantamount to a dictatorship).

It has been less than five years since the barbarous murders of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. We are at war. We have 150,000 of America's best and bravest in harm's way. And we confront enemies who tell us, repeatedly, that they are working feverishly toward new strikes against our homeland that could dwarf the carnage of 9/11.
”Step Right Up, Ladies And Gentlemen! It’s 'Fear And Smear 2006' Coming To Your Neighborhood, Whether You Want It Or Not!”

Under these circumstances, it is simply other-worldly that we find ourselves arguing over commonsense protective measures: the penetration of enemy communications and, as indicated by the most recent spate of sensational news stories (which, in fact, are a breathless rehash of five-month-old reporting), the mining of data that implicates no Fourth Amendment interests and invades no one's legitimate privacy rights.
Mr. McCarthy, how does it make you feel knowing that, if your phone service provider is Verizon, AT&T or Bell South, Dubya and the NSA can now tell you how many times your wife, mother, or girlfriend called their OB/GYN to discuss an upcoming appointment, as well as the results of lab work in their most personal of bodily areas? How does it make you feel knowing that Dubya and the NSA can give you details of phone conversations you may have had with your proctologist to discuss the results of your PSA screen for possible cancer? If your son or daughter ran into trouble with the law, how does it make you feel knowing that Dubya and the NSA know about your phone calls to the police or the lawyer representing your family in possible legal action (a scenario you should understand because of your background) as well as phone calls to any counselors discussing confidential information including possible treatment for alcohol or chemical dependency? I don’t know about you, but it makes me DAMN ANGRY!


Both initiatives have evidently been carried out by the National Security Agency, as authorized by President Bush. For the last six months, the critics' preoccupation has been to excoriate the administration for eavesdropping on Americans without judicial warrants. The charge is ludicrous.
Interesting (and scary, actually) that a prosecutor would call breaking the FISA law (as well as the telecomm provider’s breaking of the law by providing the records) “ludicrous.” If I were looking for legal representation, I wouldn’t consider you if I were brought up on charges of jaywalking.

As Jackson and Holmes trenchantly observed, external threats to the body politic are not judicial matters.
An analysis based on your previous selective quoting in this column.

The primary duty of government is security of the governed, and, for that central purpose, the American people democratically elect political representatives. The only one elected by all of them is the president (and vice president), and his paramount duty is to protect the public.
I guess McCarthy can’t resist talking down to us in our stupidity for not “trusting our leaders” to quote that all-knowing font of judicial guidance and interpretation, Britney Spears.

Regardless of what is said in any statute - such as the much-discussed 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prescribes a procedure for conducting electronic surveillance under court supervision - our Constitution commits ultimate decision-making about which potential foreign agents warrant monitoring on the president. And that is the case whether those foreign agents are overseas or, like Mohammed Atta, embedded among us while plotting to kill.
He just invalidated his own argument by pointing out that FISA mandates court supervision.

The critics are repulsed by executive power, particularly when it is wielded by a Republican.
And of course, in the best freeper tradition, partisan politics trumps everything.

The attacks on data-mining, however, betray the hollowness of their purported dedication to our civil liberties. For here, the NSA has been faithful to a goal the privacy lobby has hectored us about for months: national security that respects privacy.
How the hell do you know? Have you SEEN the database? And I love working in the “privacy lobby” code phrase here.

The government apparently purchases phone records from service providers in order to amass a comprehensive data bank. Privacy, however, is rigorously protected: The data base does not include personal identifying information (names, addresses, etc.); just records of calling activity.
Let me explain something to McCarthy about how Internet search engines work (such as Google). You take someone’s phone number, do a search on it and (unless you have blocked the number through the service, something a lot of people don’t know about) presto! You have the person’s name, address, and even a link to a mapping service to find out where they live. So at the very least, the NSA or anyone else can use the database information as a starting point to fill in more details on all of us (and since this is a science to telemarketers, I’m somehow quite sure the NSA has figured this out as well as other tricks).

Besides, the point ultimately isn’t the type of data being collected by Dubya and the NSA (though that’s serious enough). The problem is that THEY CONTINUE TO DO IT IN FULL VIOLATION OF FISA LAW!

That calling activity can tell us what numbers al-Qaeda agents are contacting in our midst, and which numbers those contacts then call. The system is designed to target only those contacts, rather than the rest of us, for investigation.
Again, how the hell do YOU know?

If we had had it in 2001, embedded suicide hijackers might have been identified before 9/11.
Uh oh, someone else is channeling Curt Weldon and this “Able Danger” zaniness.

There was PLENTY of opportunity to identify the 9/11 hijackers in advance, sadly enough. The problem is that the Bush Administration failed to do so. And it wasn’t because they didn’t have the tools to do it. They didn’t have the will, and they also didn’t have the leadership.

The Supreme Court has held for more than a quarter-century that the data the NSA collects do not raise privacy concerns, even if identifying information is included.
True (I believe), when the data is collected legally.

To malign a program that ingeniously collects it without invading privacy is not just disingenuous. It's suicidal.
He leaves us with one final threat with all of the subtlety of a kick in the teeth – typical.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.
By the way, this link takes you to more information on the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The writeup contains a list that represents a who’s who of right wing loony tunes, as far as yours truly is concerned (a bit surprising to see Frank Lautenberg on the list, though, but not really surprising to see Charlie Schumer, the person who, as DSCC head, is primarily responsible for saddling us with Bob Casey Jr. in the upcoming PA Senatorial election).

Mixing Sour Grapes And Humble Pie

I was curious to find out what spin Andy Warren would put on his Democratic primary defeat yesterday, so I went to his website to find out. The problem is that he hasn’t updated it yet, and I couldn’t find anything in his blog either (of course I couldn’t…that only has POSITIVE news, remember?). It’s possible that he may not update it at all, and he has the right not to do that; I’ll grant him that much.

Much more important, though, is the fact that PATRICK MURPHY WON by waging a hard-fought, intelligent, issues-oriented campaign.

Warren said that the reason he lost was because of low-voter turnout and the fact that he was a Republican until last summer (cue the tinny violin). I would add that it was also because his campaign “issues,” such as the supposed residency question and, to quote Mimi Reimel of his “brain trust,” what Murphy did as a “claims adjuster” in Iraq, which antagonized more than a voter or two around here.

I read that, by the way, in today’s Bucks County Courier Times which, as far as I’m concerned, is hard pressed at this moment to consider itself a serious newspaper after its editorial board endorsed Warren a few days ago, despite the fact that it published this accurate summation of Warren’s campaign last month:

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)
Warren (quoting today's news report) said that “Patrick Murphy is the 8th district candidate, and we need to support the 8th district Democratic candidate.” Well, acknowledging reality is always a good start.

Now, finally, at least, we can take a bit – just a bit – of a break for now. And Andy can finally go back to Ed Rendell and beg, borrow, or steal for his old PennDOT job where he can do no more harm than to antagonize area motorists in the media every so often just to let us know he’s still alive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fire Up "The Speed Bump Express"

So the showdown between "The Surreal Bob Casey" and Scumbag Santorum starts beginning tomorrow (just checked the latest results from The Inquirer - the good news, though, is that Patrick Murphy currently leads Andy Warren 66 to 33 percent, respectively, with about half of the district votes tallied so far).

(By the way, the post title pertains to a quote from some member of the local punditocracy here who said that Casey would have "a minor speed bump" on his way to receiving the party endorsement, meaning facing Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals in the Democratic primary - despite the valiant efforts of Chuck and his people, Casey appears to have won this going away).

Aside from utter, gut-wrenching, violent repugnance towards your opposition, Mr. Casey Jr., you yourself have shown me nothing in the primary to make me want to cast my vote for you (most of the time I didn't even know where you were...your spokesman Larry Smar was easily more visible than you).

I'm not a political genius by any means, but to me, the point of a primary is to craft your message and your campaign through a tough test among fellow party members, sort of like a rehearsal from your attorney before you prepare to take the stand and testify under cross-examination.

Since, from what I could determine (and I looked HARD to try and figure out what you were up to), you basically took a pass on the entire primary and managed to get away with it (a calculated position, I realize), you now will have to face the Repug slime machine, a media which will turn hostile on you if you don't feed it what it wants in a digestible format that can be translated to teaser sound bites in lieu of actual news content, and possibly the most brazen, intellectually reptilian politician this state has certainly seen in quite awhile and the most egregious on the national stage this side of Bill Frist (oh, and did I mention that, unfortunately, he happens to be a highly skilled campaigner as well?), all without the benefit of a thorough amount of preparation.

I hope you now realize the enormity of the task before you, Mr. Casey Jr. Take the polls and throw them out the window; your lead will be reduced to single digits over time when all the factors come into play; it's inevitable.

I hope you can "bone up" and learn "on the fly," Mr. Casey Jr. If not, you're cooked (and Scumbag Santorum, God help us, will be returned for six more years).

The race has barely started, and you are already an underdog.

An Answer To Bushco

While the dance continues with Iran over whether or not they intend to stop uranium enrichment that would allow them to make a bomb, I tried to do a bit of a “connect the dots” exercise over what Russia and China are up to in all of this (I mean, the leaders of these other countries aren’t stupid; our rhetoric could make even the most ardent pacifist start hunkering down in expectation of an assault).

These two countries are pushing for talks against Iran instead of sanctions (again, didn’t WE used to do stuff like that, or is that “so pre-9/11” of me?), and this story from The Moscow Times mentions something called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Russia and (of course) China are members.

As a public service, I now intend to provide whatever information I can on this organization which has, no doubt, gone unreported as we sift through news headlines about illegal spying, undocumented workers, and Britney Spears’ parenting skills. I will tap into my vast body of knowledge on this to provide the most interesting content that I can (don’t worry...I didn’t know about the group until 10 minutes ago also).

Background is available on the group from this link, and I’ve excerpted this paragraph to summarize what the group is about:

According to the SCO Charter and the Declaration on the Establishment of the SCO, the main purposes of SCO are: strengthening mutual trust and good-neighborliness and friendship among member states; developing their effective cooperation in political affairs, the economy and trade, science and technology, culture, education, energy, transportation, environmental protection and other fields; working together to maintain regional peace, security and stability; and promoting the creation of a new international political and economic order featuring democracy, justice and rationality.
Gee, I wonder who the “rationality” part is directed at, anyway?

So it sounds like the Asian countries including some of the former Soviet republics are gathering together out of economic self-interest in an effort to “feather each other’s nests” in the best capitalist traditions, right?

Well, it may be a bit more than that (as mentioned in this link).

Though the declaration on the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization contained a statement that it "is not an alliance directed against other States and regions and it adheres to the principle of openness", most observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to the United States and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas near both Russia and China. Many observers also believe that the organization was formed as a direct response to the threat of missile defense systems by the United States, after the United States reversed course in its nuclear policy and began promoting National Missile Defense.
The Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, the rise to power of Ahmadinejad in Iran (and by the way, the “letter” post is on hold since I’m getting a decidedly underwhelming response to my original idea, which I partly expected), now the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (which, to be honest, may have happened even if Gore had won the legal battle in 2000 and thus the election, but I wonder if they would be conducting military exercises); all of these developments are consequences of the unilateralist, confrontational madness of our ruling regime.

Try thinking about this the next time you read about a bit of celebrity fluff or cancellation of television programs on CNN’s web site and wonder whether or not these news geniuses and others even know if this stuff is going on.

Watching The Freepers Eat Each Other

I know the immigration debate/ shouting matches/ protests currently raging reflect the fact, in part, that people are in this country quite probably in violation of the law, and their struggle to earn a wage and live something like a life better than that they’re trying to escape from should earn a degree of respect. I also understand and sympathize with other related human costs from all of this (such as the money they bring home to their families across the border from their jobs in this country, trying to obtain medical coverage for themselves and their dependents, etc.). More than that, though, it angers me to see that this mess was created by employers acting in violation of the law by hiring these people without proper verification of U.S. citizenship.

All that being said, though, I should point out that I think the political aspects of this are hilarious.

Dick Polman of the Inquirer has stopped harping on “the divided Democrats” theme (which has a bit of truth, unfortunately – Kos is right; these “Third-Way” losers like Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel should just take a nice payoff and retire to a think tank somewhere) long enough to write two good columns recently; one on the Repugs “Fear And Smear 2006” campaign strategy, and this one today on Dubya’s attempt at placating “the base” over his immigration show.

So Dubya’s losing the support of his fellow cretins on this issue, huh? He’s trying to stop “the right’s flight”? I have only this reasoned and thoughtful response:


Aw, you’ve been “played” again by Bushco, haven’t you? And you’re only realizing that now?

Get this through your heads, you so-called “values voters”; when it comes to your party's interests for real, pro-business Republican conservatives will always win out over you! And who exactly are you people supposed to “run to,” anyway? Hillary Clinton? Or is Pat Robertson going to try and run for president again (oh, please do, Pat…we lefty bloggers will love you for it; my God, you’ll be a “quote machine” EVERY SINGLE DAY!).

This excerpt from Polman’s column today was worth a chortle, I thought.

Bush had barely finished last night before the conservative blogosphere went to work on him. Kathryn Jean Lopez, a regular on the National Review Web site, dismissed him as "more Mr. Rogers than commander in chief." Invoking the macho star of TV's 24, she declared: "Get me Jack Bauer."

In fact, Bush was getting hammered even before he spoke. One antagonist was David Frum - the former Bush speechwriter who helped coin the phrase axis of evil. On his blog yesterday, Frum argued that sending the National Guard to the border was empty symbolism, designed "to buy the president some respite from negative polls... . That's pretty shabby politics. It's also pretty dumb politics - so dumb that it raises a question: Could the president possibly want the GOP to lose in November 2006?"

And last night, having just listened to Bush's address, Frum concluded: "This will be one of those rare presidential speeches that drives the president's numbers down, not up."
That’s too funny (and thanks for saving me some work).

How quickly you spoiled little babies turn on each other when you don’t get EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT EVERY STINKING TIME.

Despite how I feel about this administration and its handlers, I have to admit some grudgingly respect because they found a way to patch together enough of a coalition to get the politicians and judges installed who will favor them and their agenda (the long, hard slog of trying to undo their dirty work will be the topic for many other posts, I’m sure).

But for now, it looks like it’s all going down in flames, and it’s truly a treat to watch.

Try "Rue De La Cop Killer"

I don’t side with the wingers on much of anything, but I do on this issue.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this morning that a Paris suburb is going to name a street after Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The article accessible from here will communicate to you why that is a sick joke.

I know it’s wrong to lambaste the French solely over this, as well as the fact that some of these clods embraced Ira Einhorn also, convicted of the murder of onetime girlfriend Holly Maddux (do they LIKE murderers from this area?), but I’ll admit that the temptation can be overwhelming. That doesn’t mean we should give into it, though…after all, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from that nation, and one of their greatest architects, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, designed Washington, D.C. (and you could go down a long list of other French notables to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions to our country and our way of life).

But granting this kind of notoriety to Abu-Jamal on top of that which his currently enjoys (wrongly) is twisted and sick (and I don’t care how many lefty notables support him – all of them happen to be wrong).

One more thing, for what it's worth: you may or may not remember that, some months ago, I supported Stanley "Tookie" Williams in his fight against execution because of what he had done while in prison to try and keep kids out of gangs, as well as questions regarding his original conviction; I thought he should never see the light of day again, but his life should have been spared (of course, we know what happened).

I know of no such contribution to keep kids out of a life of crime, sense of remorse or anything approaching contrition from Mumia Abu-Jamal (I suppose that would acknowledge his guilt). And I don't expect that I ever will (and despite what Mumia's followers would have you believe, there are no questions regarding his original conviction either).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fading Into The Sunset

The more I see of John McCain, the more I realize what a tragic figure he has become (and he’s made himself that way).

On the one hand, of course, we know of his service to our country for which we owe a great debt, and every time I see or hear of him, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to discount that, and that’s as it should be. However, on the other hand, I see a shameless Republican shill who will say and do ANYTHING with the goal of securing The White House one day.

The latter incarnation of McCain, by the way, was on display the other day in a speech that he gave at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

It’s truly pitiable to see McCain pretending to encourage Americans to “debate” the Iraq War, when he must know by now that Dubya is pulling the troops out as he speaks. By doing this, he’s playing a shell game worthy of the Bushies themselves. Besides, where was the “debate” on the war at a time when it actually could have mattered? McCain himself said “the debate is over” pretty much right after Dubya’s “State Of The Union” address in January 2003 (a document which, if there is any justice whatsoever, will be ranked as one of the grossest, foulest instruments of propaganda ever seen over time).

In the speech at Liberty University, McCain was giving a message of conciliation to people who give and take no quarter, and he knew it. It was cheap, grandstanding political theater and that was it. The audience of “Liberty” University is as interested in hearing other points of view on the war or anything else as they are in granting an audience to Hillary Clinton (and speaking of the senator from New York, I just can’t wait for another brainless, “Gee, What Will Hillary Do This Week?” column from wanker Richard Cohen).

It is unfathomable to me why McCain doesn’t understand that Falwell and their ilk WILL NEVER SUPPORT HIM. They will ALWAYS BE ABLE to find someone more to their liking, including some of the people who are younger than McCain and more photogenic (not trying to insult McCain, but everybody judges everyone else on that stuff) like George Allen, Scumbag Santorum, Jeb Bush, and even Bill Frist (eeewwwwww!).

He will never seriously contend for the White House again – not as a Republican anyway, the party to which McCain owes ultimate fealty. All of this corporate media noise about him and Hillary Clinton means absolutely nothing (for both of those individuals, actually).

Sex, Disease, and Tax Cuts

The following excerpt appeared from Faye Flam’s “Carnal Knowledge” feature in the Philadelphia Inquirer today (as she took a break from new types of stimulation and searching for the “G” spot to write a good column on the problems of abstinence-only education).

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed two scientists from a panel at a conference on sexually transmitted diseases. One, a student at Pennsylvania State University, was going to present findings suggesting abstinence education didn't prevent STDs.

She and another panelist were replaced by others friendlier to teaching abstinence until marriage. The replacement was made at the request of Rep. Mark E. Souder (R., Ind.) and was immediately denounced by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D., Calif.).
By the way, to tell Representative Souder what you think of him for doing this, click here.

This might be a good time to reevaluate the truthfulness of sex-education courses in public schools. The honesty of the course material would trump any studies designed to determine whether these courses "work" either to prevent teen sex or disease.

Even if we could trust such studies, what if they showed that lying to students proved more "effective" in preventing chlamydia? Is disease prevention sufficient reason to substitute propaganda for education?

"That's a good question," said Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for Henry Waxman. "You should only be evaluating programs that provide information, not misinformation."
In search of more information on who is running the CDC (Dr. Julie Gerberding), I came across this from Dr. Howard Brody, who teaches at Michigan State University, in which Dr. Brody discusses CDC funding cuts that turned into more brainless tax giveaways for the rich. Putting aside the fact that cutting CDC funding in the face of a possible bird flu pandemic is dangerously misguided and irresponsible (as noted here), these last two paragraphs should appear on every government building in this country.

Let me tell the rich folks something. If Bush lets the public schools go to pot, you can send your kids to expensive private academies. If Bush lets more and more people go without adequate health insurance, you can still pay your own way to the Mayo Clinic. If Bush sells off the national parks to the developers to put up condos, you can still afford to take a safari to Africa to see wilderness and wild animals.

But if Bush lets the U.S. public health system fall apart, you could still be dead. And your tax cuts won’t save you.
Now if Bushco and Congress could only “abstain” from tax cuts...

Keep Your Enemies Closer

I read about how our gal Condi Rice is telling us to make nice with Libya and its High Exalted Leader Moammar Qaddafi now since we’re such good friends, apparently.

To be fair, I should point out that Libya has worked hard to make reparations to the families of the victims of the Pan Am Flight 107 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1987 (which is the very least they could do since they accepted blame for that horrible attack).

However, we should not assume it is now just peachy for Americans to travel there. As this State Department advisory tells us:

Americans who apply for Libyan visas are experiencing significant delays, often waiting several weeks or months before their applications are approved. It is recommended that Americans obtain individual Libyan visas prior to travel, rather than group visas. Americans who expected to enter on group tour visas or individual airport visas arranged by Libyan sponsors have frequently been denied entry at the air and sea ports and have been forced to turn back at the airport or remain onboard ship at the port. Because of lengthier administrative processing for American visa applicants, many cruise ship operators no longer include Americans on their group tour applications, creating a great last-minute disappointment for those American passengers who expected to visit Libyan archeological sites.
This (along with the fact that Lybian drivers must be the most dangerous in the world) was confirmed by Andrew Solomon writing in The New Yorker in an issue that appeared last week, in which he described bureaucratic ineptitude and arrogance typical of what is basically a tribal nation trying to keep up with other industrialized countries.

“In some areas—notably with respect to civil liberties and economic restructuring—the rate of change is glacial.... In other areas, change has occurred with startling speed.” Foreign goods are available, satellite TV is prevalent, and Internet cafés are crowded. One senior official said, “A year ago, it was a sin to mention the World Trade Organization. Now we want to become a member.” Yet, Solomon observes, “Few Libyans are inclined to test what civil liberties they may have.... The atmosphere is late Soviet: forbidding, secretive, careful, albeit not generally lethal.” And Qaddafi has by no means become a beloved figure. Solomon writes, “It is the most arresting of the country’s many paradoxes: Libyans who hate the regime but love Libya cannot tell where one ends and the other begins.”

Qaddafi’s second oldest son and possible successor, Seif el-Islam al-Qaddafi, “is to be the face of reform,” Solomon writes, and, he adds, “The relationship between father and son is a topic of constant speculation.” While Libyans, who are afraid to refer to Qaddafi by name, call him the Leader, they refer to Seif, who is one of eight children, as the Principal, or the Son. Seif is pursuing a doctorate in political philosophy at the London School of Economics, and, Solomon notes, “he founded the Qaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, which fights torture at home and abroad and works to promote human rights. He appears to be committed to high principles, even though real democratic change might put him out of the political picture.”
There was also a photo in Solomon’s fine article of a HUGE poster the equivalent of a billboard ad we would see near a highway with Qaddafi’s face on it (and by the way, why is it that world news organizations could never get the spelling of his last name right?), and these posters must appear throughout Libya.

This article, though, explains why the U.S. would want to restore relations with Libya (attempts at normalizing relations began late in the second term of the Clinton Administration).

Many Western leaders had written off Qadhafi as unfathomable and mercurial, and for that reason, had been reluctant to engage in any dialogue. Their distaste for the Libyan leadership, however, seems to have obscured the many ways in which Libya was a problem that lent itself to resolution.

The benefits of the Libyan turn have been massive. Not only has the United States won important cooperation from the Libyans on counterterrorism, eliminated uncertainty over proliferation in North Africa, and helped secure justice for the families of victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorist acts, but the discovery and subsequent disruption of proliferation networks that had been supplying the Libyan government has had ripple effects beyond North Africa to the Persian Gulf, Africa, and Asia. All together, the benefits of U.S. engagement with the Libyans have exceeded many of the expectations not only of skeptics but also of advocates. From the Libyan side, most of the benefits have come indirectly—not from the U.S. government but from corporations seeking to enter the Libyan market. Libya has shed its international pariah status, and Tripoli in five years is unlikely to bear much resemblance to its current state.
This is all good news, and if I were actually inclined to give Dubya credit for anything (which I’m not), it would be for this, but only slightly. However, as Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem puts it:

“We would like a relationship, yes, but we do not want to get into bed with an elephant…deep down, the Libyans think the U.S. will not be satisfied with anything short of regime change.... And, deep down, the Americans think that, if they normalize relations, Qaddafi will blow something up and make them look like fools.”
I don’t think Michael Corleone could have put it any better than that.

And by the way, Steve Almond doesn't trust Madame Secretary either.

Update 8/21/09: Interesting behavior by one of our "allies" (here)...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"Bucks For Chuck" Needs Help

(Bucks County, PA, that is...)

I'm going to be putting up some road signs for Chuck Pennacchio today, and I know someone who has a bunch and also needs help with making phone calls to get people to the polls on Tuesday.

If you live in PA and can do anything to help, please leave a comment with your Email address and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks.