Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Weekend Guitar Clinic From "RT"

Yep, I'm still away, but here's something for your viewing and listening pleasure (Richard Thompson performing "Mingus Eyes" on "Austin City Limits," from "Mirror Blue," released in February '94)

Friday, July 28, 2006

They Call Him Mr. Poitier

This was probably the best news I read all day (from this morning's Inquirer)...

What a magnificent performance by the Marian Anderson Award selection committee in choosing Sidney Poitier as this year's recipient.

In November, Poitier will join an exclusive club of seven, including his friend Harry Belafonte, who in 1998 became the first recipient. The other past recipients are Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey.

During the turbulent civil rights era, Poitier sent a powerful message as he portrayed strong, conscience-driven black men much different from the stereotypically lazy, funny African American males with whom white movie audiences were more comfortable.

In 1958, Poitier became the first black man to be nominated for the Academy Award for best actor in a leading role for The Defiant Ones. In 1963, he took home that Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field as the "Amen"-singing ex-GI who helps five nuns build a church.

His work didn't keep Poitier out of the civil rights movement. He was one of the speakers preceding the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington. Ten years later, Poitier gave the keynote address at the 10th convention of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He and Belafonte continually helped raise money for King's efforts.

Actor/director/producer/writer Poitier is a fitting recipient for an award named in honor of Marian Anderson, the Philadelphia-born contralto whose impact also went far beyond her talent as an entertainer. In the 1930s and '40s, America's desire to hear Anderson sing overcame the prejudiced will of those who unsuccessfully sought to keep her audiences segregated.

The Anderson Award goes to an artist who has excelled in his craft and shown a commitment to better society. That's Sidney Poitier.
When Poitier received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar a few years ago (at the '04 Academy Awards, I believe), he walked carefully onstage to a thunderous ovation (his stride slowed somewhat by age, but the determined gaze remained constant) and thanked many people whom he'd worked with in his career. Many of these individuals had died, and Poitier, in naming them (Spencer Tracy, Rod Steiger, particularly director Stanley Kramer of "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" and Richard Brooks of "Blackboard Jungle") prefaced their names with "the late" to connote that.

I believe what Poitier was trying to communicate at that moment, in his typically firm and dignified but understated way, was that people in the arts must never lose sight of the commitment to their craft and issues of social justice, and that the mantle once worn by others must be picked up by anyone who attempts to communicate through a mass medium of any kind whatsoever. It's definitely a lesson and an example worth remembering.

Now on another note, I should point out that blogging activity here, if it happens at all over the next few days, is going to be very light into the middle of next week (work and play).


Tell Hamlet To Lighten Up

Somehow I could never picture "Lord Larry" reciting this as part of a public service announcement after a performance at the "old Vic," though he could have been tempted based on this story.

O that this too, too solid flesh
Should not melt in the sun, but be pampered, enjoying the pleasure
Of a generous government-sponsored vacation
As part of our country's socialized benefits package
Yea, to be coddled, nurtured
From womb to newborn, newborn to toddler
Toddler to adolescent, unto adult
Where mothers are paid to stay home
And tend to children 'til pre-school
Thus is happy, productive society ensur'd
By making investment most sweet in loins' finest fruit
But hark, thou darkest measure
Maximizing GNP, employer earnings per share
Is thuseth sheathed like a bare bodkin
No sweat on curs'd brow; we play, that's the thing
To this, our country's conscience, we're all kings
Behold our state of life, rough hewn in no way
Where cats all mew and even dogs have their day
This message has been brought to you by the Denmark Board of Trade and Tourism.

And speaking of actors who have played The Melancholy Dane, check this out.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (7/28)

Sorry it's late this week - too damn much posting on the Middle East...

As reported in the Inquirer last Sunday, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll call votes last week:


Embryonic stem cells. The House on Wednesday failed, 235-193, to reach the two-thirds majority needed to override President Bush's veto of a bill (HR 810) to expand federal financing of embryonic stem-cell research beyond limits he set in 2001.

A yes vote was to enact the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Non-embryonic stem cells. Voting 273-154, the House on Tuesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to send President Bush a bill (S 2754) directing the Department of Health and Human Services to fund stem-cell research that excludes the use of human embryos and develop a detailed plan for such funding. A supermajority was required for passage.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Brady, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews and Castle.
Castle’s “no” vote was expected since he co-sponsored the legislation to support embryonic stem cell research. And I have a feeling that Rob Andrews saw S 2754 as the Trojan Horse of a bill that it truly was, giving Mikey and others who opposed the Castle bill political cover to make it look like they’re actually doing something.

Dr. Dean called it in this correspondence.

What a disgrace.

Same-sex marriage ban. Voting 236-187, the House on Tuesday failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to advance a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriages (HJ Res 88). The Senate had already defeated it.

A yes vote was to pass the resolution.

Voting yes: Dent, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach and Schwartz.
“Crazy Curt” gives Admiral Joe another issue with his one (and can someone explain to me again how Tim Holden ended up as a Democrat?).

I also find it interesting how Mikey can side with the Catholic Church on stem cell research, but split with them on this and the proposed immigration “reform” that would have punished Catholics aiding illegal/undocumented immigrants. I also have to grudgingly admit that this is a shrewd vote on his part, recognizing that this issue hits home to people with gay and lesbian friends or family members.

An amendment outlawing same-sex marriages will NEVER pass the U.S. Congress – mark my words. I should point out, though, that I support same-sex unions, but I’m sorry…I will never support same-sex marriage, and to me, there’s a difference.

Pledge of Allegiance. Voting 260-167, the House on Wednesday sent the Senate a bill (HR 2389) stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill would give state courts sole authority to judge whether the words under God in organized pledge recitals at schools violate the separation of church and state.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
I did some checking on this, and I must share this story from The Boston Globe (dumb vote for Mikey and Crazy Curt, and Holden looks more and more like a Repug to me).

I also want to highlight this quote from the story by a guy named Zach “No, I’m Not A Redneck…Not Much” Wamp:

``We should not and cannot rewrite history to ignore our spiritual heritage," said Representative Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican. ``It surrounds us. It cries out for our country to honor God."
Uh, I’d say we have a ways to go in this country right now when it comes to “honoring God” in terms of respecting our fellow citizens and our families. I’d say we need to do a much better job of promoting educational opportunity, good jobs, good wages, health care benefits, ensuring environmental protection and workplace safety, as well as domestic security, on behalf of everyone (and no, I’m not going to go look for individual links on this stuff, since they’re everywhere online). I’d say that’s part of the whole “love thy neighbor” thing that the Fundies seem to have a lot of trouble remembering from time to time when it suits them (and of course, I don’t recall reading anything in the New Testament about blowing up countries and killing people for their oil either).

Tell the states to lump it. I think Michael Newdow is an idiot for trying to get “under God” out of the pledge and removed from recital in public schools, but it’s his right to go ahead with his wrong headed legal action if he wants to, and Congress shouldn’t be wasting its time with this issue.

Oman trade agreement. Voting 221-205, the House on Thursday sent President Bush a bill (HR 5684) to implement a free-trade accord with Oman. Backers said the pact would benefit the U.S. economy and reward a Middle Eastern ally. Critics said it lacks tough environmental and labor standards and gives terrorists an opening to work at U.S. ports.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Pitts and Saxton.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Schwartz, Smith and Weldon.
This was an interesting “yes” vote for Castle as far as I’m concerned. Maybe he’s just recognizing the reality that foreign nationals and overseas-based corporations, mainly China, have a lot to do with our port operations anyway.

I don’t like the fact that this “Dubai Ports World II” legislation was the inevitable result when DPW was stonewalled earlier, and we should oppose it in principle. But if the majority of voters knew how porous our ports are now, they’d be calling out for comprehensive reform as opposed to raising their hackles over this issue with one company (treating the symptom instead of the disease, if you will).

Support for Israel. The House on Thursday adopted, 410-8, a measure (H Res 921) supporting Israel in its military campaign against Hezbollah and Hamas. The resolution affirms Israel's right to self-defense and says Iran and Syria should be held accountable for their sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas.

A yes vote backed the resolution.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted yes.
Of course they did; they’re not crazy (I should find out who the eight brave souls are who actually voted no).


Embryonic stem cells. Voting 63-37, the Senate on Tuesday sent the White House a bill (HR 810) to extend federal financing of embryonic stem-cell research beyond limits set by President Bush in 2001. The expanded research would have access to thousands of embryos that otherwise would be frozen or discarded by fertility clinics.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Rick Santorum (R., Pa.).
Little Ricky stays true to “the base”; I’ll give him that and absolutely no more.

Non-embryonic stem cells. Voting 100-0, the Senate on Tuesday sent the House a bill (S 2754) directing HHS to provide financial support of stem-cell research that does not involve human embryos. The bill authorizes funding for three years and requires development of a specific plan to fund such research.

No senator spoke against the bill. All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.

Ban on "fetus farms." Voting 100-0, the Senate on Tuesday sent the House a bill (S 3504) making it illegal for one to solicit or accept fetal tissue generated specifically for embryonic stem-cell research.

No senator spoke against the bill. All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.
“Fetus farms”? Sounds like something out of a Michael Crichton novel.

Voting Rights Act. Voting 98-0, the Senate on Thursday sent President Bush a bill (HR 9) to extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act for 25 years beyond its scheduled 2007 expiration. The bill would continue a requirement that certain states and localities with a history of systematic voting discrimination clear changes in their voting laws in advance with the Justice Department.

A yes vote was to pass the bill. All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.
Like I said last week when the House passed it, it’s about freakin’ time (though they waited until after Dubya gave his first NAACP speech and showed “leadership” by calling for the bill’s passage…such clever boys and girls).

Corps of Engineers oversight. Voting 54-46, the Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment requiring outside review of Army Corps of Engineers projects when the cost is more than $40 million, a state governor requests special oversight, another federal agency challenges the project, or the Army secretary declares the project to be controversial. It was an amendment to a water-projects funding bill (HR 2864).

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.

Voting no: Santorum and Specter.
Passage of this bill, on balance, is good news, and here’s why (though I can see where it would create more bureaucracy that didn't exist before...another contribution to Little Ricky’s absolutely putrid voting record, and I guess Our Man Arlen was too busy trying to help get approval for Dubya’s secret FISA court to cast the right vote here).

As noted in the Inquirer, this week the House took up a proposed civilian nuclear agreement with India and a bill to abolish outdated federal agencies. Both chambers debated (?) a bill to bolster private-sector pensions, and the Senate considered (?) 2007 appropriations bills.

Inspired By This Non-Story

Ken Jennings: “I’ll take ‘Clueless Political Parties’ for 100, Alex.”

Alex Trebek: “In 2006, what national political organization still thinks that you can run a ‘90s-style campaign on middle class economic and domestic security issues while utterly ignoring the War in Iraq and the subsequent war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah which it has spawned, as well as choosing not to mention that the conflict in Iraq is owed to the fact that our poor-to-non-existent postwar planning created a vacuum that was filled by terrorist insurgents who were not there before we originally invaded?”

Ken Jennings: “Who are the Democrats?”

Alex Trebek: “Yes” (applause)

(and it wasn’t even “The Daily Double”…)

Update 7/31: OK, this is a good sign - I'll take this for now.

Mikey On Energy Has No “Juice”

I received an interesting, taxpayer- funded letter from our illustrious 8th-district U.S. House Rep yesterday (fresh from his Delete Online Predators Act "victory").

I would like to invite you to attend a forum I am hosting on Friday August 4, 2006, at Delaware Valley College highlighting the latest developments in renewable energy. The purpose of my Renewable Energy Forum is to explore progressive approaches to reducing our nation’s dependence on high-priced and environmentally harmful foreign oil through investments in alternative energy sources. The Forum will also provide a unique opportunity for the public and policy leaders to see the latest in cutting-edge alternative energy technology.

Energy production and independence is vital to our economy, national security, and quality of life. As the price of gasoline continues to rise, supporting alternative energy technology has become one of my top priorities in Congress. I firmly believe that Congress must aggressively work to advance renewable and alternative energy technology such as hydrogen, wind, solar, geo-thermal, hydropower, ethanol, hybrid, and biomass.
I wonder if “biomass” is code for “nuclear,” as in “revving up Three Mile Island again”? If it is, Fitzpatrick should just say so.

Update: My bad...should have followed up with this.

The Renewable Energy Forum will bring together local business and environmental leaders to provide background and insight into current and future alternative energy solutions. In addition, there will be hydrogen fuel cell, ethanol and hybrid automobiles for attendees to drive as well as exhibits explaining the latest technical advancements in renewable energy.

During my 10 years as a Bucks County Commissioner, I worked hard to develop a progressive record of environmental protection. Protecting our natural resources is not only an obligation to future generations, but it now must be part of the solution to secure our country’s energy future. IT is my hope this Forum will help highlight the need for further investment in our nation’s independence from foreign oil, ensuring the safety of our nation, and preserving our environment for the future. The solutions that come from this forum will further fuel the debate in Washington, D.C.

The Renewable Energy Forum will be held at Delaware Valley College, 700 East Butler Avenue, Doylestown, PA 18901 at 10:00 am on August 4th. I hope you can attend this important event. Please RSVP by August 1st to Meghan Pastorino of my Doylestown office at (215) 348-7511 or contact her via Email.

I look forward to seeing you on August 4th.
Is it too cynical of me to state that Fitzpatrick only cares about this because it’s an election year?

After all, you can view from this link...

- He (Fitzpatrick) voted AGAINST creating a strategic refinery reserve (HR 3893, Vote #517,10/7/05)
- He voted AGAINST the construction of new refineries for additional capacity (HR 3893, Vote #519, 10/7/05)
- He voted AGAINST cracking down on gasoline price gougers (HR 3402, Vote #500, 9/28/05)
Yes, we need to look at alternative energy sources, but we needed YOUR VOTES TO HELP US LAST YEAR, CONGRESSMAN!

And isn’t it slick of Mikey to morph his letter about looking at alternative energy sources into copping a plea on his environmental record, which, for a Repug, actually isn’t bad? However, as you can note here, Bushco's record on the environment is so terrible that Fitzpatrick could have decided to pick and choose from a laundry list of offenses for criticism, and, except for drilling in the ANWR, his silence has been deafening.

Patrick Murphy isn’t a “Johnny come lately” on this stuff, Congressman. At least he has much more than a clue regarding the burden we are facing from price-gouging at the expense of the corporate “betters” of the Republican Party, unlike you. And that’s a big part of this issue also.

She Should “Change” Her Act

Gee gosh almighty, what a hilarious column THIS was that appeared in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer (I guess this is what passes for freeper humor).

This plan to rid our currency of the penny is awfully suspicious. Notice it targets the coin that's a different color from the rest. The "copper" one amid a sea of "silver" ones. The "brown" coin that pays tribute to the president who freed the black people, in contrast to the "white" coins, which sport slave-holding presidents.

It was insulting enough that the "copper" coin was the lowest denomination, but now they want to be rid of it altogether. Even penny slots in Las Vegas won't take pennies. They take either bills - or bills and white coins only.

In his article advocating the extermination of the penny, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote, "The poor pathetic penny has become clutter in the nation's pockets," and he described the cumbersome process of collecting pennies to exchange them for "useful" money. Lowry pointed out that it costs 1.23 cents to make one cent, which translates into a subsidy of $4 billion this fiscal year. Further, "more than $10 billion worth of pennies and other coins sit idle."

Now we're getting somewhere! Although other coins are "idle," it's the brown coin that's being singled out. Obvious analogies to welfare stereotypes aside, I resent Lowry's implication that the penny - which he calls "worthless," "nettlesome," and not "worth the bother" - shouldn't be considered money at all. This is racism, pure and simple.

It appears that on U.S. military bases overseas, the penny has been gone since the 1980s. They round all transactions to 0 or 5, and that's what is being suggested for a world without pennies. Of course, "rounding" means rounding up. And rounding up means making poor folks poorer. Now, obviously, if you remove all transactions ending in 1-4 and 6-9, a penny might seem "useless." However, if you were to remove all transactions ending in 0 or 5, then all those white coins would seem pretty useless, wouldn't they? In fact, wouldn't it make more sense to do that, since transactions not ending in 0 or 5 outnumber those that do?

Indeed, with white people fast becoming a minority in this country, why should white coins outnumber coins of color? Isn't it time for our currency to reflect the ever-changing society that it serves? We need a rainbow coin-ucopia. If it's too burdensome to continue minting and using the penny, assign it a higher value - and give it a makeover. Why not make a black coin, stamped with the closest thing to a black president this country has seen, William Jefferson Clinton?

Economists say $300 million a year is the value of "time lost" using pennies. But think about the cost - the confusion and inefficiency - that will result if we abort the penny. A person could no longer describe himself as penniless, since we all would be. He'd have to say: "I'm nickel-less," and then it sounds like he's saying his name is Nicholas - which has the potential to create as much inefficiency as that $300 million.

And what would happen to expressions like "a penny for your thoughts?" Most people's thoughts aren't worth a whole nickel.

If pennies have no value, why is it that you meet people named Penny, but never anyone named Quarter or Dime? Because Penny's parents believed their daughter to have no value? I don't think so. In fact, when we want to say people are being cheated or not valued, we say they're being "nickel-and-dimed" - not pennied.

We're often told that race relations have come a long way in this country. I say prove it. Fair-minded people everywhere, it's time to mobilize for a penny affirmative action plan. Let's keep our cents and our sense about us.
“Abort” the penny? Jokes about affirmative action and “racist” coins?

Wow, I haven’t experienced so many laughs since my lithotripsy procedure (trust me…it’s unpleasant).

(To be fair, I’d like to criticize her sneaky reference to Clinton, but Charles Barkley once said, on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” that he considered Clinton “our first black president” so I can’t in good conscience.)

I was chortling all the way when I checked up on Julie Gorin, who, incidentally, has made a career out of performing character assassination on a whole bunch of high-profile lefties, most notably Jimmy Carter. Gorin’s invective was unparalleled as she assaulted Carter for criticizing Dubya early in his flawed presidency for not doing what he could to try and manage North Korea and its nukes (a difficult task to be sure, but it’s the job of the President of the United States to at least TRY, and I would say that Carter’s criticism looks prescient now).

I regret that I cannot find a link to Gorin’s attack on Carter concerning North Korea, but I distinctly recall reading it in the Inquirer at the time it was published. Besides, if you don’t like that smear, Gorin will provide MANY others for you, including her supposition that Carter has “black blood” (“you can just look at his face”), that he will be “apologizing to the Muslim world for 9/11 one day,” and that The Carter Center received funding from Osama bin Laden.

I would acknowledge that Carter has not exactly been sympathetic to Israel at times, but guess what? When he states his arguments, they're typically well thought-out and I usually agree with him. Besides, Menachem Begin sold out Carter and Sadat on the Camp David accords after he signed off on them (this is explained in detail in Douglas Brinkley's fine book on Carter, "The Unfinished Presidency").

(Ordinarily, I would provide individual links, but there is such an avalanche of lies and innuendos out there that I will provide this Google search link and let you pick and choose for yourself.)

So with the whole world going to hell in a hand basket, with the Israel-Hezbollah war raging unabated, the continual sacrifice of our people in Iraq on Bushco's blood-splattered altar to The Holy God of Empire Expansion (while the terrorist violence faced by Americans there rages unabated), and both Iran AND North Korea raising the middle digit on high at us when we tell them to stop trying to make nukes, the freepers think it’s appropriate to make jokes about coins?

Stop, you’re killing me.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Israelis Should Foot The Bill

Is that such an harsh request on my part? After all, the reason our people are fleeing Lebanon is because of their attack, which, according to this Common Dreams article, violates U.S. law...I wonder if this means that the U.S. will now suspend arms sales to Israel (I can dream, can’t I?).

And as far as the 2003 amendment requiring U.S. citizens to reimburse the government for costs related to disaster evacuation (from ThinkProgress commenter Chase; what smart people visit that site)…


Section 4(b)(2)(A) of the State Department Basic Authorities
Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 2671(b)(2)(A)) is amended to read as follows:
‘‘(A) the evacuation when their lives are endangered by
war, civil unrest, or natural disaster of—
‘‘(i) United States Government employees and their
dependents; and
‘‘(ii) private United States citizens or third-country
nationals, on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent
practicable, with such reimbursements to be credited to
the applicable Department of State appropriation and to
remain available until expended, except that no reimbursement
under this clause shall be paid that is greater than
the amount the person evacuated would have been charged
for a reasonable commercial air fare immediately prior
to the events giving rise to the evacuation;’’.
The comments were linked to this TP story in which Bushco flip-flops on whether or not the evacuees will have to pay (right now, they don’t)

Every time I think that this administration can’t possibly sicken or disgust me more than it does, it manages to find a way.

I wouldn’t say that “freedom is on the march,” by the way. I’d say it’s in full retreat to save its ass.

I Feel Better Now

The latest from John Edwards...

Dear Friend,

The tide is turning in Democrats' favor. We have a strong chance of winning back the House in the 2006 elections. I've been working hard, traveling the country, and have already raised more than $6.65 million for Democrats. I've attended fundraisers for strong congressional candidates in more than a dozen states this election cycle and I'm committed to helping as many candidates as possible before November. Now, I'm looking to the One America online community to tell me which competitive races should be my primary focus.

Today, I'm launching One America Votes. This fall, I will headline fundraisers for two Democrats running for the House who have been selected by our online community. You - the voters - can choose candidates in any of the districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC has targeted critical races where extra help can make a real difference in November. We need to hear from you by Friday, August 4th.

Cast your vote now.

If we want to build One America, we need to change our country's leadership. George Bush and the Republicans have done everything in their power to increase the gap between rich and poor. It's time to replace them with Democrats who will build One America - One America that is committed to ending poverty, lifting more families into the middle class, and giving everyone who works hard something to show for it.

I am committed to helping as many House candidates as possible before November and am looking for your input as to which races should be my primary focus. Please take a moment to vote and choose two candidates who will work hard to build One America that works for everyone. The deadline for voting is August 4th.

Let's decide together. Vote today.

I'm interested in getting feedback from your family and friends as well. Please forward this message and ask them to participate in One America Votes with you.

Thanks for taking a moment to help. Your input is important to me.

Your Friend,

For more on the One America Committee, click here.

Thursday Travesties

I have to lump a bunch of stuff together here – I’ll try to find some GOOD news as soon as I can.


So Mikey did it after all.

So he managed to get his fraud “Delete Online Predators Act” (HR 5319) passed in the House by an overwhelming margin (410-15).

These are the fifteen Democrats who opposed the bill:

Rep. Conyers, John [D]
Rep. Grijalva, Raul [D]
Rep. Hinchey, Maurice [D]
Rep. Honda, Michael [D]
Rep. Kucinich, Dennis [D]
Rep. Lee, Barbara [D]
Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D]
Rep. McDermott, James [D]
Rep. Payne, Donald [D]
Rep. Schakowsky, Janice [D]
Rep. Scott, Robert [D]
Rep. Serrano, José [D]
Rep. Stark, Fortney [D]
Rep. Watson, Diane [D]
Rep. Woolsey, Lynn [D]
These fine people have my eternal gratitude and respect, as opposed to every other idiot in that pitiable governmental body that didn’t have enough common sense to understand what was going on (it’s about going after the “social networking sites,” people!!).

And it’s interesting to me that, even though Rep, John Dingell spoke out against the bill, he voted for it anyway (another repellent moment in Democratic cowardice).

Fitzpatrick couldn’t care less about keeping our kids safer. If he did, he’d appropriate more funding for online enforcement, among other things. No, this should have been called the “Let’s Shield Schools And Libraries From Legal Action In The Event That Something Terrible Happens To One Of Our Kids At Those Places” Act.

Patrick Murphy addressed this issue here, by the way, in a manner that showed a lot more intelligence and common sense.

I can’t remember where I read this comment, but someone said that, just because a child could be attacked in a classroom, should we now pass a law preventing them from having to go to school?

And in the sad event that this bill is actually passed in the Senate and signed into law, let us await the inevitable court challenge that will lead to its nullification (of course, Saint Mikey will have already grabbed his headline for another campaign ad, which is probably the only thing most people will remember).


Cause, meet effect (take a deep breath first, if you can).


And you KNEW a list like this wouldn’t be complete without Crazy Curt, right?

It seems that the reality-challenged 7th district U.S. Congressional Repug representative is upset with Joe Sestak because Joe allegedly wore his U.S. Navy uniform to a political campaign event.

Uh, no. Joe wore his naval uniform to a Memorial Day service, as documented here.

Rocco Polidoro, a Republican (!) co-chair of Veterans For Sestak, had this to say:

"Given Curt Weldon's terrible record on veterans issues – from voting against full retirement and disability for all veterans to voting for a budget that cut veterans' healthcare by over $13 billion – it's hardly surprising that he's once again demeaning the service given to this country by a veteran. Admiral Sestak is a cut above Curt Weldon and this nonsense. Maybe if Curt hadn't spent so much time chasing down WMD in Iraq and had actually paid attention to the needs of our veterans, he wouldn't be in a position where he'd have to try to demean a service member by swift boat attacks against someone who has served this country with such honor and distinction."

Update 7/28: Taylor Marsh of HuffPo has more.


I read this story and got a crazy idea (typical, I guess).

Mr. President, how about if YOUR DAUGHTERS enlisted in the U.S. Army and volunteered for Iraq, assisting in this further fool’s errand to try and stem sectarian violence which rages unabated in that country?

(By the way, Shaun at Kiko’s House is all over this.)

I mean, I’m always hearing this rap from all of these so-called “law and order” types about how serving in the military straightens out young men (and women too…let’s be fair) who have problems with authority. Well, isn’t that the case here? After all, Lyndon Johnson’s sons-in-law served in Vietnam, so there is a precedent, and as far as I know, they were “straight arrows,” to their credit.

I believe your daughters have shown a bit of “growing up” more recently, Mr. President, but if you’re going to “talk the talk,” then you, as leader of our military, should “walk the walk” too.

And who knows? Maybe it would motivate you enough to care about the consequences of your actions, including the horrendous grief no doubt faced by this family as a result of your illegal war.

Are these two funerals of our service people that you will finally decide to attend?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

His Biggest "Two-Step" Yet?

So what are we to make of Arlen Specter these days?

Sure, he’s garnering all of the headlines for making noise as if he’s actually going to sue Dubya over the signing statements, but while this is going on, as Shayana Kadidal of The Huffington Post explains, he’s contemplating a truly Faustian bargain with Bushco by going along with Dubya’s nonsensical argument (advocated by this cretin) that the president’s wartime power supersedes Congressional oversight regarding FISA law (Christy at firedoglake has been all over this like “white on rice” also).

Of all of my issues with Arlen Specter, this could turn out to be the biggest. I would have thought that he, who has demonstrated lucid moments of sanity at times, would have recognized that preserving our government’s separation of powers always trumps political expediency. More fool me, I guess.

Aside from contacting Specter and telling him to knock this off (which I did a couple of days ago), we should contact ALL of our senators and tell them the same thing.

And to think that this guy actually called US out once for not protesting over Abu Gonzales and what this administration actually considers as torture.

Save Yourselves First

Regarding the Israel-Hezbollah war, let me see if I can get this straight (regarding this story...I almost want to apologize for continuing to post on this, but I feel like I have to):

- Christopher Shays of Connecticut is “outraged” because Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, wants Israel to stop destroying Lebanon and spoke up on behalf of the people in that country caught in the crossfire.

- Democrat Nita Lowey of New York thinks that, by allowing al-Maliki to speak, “we’re giving a platform to Hezbollah.”

- Dubya is opposed to the case fire and cares not a whit about the humanitarian suffering going on in that country, as per usual (which is being shielded from us in as dutiful a way as possible by our corporate media).

- Charles Schumer of New York showed great leadership by not even bothering to show up and hear al-Maliki speak (and yes, I realize that was a calculated political move out of necessity to appease his Jewish constituency).
Yes, I realize that we have a vested interest in Israel’s survival – I don’t mean to ignore that. And yes, I realize that, for reasons of political expediency, politicians are tripping over themselves shouting out their support for Israel, since, in an election year, to do anything but that right now would guarantee a loss in November. And yes, I understand that the U.N. has condemned Israeli violence with its resolutions more than it has for terrorist violence carried out against that country (that’s my guess – with emotions running as high as they are, I’m sure someone will call me on that if I’m wrong).

But with every passing moment, our intervention in that area of the world looks more and more and more and more foolish, especially since this is the only presidential administration in my history (or anyone else’s, I would imagine) that seeks war at the expense of peace.

Update: As far as Bushco's cluelessness is concerned, this is Exhibit A (via Atrios).

And to antagonize Shia Muslims by not calling for an immediate cease fire by Israel only worsens the danger faced by our people in Iraq who need Shia Muslims in that country to find a way to help lessen the danger they face (Shia who may yet be further radicalized the longer the Israel-Hezbollah war rages on).

The fact that this isn’t understood by more people in this country makes it obvious to me that the combatants in Lebanon aren’t the only ones who are nuts.

Update 1 7/26: Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post has more (also via Atrios...probably have to register to read all of it - I'll find out).

Update 2 7/26: Oh, this is just peachy...

Let’s Help Tommy Towards Retirement

Paul Lang is another “Fighting Dem” in Bucks County, PA who is currently running for PA state senator against Repug Tommy Tomlinson. As stated in the bio that appeared with Lang’s Guest Opinion in this morning’s Bucks County Courier Times, Paul is a retired Lieutenant from the U.S. Coast Guard. He received his Bachelors of Science degree (cum laude) from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and his JD/MBA from the University of Maryland. He is now a vice president at an investment bank in Bucks County.

As you read Paul’s column, I hope you find yourselves as moved by his story as I was.

Since the announcement of my candidacy for state senator to replace Tommy Tomlinson, the senator and his political operatives have used the Bucks County Courier Times to make an issue of my being “out of town” and that I am inexperienced by calling me a “kid.” Instead of discussing issues, politics, and reform, the Tomlinson team has taken a page out of the Rove-Bush playbook.

I would like to set the record straight on how I have been “out of town.” First, I have lived in Bucks County for close to 20 years. I left Bucks County to serve in the military and I am proud to be the only candidate in this race with a military record.

While Senator Tomlinson was chosen as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and vocalized his unity with George Bush, I was wearing a 9 mm on my hip, stopping drugs and protecting our borders. I became a disabled American veteran following a line of duty law enforcement accident. I also became a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security and gained valuable legislative experience with the Coast Guard’s Congressional Hearings Team.

After eight years of active duty service, I was given the honor of being retired due to my injury. Upon retirement, I studied my tail off, earned a law degree and an MBA in between countless rehabilitation visits to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Now I work in Bucks County. I am getting married this month, and wish to serve the people of the 6th PA Senatorial District. Above all, I am proud of what I have done and am unapologetic for being “out of town.”

I, like many other veterans, have looked death in the face and fought back harder than most ever have. The physical pain I feel every day reminds me that I am lucky to be alive and that what I have done with my life so far certainly has made me a man.

Of course, I do give credit where credit is due. When Tomlinson’s people say I am inexperienced, they are partly correct. Unlike Tomlinson, I do not know what it is like to vote myself a 50 percent pension increase like he did in 2001. Unlike Tomlinson, I never voted against a minimum wage increase as he did in 1996. Unlike Tomlinson, it hasn’t taken me over 4,000 days to finally pass property tax relief (despite having a governor, House, and Senate of the same party for many previous years). Unlike Tomlinson, I didn’t fail to follow the state ethics rules by not reporting the $22,200 he made after selling stock in IGA Federal Savings (Philadelphia Inquirer, May 16, 2005). Finally, I have never been a member of a legislature with one of the worst records for lobbying and special interests.

So, Tommy, you have a fight on your hands and I will not back down from pointing out your legislative history as a career politician. But, it isn’t just me who has a lack of faith in your leadership. Your own party has continually refused to appoint you chair of every important committee you have sought to lead. I understand that your team will be writing letter and bad-mouthing me from now until Election Day. My hope is that we can discuss leadership, reform, and what is best for Pennsylvania. I broke my back for my country and I am willing to do it again for the residents of the 6th PA Senatorial District and there is nothing you or your smear operatives can do to stop me. If I have been “out of town,” you have been out to lunch and I look forward to having the middle class help you collect your 50 percent pension increase earlier than you expect come Election Day.
The only thing I will say in Tomlinson’s defense is that has helped Rendell with the governor’s attempt to use gaming revenue for property tax relief, but that works for Tomlinson because Philadelphia Park Racetrack, which would benefit from bringing gaming to PA, is in Tomlinson’s district.

Other than that, Tomlinson is a Repug. And by itself (not withstanding what Paul brings to the table, which is significant), that’s enough to earn Tomlinson a ticket out the door.

Way To Go, Oslo!

The land that brought us the synth- layered, brainless techno- pop band a-ha in the 80s (note the lower case letters just to be artsy) has DONE IT AGAIN (as noted here).

Not only did they toss Wal-Mart from its $240 billion oil fund – one of the world’s largest pension funds, as noted in the USA Today story, but they also told Freeport McMoRan, another truly wretched corporate evildoer, to “take a hike.”

Must be nice to have so much dough that you can afford to do this stuff, you zany but wonderful Norse people, but as long as you are, I applaud you.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Good Argument For Birth Control

Tom Coburn does it again (via Atrios); I guess this shouldn't be a surprise since fellow Oklahoma butt head ("huuuh, uh huuuh") Senator Jim Inhofe said something else stupid recently about global warming.

This actually leads me into something I wanted to pass along from Tom McMahon of The Democratic Party about Democratic reunion events that are going to be taking place all over the country on July 29th (find or create one of your own), as well as an article in U.S. News and World Report about our "50-State Strategy".

Here is a link to a list of Democratic reunion events taking place in Oklahoma next week and August 25th. Since, according to Coburn, teenagers work only about 50 percent of the time, there should be ample opportunity for them to meet, organize, and figure out a way to boot the two sorry excuses that state has for its U.S. senators.

Which End Is Leading The Donkey?

I’ve deliberately stayed out of the fray in Connecticut between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont because it’s being covered so well by my lefty “betters” in the blogging world, as typified by this fine L.A. Times piece by Duncan Black that lays out the case against Lieberman pretty well.

When you read about Lieberman’s life and career, you can see how he made a name for himself in Democratic politics by working for RFK’s presidential campaign in 1968, meeting his wife while they worked as summer interns for Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT) before they married in 1965, and then serving as state Attorney General for six years in the ‘80s.

I’m sure it’s hard to imagine this, but there must have been a time when Lieberman once possessed the fire and idealism currently owned by those who are seeking his exit from public life.

The problem in Lieberman’s case, of course, is that somewhere along the way, something went terribly wrong, as Duncan’s column articulates so well. Somehow the desire to do good and serve his constituency metastasized into holier-than-though self righteousness and smug condescension, which manifested itself into a truly awful voting record, as well as some hideous moments such as the now-infamous "kiss" from Dubya and Lieberman's "car ride" comment...

"...when Lieberman was asked to explain why he opposes a statewide law mandating that hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims even if they oppose it on moral grounds, Lieberman said 'In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short car ride to get to another hospital.' Lamont pounced on that idiotic statement and won the backing of the National Organization of Women."
It’s actually funny, by the way, that Lieberman sough censure of Bill Clinton after the Repug impeachment inquisition over Monica Whatsername failed, particularly because, as Kos noted yesterday, Clinton chose to stick up for Lieberman anyway, which to me shows that Dubya’s predecessor has more character than anyone imagined. And Al Gore, who of course was Clinton’s vice president, gave Lieberman the biggest boost of all by choosing him as his running mate in 2000 (a move that was an exquisite bit of political calculation by Gore, I thought, even though it helped distance Gore from Clinton which, as far as I’m concerned, sealed Gore’s fate, along with a heaping dose of electoral fraud).

So at this point, Ned Lamont has forged a slight head-to-head lead over Lieberman, but what is intriguing me is the spectacle of the DLC hangers-on coming to Lieberman’s last-minute defense (such as Barbara Boxer, and I DEFINITELY thought SHE knew better). And as I mentioned, Clinton is trying to save Joe also (which is his right – I’m not going to criticize Clinton on this because, without him, there probably would be only one political party anyway; he grabbed the Dems by the scruff of the neck, so to speak, in the 90s, and dragged us along with him through eight years of a pretty successful presidency that interrupted the Repug reign on behalf of the investor class).

But I still have to wonder whether or not the DLC crowd truly understands what is going on.

When you still have people like Evan Bayh stating that, gee, the Democrats have to state a position on something to get elected instead of just STATING WHAT THAT POSITION IS (as Chris Bowers noted so well here), I end up getting this slightly sick feeling that the party is poised to suck defeat from the jaws of victory once again. And this post from the usually-reliable Ari Melber indicates to me that there are still some Dem apologists out there who think they understand why Lieberman is in trouble, but really don't.

The movement to oust Lieberman is not about political triangulation or capitulation or wondering what Democrats have to do to suck up to “values voters” or anyone in the South or “the heartland” who will NEVER VOTE DEMOCRAT(IC) ANYWAY. It’s not about some long-since-tarnished “Third Way” myth that Democrats can somehow govern on behalf of the constituency that truly supports the party and also make life as painless as possible for enough Repug benefactors who would graciously allow the Dems to continue to wield power.

No, this is full-throated cry to oust someone who has completely lost touch with his reason for political existence.

And I’m sure the narrative is playing out in some quarters to the tune of, “oh, there go those Democrats again, fighting among themselves. How can they be expected to govern when they can’t even define what they are?”

This fight for Ned Lamont in his quest to can Lieberman is part of the process of definition for the party, and it’s a healthy exercise that is LONG overdue. It concerns me to see a lot of party resources used up now on this that could be distributed for other general elections, but this is the case because of Lieberman’s petulant and almost deranged refusal to recognize reality. I don’t think it’s overstating too much to call this a battle for the heart and soul (or head vs. butt, possibly) of the party.

(And by the way, speaking of “the heart and soul of the party,” Mr. Casey Jr., happily, is showing signs of life in PA.)

So, with 14 days to go, let’s help Ned Lamont to send Joe packing by clicking here.

Now, if only we could do something about Ben Nelson...

Update: I think the fact that it has come to this is truly sad (but at least Howard & Co. get it...have to sign up for Sirius one of these days).

Condi Rice, Secretary Of Lies

This appeared in the truthout article I linked to yesterday (based on a New York Times story), pertaining to the ongoing war between Israel and Hezbollah.

The decision to stay away from Arab countries for now is a markedly different strategy from the shuttle diplomacy that previous administrations used to mediate in the Middle East. "I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante," Ms. Rice said Friday. "I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling around, and it wouldn't have been clear what I was shuttling to do."
So what has Madame Secretary been doing since yesterday?

Only this (containing this excerpt)…

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is proposing an ambitious plan with up to two international military forces that would help the Lebanese government stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon, Lebanese political sources said.

Rice pitched the plan Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, then traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
For awhile, I thought no one in this loathsome administration could be more detestable than Rummy, but Rice has managed to shoot up the list pretty quickly. Between her glowering looks and continually confrontational words and actions, she has emerged as the true cheerleader for this sorry bunch. The only thing I will say in her defense, though, is that I’m glad there are SOME halting movements in the direction of negotiation as opposed to utter destruction, despite her trail of deception that led down that path.

This is typical for the devious behavior and chicanery from this administration (and isn’t it nice to note that, based on this story, Israel considers the Geneva Conventions to be as “quaint” as we do).

Here’s something else from the reality-based community on this (and the comments are good too).

Book My Flight To Sydney

I’m sorry, but I need a break from all of the misery in which we currently find ourselves (take your pick…the Iraq war, the Israel-Hezbollah war, the tragedy in Darfur, just about anything from Bushco, etc.). So, after doing extensive research for all of about five minutes, I found this (describing an issue we dealt with here a few months ago).

(Actually, concerning the “Get Busy, Liberals!” post, I always thought there was more than a hint of fear mongering in the Longman column in light of this story, which points out that, though U.S. population growth is steady, immigrants are doing more of the “begattin’” than current residents…no big deal as far as I’m concerned.)

I thought this excerpt from the Yahoo News article was noteworthy.

(Australian) Prime Minister John Howard's government prides itself on being family friendly.

(Treasurer Peter) Costello last urged Australians to have more children in 2004, when he unveiled a 3,000 dollar (2,250 US) maternity payment for every newborn baby in what became known as his "go forth and multiply" budget.

The incentive, which increased to 4,000 dollars in July, appears to be working and while much of the Western world struggles with declining birth rates; Australia is in the grip of a mini baby boom.

The Australian newspaper reported Monday that 261,404 babies were born in 2005, the highest number since 1992.

The natural fertility rate -- the number of children a woman has during her lifetime -- has also increased from 1.75 in 2003, to 1.77 in 2004, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
And this quote from Howard appears near the end.

"I am very pleased about that because the best possible investment any government can make in this country is in the future of children," he said.
If Dubya tried to utter words like that, he’d choke on them.

Monday, July 24, 2006

More Fantasy From A Middle East "Hulk"

Victor Davis Hanson’s column in this morning’s Inquirer compels me to post once more on my least favorite topic.

Syria and Iran wouldn't like the West when it's angry

If they reject sensible peace offers, the U.S. has just one option: massive air strikes.

The conventional wisdom is that the United States is so tied down that it can't do much about the rocket attacks on Israel, the blatant sponsorship of terrorists by Iran and Syria, or the Iranian nuclear program.
The “conventional wisdom” sounds spot-on to me.

Oil prices are already sky-high. Any unilateral American action might disrupt tight global supplies. That would derail the economies of our Western allies and only further enrich enemies with windfall profits.
By “enemies,” doesn’t Hanson mean our “friends” the Saudis, who are currently trying to get Dubya to pull his thumb out and do something about the war raging between Israel and Hezbollah – something besides sending more bombs to Israel, that is? Or does he mean Chevron, Exxon-Mobil or BP?

And by the way, in the truthout story about sending bombs to Israel, Condoleezza Rice shows her total cluelessness as to the art of international diplomacy with her revealing quote.

Hanson should read this Seattle Times article and get some understanding of the fact that the other countries of the world would prefer to act in their own interest when it comes to oil instead of trying to figure out whether or not our greedhead cowboy cabal that is currently drunk with power will ever look out for anyone else besides themselves – and of course, Bushco has already proven to us that it has no interest in anyone or anything but itself.

Trying to win hearts and minds for the fragile democracy in Iraq also means we can't afford to offend Arab sensitivities elsewhere. And a lame-duck George Bush, low in the polls and facing uncertain congressional elections this fall, certainly doesn't want to involve the American taxpayer with more costly commitments abroad.
Assuming that you can consider what currently exists in Iraq as a democracy – and by the way, isn’t a “democracy” supposed to provide a basic infrastructure allowing its people to live something that approximates a normal life, as opposed to the bloodshed of civil war? – shouldn’t Dubya and his gang be doing more than trying to fund it on the cheap to make sure it is sustainable?

And I don’t consider Iraq a “democracy” just because a bunch of self-styled freeper pundits say it is, by the way.

But despite that sound conventional wisdom, an exasperated West is running out of choices in the Middle East.
An exasperated rest of the world is actually tired of waiting for fleeting moments of sanity from Bushco also. And if we’re “running out of choices,” it’s because all we’ve done is blow the Middle East to pieces in Iraq for reasons that were lies and then take ourselves completely out of the loop in anything that looks remotely like a peace process.

For years, the Arab world clamored for the Israel "problem" to be solved. Then peace and security would at last supposedly reshape the Middle East. The Western nations understood the "problem" as being Israeli retention of lands it had captured in Sinai, the West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon after defeating a series of Arab forces bent on destroying the Jewish state.
Great Britain partitioned Israel and Palestine after World War II, which was a dumb idea then as it turns out, though that is hardly a reason for blowing up innocent Israelis on school buses or shopping markets. As for the rest of Hansen’s history lesson, I’m not going to comment on it because I care about our people who are in danger over there, not the people of the countries where Americans are at risk. Many books have already been written on this subject. The people who actually live there should be able to solve their own problems without our military involvement.

But after the Israeli departure from Sinai, Gaza and Lebanon, and billions of dollars in American aid to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians, there is still not much progress toward peace. Past Israeli magnanimity was seen as weakness. Israel's diplomacy has earned it another round of kidnapping, ransom and rocket attacks.
Some of this is true when it comes to Yaser Arafat and Ehud Barak's negotiations in the '90s prior to the latest intifadah, but a student of history like Hanson purports to be should know there's more to it than that.

Finally, the world is accepting that the Middle East problem was never about so-called occupied land - but only about the existence of Israel itself. Hezbollah and Hamas, and those in their midst who tolerate them (or vote for them), didn't so much want Israel out of Lebanon and Gaza as pushed into the Mediterranean altogether. And since there will be no second Holocaust, the Israelis may well soon transform a perennial terrorist war that they can't easily win into a conventional aerial one against a terrorist-sponsoring Syria that they can.
Followed quite possibly by nukes from Iran, it should be mentioned.

For its part, the United States has spent thousands of lives and billions in treasure trying to birth democracy in Iraq.
Yes, and it would have been nice if Bushco had bothered to let us know that that was the plan all along – was it? – the moment we found out that Saddam Hussein’s WMD capability had been disabled. Of course, Hans Blix had already pointed that out before the war began, but I guess I’m not “supporting our troops” by pointing that out.

We wished to end our old cynical support for Middle East dictators that earned us such scorn and instead give liberated Iraqis a choice other than either theocracy or autocracy.
Shoving “democracy” down the throat of a sovereign nation after blowing it to bits doesn’t constitute a “choice” as far as I’m concerned. And as far as our support for Middle East dictators, one can look back on our cozy relationship with Hussein in the ‘80s when Iraq was fighting Iran, and you can also go back to the ‘50s when we installed Reza Pahlavi in Iran after a coup before he was deposed by Khomeni prior to the hostage crisis. We’ve supported these people of our choosing and rightly earned scorn in the region.

In multilateral fashion, America has also welcomed the help of the European Union, the United Nations, China and Russia in convincing the Iranians of the folly of producing nuclear weapons. But like Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran does not wish to parley - just as the beheaders and kidnappers in Iraq don't, either.
China and Russia already have business relationships with Iran; I somehow doubt that they give a particular damn about humanitarian interests. And it’s nice for America to suddenly “welcome” these nations and decide that multilateralism isn’t such a terrible thing after all, since we went into Iraq with the UK and comparatively token forces from Australia and a bunch of other countries that didn’t have a hell of a lot of interest in engaging in actual combat.

And Hanson may actually be right when he says that Iran “doesn’t wish to parley.” Why on earth should they? By blowing up Iraq, a country with an overwhelming Shia majority like Iran, we’ve enhanced Iran’s influence in the region to a considerable degree.

The two most liberal societies in Europe - Denmark and the Netherlands - welcomed almost anyone to their shores from the Middle East. Their multicultural hospitality was supposed to have led to a utopian "diverse" nation of various races, nationalities and religions.

Instead, such liberality has earned both small nations pariah status in the Muslim world for the supposed indiscretions of a few freewheeling filmmakers and cartoonists.
Why the hell am I supposed to care about Demark and the Netherlands in this discussion? And call me crazy, but gee, I haven’t heard much in the way of cartoon protests lately. Somehow I think the possibility of Lebanon being bombed into a charred cinder and the attendant humanitarian catastrophe – which will do nothing but spawn more terrorism, by the way – is just a tad more important at this time than the Danish cartoon fiasco.

Yet for all their threats, what the Islamists - from Hezbollah in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley to the Iranian government in Tehran to the jihadists in Iraq's Sunni Triangle - don't understand is that they are slowly pushing tired Westerners into a corner. If diplomacy, or aid, or support for democracy, or multiculturalism, or withdrawal from contested lands, does not satisfy radical Islamists, what would?

Perhaps nothing.
By “westerners,” who exactly does Hanson mean besides us? What “westerners” would countenance further unilateral military action on our part in that region after the destruction of Iraq?

What then would be the new Western approach to terrorism? Hard and quick retaliation - but without our past concern for nation-building, or offering a democratic alternative to theocracy and autocracy, or even worrying about whether other Muslims are unfairly lumped in with Islamists who operate freely in their midst.
Bomb and thus spawn more terrorism, bomb and thus spawn more terrorism…this is a recording.

Any new policy of retaliation - in light both of Sept. 11 and the messy efforts to birth democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank - would be something of an exasperated return to the old cruise-missile payback. Yet in the new world of Iranian nukes and Hezbollah missiles, the West would hit back with something far greater than a cruise missile.

If they are not careful, a Syria or an Iran really will earn a conventional war - not more futile diplomacy or limited responses to terrorism. And history shows that massive attacks from the air are something that the West does well.
Oh brother – and by the way, Hansen should actually have the guts to say “the U.S.” instead of “the West,” because that’s what he means.

Hanson has spent a good deal of this article giving us a history lesson. Well, I’m going to give him one of my own.

We involved ourselves in Lebanon in 1983 to help Israel replace the PLO (and gee, didn’t THAT turn out well), and two terrorist bombings resulted: one in April on our embassy that killed 63 people, and the second in October that killed 241 of our Marines.

So what did we do? We withdrew in February 1984 and started lobbing bombs into the Shuf Mountains. So what happened next? Hezbollah’s Shia terrorists started taking U.S. hostages.

We may launch bomb and missile attacks “well” against people living on such a level of poverty that suicide is a preferable alternative, but I would say that that leads to an aftermath of BIG problems (it would be nice if Hanson would actually bother to mention that).

So in the meantime, let us hope that democracy prevails in Iraq, that our massive aid is actually appreciated by the Middle East, that diplomacy ultimately works with Iran, that Syria quits supporting terrorists, and that Hamas and Hezbollah cease their rocket attacks against Israel - more for all their sakes than ours.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Ok, boys and girls, lets all click the heels of our shoes together and chant aloud, “There’s no place like the safe confines of Stanford academia, there’s no place like the safe confines of Stanford academia...”

The rush to war in Iraq was aided by people like Hanson with their freeper wet dreams of an American/Israeli empire across the Middle East, which of course dovetailed nicely into Bushco’s fantasy of plundering Iraq’s oil riches while being greeted as “liberators” by Iraq’s various tribal factions.

As far as I’m concerned, they all have blood on their hands.

"Push" This, Crazy Curt!

Tom Ferrick, Jr.’s column in the Inquirer yesterday confirmed that the Weldon campaign has plunged to new depths.

Dastardly push polls need to get heave-ho

The nastiest invention in the increasingly nasty world of political campaigns is something called
"push polls."

These are calls made to voters, ostensibly by public opinion pollsters, that ask loaded questions. An example: "Would you be more or less likely to vote for candidate John Smith if you knew he beat his wife?"

Your answer, of course, is "no." The caller may pretend to mark that reply down, but that's just a ruse. His sole purpose is to spread a nasty rumor that harms candidate Smith.

Push polls are bad - as in, evil - in three ways:

They are anonymous. The voters never know who paid for the "poll."

They are deceptive. The poll isn't a legit public opinion poll at all. It is a way of spreading rumors.

They are ugly. Often, the information they seek to spread is false or vastly distorted.

Push polls began to surface in the 1990s. The most famous was one used in the 2000 presidential campaign when campaign operatives, allegedly for George Bush, devised one to stop the surging candidacy of U.S. Sen. John McCain. They launched a push poll in South Carolina, right before the Republican primary there, that asked: "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"

The allegation was a lie. But it did serious damage to the McCain candidacy. To add to the irony, McCain and his wife had recently adopted a Bangladeshi orphan.

Which brings up the polling being done in Delaware County's Seventh Congressional District. I've gotten e-mails and calls from readers who speak of a "poll" that asks a series of leading and negative questions about Joe Sestak, the Democratic candidate. Sestak is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, in what promises to be a close fight.

Among the questions asked: Would you be more or less likely to vote for Sestak if you knew he was (in so many words) a tool of the trial lawyers, pro-abortion, soft on terrorism, and a guy who let Osama bin Laden get away?

Sestak is a former Navy admiral who served at sea, in the Pentagon, and in the White House during the Clinton administration.

As my colleague Todd Mason reported recently, the polling was being done by a group called Venture Data L.L.C., which is based in Salt Lake City.

Michael Puppio, Weldon's campaign manager, told Mason that the polling company was not working for the Weldon campaign.

That statement is correct as far as it goes. Venture Data does not appear on Weldon's campaign reports as a vendor, but a company called Progressive Opinion Strategies L.L.C. does. It got $17,000 from Weldon's campaign committee in March. The clips reveal that Progressive and Venture are often aligned in polling operations.

Most of the people who got the Venture Data calls (and communicated with me) thought they were strange. Some thought they were offensive.

Frankly, I don't think they were push polls in the classic sense of the word. Most push-poll calls are short and come right before an election. These are long and are being done far in advance of the November election.

Instead, they are legit polls conducted by the Weldon camp that are doing "push questioning" - they are market-testing negative messages about Sestak to see which ones get the "hottest" response. In turn, that will shape Weldon's fall media campaign.

Which, as you can guess, is going to be ugly.

If political advertising, by mail and the airwaves, resembles anything today, it is a slasher movie.

At the risk of repeating myself (and, after 800 columns, one tends to), I think negative advertising has done more to harm democracy that the commies ever did.

But with so many close, big-money races in the region, it will be hard to escape it this fall.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, coming to a mailbox near you. Saw II arriving soon on local cable.

God help us.
This great post from Down With Tyranny gives you more background on Creepy Curt and what challenger Joe Sestak brings to the table in the campaign, and I think Joe makes his case against Weldon pretty well here, particularly this excerpt.

"...(Weldon's) ethical issues are his to discuss with the citizens of this district. I want to talk about the issues. I do think, though, they are indicative as you talk about some of the places where he had contact of how he has become more interested as a Representative to visit places like North Korea, 30 trips to Russia, Libya, Bosnia - and not his home district.

I mean I think that's the crying shame. He forgets that national security really begins at home. It begins in the health, the education and the economic promise of the people and their children here in the district. How can he vote down there in Congress to lay 46,000 people off of healthcare just before Christmastime? How can he vote for billions of dollars in college education grants and scholarships to be cut just before Christmas?

My take on it is the Secretary of State is paid to worry about the world. We want our Congresspeople to be knowledgeable, but what we also want them to do is to recognize that at home is where they need to focus.

Able Danger... I can tell you as a former Navy officer that Curt Weldon again has missed the boat. I established Deep Blue, the Navy's first anti-terrorism group right after 9/11, reporting directly to the chief of the naval operations, the head admiral of the Navy. And under his direction we tried to change the policies, the programs, the resources from what we traditionally were applying them to to the Global War on Terror. And I can tell you that Able Danger - much like the 9/11 Commission and Republicans like John Lehman have said - is much ado about nothing. That's in our wake.

Sure, we want to learn lessons. But what we need to do is focus on the future of the people here who truly do not have the proper healthcare, the proper education security, the proper economic security. How can we ask them to sacrifice for this nation if Representatives like Curt Weldon, voting with President Bush's policies, don't address those types of issues?
Also, I want to point out that Sestak, as a Navy admiral, did not dictate the deployment or tactics of ground forces in either Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, with one of the latter two as the probable location of Osama bin Laden. So for Weldon to imply through push polling that Sestak “let bin Laden get away” is not only malicious and inaccurate but, from a standpoint of military strategy, operationally impossible.

Given Weldon’s terrible record in Congress and borderline-lunatic conduct (the farcical WMD “search,” the “Able Danger” fiasco and his sickening attempt to smear Sestak through the illness of Sestak’s daughter, as Down With Tyranny noted) is it any wonder that Weldon has resorted to this odious tactic?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Swannie, We Hardly Knew Ye

I now present to you this shockingly sensible column that appeared last week in The Bucks County Courier Times from - gulp - George Will! (dated 7/24).

And by the way, to help Ed Rendell in his campaign for re-election as PA governor, click here.