Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Video #2

OK, no more damn message songs - here's "Land Of A Thousand Dances" live with Wilson Pickett and the Midnight Movers in Germany in 1968 (just go nuts like they did, OK?).

(In case you're wondering, the answer is yes; I actually do like recent music also, but it's easier to get vintage stuff like this - I've been trying to find a good video for a particular Hoobastank song, for example, but I haven't had any luck yet...damn legal nonsense).

Saturday Video #1

If you're looking to get cheered up, then keep looking (sorry)...Barry McGuire excoriates (yes, that is a word) "Eve of Destruction" from September 1965 (I think this was on Ed Sullivan; no word on whose idea it was to have the go-go dancers perform in a faux far as I'm concerned, you could substitute Iraq for Red China and New Orleans for Selma, Alabama and the song becomes completely topical once more).

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Night Video (Another One)

I heard this song in the place where I bought my lunch today, and I've been thinking about it all day (kind of tells you a bit about my priorities, I suppose).

So let's all go put our flower pots on our heads and return to the '80s for "Whip It" by Devo (the episode of Beavis and Butt-head where they rip on this was one of the funniest things I ever saw).

The Show Must Go On

I've been thinking about Freddie Mercury and Queen over the last day or so because of this story describing how a celebration of his birthday is going to be cancelled in Tanzania because it is a Muslim country and Mercury was gay (he appears in drag in this video); with all due respect to Muslim orthodoxy, I have to say that I think that's a really stupid reason to cancel the party. I mean, is it asking too much to consider what Mercury brought to the world through his prodigious vocal talent and stage presence?

Anywhere, here is the song and video that, I believe, was his finale with Queen.

(The hell with it...let's just enjoy it and let anyone who wants to have a pissing contest do so by themselves.)

My Questions For Mikey

Dear Congressman Fitzpatrick,

Do you think I am “an appeaser”?

Do you think I am suffering from “moral and intellectual confusion”?

Do you think I am somehow to blame for stories such as this, which as far as I’m concerned, indicate that Iraq is drowning in a blood bath (I wonder if, after the Sunnis and the Shiites finally turn the entire country to ashes, killing practically all of themselves in the process, our august media will finally stop preoccupying itself with Britney Spears’ weight gain and anything having to do with celebrities in general to the point where they will proclaim that, yes, we actually have civil war in Iraq)?

Well then, if so, you ought to be man enough to stand on your own two feet and say that you agree with Donald Rumsfeld and his delusions.

If not, then you really are as big a coward as he is, aren’t you?

Mikey's "Stem Cell Slam"

This Letter To The Editor appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (Shelbie and Jeff are in my thoughts and prayers):

Regarding Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s comments about stem cell research and my wife Shelbie, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease: Shelbie and I appreciate Fitzpatrick’s support of other forms of stem cell research.

But unlike Congressman Fitzpatrick, we are opposed to discouraging a unique avenue of research. We believe we are still in the early stages of discovering the care and cure potential of stem cells.

According to Fitzpatrick, embryonic stem cell research efforts should not be embraced by the federal government because they “have not yet proven effective.” Even in this early phase of research, his comment does not square with the facts.

Imagine sitting next to your spouse at the hospital after a month-long struggle to live, and a 10-year struggle with ALS, when this story breaks (June 21, 2006) on the TV:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently reported preliminary evidence that cells derived from embryonic stem cells can restore movement in an animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

It is heartbreaking to think where we might be today if people like Mike Fitzpatrick weren’t standing in the way of advancing this promising medical frontier. I wonder why Mike Fitzpatrick would support other forms of stem cell research, which by the same standard have not been proven “effective.” I can only guess his answer to that would be they do not “require creation and destruction of human life for medical research, something that many people find objectionable.” If this is how he feels, Congressman Fitzpatrick should introduce legislation to close fertility clinics.

These are places where human life is being “destroyed” and couples enjoy the life-changing benefits of fertility research.

I’m sure there are degrees of difference between Mike Fitzpatrick and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy on other issues, but on stem cells their differences are night and day.

Jeff Oppenheimer
Solebury Township, PA
To lean more about ALS, click here, and to read a prior post on this for more background, click here.

Let's Give Pitts "Serious" Competition

I’m finding out some interesting stuff about Joe Pitts, the U.S. House representative from the 16th PA Congressional district running to retain his seat against Lois Herr.

According to this Source Watch article...

Pitts was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. Pitts hasn't had serious electoral competition and he announced that he's abandoning his pledge to serve only five terms in the House of Representatives.
I don’t know where the quote about “serious electoral competition” came from; I haven’t been able to find an attribution for it. However, I should point out that the former U.S. Congressional representative in our district, Jim Greenwood, also broke a self-imposed promise to limit his term in office before he eventually left for a job as a lobbyist for the pharma industry, and he was roundly blasted for it, which was appropriate.

I also came across this item about Joe’s opinion of the video game industry (as the blogger noted, it tells you something about Repug congressional priorities that they found time to address this but not bother to follow up on Rep. Louise Slaughter’s recommendation for a modern-day Truman Commission to investigate military contractor fraud in Iraq).

See, Joe believes that the “good” kids (you know, the ones with mommy and daddy’s money in the McMansions of Lancaster County) will be able to resist the violence of video games like “Grand Theft Auto,” but those baaaad kids from “the city” (re, minorities – primarily black – in Philadelphia, for Joe’s purposes) won’t be able to because the video game will reflect a way of life they know anyway.

It’s difficult for me to contemplate how truly asinine that argument is without requiring Ibuprofen.

Before this election, the only time I could recall hearing anything about Pitts was during the fracas over the court order requiring the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Chester County, PA courthouse. I can see the legal rationale, but I know more than a little bit about the mindset of the people who live out there, and Pitts reflected some of his constituency when he reacted to that decision as if someone was about to stick his testicles in the microwave (thus drumming up support for something called the Ten Commandments Defense Act...I'm sure Charlton Heston and the estate of Cecil B. DeMille were cosponsors).

Hey, you want the Ten Commandments posted outside your courthouse in violation of the spirit of separation of church and state? Go knock yourselves out. I think you’re wrong, but I’ve got other battles to fight, thank you very much.

That wasn’t enough for Pitts, though; I mean, he wouldn’t be doing his job as a Repug if he didn’t take the occasion to pander once more to “the base,” stating that “some on the left are determined to remove any and all references to religion from public life.”

Bravo, Joe. Go see Karl Rove for your gold star and a stack of untraceable cash.

With all of this in mind, let’s give Lois Herr a great big helping hand and try our best to rid the 16th district of this Republican pestilence.


Admiral Joe Keeps Rolling On

I know I mentioned the Rothenberg report showing Joe tied with Crazy Curt according to the latest WaPo poll, but it bears repeating.

Dear Friend,

It's the last week of the summer and just before Labor Day, the traditional "kick-off" to the fall campaign season.

The pundits said it could not be done, but we've done it -- thanks to your support. In just 6 short months, we've gone from grass-seed to a grassroots-powered winnable race:

- Washington Post calls the race a "toss-up"
- Tied (46-46) in the latest WaPo poll
- Over 6,000 donors since February and growing
- Profiled on CNN as "the bellwether race to watch"
- Delivered Democratic Party's national response to President Bush's weekly radio address

Now the pundits are saying it again, no campaign can raise any money the last week of the summer -- but I believe otherwise. That's what I like about my campaign and your support -- them "telling us it can't be done."

So let's show them. Please make a contribution to my campaign today. There are only 10 weeks until Election Day and we need funds to get up on the airwaves to get my message out.

contribute now:

As you know, I am a former 3-star Admiral who has returned home after completing my 31 year military service to our country. I led an aircraft carrier battle group that conducted combat operations in Afghanistan and precursor operations to the war in Iraq. I served as President Clinton's Director for Defense Policy at the White House. After 9/11, I became the first Director of "Deep Blue," the Navy's anti-terrorism unit for the "Global War On Terror."

With this background, however, I decided to run for Congress as a Democrat because our children's future depends on change. Our country is headed in the wrong direction under the failed policies of President Bush, with whom my Republican opponent has voted 4 out of 5 times. We must invest in our health, education and economic future, and change our policy in Iraq.

I am asking for your help to get my message of change to voters -- an expensive task. (Philadelphia is the 4th most expensive media market in the nation -- $500,000 for one week on television)

So let them keep on telling us it can't be done. Let's show them! With a growing donor base of 6,000 and a growing volunteer base of 1,200 -- we can do it -- we can make a difference and effect change. Look how far we've come with your support.

contribute now:

I am in this race to change the direction of our country: "We can do better!"

Please help me make that change possible. Thank you!


Joe Sestak
And here is the link to the Rothenberg Report again for more information.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Tribute To Joe Stefano

The intro of "The Outer Limits" premiere in 1963 and a clip from the debut episode "The Galaxy Being" with a very young Cliff Robertson.

Twin Passings

I know this was kind of an usual role for Glenn Ford, but I like him as Captain Fisby in that silly ‘50s movie “The Teahouse Of The August Moon,” where Brando played a happy-go-lucky Japanese guy (who would have thought that was possible?). Another favorite role was that of Dave The Dude in “A Pocketful of Miracles,” and of course the well-meaning teacher confronting a gang of toughs in “Blackboard Jungle.”

I never really knew just how much he was acting and how much he wasn’t, and if you asked me to list his “tough guy” roles (the ones where he really made his name), I honestly couldn’t give you one.

As for Joseph Stefano (born in South Philadelphia), he was the executive producer of the ‘60s black-and-white version of "The Outer Limits," and more notably, the screenwriter of “Psycho.” Being a child of ‘60s television, I saw many of the show’s episodes, which went more for shock value at that time (schlock value now, actually…I remember the one with character actor Simon Oakland dressed as a chicken from outer space taking over an amusement park ride).

However, Stefano was trying to communicate messages of a sort through the show (it was the ‘60s, after all), and he wasn’t afraid to tackle themes that might upset people; “A Feasibility Study” with Sam Wanamaker dealt with a local community that had been abducted and enslaved by aliens that spoke with a British accent and looked like piles of molten rock (once more, it was the ‘60s) and decided to commit suicide, basically, to save the planet Earth, and “The Prisoners of Zanti” was about sending our prisoners to outer space so they could land on a planet and be tortured by angry-faced ants (no word on whether or not the screenwriters indulged in illegal substances).

Stefano wasn’t as accomplished a writer as Rod Serling (“The Twilight Zone”) or possibly even Gene Roddenberry (“Star Trek”), but he did produce some thought-provoking television that made people think “outside the box,” and I think that’s an honorable accomplishment.

Private Profit From A Public Trust

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this fine column by Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News on Kenneth Tomlinson, the former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and current head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The column deals with a variety of Republican scandals, but it gives Tomlinson “center stage” to highlight the malfeasance under his watch.

As Carlson noted…

(Tomlinson) hired a friend on contract without notice to the board or staff and signed invoices saying that work was done, without any evidence that it was, according to a summary of the latest report by the State Department's inspector general that was made public Tuesday.

Employees at the board of governors called the unnamed (and unseen) employee, who was paid almost a quarter of a million dollars, ``the phantom,'' according to the office of Representative Howard Berman, a California Democrat and one of three lawmakers to release the summary.

The State Department inspector general also found that Tomlinson had government employees work on personal matters and used board of governors ``resources in support of his horse- racing operation,'' of all things.
Our tax dollars at work – don’t you love it? Also…

Tomlinson requested compensation in excess of the 130-day annual maximum he was supposed to work, and then, amazingly, billed both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Corporation for Public Broadcasting for work on the same exact days on 14 occasions.
Ethically challenged, you say? I agree, which makes him a perfect fit for Bushco.

So what has Tomlinson been doing now that he is in charge of the Voice of America? According to this American Prospect story

In June (2005), for example, when the VOA’s experienced TV health reporter proposed an exclusive story covering the trial of a malaria vaccine in Kenya by doctors from Walter Reed Hospital, the network’s administrators urged her to cover a joint anti-terrorism exercise in Senegal instead -- even though the VOA’s Pentagon radio correspondent was already assigned to do the piece. Malaria kills 3 million Africans every year, even more than the number killed by AIDS, and 80 percent are children. Yet the VOA’s acting news director, Ted Iliff, decided that the Walter Reed story would be too costly and was “not compelling” enough to send a reporter overseas. The correspondent was instructed to do the terrorism story -- despite the Pentagon correspondent’s warning that she wouldn’t get the visuals needed for good television, which turned out to be accurate.

So why was the VOA correspondent sent on a pointless and expensive trip to Senegal? A supervisor told her that David Jackson, the VOA director handpicked by Tomlinson, wanted “to make a good impression on the Pentagon,” VOA sources say.
This groundbreaking moment in journalism also occurred under Tomlinson’s supervision.

(Tomlinson’s) critics also point to Jackson’s insistence on a dubious story about Salman Pak, a reputed terrorist training camp near Baghdad. Prior to the March 2003 invasion and for weeks afterward, some military officials believed the site was linked to al-Qaeda, providing much-needed justification for the war. By May 2003, however, when Jackson began pressing the VOA TV unit for coverage, The New Yorker and others had discredited the story.

“Nobody believed it except the Rush Limbaugh wing, but Jackson kept hounding radio and television people to cover it,” recalls a VOA staffer. Editors sought to wave Jackson off the story, according to agency sources, but he kept demanding that the story be pursued -- even after U.S. military officials in Baghdad no longer claimed any link, and the VOA’s reporter on the ground had explained that the al-Qaeda connection was “bullshit.”
I can personally attest to the fact that we used that eight-letter adjective frequently in journalism school.

And oh yes, why was Tomlinson originally upset with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in general and Bill Moyers in particular? As Moyers explained in this great speech from May 2005…

Ideologues don’t want you to go beyond the typical labels of left and right because people may start believing you. They embrace a world view that cannot be proven wrong because they will admit no evidence to the contrary. They want your reporting to validate their belief system and when it doesn’t, God forbid. Never mind that their own stars were getting a fair shake on “NOW,” Gigot, Viguerie, David Keen of the American Conservative Union, Steven Moore of the Club for Growth. Our reporting – our reporting was giving the radical right fits because it wasn’t the party line. It wasn’t that we were getting it wrong, either. Only three times in three years did we err factually, and in each case we corrected those errors as soon as we confirmed their inaccuracy. I believe our broadcast was the best researched on public broadcasting.

And the problem was that we were telling stories that partisans in power didn’t want told, and we were getting it right, not rightwing. Let me tell you something – and we can argue about this at some other time – I’ve always thought the American eagle needed a left wing and a right wing. The right wing would see to it that economic interests had their legitimate concerns addressed. The left wing would see to it that ordinary people were included in the bargain. And both would keep the great bird on course. But with two right wings or two left wings, it’s no longer an eagle, and it’s going to crash.
And that will suit Tomlinson and the Repugs just fine, because if it can’t fly, the only place where it will be able to live is in a cage.

Update 9/1: I guess "freezing the nomination" is the closest thing our ethically compromised Repug government does to punishing one of its own.

A Worm In The Big Apple

The Bucks County Courier Times reported today that Mikey Fitzpatrick sent a letter to PA Governor Ed Rendell yesterday asking him to request that New York City officials lower water levels in their reservoirs by billions of gallons (to a level of 85 percent) in an effort to reduce flooding from the Delaware River in Bucks County, PA.

Yeah, that will happen. As noted in the story...

“There is no particular percentage you can point to as a safe percentage,” Charles Sturcken, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said. “To pick out a particular percentage is not a reasonable way to go.”

He also said by setting a limit, officials could put the city's drinking water supply in peril in times of drought. He said there have been nine serious droughts since 1980, but only three major floods.
OK, maybe I should cut Fitzpatrick a break here because he’s trying to do something about the flooding. Fair enough.

But as I read more about this, I came across this link to the testimony of Carol R. Collier, the executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, before the U.S. House of Representatives on August 15th. She provided a list of flood mitigation recommendations on page 5.

Of her 10 recommendations, a flood mitigation plan involving New York City’s reservoirs is listed as part of number 8. Ahead of this on her list are items such as encouraging support and local adoption of FEMA-approvable flood and/or hazard mitigation plans, increasing the priority of federal and state funding for building elevations and acquisitions in flood-prone communities, targeting FEMA map modernization funds to municipalities where flood conditions have changed due to development, strengthening and unifying floodplain regulations basin wide, and implementing best management practices for stormwater control.

However, following up on these recommendations is not something that can be turned into a newspaper headline or sound bite for an advertising campaign in an election year, so Mikey has decided to go after New York City first (it would be nice if Fitzpatrick would follow up on the other recommendations instead and let us know if any progress is being made).

And how would we benefit if New York City’s reservoirs were lowered?

Collier said lowering levels in the reservoirs would reduce flooding, but perhaps only by an inch in Bucks…Still, she pointed out that a reduction of flooding by 1 inch could help Yardley homeowners who might have an inch of water flood their homes.
I can assure you that Carol Collier is smart enough to know that residents in Bucks County did not lose their homes over an inch of flooding. As for Mikey, his letter to Rendell in an attempt to persuade New York City to lower their own reservoir levels is, quite literally, better than nothing.

The Dreaded “Open Mike” Strikes Again!

I dreamt last night that I was a CNN co-anchor...

Lynne Russell (former anchor): “We will be joining the President shortly to hear his remarks upon the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating impact on the Gulf Coast region. This is CNN.”

(I get up to leave and go to the men’s room. As I approach the urinal, I am joined by Jack Cafferty.)

Russell (video feed from New Orleans): “Here now is the President.”

Thank you all. Thank you. Good morning. From our beginnings as a nation, the church steeple and the schoolhouse door have been enduring symbols of the American community. And so it is today in New Orleans.

Jack: (unzipping pants) Hey, how’s it going?

Me: (unzipping pants also) Oh, hey Jack. Fine. You?

Jack: What can I say? Another day older and deeper in debt.
Earlier this morning, we gathered at St. Louis Cathedral in the presence of a just God, who asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And now we stand inside Warren Easton Senior High School. Warren Easton is the oldest public school in New Orleans.

Jack: (doing his business) Ah, the pause that refreshes…

Me: (likewise) Yeah, I think Lynne and I had too much coffee. She can hold it better than I can, though.

Jack: Man, did you check out that low-cut number she’s got on today? I think they set a flood light aimed right at her carriage. Hot damn…

Me: Are you kidding? Most days, it’s the only reason why I get out of bed and come to work.
In a little more than a week its classrooms will again be filled with young men and women who will write the future of this great American city. And that future draws from a rich past -- the music of Fats Domino, the stories of Tennessee Williams, shotgun houses and iron-lattice balconies, seafood gumbo, red beans and rice on Mondays.

Jack: That tinhorn little pissant! The only thing I care about, Dubya, is if you ever offered a woman any beads on Bourbon Street.

Me: (snickering). Yeah, I’m curious about that myself.

Jack: Hey, as long as we’re on the subject, did you check out that new intern with the nice rack? Little Jack sure stood up for a salute for her, let me tell you.
Over the course of nearly three centuries, a city that once was the center of slave trade has been transformed to a unique and great American city. This city is a story of hope and dignity and perseverance. And it's these qualities that have seen you through trials of war and prejudice and natural disaster.

Me: Aw, shut up Dubya! Just tell ‘em FEMA’s not going to give them any more money and wrap it up, OK?

Jack: But do you know who I’m talking about?

Me: No, I don’t.

Jack: Aw, c’mon – you know, the blonde.

Me: Jack, there are about 150 blondes who work here. You’ll have to give me something more to go on.
One year ago today, your beloved New Orleans and surrounding parishes and counties and the great state of Mississippi were struck by a cruel hurricane. And here in this city, there was flooding on a biblical scale.

Me: How many times has he referred to God already, I wonder.

Jack: Speaking of miracles, I can’t believe how she fits in those black stretch pants. It’s an event just watching her walk to the copy desk.

Me: Earth to Jack, I need more help with this one.

Jack: I can’t believe you (finishing up and zipping). I can’t believe I have to point her out to you. She’s got that little rhinestone earring.

Me: Oh yeah, now I know who you mean (finishing up and zipping). I overheard her whining to her girlfriend about taking a sweater back to Saks. What a bitch!
Less than three weeks later, with many of the homes and churches and schools still under water, I came to Jackson Square. I said, we could not imagine America without the Crescent City, and pledged that our government would do its part. And today, Laura and I have come back to discuss that pledge and your future.

Jack: Yeah, you’ve come back for about the sixtieth time in the last two weeks (washing his hands).

Me: Thank God I’m married (washing my hands also). If I had to listen to something like that, and over a sweater no less, I’d take the gas pipe. My wife is genuinely a loving – you know, no ego – you know what I’m saying…just a really compassionate, great human being.

Jack: No, actually, I don’t know what you’re saying. Try speaking in sentences next time.
I want to thank Don Powell, the Federal Coordinator of the Gulf Coast rebuilding, who is with us today. I appreciate Admiral Thad Allen, who's now the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, who is with us today. And I want to thank Lieutenant General Russ Honor.

Jack (snickering): Honor or “off her”...make up you’re mind, Dubya.

Me: (laughing) Definitely “on her”...that’s the best offer I’ve had all week.
I appreciate the members of the congressional delegation who have joined us today: Senator Mary Landrieu, as well as Senator David Vitter and his wife Wendy. Thank you both for being here. I want to thank Congressman William Jefferson and Andrea; Congressman Bobby Jindal; and Congressman Charlie Melancon and his wife Peachy. Thank you all for joining us. Proud to be working with you. (Applause.)

Jack: (Drying his hands) Isn’t Jefferson the guy who hid the money in the freezer?

Me: (Drying my hands) Geez, what kind of a name for a wife is Peachy? Sometimes I think this whole administration is just a rejected episode of “Mayberry R.F.D.”

Lynne Russell interrupts the conversation: Doomsy, you idiot, shut off your mike!

Me: Oh, hi Angel Cakes. You want something?

Russell: Don’t call me that, you pig! I was meeting with our producer and I just heard this now. You left your mike on. That whole conversation with Cafferty drowned out the president’s speech!

Me: (Laughing) Really? (As I realize the imminent prospect for unemployment, I suddenly get serious) I mean, really?

Russell: Yes!

Jack: But we could hear Bush fine in here.

Russell: But that’s not what’s going out over the feed. Turn off the mike now!
I immediately turn off my mike and exit the men’s room with Cafferty, feeling dejected but trying not to laugh. Cafferty pats me on the back and tells me not to worry about it. As I return to the anchor desk under the glare of a CNN producer, Cafferty speaks once more.

“So, do you think that intern is a real blonde? All over, I mean.”
I woke up and realized that something like this could never happen in a million years...right?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Beaten To The Punch

(I say that with respect, by the way.)

I've been stating here for the last day or so that I'd planned to respond to Rumsfeld and his remarks calling anyone opposing the Iraq war "appeasers" suffering from "moral and intellectual confusion." For a variety of reasons, I've been unable to do that.

Well, Keith Olbermann did it for me tonight on "Countdown," and I can think of no better response than this one (maybe his finest broadcasting moment).

Life In These United States

(I had a very unpleasant experience with the billing department of Reader’s Digest over a “trial” subscription once, so I’m only too happy to steal this from them; if they don’t like it, they can bite me.)

This Guest Opinion appeared yesterday in the Bucks County Courier Times from Bruce Lloyd of Lower Makefield, PA, who, according to his bio, is a principal engineer and construction official with the state of New Jersey. He is also a retired commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and a former U.S. Senate page.

Our country is heading in the wrong direction, and it’s serious. Our war on terror is a sham; our actions and inactions are only making it worse. We are being told that everything is fine and right on schedule, but it’s all a con because George Bush and other Republicans in Washington are only interested in one thing – staying in office. And they will seek to do so no matter how much it sets our country back and no matter how many lives are lost or ruined unnecessarily.

While these people have no idea what they’re doing and are taking the rest of us with them, there is good news. We can stop them – one vote at a time. And that means electing Patrick Murphy as our next congressman. We must tell incumbent Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick that we don’t need his representation any more.

Iraq is in the middle of a civil war. The “constitution” that was drafted and passed has no meaning. No one here is paying any attention to it. Now some of the responsible leaders in Washington are saying that the resolution Congress passed authorizing the initial invasion (based on fabricated and distorted intelligence information) may no longer be valid. The American people and Congress gave no authorization for our country to be in the middle of a heated civil war.

Even Fitzpatrick has tired of the current strategy. I refer to the Aug. 8 edition of the Courier Times, “Fitzpatrick takes new stance on Iraq war policy.” Yet, as the story reports, “Fitzpatrick offered no new strategy.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick tells us with pride that he sent a letter to an organization called the Iraq Study Group with the United States Institute of Peace. In it, he says he exhorted them to work harder. That’s great. We have over 2,600 dead Americans to date, and some 30-40 being killed every month, and our first-term congressman is writing letters to a study group.

Patrick Murphy has a plan that makes sense and can work. Start bringing home our National Guard and reserve troops shortly and redeploy many of our regular forces to the borders of Syria and Iran; then, start bringing home regular forces on a gradual basis by the end of the year.

When George Bush came into office, we handed him a budget surplus of $230 billion for fiscal year 2000, the highest in U.S. history. Bush and his administration immediately got to work attacking that with excessive tax reductions for the rich and by slowing needed increases for education and health care. Meanwhile, deficits are accumulating from prescription drug bill. And the massive debt for the Iraq war continues to accumulate.

These deficits hurt. For example, gas prices have risen from $1.40 in March 2001 to $3 per gallon for much of this summer. The cost to attend a public four-year college has increased 32 percent between the 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 school years. Student debts are rapidly becoming horrendous and in some cases double what they were when this Republican administration started in 2001.

In closing, let me direct readers to some great web sites so each person can do his or her own research:,,,,, and
Mr. Lloyd brought up something that I really didn’t address earlier, and that was the fact that Mikey contacted something called the Iraq Study Group when he realized that everything wasn’t just ducky with the war after all.

As noted here, the person running the Iraq Study Group is none other than James “The Fixer” Baker III, the Bush family confidant who I somehow thought was a better man than Poppy and his ruinous progeny, but I guess is perhaps not after all.

As noted by Robert Dreyfuss of the Washington Monthly...

"'Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home—that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics,' a member of one of the commission's working groups told [Dreyfuss]. Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the [Bush] administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. 'I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they've called in Baker to try to reroute the train.'"
Yes, I know there is a hint – just a hint – of bipartisanship in the list of individuals in the group, including Leon Panetta, Vernon Jordan, and Lee Hamilton, but make no mistake; this is Baker’s show.

Also, I noted yesterday in the piece on Rummy (and I definitely promise more on this whole ridiculous propaganda campaign comparing the Iraq war and the Israel-Hezbollah spinoff to World War II) that the Rothenberg political report had the U.S. PA 7th Congressional District race between Crazy Curt Weldon and Admiral Joe Sestak as a toss up (I wish the 16th district race between Joe Pitts and Lois Herr was "on his radar," though).

That’s good news, but in the 8th district race, Mikey is still slightly favored over Patrick Murphy (Fitzpatrick is a shrewd political animal, and he manages to get his face on local TV a lot – he’s also helped by a lot of die-hard knuckle draggers up here, unfortunately).

To help Patrick close that gap and make this race a toss up also, click here.

Get Ready For Friday Fun

Lukery over at Wot Is It Good 4 had a good idea a week or so ago, but at the moment I’m unable to find his post so I can link to it (if anyone can leave a comment with the link, that would be just so special).

He suggested that we make September 1st a day to send an extra special Impeach Bush message at each of our sites. I think that’s a great idea, and I have mine prepared for the day after tomorrow (trust me…if you visit this site, you won’t be able to miss it).

Let’s spread the word on this and do what we can, OK? Thanks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Before Katrina

The latest from Dr. Dean...

An important fact has to be remembered as we recall the victims of last year's devastating storms:

Almost half of all children in New Orleans lived in poverty -- before Hurricane Katrina.

The callous and inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina revealed that, when faced with a crisis that experts had actually predicted, the Republican administration was utterly unprepared and unresponsive.

Meanwhile, the shameful foot-dragging since the storm on reconstruction and help to families shows the same lack of interest in solving real problems and saving lives. So far, the administration has gotten around to spending barely half of what Congress authorized.

The Republican administration's failures before and after the storms are linked by a common approach to the solemn responsibilities of government. Simply put: they aren't interested.

This Republican leadership's philosophy means that our government simply will not meet the needs of our people.

Not because it's impossible -- but because they don't believe it should.

And so we are left with each American having to do what he or she can to help.

There is too much to be done for individuals acting alone to fix everything, but until we achieve a change in leadership we all must step up to the plate.

One way to do that is by donating new or used books to the Children's Defense Fund, an organization that's working to make sure that school libraries in Gulf Coast are well-stocked for returning students.

Only 18% of New Orleans children had returned by the end of the last school year, according to the New York Times. More children will return this year, but the conditions they will return to can be terrible.

I want to ask that you participate in a book drive for the children of the Gulf Coast. It's important, and it's a tangible way for you to make a difference:

While we all take time to reflect and do our small part to help, one thing is clear: Democrats offer a new direction.

We believe in a government that takes its obligations to the American people seriously, one that is always improving the services and protections it provides -- a government that becomes more efficient as it meets challenges and takes on new challenges with serious commitment.

And we believe passionately in the responsibility of public service -- doing the hard, unglamorous work that comes with solving real problems that impact people's lives.

With that sense of responsibility missing in our leaders today, we find ourselves in deep trouble.

A fifth grader interviewed by the New York Times recently -- one of the few who have made it back -- told the reporter that his father, who is in the National Guard, has been sent to the Middle East. Meanwhile, back on the home front, their house has been burglarized.

The boy summed up what people on the Gulf Coast -- and people all across the country -- are feeling right now:

"We deserve better."

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- We've set up a resource center to help people learn more a year after Katrina. From the promises made and subsequently broken, to a look back at the failure of leadership on the levees in New Orleans, take a minute to explore just where we are one year later:

Click here.
And if you aren't angry about this already, please read my post from yesterday about the nonsensical column on Katrina from James Jay Carofano, and I guarantee you that your blood will be boiling in no time.

Another Episode of “C.S.I. – Tripoli”

So they first tried the Bulgarian nurses for allegedly infecting children with HIV and found them guilty, passing a death sentence by firing squad in May 2004, then a Libyan Supreme Court (they have one?) judge overturned the verdict in December 2005, and in the retrial that has just begun, it looks like they’re trying to kill the Bulgarians for it again.

I would say that, based on this story, the medical personnel received just a bit of coercion (to say nothing of the fact that the charges are ridiculous).

Four of the six defendants, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, told Human Rights Watch in May that they confessed after enduring torture, including beatings, electric shock and sexual assault. Libyan officials denied all of the defendants prompt access to a lawyer, they said. In June, a Tripoli court acquitted 10 Libyan security officials accused of using torture against the defendants.
But this is OK, since we’ve said “all is forgiven” to Gaddhafi now, right?

Why do I get this sad feeling that this story is going in one direction only?

Does Rummy Speak For Them Or Not?

So Donald (“The Defense Secretary You Have” – still, after all this time) Rumsfeld said that anyone who opposes Bush “lack courage on terror.”

Rumsfeld believes that anyone who opposes Bush is suffering from “moral and intellectual confusion,” and he blames the media for not providing “more good news” on Iraq (a particularly silly criticism because the Repugs own much of our corporate media anymore and have an abundance of freeper web sites out there that they can use to foist their biased babble on us).

I think it’s time that we contact our elected representatives on this and get them on the record, and I don’t think “demand” is too strong of a word to use when it comes to getting them to say whether or not they support Rummy on this.

I’ve provided the following links below:

U.S. Senate

Rick Santorum
Arlen Specter

U.S. House of Representatives

Mike Fitzpatrick
Jim Gerlach
Frank LoBiondo
Joe Pitts
Chris Smith
Curt Weldon
(Admiral Joe is tied with Crazy Curt in the latest WaPo poll, by the way, at 46 apiece. You can read more about it here, under "Pure Toss Up").

Please communicate with these people directly and, as I said, demand that they tell you whether or not they support Rummy on this, or if they think our defense secretary is hanging out on a limb all by himself. I will be very interested to hear what they have to say.

I’m planning to address this some more anyway, and I’ll get to that in the coming days also.

Propagandizing The Right To Work

Considering that the holiday weekend will be upon us in a few days, this is a timely reminder of the battle we must fight to protect our jobs, our benefits, our homes, and our families.

On the last page of the Business section in today’s Bucks County Courier Times, there is a full page ad showing a child looking up sadly at his father, who is wearing a hardhat and a downcast expression, and the caption in huge type says,

“My Daddy CAN’T Work in Bristol (PA) Borough.”
The subcaption states the following: “A construction job should be about value, safety, training and quality and NOT (underscore) about being a member of a union.”

The text of the ad goes on to explain the following:

“The Bristol Borough School Board has agreed to adopt a discriminatory (their word) Union-Only Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for its new K-8 school. This decision means that a majority of local construction workers will be shut out of the opportunity to work on the project. It also means that fewer companies will bid on the work and construction costs will increase dramatically. This is just plan wrong! PLAs discriminate against a majority of Bristol Borough construction workers.”
(By the way, the ad contained a typo in the last sentence – PLAs isn’t possessive, people, it’s plural, so no comma was necessary...yes, I know it’s picky, but it’s important.)

I realize that ads are held to a different standard than other types of newspaper copy, but it may turn out over time that what the ad states in the paragraph above is nothing but fantasy. “A majority of local construction workers,” “fewer companies,” “costs will increase dramatically”...all vague BS.

At the bottom of the ad, it states “for more information…log onto”. There is also a logo for Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

So I did (this may take a minute to follow, but it’s worth it).

I have to admit that the site is slick, and there are a lot of text links. Of course, if I were to investigate all of them for something like truth in advertising, I’d be doing nothing else from here to next Tuesday, so it is utterly impossible.

They have a site map that you can click on to find out more information about “discriminatory” PLAs in your state. I did that, and then came to a link where you can read about “’public policy organizations’ in your state.”

One of these organizations is called the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), which chimes in on PLAs also. I clicked on the link to go to their site, and what do you think I found in the right nav column of their home page?

“ Partner”
Well, well, well…

I wonder if the Bucks County Courier Times would be interested to know, or even cares, that they provided a full-page editorial to a conservative policy organization disguised as advertising? Why wasn’t there labeling on the ad indicating as such? Do you expect them to now provide a free full-page ad to the AFL-CIO or an affiliate organization in response?

Somehow, I don’t think that will happen.

Well, then, to read about how PLAs are used effectively in construction projects, click here. Among other findings stated in the article…

PLAs are project-specific agreements, negotiated at the outset of a construction project, setting out the terms and conditions of employment for the duration of the project. Such agreements can help reduce costs while increasing efficiency and quality.


The PLA also ensures that workers on Brightwater are paid a livable wage, receive health and retirement benefits and have safe working conditions and rules.


When implemented, PLAs serve as a risk management tool to manage the uncertainties associated with such projects. PLAs have been used as a project management tool on several large local projects, including Safeco Field, Qwest Field, the Port of Seattle’s Pier 66 and South Airport Terminal, Seattle Public Utilities’ Tolt Treatment Facility, the new downtown Seattle Public Library and Harborview Medical Center.
PLAs ensure that the job is done right the first time and strict cost controls are maintained. To declare war on PLAs is to declare war on the right of American workers to receive fair compensation for their labor.

And is it me, but is it a bit more than a coincidence that this site has sprung up a few months (weeks, really) before the election?

Louisiana 1927

Marcia Ball with the Duke Robillard Band performs the Randy Newman tune which is so sadly appropriate for today. Also, don't forget to check out the replay of Spike Lee's "When The Levees Broke" on HBO tonight at 8:00 EST.

Possibly light blogging over the next day or so - I don't know yet (there's one or two items I want to get to, but we'll see).

Monday, August 28, 2006

An Anniversary With No Closure

I should point out that there was once a time when the Sunday News and Opinion section of the Philadelphia Inquirer (before the title of that section was changed to the vague moniker “Currents”) actually contained some interesting content that tended to make you read and think about topical issues and formulate a well-reasoned opinion (basically, it did what I try to do here, only they used to do it in a much more professional way).

Now, however, it has shrunk in half from 12 pages to about 6, and whatever editorial content may be found is lumped in with book reviews and, in the case of yesterday, a mea culpa of sorts from the paper’s sex writer Faye Flam (“yes, my column really is necessary, and no, I’m trying to actually educate as opposed to getting everyone all horny for no good reason” – I’m still waiting for an explanation for the “Kirk on Spock” soft core porn feature a little while back, though).

Unfortunately, the freepers had their say yesterday (as they must as far as the Inky is concerned) in the person of James Jay Carofano of the Heritage Foundation, and the topic was the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which will officially be marked tomorrow.

As you can read here, Carofano, in a column he wrote last December, complained that the biggest problem made obvious by the disaster was that we needed to have “a robust, fully manned and fully equipped National Guard” as a result, but of course Washington isn’t supposed to “step in and tell communities what to do,” even if, in the case of Katrina, the scope of the disaster was so overwhelming that it was impossible for representatives of federal government agencies (assuming they were competent of course, which is another story) to do exactly that.

Well anyway, here is Carofano’s latest on the Katrina aftermath (I know there’s more important things to do at a time like this than dissect freeper nonsense, but it is necessary unfortunately).

What went right: Just folks helping folks

James Jay Carafano
is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation

There are two ways to learn from disasters. One is to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it. The second is to profit from what went right and try to build on that.

In the wake of the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, we have spent far too much time trying to fix blame, point fingers and hyperventilate over our failures than recognize the courage, determination and creativity of Americans who saved lives and property. That's a shame. Efforts that worked during Katrina are the ones most likely to help us to meet future disasters. Emulating them ought to be our priority.

Washington's response to Katrina has been predictable. Stung by the criticism of the slow response of the federal government, Congress and the administration have spent the last year scrutinizing the failures and vowing "never again." The result is that by the onset of this hurricane season Washington was on a war footing, primed to dump assistance on the first state that saw a rain squall touch its shores. As a result, the government now focuses on hurricane response out of proportion to all of its other missions.
Doesn’t right-wing snark just want to make you gag? In response, I’d like Carofano to read this passage from this story in yesterday’s Inquirer.

Michael Vaughn can't cry anymore. He did that every night after Hurricane Katrina washed away his home, after his insurance company gave him $3,585 for all he owned.

Now he just feels dazed. He looks at the sky fearfully when it rains. He has frequent headaches and high blood pressure and was just diagnosed with diabetes.

"I'm so stressed, I don't know if I'm coming or going sometimes. A typical day inside my head feels like a bomb went off in it," said Vaughn, 50, who said he takes so many medications that he has his own pharmacy. "I've been in the military, I've been through a divorce, I lost my daddy, but that's nothing compared to what I'm going through right now."
So yes, Carofano, I have a feeling that when Michael Vaughan sees a rain squall, it probably leads to another incident of depression. It certainly isn’t a humorous occasion for him, though apparently it is for you, which speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned of your lack of character.

After it was created, the Department of Homeland Security outlined 15 catastrophic kinds of disasters where the federal government needed to be able to provide major assistance. A major hurricane was only one. Yet since Katrina, federal agencies have spent almost as much time planning for a major hurricane as they have planning for the 14 others.
Aside from being hopelessly vague, I honestly don’t know what this sentence means. What other kinds of disasters is Carofano talking about? Why can’t he be more specific? He doesn’t tell us how much time was spent on the hurricane disaster scenario as opposed to others, though of course he’s trying to blame the federal government somehow.

Not only have we fixated on only one kind of disaster; we also have come to expect that in the wake of any catastrophe, Washington should be able to solve all of our problems. That's a terrible idea. In fact, the opposite is true - and Katrina proved it. The most rapid and effective responses were those of local communities.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time in these screeds before you get to the crux of the freeper argument that there shouldn’t be any federal government anyway and everything should be handled locally. The problem wasn’t that there was a federal government role. The problem is that that role was performed so badly.

I’m not saying only Dubya is at fault on this. I’m just saying that the command and control function for coordinating disaster relief in the Gulf Cost region should have been handled first and foremost out of Washington in concert with state and local efforts, and it plainly wasn’t.

One district in Louisiana, for example, had 40 operating shelters in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Tens of thousands of people were sheltered and fed by local groups. Local faith-based organizations responded quickly and effectively by providing facilities and resources and by mobilizing volunteers - all without government direction or assistance.
Specifics? Names? Dates? Quotes from the participants? Anything??

In fact, Louisiana residents generally rated the assistance provided by private sources such as nonprofit, community, and faith-based organizations substantially higher than they did assistance from federal, state and local governments and national organizations such as the Red Cross.
Probably because those are the first individuals people deal with in the event of a disaster, with the government working “behind the scenes” if its doing its job properly.

Local groups are and will always be the core of any effective response by a community to disasters large and small.
So says you.

The worst reaction to the aftermath of Katrina would be to adopt a more heavy-handed federalized approach that would undercut the very kinds of responses that proved the most effective.
I can absolutely guarantee Carofano and others that, as long as we’re under Republican rule, he will never have to worry about that (and it doesn’t make me happy to point that out).

What Washington should focus on is being ready and able to help state and local governments when their responders are overwhelmed. That means not stepping in and telling them what to do, but quickly providing the assistance they need when they really need it. Washington should worry about whether its own responders are ready to go, rather than funnel billions in grants back to state and local governments.
I’ll tell you what, Carofano. Instead of all this vague winger pontificating, I’m going to present a link to this speech by James Lee Witt who, as many people know, was FEMA director under Clinton. If you read his speech, you will get an understanding of his philosophy of “client relationships” between different levels of government meant to ensure swift response and resolution in the event of disasters exactly like Katrina and possibly (believe it or not) worse. You will quickly realize that this handy assignation of blame on your part (federal government is bad, but everything else is good) is totally childish.

The Coast Guard offers a case in point. The Coast Guard saved at least 33,000 lives during and after the storm. They were the first federal responders on the scene and without question the most effective. Yet Congress still underfunds the Coast Guard's modernization budget and sends its men and women into harm's way on ships and planes old enough to collect Social Security.
You went on about this last December also; as much as I’d like to blame Congress for that, I think part of the problem lies elsewhere (re: a very high-profile government agency doesn’t know how to do its math). According to this story...

The Pentagon’s own budget—for fiscal year 2006, the widely reported amount of $419 billion in discretionary budget authority—does not include the costs of nuclear warheads, which the Department of Energy produces; the defense-related activities of the Department of State, including “foreign military financing”; the past military services being compensated currently by benefits provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs; the defense-related activities of the Homeland Security Department, such as the Coast Guard’s defense activities; various defense-related activities of several other federal departments; or the current interest costs of previous, debt-financed military activities. Applying my rule of thumb, I estimate that the government’s total military-related outlays in fiscal year 2006 will be in the neighborhood of $840 billion—or, approximately a third of the total budget, as opposed to the 16 percent that one calculates by comparing the Pentagon’s $419 billion request to the administration’s total request, $2.57 trillion.
And I’m sure it will be as helpful to the Coast Guard for it to be under DHS as it has been for FEMA, right?

Likewise, the National Guard will always be essential to backing state and local governments in any large-scale catastrophe, as it did after Katrina. Yet the Guard doesn't have units properly organized and prepared for this mission.
And you know why, don’t you Carofano?

In addition, the war on terror has made heavy demands on its people and equipment.
No, not “the war on terror.” The actual, real live war in Iraq, which according to this poll, is not the same as the “war on terror” or “war on Islamo-fascism” (whatever the hell that is) as far as the majority of the people of this country are concerned.

Congress, however, has done nothing to ensure that these forces will be funded adequately so that they can respond to missions at home and abroad.

The American answer to Katrina was remarkable. A less effective response by the nation would have resulted in tens of thousands dead.
Oh, so “only” 1,836 people dead is somehow acceptable to you? The pictures of people being washed away from their homes and their cars, cars and houses in trees, people clinging for their lives before they drowned, waiting for hours and days for help before they finally succumbed is somehow just dandy as far as you’re concerned?

The “American answer” to Katrina, despite some admittedly heroic efforts by many people at the disaster scene, was sickeningly pathetic. It demonstrated that the Republican Party (those primarily at fault) has no interest whatsoever in governance or formulation and implementation of public policy, and the results were on display before the utter amazement and disgust of the whole world.

We should be building on the successes that saved lives - not simply throwing Washington's time and money at the problem.
And what would this screed be without a finishing touch of freeper boilerplate?

Here is my answer: a speech that columnist Mark Shields gave in 2002 that should be required reading for every citizen of our country, including you, Carofano.

101 Degradations

I wish this was a “shaggy dog” story, but as Kate Fratti wrote about in today’s Courier Times, the executives of Northwest Airlines prepared a booklet for their terminated employees in which they, among other things, advised their former workers to clip supermarket coupons, brown-bag their lunches (assuming they actually need to do that since they no longer have jobs, as Fratti pointed out), turn down their thermostats, and, for their female former employees, “borrow a dress for a big night out.”

We clip coupons and I brown-bag my lunch most days, but though that does help with our expenses, there’s no freakin’ way that’s going to do much to replace income lost by a full-time salaried job with benefits.

As Fratti noted…

Believe it or not, the sheet — “101 Ways to Save Money” — suggests, among other things, that the freshly pink-slipped not be shy about pulling things out of other people's trash.

Like what, their dignity?

If the mission was to motivate the unemployed, the sheet was a failure. If the goal was to further humiliate outsourced workers, or make some near homicidal, the outside agency that prepared the list is owed a performance bonus.
I found myself wondering about a company that could come up with something like this, so I investigated Northwest Airlines a bit. I discovered that Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and President Douglas Steenland received bonuses of approximately $2.5 million in 2003 despite the fact that it lobbied the unionized work force for wage and work concessions at the same time.

However, these two captains of industry realized, as Northwest slid into bankruptcy, that they needed to actually cut their obscene salaries as the airlines’ pilots voted on a package of wage and benefit concessions in May of this year.

Don’t feel any need to cry tears for Doug Steenland, though. As the article from May notes...

As part of his total compensation, Steenland also received $2.24 million in long-term payouts tied to the sale of e-commerce technology, such as the Internet travel sites Hotwire and Orbitz. Northwest sold them for $190 million several years ago. It originally cost Northwest about $35 million to develop.

Northwest said Steenland received the cash award as part of a long-term compensation program to encourage executives to create new types of business for the airline.

One airline analyst said Steenland's pay doesn't appear to be out of scale.

"It's not a 9-to-5 job," said Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, a Colorado-based airline industry consulting company. "I don't find it outrageous.

"I'm not going to work under than (sic) kind of pressure for slightly over $500,000. Northwest is getting a bargain."
“I’m not going to work under that kind of pressure for slightly over $500,000.”

The arrogance is just about unspeakable. No wonder this carrier is going belly-up. Also…

Karen Schultz, a Northwest flight attendant and a board member for the Professional Flight Attendants Association, said Northwest executives are taking pay cuts and the company is having a hard time retaining management, but her membership is looking at whether or not they will be able to put food on the table or buy a new car next year.

"We have to ask ourselves that when executives bring a company into bankruptcy should we continue to be paying them massive salaries?" asked Schultz.
An excellent question, and the answer is plainly obvious to me, and probably many other people also.

I just heard about this organization a few days ago, and if this story isn’t a reason to join, then I don’t know what is.

Update 8/30: As Prof. Marcus said in his comment...

Monday Repug Roundup

Some wise letters in the Bucks County Courier Times this morning...

Little Ricky Santorum is again attempting to reinvent himself in an election year so that it appears he represents the views of most Pennsylvanians instead of the extreme partisans that he really represents.

It is quite obvious that he is controlled by the religious right as was shown in the Schiavo tragedy. He has the honor of being the only senator to go to Florida in an attempt to shore up the base. Most Americans, let alone Pennsylvanians, agree that this whole affair should have been kept within the family rather than being made into a political circus. Ricky must have wanted to be the ringmaster.

Little Ricky also is so well connected to lobbyists that it would make more sense for him to be called the Senator from K Street, especially since he does not live in Pennsylvania anyway.

The lobbyists furnish most of the money for his campaigns and can always be certain they have a friend in Pennsylvania.

As far as his views on women are concerned, they would have been in the mainstream in 1940. Things have changed and women do work outside of home whether Santorum likes it or not.

Finally, his subservient approach to the Imperial Presidency of George has enabled this pretender to do things that it will take many years to fix. Just because someone would be king is no reason to support all he does, especially considering George may be one of the least suited of our presidents to aspire to this position.

Neil Poppel
Newtown Township, PA
And don’t think I’m going to forget Mikey today…

I am a registered Democrat and my wife is a registered Republican. This way, my household gets all of the propaganda that both parties flood the postal service with at taxpayers’ expense.

One such brochure came in the mail recently from Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, the Republican running for Congress. Fitzpatrick is desperately trying to separate himself from George W. Bush by saying “no” to Bush’s “stay the course” strategy. He also says no to Patrick Murphy’s “cut and run” approach.

First of all, I have never heard Murphy say “cut and run.” This is just a cliché used by the Republican Party. After all, Fitzpatrick doesn’t even know what “cut and run” means because he has never been there in the first place (the military service).

Sorry, Mike, you can’t have it both ways. After all, Dick Cheney filled Fitzpatrick’s piggy bank at Spring Mill Country Club when he was first elected. He has been a Bush “yes man” from the very beginning, no matter how he tries to disguise it. You don’t get a pocket full of money from the big boys without delivering the goods.

Gary Johnson
Upper Southampton, PA

From the moment he took the oath of office, Mike Fitzpatrick should have stood up for his constituents by taking strong positions against Social Security privatization and Bush’s failed policy in Iraq. Instead, he sided with George W. Bush in supporting both.

Now, just months before an election, he wants to fool us into believing that he now opposes Bush. But take a close look at his “position” on Iraq and you will see that Fitzpatrick is still very much in the Bush camp. Fitzpatrick still supports keeping the troops in Iraq indefinitely, he just doesn’t use the term “stay the course” anymore. But simply changing a few words won’t change the mess we have in Iraq.

The failed approach of Fitzpatrick and Bush (no matter what you call it) doesn’t work. It’s time for a real change; a change in policy and leadership, not just wording.

Lauren Benhamou
Northampton, PA
I second, third, and fourth all previously expressed sentiments (though I honestly don’t see too much propaganda in any of the Democratic mailers I’ve received, but I’ll concede that point to the author).

To help Bob Casey, click here. To help Patrick Murphy, click here.

Today’s Civics Lesson For Katie Harris

The Repug political human sacrifice for the U.S. Senate in Florida said this last week (no word on how many of her campaign staffers have quit this week, by the way):

"We have to have the faithful in government and over time," the (Florida Baptist) Witness quotes Harris as saying, "that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."
I now quote the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Anyone who voted for this airhead while running for any public office whatsoever should be forced to undergo a mandatory I.Q. test.

But then again, maybe she really is that stupid after all.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Remembering SRV

Today marks the 16th anniversary, sadly, of the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan and most of Eric Clapton's band at the time in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. In tribute, here is "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," a Hendrix tune (the sound quality isn't quite as good as I'd like, but it captures a typical SRV performance).