Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Video

Midnight Oil performs "Blue Sky Mine" (rock with a purpose, but don't ask me for a dissertation on mining workers issues in a YouTube commenter noted, I think the song is partly about that but its message is more universal).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Night Video

The audio isn't quite as good as I'd like, but it's not bad considering that it's 25 years old...The Pretenders perform "The Adultress" on "Fridays," that odd show that ABC launched to go up against SNL, though it did kick-start the career of Michael Richards way before "Seinfeld" (1981).

The Pretenders have had a legendary history as a band with more than its share of tragedy, though in their prime they rocked like hell, as you can see and hear.

Check Out Joe On The Radio

Lots of "Joe" references today with Lieberman, but this is for the good "Joe"...

Pennsylvania Congressional Candidate Joe Sestak to Deliver Democratic Radio Address

(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Democratic congressional candidate Joe Sestak will deliver the national Democratic response to the president's weekly radio address. Sestak is running against Rubber Stamp Republican Curt Weldon and his address will be the sixth by a Democratic congressional candidate this cycle and will focus on national security. While the failed policies of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress have made America less safe, Democrats are fighting to take America in a new direction, with the tough and smart policies needed to give the American people real security.

Joe Sestak rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and retired after 31 years. His service included a series of operational commands at sea including operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy and he served as the Director of Defense Policy in the White House during the Clinton Administration.

WHO: Pennsylvania congressional candidate Joe Sestak

WHAT: Weekly Democratic Radio Address

WHEN: Saturday, August 19, 2006 (at various times across the country)

WHERE: Major radio networks, including ABC, AP, AURN, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, American Forces Radio, Voice of America, BBC, CBC, and Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Below are EXCERPTS of Joe Sestak's remarks:

"Democrats Will Keep America Secure"

"It's time for new leadership, a leadership that remembers that while we are respected for the power of our military and the power of our economy, we are admired for the power of our ideals."

"The fact is, we are fostering a culture of dependence in Iraq. Iraqi leaders must be responsible for their own country. They must make the difficult political compromises that will stop the civil war and bring about stability. We cannot do this work for them."

"Completing our mission in Iraq will also make America safer everywhere. It allows us to focus on security threats like North Korea and Iran. It gives us the flexibility to revitalize and transform our military. It keeps America's eye on the target: terrorism."

"This Congress has failed to provide the leadership for America to do this. It is time for a new leadership that believes in a change for a safer and more secure America. It's time for a new direction, for an America that believes in a safer and more secure world."
Knock 'em dead, Admiral!

Breathing Life Into "Joementum"

I wonder how many of us realize the vital service that Bob Geiger is performing over at The Huffington Post for those who still hold out hope for the Democratic Party (and by the way, as Hendrik Hertzberg said, it is NEVER the “Democrat” Party).

According to Geiger based on his attempts to get an answer from our Democratic senators, these are the individuals who support Ned Lamont as the party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut.

Daniel Akaka (HI)
Evan Bayh (IN)
Joe Biden (DE)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Robert Byrd (WV)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Hillary Clinton (NY)
Mark Dayton (MN)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Dick Durbin (IL)
Russ Feingold (WI)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Tom Harkin (IA)
Ted Kennedy (MA)
John Kerry (MA)
Herb Kohl (WI)
Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
Patrick Leahy (VT)
Bob Menendez (NJ)
Patty Murray (WA)
Barack Obama (IL)
Jack Reed (RI)
Harry Reid (NV)
Jay Rockefeller (WV)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Ron Wyden (OR)
These are the people who either are unaware of the importance of the Lamont vs. the usurper Joe Lieberman question or are still trying to modulate/triangulate/formulate an answer by huddling with their consultants because they seem to be incapable of thinking for themselves.

Max Baucus (MT)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Tim Johnson (SD)
Carl Levin (MI)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Paul Sarbanes (MD)
I know Sarbanes is on his way out, but still...

And these are the individuals who seem to truly believe that the Senate is their own little club and the expressed wishes of the majority of the Democratic voters in the state of Connecticut are utterly irrelevant.

Tom Carper (DE)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Ben Nelson (NE)
Mark Pryor (AR)
Ken Salazar (CO)
I did some checking into these people to try and obtain some reason for their mystifying behavior.

I already posted on the fact that Carper is becoming as odious a Democrat as Lieberman turned out to be. As for Landrieu, it’s hard for me to dislike someone who said and did good things in the aftermath of Katrina (even going so far as threatening to punch Dubya), and her voting record isn’t too bad either. To say any sense of loyalty she has is misplaced is a huge understatement.

As for Mark Pryor, I seriously think there should be some high-level discussion concerning whether or not he should continue as vice chair of the DSCC based on his support for Lieberman. I must admit, though, that I can’t find much in his voting record to contest other than the fact that he voted for the Iraq War, but so did a lot of other Democrats. Ditto for Ken Salazar, though it would have been nice if he had bothered to support the filibuster of “Strip Search Sammy” Alito when it mattered (along with Pryor and Landrieu also).

This brings us to Ben Nelson; he supported CAFTA along with Mark Pryor and many of the Lieberman “undecideds” mentioned above. He also supported Alito; opposed preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care (here); and voted to allow drilling in the ANWR, among other low moments in his Senate career.

(Actually, if Carper is truly trying to replace Lieberman as the Number One Repug Senator Disguised As A Democratic Sheep, Ben Nelson is going to continue to give him a run for his money.)

Update 8/30: I'm sure there are a lot of good people in Nebraska, but after reading this post, I have to say that the place sounds like "The Twilight Zone" to me (the choices are Nelson and a Repug "Club For Growth" flunkie?).

The one name on this list that truly shocks me is Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not well-versed in the politics of that region, but how a man who lost a limb in battle (the first Japanese American to serve in the House and Senate, as noted by Sourcewatch – Inouye has more integrity in his hangnail than Lieberman would ever have in his entire person), how a man who served on both the Watergate and Iran-Contra investigating committees could support some political chigger like Lieberman is sad and baffling.

I tried to provide more background on the six individuals who are on the wrong side of this issue (who stand in direct opposition to a strong statement of dissent with the status quo issued by the voters of Connecticut) and obtain some clue as to their actions. I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I would like, but at least I hope I’ve shown that, to varying degrees, they’ve done good work in the past and may yet again in the future.

And concerning Lieberman, I sincerely hope they all find spines and come around to doing the right thing.

Update 8/29: Thank you, Senator Inouye (one down, five to go).

Let Joe Help Build "The Structure"

(You need to read this quote to understand the title of this post.)

I didn’t note this on Monday, but Social Security marked its 71st birthday, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing it into law on August 14, 1935. It was meant as an insurance policy of sorts for workers nearing retirement and not as a means to generate income, which is course is the argument Dubya and the Repugs have used for privatization for many years.

I mention this because Joe Sestak, the Dem running against Crazy Curt Weldon in the U.S. House 7th congressional district, has gone on the record as opposing Social Security privatization, which I totally support. The Sestak campaign has also challenged Weldon on this issue, and Crazy Curt has characteristically waffled on this important issue. Joe has also produced a document stating more about this, and I’ll link to it later.

Last December I posted this and said that we should get rid of the $90,000 ceiling on earnings subject to Social Security withholding, and Sestak has also come out in support of raising the ceiling on earnings, which is a good start in the process of insuring the program’s solvency.

(I almost – almost – feel sorry for Weldon. He surely must know that this is a stinking-dead-dog of an issue with the vast majority of the voters opposing privatization, but his crazed Repug leadership is being forced by Bushco to keep trying to shove it down the throats of the people in this country over and over again.)

(One more thing – if you go back and read what I posted last December, please feel free to ignore my comment war with freeper Robert.)

Joe Sestak provided bold, decisive leadership on this as far as I’m concerned. Though we have more work to do, I would feel confident with Joe taking a leading role in this, as opposed to Weldon, who doesn’t seem to know what to do about it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lives In The Balance

Jackson Browne will be a performer at The Philadelphia Folk Festival at The Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville, PA beginning tomorrow and continuing through Sunday (which guarantees that it will rain on at least one of those days). This is the title track from "Lives In The Balance" released in the '80s (performed acoustically) and updated for our current nightmare.

Black Like Him?

I needed some reading material a few days ago, and I happened to find TIME Magazine in a men’s room stall (I can’t think of any other circumstance under which I would bother to read it, truth be told – Mike Allen’s column didn’t appear in the most recent issue, but luckily, I had plenty of TP on hand already).

So anyway, the issue had a feature article on Harold Ford, Jr., who is running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Based on the little bit I know of him, I think this item from The Huffington Post is pretty typical of Ford; I don’t know what he meant by that dig “fabricating a life’s work” either, and I also don’t understand how a “Democrat” could be in favor of repealing the estate tax, but I guess this is the way you have to run if you’re stuck in the heart of red state territory.

As a sidebar to the Ford article, the magazine also published profiles of other leading African Americans running for high-profile political office, pretty much lumping them all together without really bothering to differentiate between them. They were Kwesi Mfume and Michael Steele (both of Maryland, running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes), and our own Lynn Swann.

Of this group, Mfume is easily the best candidate for political office. Steele, according to this article, is sounding conciliatory, but waging an uphill Senate battle for a legacy Democratic seat in a blue state requires a bit more imagination than a Repug who merely has to pander to some fellow knuckle draggers to get his or her card punched for six more years of “the show” (see Brownback, Sam, Coburn, Tom, or Inhofe, Jim). Beyond that, it bears repeating that, if you’re a Repug, you take your marching orders from Karl Rove, no matter who you are.

And oh yes – this group also included Kenneth Blackwell (pictured), who is running for governor of Ohio.

Why, surely you remember Kenneth Blackwell, don’t you? The Secretary of State who oversaw the 2004 election, including the contest between Dubya and John Kerry?

Blackwell is the person who decided that absentee ballots were not to be counted unless they were recorded on paper of 80-pound stock (why anyone would use anything beyond 20 is ridiculous, unless they were intentionally trying to suppress the vote of course) until a court order told him to change that decision back to the previous regulation. And as noted in this article, Blackwell also decided that the votes for other politicians on discarded ballots should be counted, but not the votes for the presidential candidates.

As noted in the article, voting districts in Ohio with about 1,200 registered voters, about 70 percent of whom voted that day - or tried to - had to wait in line anywhere from 5 to 12 hours because many precincts only had three or four machines (poorer districts mainly composed of African Americans who vote Democratic, as well as college students who couldn't afford to wait that long between classes - who could afford to wait that long, period?) as well as commuters, whereas districts with lesser populations in the suburbs (you guessed it...with primarily registered Republicans) had comparatively no problems because they had twice as many machines. Also, what do you say to the woman in Ohio who ended up having to wait so long to vote that her husband died at home and she couldn't do anything about it (well, Blackwell...what do you have to say about that?).

Here’s more on Blackwell’s suppression of voter registrants, and his association with this simply charming freeper group called the Council for National Policy (so benign wretched).

Finally, here’s probably the ultimate backgrounder on the 2004 presidential election, including the Ohio farce, from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., reporting for Rolling Stone magazine.

I sincerely hope our corporate media decides to keep in mind going forward the fact that, though these men share a similar skin color, they possess wildly different levels of background and ability, which should be the biggest determinant of their worthiness of higher office than anything else.

Update 8/28: See what happens when you hang with the wrong crowd, Kenny? (hat tip to Atrios)

Who Will Keep Us Safe?

With the five-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks nearing, we can count on the Repugs to make every conceivable effort to shift the rhetoric to the Eternal Now And Forever You Better Goddamn Believe It You Godless Commie Liberal War On Terror that we MUST FIGHT so the terrorists don’t follow us home (Dubya made a statement to this effect while he was trying to raise money for Lynn Swann yesterday, which was particularly nonsensical even for him, and of course, Linda Chavez started “barking” on cue this morning in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial section, a sure sign that the game is afoot - column was reprinted from

Also In today’s Inky, Dick Polman provided what I thought was a pretty good analysis as to why the Repugs will likely fail in this tactic (and by the way, it would be nice if the Inky had the right link on its home page, instead of a link to Polman’s informative blog).

And to put an exclamation point on that argument as far as I was concerned, this story describes the recorded conversations between those in the towers at the time of the attack, some of the rescue personnel, and at least one 911 operator trying to save the victims (the tapes were released as a result of a lawsuit filed by the New York Times and relatives of the victims). This was one item that struck me.

Family members complained that their loved ones were betrayed by poor communication that could have steered them outside before the buildings collapsed.
I would submit that, had some sort of wireless emergency communications network existed, there may have been a different outcome. I realize that this is hindsight, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about that now.

Also noted in the story was this passage (describing the scene at the World Trade Center as the attacks took place)…

"We're in a state of confusion," Battalion Chief Dennis Devlin said, standing inside a command post at the trade center as the towers burned above. "We have no cell phone service anywhere because of the disaster."
As the story notes, Battalion Chief Devlin died on 9/11.

So what have we done to improve our ability to aid and rescue others in the event of another attack?

Well, I think this link from The Democratic Party provides the answer, in particular this item...

FIRST RESPONDERS: Emergency Preparedness Still Inadequate. The President’s budget for 2007 proposed to cut $612 million from first responder grants and training programs. The budget cuts funding levels for programs designed to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by more than $1 billion compared to FY 2006, the Firefighters Grant Program was cut by 50 percent, and the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which trains first responders, was cut by 66 percent. In addition, the President’s 2007 budget requested no funding to enhance interoperable communications. [“The State of Homeland Security, 2006” prepared by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security; 2/06]
The whole laundry list from the Democratic Party link is nothing but a stunning indictment of the failed Repug leadership on this critical issue in particular.

So the next time you hear Ken Mehlman, Billion Dollar Cheney, Dubya or some other Repug clown telling us that the reason we are in danger is because the Democrats have fought Bushco on the warrantless spying in violation of FISA, “extraordinary rendition” and other violations of international law (and not the fact that our government has absolutely and utterly failed in its task of preparing for another attack), tell them to run that garbage past the families and friends of Melissa Doi (who died on the 83rd floor of the South Tower), Dennis Devlin and others and see what kind of a reaction they get.

Update: Speaking of Dubya's warrantless spying, this story is breaking everywhere (hat tips in particular to HuffPo and Atrios, and as far as I'm concerned, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is Queen Of The Universe!).

The President Who Cried Wolf

This is mainly to alert you to the post yesterday by Larry C. Johnson over at The Huffington Post (Johnson being one who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism) about Dubya and his abuse of the terror warning system for political purposes. I realize this is not new stuff, but Johnson links to a presentation by Keith Olbermann on this subject that is absolutely spot-on.

By the way, Glenn Reynolds, among others, made some typically dumb remark at about the time that the story of the British terrorism plot involving the planes broke that “(I wonder) if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.”

I meant to link here earlier to refute this stupid notion (from Atrios), but this is as good a time as any to do so (and by the way, Josh Marshall has more here).

Update: Actually, as James K. Galbraith of The Nation points out here, the recent British plane scare may actually turn out to be number 11 on Olbermann's list, though it's too early to tell; Paul Craig Roberts raised doubts about this a few days ago also (huge hat tip to Brandoland).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hail To The King

It was 29 years ago today that Elvis died, so I now present his stirring live (I think) rendition of "If I Can Dream" from the early '70s.

Catch Of The Day

I usually don't pay attention to the gossipy, "People" stuff, but this was too good not to ignore (nice that the animations seem to be working also).

Creepoid-factor squared: James Woods, who lately has made a specialty out of playing dirty-minded, gross older men (Pretty Persuasion), has dumped his soul mate of a few weeks, Ashley Madison, who at 20 is only 39 years his junior. Woods' friend Scott Sandler, who tells the New York Daily News that Woods has known Ashley through a pal since she was 5 (!?), seems to imply he didn't much care for the match. "She's the anti-Christ," Sandler said. "She truly has the soul of a moth and the brain of a dead trout." (Brilliant imagery!)

So why did Woods ditch the hottie (well, in a skeevy sort of way), who recently made a cameo as Woods' skeevy g.f. on Entourage? Sandler says Ashley showed up at the funeral of Woods' brother, Michael, "in a three-inch miniskirt and chain-smoking." And she spent the day wondering how many photogs were getting her shots. No comment yet from Ashley.
What a touching show of sympathy for a sensitive occasion...I wonder who ol' Jimbo will "reel in" next (sorry...too easy).

Don't Give Him A Helmet

I mean, it's not like there's anything there to protect anyway, but still...

And this must have been a truly memorable scene today from this story (this week's "Dubya Cringe" moment).

Cheers and applause erupted inside the Harley-Davidson Inc. vehicle operations plant here when Bush straddled a high-end model painted blue and white and revved its engine again and again. Climbing down, he ripped off blue-tinted safety glasses that he insisted made him look like rock star Bono and jokingly struck a pose intended to show a hip side.
"Oh look, Mommy. President Stupid Head is trying to be funny."

Meanwhile, back in the world of reality (via Atrios; the ongoing story of the utterly flat "Bush bounce")...

Clean Water Action Alert

An important public service announcement for PA...

Your Help Needed to Support Strong Mercury Regulations!

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is holding a 60-day public comment period on their proposal to reduce mercury emissions from coal plants 90% by 2015. Please take a moment to send an e-mail to the Environmental Quality Board, which is a state regulatory body that makes decisions on all proposed state environmental regulations. Let them know that you support DEP's proposed mercury emission reduction rule.

HERE to take action now!

What the problem? Right now, it's unsafe to eat too much fish caught in our state because of the high levels of mercury in our fish. Mercury is a persistent, toxic pollutant that can cause permanent damage to the brains of children. EPA estimates that over 600,000 babies nationally are exposed to levels of mercury that can cause health effects. Over 80% of the mercury emitted in PA comes from coal burning power plants - in fact, we're #2 in the U.S. for mercury emissions!

Act today! The public comment deadline is August 26.

We need people to flood the state with comments supporting DEP's proposal for strong mercury regulations. The power industry and coal industry are still fighting hard to prevent these common sense health protections from being put into place. Sending an e-mail through our website only takes a second.

HERE to send an e-mail supporting strong mercury regulations for Pennsylvania.

Thanks for your support! With your help, we fought off an effort by polluters to ram a bad bill through the legislature before the start of summer. Together, we can keep winning, getting DEP's proposed regulation adopted by the EQB and putting good rules in place to protect our children.
Contact information:

Myron Arnowitt
Western PA Director
Clean Water Action
100 Fifth Ave., #1108
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412-765-3053, ext. 203

I'm Finnished For Today

And now, for no particular reason, we travel to the last made famous once again recently by Conan O’Brien where you can find a luxury “bidet,” things called “jaffa” and “salmiakki,” and you consume something called “black blood sausage,” all the while understanding that “silence is fun” unless you decide to listen to “Darude” or “The Rasmus.”

If it sounds like I’m talking about another planet, don’t worry (though you are close); still, I hope these travel tips are helpful.

(I don’t know about you, but it’s been forever and a day since I’ve participated in “vomit dodging.” Oh boy!)

Heck Of A Job, Mikey

To be fair, I should point out that this post is meant to be only partly critical of our 8th district U.S. House Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. What I am trying to communicate is the fact that Repug incompetence has exacerbated the problems facing residents of Yardley, Lower Makefield, and other areas of Bucks County affected by the recent flooding.

In today’s Bucks County Courier Times, reporter Brian Scheid communicates the amazing revelation from Mikey that flooding has occurred in the area since September 2004 with “startling regularity.”

Wow. Really?

I tend to take the words of Carol Collier, executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, more seriously in these matters (I once worked for the same employer as Ms. Collier, and I can think of no person more highly skilled or better qualified for her position). This is what she said.

Despite that, she said, the measures that the county's riverfront communities can take to quell flood damage might not work, “due to the ongoing insufficient funding of federal mitigation programs and cost-share formulas that are difficult for many local municipalities to meet.”
Care to comment on that, Mikey? Wonder why either Brownie or Michael (“City of Louisiana”) Chertoff didn’t ante up more dough for this?

(Alas, as the story points out, this does involve FEMA.)


New Hope Mayor Laurence Keller testified that “No significant funds are available for elevation. [The] paltry funds that are available are restricted by federal and state program preferences to acquisition of flood-damaged properties."
Enter Jim Cawley, chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners.

“There is not a one-size-fits-all approach that will fit all communities along the Delaware,” said Cawley, “Things that may work in New Hope may not work in Tinicum or somewhere else along the riverfront.”
Why is it that, whenever I hear politicians recite some verbiage that is stupidly obvious (such as Cawley and Mikey did), I get the sense that they really don’t understand what the hell is going on regarding a particular issue and wouldn’t even bother to involve themselves unless the media were present?

Also, regarding the “elevation” possibility Mayor Keller discussed...

Had 50 of the damaged homes in Yardley been elevated after the September 2004 flood, about $8.4 million in damages would have been prevented in the two subsequent floods, (Yardley councilman Daniel) Mohn said. He used an average elevation cost of $125,000 per home or $6.2 million total.
To be fair again, I should note that Mikey wasn’t elected until November of that year, but apparently, there was no discussion of this issue or “handoff” regarding what to do about it between Fitzpatrick and Jim Greenwood, his predecessor. However (once again), as Above Average Jane has noted, Fitzpatrick served on the Delaware River Basin Commission, so none of this should have been new to him when he began his term in office.

Update: When it comes to Mikey and the flooding, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," does it?

Marching In Lockstep With Little Ricky


(This is my response to the freeper discovered by the blogger Watertiger who stuck the little Hitler 'stache on Howard Dean. If you're doing to invoke a disgusting image of Der Fuehrer, do it right I always say; also, this is in response to Little Ricky's unfortunate choice of words buried in this story.)

As I noted briefly yesterday, Rick Santorum has closed the gap between himself and Mr. Casey Jr. to single digits.

This was predictable, given the effect that television advertising has on the legions of sheep in this country who trot off to the polls and vote based solely on the images that are fed to them from a cathode ray tube and scripts from the radio, as opposed to performing the sometimes difficult function of thought and reasoned analysis of candidates in a political campaign based on their words, actions, votes, and positions on issues of vital interest to all of us.

Anyway, the Philadelphia Inquirer (in this article) dismissed the impact that third-party candidate Carl Romanelli, who has been aided by the Repugs, has had on the campaign with this statement (at the bottom of the article by reporter Tom Infield).

Romanelli picks up his largest support among independents. Though he was shown getting 5 percent of the vote, his inclusion in the race didn't significantly alter the spread between Casey and Santorum.
Really? Define “significantly,” please.

Also, it would have been nice if the Inky had bothered to report on this story as part of its analysis of Santorum’s recent showing.

So, as a public service, allow me to provide evidence once more of Santorum’s voting record, which has truly been odious, and I would then ask why anyone but the most rabid partisan would support this utter fraud of a politician.

From here...

Immigration. The Senate passed, 62-36, a bill to tighten U.S. borders, establish English as the national language, begin a guest-worker program, and provide 90 percent of the 12 million undocumented U.S. residents with legal status and a chance at citizenship. The bill (S 2611) now goes to conference with the House.

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.).
The reason why Santorum opposed the bill was because it wasn't as strict as the original House version of the legislation, which called for jail time against aid workers, including Catholics, who helped illegal/undocumented aliens.

From here...

Marriage amendment. Senators failed, 49-48, to reach the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster against a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

A yes vote was to end debate and move to a vote on the amendment.

Voting yes: Rick Santorum (R., Pa.).
Nobody takes a back seat to Ricky when it comes to "hating the gay," right?

From here...

Minimum wage. In a 52-46 vote, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance a bid by Democrats to raise the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over 26 months. Congress last raised the base wage in 1997. A yes vote backed the Democrats' wage plan.

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.).
Santorum voted no because the Democratic bill didn't include the estate tax repeal that the Repugs wanted (the tax which affects a small percentage of millionaires in this country, of course - see below).

From here...

Mexican border fence. Voting 29-71, the Senate on Thursday rejected an amendment to HR 5441 (above) authorizing Homeland Security to build 370 miles of fencing and hundreds of miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border. The $1.8 billion cost was to have been funded by an across-the-board cut in other Homeland Security programs.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper and Santorum.

Voting no: Biden, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.
In addition to providing further evidence of Tom Carper's Republican tendencies, this vote shows Santorum's utter disregard for homeland security issues in his own state. And building a fence along Mexico's border will do virtually nothing to lessen the flow of illegal immigrants but only stand as a sad testimony to the effect of political jingoism.

Prescription drug imports. The Senate on Tuesday voted, 68-32, to let U.S. citizens import Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription drugs from countries such as Canada without interference from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The amendment was attached to HR 5441 (above).

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Voting no: Santorum.
So Little Ricky doesn't care about elderly Americans trying to get cheaper imported drugs either (and by the way, filling out the paperwork to accomplish this is a headache all by itself).

From here...

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.).
He opposes stem cell research also, of course ("the base" thinks it's evil).

From here...

Sex education. Voting 48-51, the Senate on Tuesday defeated an amendment to S 403 (above) that sought to authorize federal grants to promote sex education as a deterrent to teen pregnancies. In part, the instruction would cover the use of contraceptives and the pill.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Voting no: Santorum.
Better to keep our kids as ignorant on this issue as Santorum is so they'll make a tragic mistake of one kind or another (disease, unplanned pregnancy, etc.), right?

From here (the minimum wage vote again)...

Minimum wage, estate tax. Senators failed, 56-42, to get the 60 votes needed to advance a bill (HR 5970) raising the hourly minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over three years, and exempting all but the wealthiest estates from taxation.
A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Voting yes: Santorum and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.
Do you want more evidence that Santorum is an utter disgrace? OK, click here (tons of nested links, though the link to the Tom Ferrick, Jr. article expired).

The fact that this pestilence is within shouting distance of Mr. Casey Jr. sickens me more than anyone can imagine.

Update 1: So a Santorum staffer may actually be guilty of voter fraud? Sweet!

Update 2: I should definitely plug this site more often.

Update 3 (smokin' today): I love the "Mel's Rockpile" reference in a comment for this one (have to check out Ricky's "moves" later).

Update 4 (9/3): There's no line with Santorum that he won't cross - none at all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Still A Wizard, A True Star

Yep, here I go with another “YouTube” link again, and this is Todd Rundgren performing “Healer” and “Time Heals” on “Saturday Night Live” from 2/21/81 (kind of in the mood for these songs a bit with all of the current nutsiness going on). I can’t upload the video, but you can link to it from here (looks like Utopians Kasim Sultan and Roger Powell are helping out also).

The show was hosted by ‘80s ingénue Charlene Tilton of the T.V. show “Dallas,” and it became noteworthy because the late Charles Rocket, a one-time cast member, dropped an “F” bomb as the credits rolled and was promptly fired.

This Day In Doomsy History

And I never did hear from Larry Mattlage, by the way (he never wrote, he never called…waaahh!).

There are two reasons why I’m linking to this again since I posted it a year ago. The first is that it was a singularly stupid episode that we should remember. The second is that things are slow on the posting front and I’m scrounging for material.

It's Always The Way

So, this is the result of Bushco’s encouragement of the Israelis in their war with Hezbollah (I’m sure Dubya probably told Ehud Olmert to tell Sheik Nasrallah to “bring it on”).

I’ve done some searching today and found some of the typical warmongering verbiage out there among the winger sites (including that fine Christian man Dr. Earl Tilford of Grove City College, who does all he can to perpetuate the conflict by writing inflammatory essays from the safety of the halls of academia – “proportionality” my ass).

This, however, is from TBogg via Atrios. And I don’t know who or what “Blackfive” is, but if the proprietor of this site had any guts whatsoever, he, she, them or it would be off in some newly-bombed Mideast location practicing what they preached (and trying to avoid approximately half a million land mines in southern Lebanon according to the Yahoo news story).

Update: I missed the fact that "Blackfive" is, by all accounts, a milblog. I'll remember that and see if I feel any less disgusted as I view photos online of slaughtered kids as a result of the carnage we have either encouraged or actually inflicted ourselves in the Middle East.

And by the way (speaking of bombing a foreign country into the Stone Age), I meant to mention this earlier, but 33 years ago today, Richard Nixon halted the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and all that did was hasten the rise of the Khmer Rouge to power and usher in genocidal slaughter, so maybe we should rethink this whole "bombing" thing in this country, you know?

Tuesday Cleanup Stuff

I’ve been meaning to get to these items, and now seems to be as good a time as any.

- This is an absolute must-read column from Paul Craig Roberts (dated today…I try not to call things “must reads,” but it really is true in this case).

- Also, do you remember Carlton Sherwood, the “filmmaker” who concocted this anti-Kerry piece of propaganda in 2004 called “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” which was bankrolled by The Sinclair Group, and Sherwood’s subsequent defamation lawsuit against Kerry and John Podesta, who ran the Kerry PA campaign?

Well, the judge threw out the lawsuit a week or so ago. Of course, the original news of the lawsuit received a lot more play than the story of the suit’s dismissal, so Sherwood accomplished a lot of what he set out to do from a propaganda point of view, unfortunately.

- Two book recommendations: “Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America,” by Sen. Byron Dorgan, and “The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music,” by Dunstan Prial (I plan to start reading both as soon as I can).

- Also, according to CNN, Rick Santorum has closed his polling deficit (as opposed to his MANY OTHER deficits) against Mr. Casey Jr. to single digits. This is a cause for concern, but you have to dig down into the story to find out that it’s because some Casey votes are being siphoned off to the Green Party candidate who the Repugs are bankrolling.


Whispering Down The Freeper Lane

First, Billion Dollar Cheney says that the voters in Connecticut who supported Ned Lamont might encourage “the al Qaida types who want to break the will of the American people,” and Cheney quite rightly is repudiated for being the scumbag that he is.

Then “Holy Joe” Lieberman, who is supposedly such a nice guy, takes his cue from Cheney and states that Ned Lamont’s plan for Iraq “would strengthen terrorists,” and Lieberman is taken to task also.

On top of that, CNN anchor Chuck Roberts recently referred to Lamont as “the al Qaida candidate,” and Arianna Huffington quite properly eviscerates him (post is updated from yesterday).

Update: Chuck Roberts is a class act. Good for him.

Today, conservative propagandists Glenn McCoy and Cal Thomas did their part. McCoy penned a cartoon that appeared in the Inquirer of Democratic donkeys tossing Lieberman into some kind of sludge pit since Lieberman chose to speak as a voice of dissent in the “lockstep” Democratic party (too funny), and Thomas (in the Bucks County Courier Times, of course, which also ran a story stating that high gas prices are because of "demand") referred to those who supported Lamont as “Taliban Democrats” (and by the way, I have found no information to indicate whether or not either McCoy or Thomas served in the military).

And finally (is enough ever enough with these people?), Don Imus on his radio show has said that he plans to ban Democrats who support Ned Lamont (so much for Imus and Chris Matthews supposedly “taking a hard stance against Dubya’s foreign policy”).

(Imus is a fossil as far as I’m concerned; why anyone would take him seriously is an insoluble mystery to me…maybe because he proved his “cred” with the wingers by attacking President Clinton at the White House press dinner in 1996. James Wolcott destroyed him a little while ago, and that should have been that, but the freepers will always find a voice somewhere in our supposedly “liberal” media, as we know.)

I suppose we can expect this nonsense to continue until November, but this is all instructive as far as I’m concerned. It shows our bought-and-paid-for corporate media in all of its utter repugnance, and it illustrates the scope of the battle we must fight against our adversaries to advocate for the truth as much as we possibly can.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bushco Prepares For WWIII

Another must-read from Sy Hersh in The New Yorker this week (alerted by HuffPo, though they pulled the link), including this excerpt…

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks (note: retaliation for the capture of the two Israeli soldiers, though The Existentialist Cowboy reports that the soldiers were in Lebanon, not Israel). President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.
I’ll read Hersh’s entire article as soon as I can.

We are truly living under the rule of monsters.

Update 8/16: As Trudy Rubin of the Inquirer explains here (registration required), they're stupidly incompetent monsters also.

Is Curt All Wet?

Admiral Joe scored an endorsement over Crazy Curt Weldon from the League of Conservation Voters last week, where league president Gene Karpinski described Sestak as a "leader, champion, and person of vision" who "cares about the environment."

As the article states…

Regarding the Havertown site (a Superfund-designate site a block away from the location of Joe’s endorsement), Sestak asked, "Where has Curt Weldon been? What has he done to help move this site forward, to have proper cleanup done?"

Sestak said he would provide leadership to expedite the project, which has been on the National Priorities list since 1983.

Sestak also vowed to "fight hard to get proper funding so we aren’t using a secondary approach to a health issue ..I would press for a complete approach to this that best takes care of cleaning it up totally. We have accepted a second choice here by covering it over," Sestak said, referring to a synthetic cap installed in 1996.

"This is not excellence. If you want to accept a second-rate approach, Curt Weldon’s your man. If you want someone fighting for a better approach, I’m your guy," he said.

Weldon campaign spokesman Michael Puppio referred to the remarks as "typical pre-election pandering and distortions." He said Weldon is "supportive of environmental causes and aware and involved in the Havertown Superfund issue."

The Ocean Champions conservation group recently endorsed Weldon, the lead sponsor of the Oceans Conservation, Education and National Strategy for the 21st Century Act.

Weldon has been a leader in raising fuel efficiency standards, according to Nathan Wilcox of PennEnvironment. But with a 40 percent voting record, he votes against the group’s priorities the majority of the time, Wilcox said.
Of course, being a Repug, we know how successful Weldon, an advocate for our oceans, has been in persuading his party leadership as to the verifiable existence of global warming, which severely affects our ocean ecosystem, right?

More Monday Mikey Madness

I’ll get to our 8th district U.S. House rep again in a minute.

An editorial in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune made me realize that I had to revisit Bushco’s efforts to grant itself immunity from prosecution as war criminals, which is in fact what they are. And by the way (speaking of the war), do you know that, according to this AP story, “nearly 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers” are being sent into Baghdad to “curb the surge” of sectarian violence?

Gee, if I were the AP editor, I would have made THAT the headline instead of the yawner “Bush Tackles Foreign Policy His First Day Back” (Dubya is more likely to “get tackled” by it, though, as per usual). I also would have tried my best to obtain exact numbers as to which troops are U.S. and which are Iraqi. However, I’m just another unkempt, nasty, not-sufficiently-subservient liberal blogger, so what do I know?

And it wouldn’t be possible these days to talk about the war without talking about Mikey Fitz, as this letter writer did in today’s Bucks County Courier Times:

Once again, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has displayed a stunning lack of backbone in his recent decision to waffle on his support of George W. Bush’s war. Since before even being elected to Congress, Fitzpatrick’s toed (sic) the Republican Party line on the war, kowtowed to his Washington, D.C.-based masters and supported this war that has needlessly claimed thousands of American lives.

Now the Congressman wants us to believe that he thinks the President has made crucial mistakes and that a new strategy is needed? Where was Fitzpatrick while these mistakes were being made? He was dutifully hailing the president as bold and principled and turning a blind eye to the growing disaster which is his and Bush’s war.

Fitzpatrick has exposed his main weakness for the voters of Bucks County to see. He is not a leader; he lacks conviction and he is stereotypical of what is wrong in politics. Now that a majority of the American people have found the nerve to speak out against his war, our congressman has decided that it is in his political favor to take a new stance. Amazingly, Fitzpatrick still has no new ideas on how to end American embroilment in Iraq; he pays lip service to the voters while remaining content to watch American lives thrown away, like so much garbage.

Patrick Murphy has a plan for Iraq, a solution which he has posted on his web site for all to read. Murphy, an Iraq War veteran, is an authority on what has gone wrong in Iraq, and the most qualified candidate to offer plans to get our country out of this mess – starting by demanding honesty from President Bush, bringing home our National Guard and Reserves, layout out a clear exit strategy for the remaining forces and then do what the Iraqi people have asked – allow them to follow their own destiny.

Patrick Murphy has shown himself to be a bold and courageous leader in this campaign, while our current representative can do nothing but follow George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of their gang.

The time has come to remove the Republicans from power in Congress, especially those like Fitzpatrick who have made a career of simply following the instructions of the party bosses. We in Bucks County have an important but very easy choice to make in November: choose the leader; choose Patrick Murphy.

Joseph Mueller
Bristol Township
Amen, brother.

Oh, and by the way, did you hear about how Mike Conallen, a representative of the Fitzpatrick campaign, tried to derail Saturday’s conference call about terrorism and Iraq between Patrick Murphy and Sen. John Kerry, attended by the press, on Saturday 8/12? Fact-esque has all of the excruciating details here (so professional, Mikey...).

He's Not "Green" And He's No Dem Either

Yep, the campaign season must be starting to heat up. I received another taxpayer-funded mailing from our 8th district U.S. House representative recently. I’ll tell you about it shortly.

When things don’t look as good for Mikey Fitzpatrick as he would like (that is, Mikey's recent flip-flop on supporting Dubya and his Iraq war and the subsequent hit he took over it, and rightly so), he always falls back on the two issues where he seems to have a modest amount of credibility, and that would be energy policy and the environment. And this is what he touted for himself in his most recent correspondence, as follows.

Mike has been, and will remain, opposed to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Mike has argued consistently that we cannot drill our way to energy independence – we must change our habits and explore new technology.
I won’t comment on that second sentence, but regarding the first, did you know that Mikey voted for a conference report that would have allowed drilling in the ANWR (Roll Call #149 per this link)? Sounds like another “flip-flop” to me.

As noted here, Fitzpatrick did vote against repealing the authority to designate an area as “critical habitat” for an endangered species. Also, as a member of the Open Space caucus, Fitzpatrick did support increased funding for the environment over the pittance proposed by Bushco. Both of these items are noted on Fitzpatrick’s mailer of course, and it’s good stuff, I’ll admit.

However, when it comes to “New Energy Solutions,” the next topic Fitzpatrick mentions (global warming requires more conservation and new ideas, blah blah blah), did you know that he voted against greater investment in cleaner energy? (Roll Call #118).

Fitzpatrick also touts his vote to require greater Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFÉ) standards for automakers. This was added as an amendment to the House energy bill (HR 6) by Repug Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York and Dem Edward Markey of Massachusetts in April 2005. I wasn’t able to verify Fitzpatrick’s vote on this, but it doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned, because the amendment was defeated by a vote of 254-177 (Roll Call #121).

Another piece of legislation that Fitzpatrick lets us know about in the mailer is something called the Reduce Individuals Dependency on Energy (RIDE) Act a few weeks ago (so clever with acronyms Mikey is, right?). Basically, what this amounts to is a tax credit to encourage people to use public transit (and Fitzpatrick has supported AMTRAK funding, which is damn nice of him, seeing as how it affects so many of his constituents). This, as far as I’m concerned, is better than nothing, but not by much.

And of course, as the MyDD link notes:

Fitzpatrick voted to fundamentally rewrite our national mining policy by ending a decade-long congressional ban on the sale of public lands to mining companies. These lands, which are currently used for recreation, wildlife, fisheries or regional drinking water, could now be sold without public input or environmental review, and Americans who now enjoy them could see them privatized and closed. The lands could even be used for real estate development or other purposes (Roll Call #601).

Fitzpatrick voted against requiring federal agencies to identify the environmental impacts of their programs on minority and low-income populations and to develop policies for implementing their programs in a nondiscriminatory manner (Roll Call #130).

Fitzpatrick voted to cut discretionary spending on the environment and natural resources by $2.85 billion, more than 9 percent below the previous year's levels. By 2010, funding levels for these programs would be 21 percent below the level needed to maintain current activities. Among the hardest hit are the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as programs to invest in clean water infrastructure, protect oceans and coasts, and conserve agricultural lands. The resolution also allowed the Arctic Refuge to be opened up for drilling through a fast track budget reconciliation bill (Roll Call #88).

Fitzpatrick voted to waive any federal or state law in building roads, walls, fences and other barriers along U.S. borders. In addition to jeopardizing a wide array of protected federal lands, the waiver provision would deny citizens the right to appeal (Roll Call #29).
There’s much more from the MyDD link that pretty much obliterates Mikey’s record on the environment, by the way (also, as one commenter noted, couldn’t Mikey help his environmental “cred” by not killing so many trees in the process of creating these mailers of his?).

But believe it or not, I have not mentioned yet my biggest gripe with Mikey’s recent campaign correspondence, and here it is.

The words “Republican party” are absolutely NOWHERE to be found. What IS included is a photo of President John F. Kennedy and this typically inspiring quote:

“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future.”
This is sickening, appalling, and ultimately disgusting (indicating that Mikey is more “yellow” than “green”).

I’ll plan to have more to say on our illustrious U.S. House representative a bit later.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Not Just Another Motorcycle Song

I don't know if I'm on the road to requiring a "YouTube" intervention or something, but I came across this from the one and only Richard Thompson and I had to upload it.

"1952 Vincent Black Lightning," for non-RT fans, is his signature concert song (at least it is at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ). I hope you enjoy it.

Je Vous Voudrais T and A!

This is a scandal?

Some photos of French presidential candidate Segolene Royal in a bathing suit (with Francois Hollande, the "partner and father of their four children") on some sort of beach holiday?

Hey, at least WE know how to do this stuff right in this country (re: Clinton/Lewinsky, Paris Hilton's Internet porn video, Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson, etc.). And don't even get me started on the French and Ira Einhorn, Mumia Abu-Jamal, etc...

Geez oh man, I would have expected better from the French. After all, this is the country that has brought us Emmanuelle Beart, Isabelle Adjani, Anna Parillaud, and such steamy cinematic moments as Claude Lelouch and Anouk Aimee giving the bedsprings a workout in "A Man And A Woman" and the debut of the fetching, white-hot late-teen Brigitte Bardot (pictured) engorged in lust with her mail companion across the hood of a red sports car (Jean-Louis Trintignant, I believe) in "...And God Created Woman" (man, that Roger Vadim sure knew how to make a movie!).

And from such an honored history of borderline-soft-core-porn, all this country can produce now are some yawner photos of a flabby socialist in a turquoise bikini?

Sacre bleu!