Saturday, September 09, 2006

Saturday Night Video

Billy Joel performs "Miami 2017: See The Lights Go Out On Broadway" on "Ellen" and his vocals are practically drowned out by the other great musicians (and even though I'm OK with Ellen DeGeneres, I detest the gratuitous camera shots of the host having a good time...yeah, I'm a grump I know).

Yes, There's Still An Election

Quite a few important ones, I know; the following two letters to the editor appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times this morning:

Some Democrats have begun to stand up to the wasteful spending that's been occurring under the watch of the Republicans, including Sen. Barack Obama and our very own congressional candidate Patrick Murphy.

Murphy blasted the spending priorities of incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and the Republican Congress at an event with Mark Warner, the popular former governor of Virginia who is best known for turning the Virginia government around.

Murphy and Warner share the same philosophy of responsible spending, and the idea that we should direct our tax dollars where we most need them. Our government should be spending money on student loans, improving healthcare and providing enough armor to our troops before it spends a single dime on wasteful pork projects for far off places.

Just recently we learned that Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska secretly blocked a bill by Obama that would bring sunshine to the secretive world of government pork. Stevens had ample motivation to do this, as Alaska receives far more frivolous pork than any other state in the union.

The Republican Party, Ted Stevens and Mike Fitzpatrick need a wake-up call. Warner is absolutely right when he says that we need more people like Patrick Murphy to "shake things up" in Washington.

Jeffry Dence
Falls Township, PA

Your article on the visit by Nancy Pelosi to our area in support of Patrick Murphy was very informative. Embryonic stem cell research offers help to many people. Embryonic stem cells can become almost any cell in the body, while adult or cord stem cells are limited.

I am not a doctor or a scientist; I am just a mother whose son died from complications of multiple sclerosis. My mother in law had Alzheimer's. We all know about Christopher Reeve and President Reagan.

We need people like Patrick Murphy and Nancy Pelosi in Congress so we can override any veto that would prevent the federal government from helping to finance this research. This is the brightest ray of hope in modern medical history.

Embryonic stem cell research must receive federal funding. With more resources available, this would give hope to millions. We need Patrick Murphy to help make this happen.

Maria Huber
Bristol Township, PA
Also (this appeared today on 9/10)...

Anyone who has ever met Patrick Murphy, the Iraq war veteran running for the 8th district congressional seat, will tell you that he is warm, sincere and honorable. That's why I am so disturbed when I read the various attacks on a man who has served his country.

Patrick Murphy worked his way through college, taught constitutional law as West Point and fought for us in Iraq. He is the type of person we need to bring a change of direction to our country.

Danielle Sunberg
Upper Makefield, PA
To help Patrick, click here.

The Inky Blows It On "9/11"

This editorial appeared in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Can viewers at least watch the ABC miniseries about 9/11, instead of having someone decide for them whether it's an informative "docudrama" or a partisan hack job?

ABC and its parent company, Disney, shouldn't cave in to critics who want the network to cancel the five-hour movie, The Path to 9/11, scheduled to air tomorrow and Monday nights. These critics include Senate Democratic leaders, who are worried that the miniseries will portray Clinton administration officials unfairly in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. They wrote a heavy-handed letter to Disney CEO Robert Iger, reminding him of his duty "as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves" to promote open, accurate discussions of political ideas.

In other words, in the name of openness, please cancel this dramatic production that we haven't seen. It's the same lame argument that conservatives raised in high dudgeon in 2003 over CBS's unflattering miniseries about Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Unfortunately, in that case, CBS and its commercial sponsors did cower in the face of an orchestrated conservative campaign. The network dumped the miniseries onto cable channel Showtime, where it was seen by a much smaller audience. (But it did at least see the light of day, and the republic is still standing.)

Sight-unseen critics of the 9/11 miniseries should be honest about their motivations. There is an anxious partisan calculation here. That is: If a Democratic administration gets some of the on-screen blame for failing to capture bin Laden, it could hurt Democrats at the polls this November. But if a movie could do that, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 would have defeated Bush in 2004.

Most Americans understand that the failure to capture or kill bin Laden did not start with one Democratic president or end with a Republican one. The independent 9/11 Commission's report makes clear that many federal agencies under various administrations, from the CIA to the Pentagon, and both political parties in Congress, shared responsibility for failing to recognize the danger rapidly and pursue a coordinated, sustained campaign against al-Qaeda.

The report found that Clinton was "deeply concerned" about bin Laden and was fed daily reports about his suspected location. But he wasn't effective in marshaling a comprehensive U.S. response to a series of al-Qaeda attacks. When Bush took office in January 2001, he did not make al-Qaeda a top priority.

The producer of a made-for-TV movie should have license to portray these broad conclusions in dialogue or actions that were not so compact or tidy in real life. View this miniseries for what it is: a dramatization. The facts from the 9/11 report have been before us for a long time. Viewers can decide for themselves if the treatment is fair.
For starters, the members of the august Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board should read this detailed critique by Jamison Foser of Media Matters for America (via Atrios).

To compare "The Path to 9/11" to the telemovie about the Reagans is ridiculous; as far as I know, there were no "made up" scenes in the movie - I don't recall hearing about a scene, for example, where Tip O'Neill heard about the Iran-Contra scandal and told Reagan it was OK. The movie dealt primarily with the personal lives of the Reagans; the objections I remember hearing about had to do with that. Surely even the Inquirer must realize that the catastrophic events of almost five years ago are just a bit more important and deserve better treatment.

It is equally stupid to compare this to "Fahrenheit 9/11" because everyone had an opportunity to see the movie. In the case of "The Path to 9/11," nine hundred copies of the film were sent to conservative-sympathetic bloggers and other media types while those who were chastised in the movie were refused that same opportunity. But now, literally hours before the movie is scheduled to air, the network says that the film is being edited..??

The Inquirer editorial also failed to note the totally fictitious scene of Sandy Berger refusing to allow the CIA to capture Osama bin Laden. I would say that that's a big reason why Senate Democratic leaders (quoting the paper directly here) wrote "a heavy-handed letter" to Disney CEO Robert Iger.

Congratulations to the Inquirer editorial board for totally towing the conservative line, yanking on its leash held by Brian Tierney (pictured) and Philadelphia Media Holdings (keeping up the inglorious tradition of right wing-friendly commentary as demonstrated here).

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Non-Disney Production

I guess you can consider this a pre-observance of sorts for Monday..."Lonesome Day" by Bruce Springsteen from "The Rising."

Cheesed Off At The Mouse

On Eschaton Wednesday, Atrios suggested (in light of the furor of the make-believe 9/11 movie Disney/ABC is STILL planning to air over two nights starting this weekend) that it’s time to look a little deeper into the background of “the great man” himself.

Digby followed up on this way sooner than I am doing now, but please allow me to toss an anvil or two in the direction of the originator of the most popular cartoon rodent the world has ever seen.

As noted from this link, the production “Mickey Mauschwitz, The Reactionary Politics of Walt Disney” is out there somewhere in videocassette (I couldn’t find it on Amazon, so I don’t know where it could be actually). In part, it references a book called “Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince” by Marc Eliot.

There is apparently some questionable sourcing going on especially concerning personal details of Disney’s life in the Eliot book, but I think what emerges loud and clear is this:

- The Hollywood Film Industry began with “the Trust” formed by Thomas Edison in 1910, who created “mostly esoteric, non-narrative, silent motion picture ‘studies’” and felt greatly threatened by the emerging street-corner nickelodeons, which, to Edison, were “peddling trash” from “Jewish profiteers” (a sentiment shared by Henry Ford, among other leaders of industry).

- Edison, through both gangsterism and monopolistic marketing practices, strong-armed the nickelodeons in the name of “preserving the country’s morals” (sound familiar?).

- Walt Disney began his legendary career with Mickey Mouse (originally Steamboat Willie), who was seen as the perfect, “Christian” antidote to “amoral” Hollywood. In keeping with the practices of Edison and other studio chiefs, Disney was very anti-labor in his business dealings.

- Though an ardent anti-Communist, there is some evidence of an interest, if not an actual relationship, on the part of Disney with American Nazi sympathizers, even telling filmmaker
Leni Riefenstahl (Hitler’s propagandist and an accomplished filmmaker in her own right, actually) that “he admired her work, but if he hired her, it would damage his reputation.”

- Disney also became a friend to former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover when Disney’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC) helped add to the movie industry blacklist of Roy Brewer, head of the IATSE (the mob-dominated International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees) and a close friend of Ronald Reagan. Brewer helped Disney win concessions from the Cartoonists Guild in 1947, hurting the guild’s ability to dictate studio policy.

- Disney was also promoted by the FBI to the title of Special Agent in Charge contact, enhancing his political power against his professional associates. Hoover wanted to capitalize on Disney’s involvement with network television (though there was some controversy between the FBI and Disney over a two-minute tour of the FBI’s headquarters added to a “Mickey Mouse Club” episode which was eventually resolved personally by Hoover).
And aside from this, the Disney company doesn’t seem to have a problem blocking a film that conflicts with its political agenda, does it?

So to anyone out there who believes that the scheduling of a fiction like “The Path to 9/11” is totally opposed to the philosophy of Walt Disney and the fault exclusively of the current heads of Disney and ABC Television, I should point out that it is not. Quite the opposite is true, actually.

Walt Disney made his name in part by shilling for corporate interests and conservative government in this country at the expense of the working men and women and families that comprised his audience. Since his name is attached to the company that seeks to deprive the truth to the citizens of this country while trying to help an intellectually deprived and morally bankrupt conservative regime hold onto power (make no mistake – this, first and foremost, is an election-year, “Repug fear-and smear” stunt), it’s safe to say that he’s doing it again.

Russ Stands Tall Again

As the Inquirer reported this morning, Arlen Specter is whining because his bill that attempts to legitimizing Dubya’s warrantless spying is being thwarted by Russ Feingold (note Arlen’s pique here):

"We have seen the incipient stage of filibuster by amendment," Specter declared as he called off a vote to move his bill to the Senate floor. "Filibuster by speech, filibuster by amendment. Obstructionism."
I’m not sure how a man who once wondered “where is the outrage” about warrantless spying could suddenly acquiesce and actually oppose someone who tries to stop this illegal tactic and ensure proper oversight.

Update: This is what Russ said according to the story (sorry I neglected to add this to the original post):

"The president has basically said: I'll agree to let a court decide if I'm breaking the law if you pass a law first that says I'm not breaking the law," Feingold said. "That won't help reestablish a healthy respect for separation of powers. It will only make matters worse."
Also, I wondered about this borderline editorial comment in the news report:

The need for Congress to give legal status to the program gained a sense of urgency last month when a federal judge in Detroit ruled that it violated rights to free speech and privacy as well as constitutional separation of powers.
The need for Congress to give legal status to the program is an interesting way to put it. How about “the need to make sure that the program complies with the law” instead?


Specter's bill was negotiated with the administration (of course). It would submit the program to a special court for a one-time constitutional review, expand the time for emergency warrants from three to seven days, and require the attorney general to inform Congress' intelligence committees on the program's activities every six months.
Define “special court” for me. Who would be responsible for oversight? Is this another tribunal that Dubya wants that would be completely invisible to us (and illegal anyway)?

Let’s give kudos to Russ and tell him to keep fighting the good fight (and Glenn Greenwald provides the last word on FISA here).

He Almost Had Me

So Tony Blair is going to resign within a year as British Prime Minister, allowing his probable successor Gordon Brown to take over and head the Labour Party.

I’ll give Blair credit for holding his own during the memorable “question and answer” sessions with the prime minister facing Parliament (I think Clinton and many other presidents could have been able to handle the relentless give-and-take, but Dubya would have had no shot).

What I will probably end up remembering the most about Tony Blair is his statement to Parliament in February 2003, after the runup to the Iraq war had accelerated. It came on the heels of Dubya’s infamous State of the Union address the month before, as grotesque a document of wall-to-wall lies as mankind has ever seen.

The key difference that separated Blair’s speech from Dubya’s is that Blair made his case with what a reasonably intelligent adult could assume was the best evidence at hand, which made me think that somehow this escapade could be justified. I remember this passage in particular:

There are two paths before the UN. Yesterday the UK along with the US and Spain introduced a new Resolution declaring that "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441".

But we will not put it to a vote immediately. Instead we will delay it to give Saddam one further final chance to disarm voluntarily. The UN inspectors are continuing their work. They have a further report to make in March. But this time Saddam must understand. Now is the time for him to decide. Passive rather than active co-operation will not do. Co-operation on process not substance will not do. Refusal to declare properly and fully what has happened to the unaccounted for WMD will not do. Resolution 1441 called for full, unconditional and immediate compliance. Not 10 per cent, not 20 per cent, not even 50 per cent, but 100 per cent compliance. Anything less will not do. That is all we ask; that what we said in Resolution 1441 we mean; and that what it demands, Saddam does.
Of course, as it turns out, Hans Blix, the former chief UN weapons inspector assigned to verify that Saddam Hussein had destroyed the WMD he was reputed to have, took issue with Blair’s statement.

By the way, one of the most popular freeper defenses of the Iraq war is that it was OK because it wasn’t Blix’s duty to locate the WMD, only make sure that Saddam Hussein had complied, and he did not do that; it would be unrealistic for Blix and his team to search Iraq for the WMD instead. I think you can guess what I think of that argument when it comes to sacrificing the lives of Americans, troops of other countries also and innocent Iraqi nationals, given the fact that the rest of the rationale for the war has folded like toilet paper tissue in a stiff wind (and Scott Ritter shoots more holes in the Iraq WMD inspection process here, in particular this excerpt).

One of the key historical questions being asked is what if Hans Blix had been given the three additional months he had requested in order to complete his program of inspection? Two issues arise from this scenario: would Blix have been able to assemble enough data to ascertain conclusively, in as definitive a fashion as the Duelfer ISG report, a finding that Saddam's Iraq was free of WMD, and thus posed no immediate threat; and would the main supporters of military engagement with Iraq, the US and Britain, have been willing to accept such a finding?

The answer to the first point is that Blix and his team of inspectors were saddled with a complicated list of "cluster issues", ironically assembled by Duelfer during his tenure as head of the UN weapons inspectors, that would have needed to be rectified for any finding of compliance to be made. These "clusters" postulated the need for Iraq to prove the negative, something that is virtually impossible to do. We now know that Iraq's WMD were destroyed in 1991. The problem wasn't the weapons, but verification of Iraq's declarations. The standards of verification set by Duelfer-Blix were impossible for Iraq to meet, thus making closure on the "cluster" issues also an unattainable goal. This situation answers the second point as well. Since the inspection process was pre-programmed to fail, there would be no way the US or the UK would accept any finding of compliance from the UN weapons inspectors. The inspection process was rigged to create uncertainty regarding Iraq's WMD, which was used by the US and the UK to bolster their case for war.
My point is that Blair didn’t argue links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda existed, didn’t invoke the image of a mushroom cloud over New York City, didn’t hold up a vial of what was supposed to be sarin at the U.N. one day and state that Saddam Hussein could poison us all with it (it was really baking powder), and didn’t allege that Saddam Hussein had the capability to deliver WMD from some kind of unmanned aircraft that an Air Force general described as “a weed whacker with wings.”

I think Blair was duped by Bushco and is paying the price for it, as he should. I consider Blair to be further collateral damage from the illegal Iraq war. It’s sad that that is likely to be his epitaph, but it was his choice.

Update: Speaking of Iraq, I don't know how anyone can read this story and not favor Impeaching Bush for lying this country into the Iraq war.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Real Men

No particular reason - just always liked this song by Joe Jackson and its smart edge from "Night and Day" in '78 I believe ("I wonder who the real men are" every day when I see Bushco in far as I'm concerned, things wouldn't be as screwed up as they are if this administration had any).

Broderius Ignoramus

I once read every column by David Broder that I could get my hands on, believing his work to be the pinnacle of fairness and objectivity in journalism.

Boy, was I dumb (as illustrated by this Washington Post column that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today).

Conspiracy theories flourish in politics, and most of them have no more basis than spring training hopes for the Chicago Cubs.
This is the immediate nod from “the august Beltway journalist” to “the heartland of America,” trying to trivialize political chicanery to the same level as a spectator sport. I realize that they both have a few things in common, but as you will see, Broder is completely uninterested in the fact that a covert CIA operative was outed for political gain, possibly endangering her life and certainly compromising her cover, as well as possibly those of other agents.

Whenever things turn dicey for Republicans, they complain about the "liberal media" sabotaging them. And when Democrats get in a jam, they take up Hillary Clinton's warnings about a "vast right-wing conspiracy."
Perhaps, but consider this; the result of the media mergers involving G.E., Time Warner and other corporate entities in the ‘90s did not result in increased subscriptions to the Village Voice, The Nation or Mother Jones Magazine. What resulted was consolidation and proliferation of media entities dedicated exclusively to promulgating the conservative right-wing message primarily across the south and the west, pushing out the voice of any media which dared to confront or contradict it (you can argue about how inherently receptive the audience was to those messages, I’ll admit).

For much of the past five years, dark suspicions have been voiced about the Bush White House undermining its critics, and Karl Rove has been fingered as the chief culprit in this supposed plot to suppress the opposition.
“Supposed” plot? Consider this from Joe Conason...

“…less than four months after Bush's Sept. 20 address to the joint session of Congress (after the 9/11 attacks), he (Rove) was scheming to win the midterm elections by transforming the ‘war on terror’ into a war on Democrats.

"We can go to the country on this issue, because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," he said. Provocative as those remarks were, they were mild compared with the kind of slanders that ensued against (former Senate majority leader Tom) Daschle -- who was paired with Saddam and bin Laden -- and many other Democratic candidates.
Back to Broder...

Now at least one count in that indictment has been substantially weakened -- the charge that Rove masterminded a conspiracy to discredit Iraq intelligence critic Joseph Wilson by "outing" his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame.
At this time, Broder is right because no indictment against Rove has been handed down (despite all of the Jason Leopold/truthout/other posts that have emerged, which may or may not be vindicated eventually).

I have written almost nothing about the Wilson-Plame case, because it seemed overblown to me from the start.
That’s an absolutely staggering admission from someone who is supposedly the dean of Beltway journalists. Broder just chucked any trace or hint of objectivity right out the window.

Wilson's claim in a New York Times op-ed about his memo on the supposed Iraqi purchase of uranium yellowcake from Niger; the Robert D. Novak column naming Plame as the person who had recommended Wilson to check up on the reported sale; the call for a special prosecutor and the lengthy interrogation that led to the jailing of Judith Miller of the New York Times and the deposition of several other reporters; and, finally, the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff -- all of this struck me as being a tempest in a teapot.
Broder should have stopped writing this column right now and instead focused on a topic he supposedly knows something about (the Chicago Cubs maybe?). In my first responding paragraph, I reiterated why this matter is important.

No one behaved well in the whole mess -- not Wilson, not Libby, not special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and not the reporters involved.
He considers this “a tempest in a teapot,” and has written “almost nothing” about it…but he believes he knows enough about it to state that “no one behaved well in the whole mess”?

The only time I commented on the case was to caution reporters who offered bold First Amendment defenses for keeping their sources' names secret that they had better examine the motivations of the people leaking the information to be sure they deserve protection.
I would accept Broder’s patronizing pose here as some journalistic sage if it weren’t for this item (however imperfect he is as a messenger, though, I admit his message is correct).

But caution has been notably lacking in some of the press treatment of this subject -- especially when it comes to Karl Rove. And it behooves us in the media to examine that behavior, not just sweep it under the rug.
Speaking of “examining behavior” Mr. Broder, are you going to respond to the question posed by Media Matters for America here?

Sidney Blumenthal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and now a columnist for several publications, has just published a book titled, "How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime." It is a collection of his columns for Salon, including one originally published on July 14, 2005, titled "Rove's War."

It was occasioned by the disclosure of a memo from Time magazine's Matt Cooper, saying that Rove had confirmed to him the identity of Valerie Plame. To Blumenthal, that was proof that this "was political payback against Wilson by a White House that wanted to shift the public focus from the Iraq War to Wilson's motives."
I duuno…sounds pretty obvious to me that Blumenthal would be right.

Then Blumenthal went off on a rant: "While the White House stonewalls, Rove has license to run his own damage control operation. His surrogates argue that if Rove did anything, it wasn't a crime. . . . Rove is fighting his war as though it will be settled in a court of Washington pundits. Brandishing his formidable political weapons, he seeks to demonstrate his prowess once again. His corps of agents raises a din in which their voices drown out individual dissidents. His frantic massing of forces dominates the capital by winning the communications battle. Indeed, Rove may succeed momentarily in quelling the storm. But the stillness may be illusory. Before the prosecutor, Rove's arsenal is useless."

In fact, the prosecutor concluded that there was no crime; hence, no indictment. And we now know that the original "leak," in casual conversations with reporters Novak and Bob Woodward, came not from the conspiracy theorists' target in the White House but from the deputy secretary of state at the time, Richard Armitage, an esteemed member of the Washington establishment and no pal of Rove or President Bush.
Broder “takes the bait” and falls hook, line and sinker on this one.

Armitage is nothing but a scapegoat here – I’m not a legal genius under any stretch of the imagination, but even I can see that. What is the relationship between Armitage and Libby then? How did Libby find out about Plame unless it was either through Cheney or Rove? Does Broder seriously think that anything happens in this administration without Cheney or (especially) Rove’s knowledge (but with the knowledge of Richard Armitage)?

Let me put it this way; how could Armitage know something like this while Rove or Cheney didn’t? And if by some improbability that’s true, then what does that say about this administration’s treatment of classified information?

Better yet, I should wonder why some obscure blogger like yours truly is asking these questions instead of The Dean Of Beltway Journalism.

Blumenthal's example is far from unique. Newsweek, in a July 25, 2005, cover story on Rove, after dutifully noting that Rove's lawyer said the prosecutor had told him that Rove was not a target of the investigation, added: "But this isn't just about the Facts, it's about what Rove's foes regard as a higher Truth: That he is a one-man epicenter of a narrative of Evil."
That’s legitimate reporting of an editorial opinion by people (like me) who oppose Rove, and it is correctly labeled as such. What is Broder’s problem with it?

And in the American Prospect's cover story for August 2005, Joe Conason wrote that Rove "is a powerful bully. Fear of retribution has stifled those who might have revealed his secrets. He has enjoyed the impunity of a malefactor who could always claim, however implausibly, deniability -- until now."

These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts.

So you want facts, Broder? Here you go (the following appeared in the Atlantic Monthly article...a long excerpt, but important).

Some of Rove's darker tactics cut even closer to the bone. One constant throughout his career is the prevalence of whisper campaigns against opponents. The 2000 primary campaign, for example, featured a widely disseminated rumor that John McCain, tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, had betrayed his country under interrogation and been rendered mentally unfit for office. More often a Rove campaign questions an opponent's sexual orientation. Bush's 1994 race against Ann Richards featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record—when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for "appointing avowed homosexual activists" to state jobs.

Another example of Rove's methods involves a former ally of Rove's from Texas, John Weaver, who, coincidentally, managed McCain's bid in 2000. Many Republican operatives in Texas tell the story of another close race of sorts: a competition in the 1980s to become the dominant Republican consultant in Texas. In 1986 Weaver and Rove both worked on Bill Clements's successful campaign for governor, after which Weaver was named executive director of the state Republican Party. Both were emerging as leading consultants, but Weaver's star seemed to be rising faster. The details vary slightly according to which insider tells the story, but the main point is always the same: after Weaver went into business for himself and lured away one of Rove's top employees, Rove spread a rumor that Weaver had made a pass at a young man at a state Republican function. Weaver won't reply to the smear, but those close to him told me of their outrage at the nearly two-decades-old lie. Weaver was first made unwelcome in some Texas Republican circles, and eventually, following McCain's 2000 campaign, he left the Republican Party altogether. He has continued an active and successful career as a political consultant—in Texas and Alabama, among other states—and is currently working for McCain as a Democrat.

But no other example of Rove's extreme tactics that I encountered quite compares to what occurred during another 1994 judicial campaign in Alabama. In that year Harold See first ran for the supreme court, becoming the rare Rove client to lose a close race. His opponent, Mark Kennedy, an incumbent Democratic justice and, as George Wallace's son-in-law, a member in good standing of Alabama's first family of politics, was no stranger to hardball politics. "The Wallace family history and what they all went through, that's pretty rough politics," says Joe Perkins, who managed Kennedy's campaign. "But it was a whole new dimension with Rove."

This August, I had lunch with Kennedy near his office in Montgomery. I had hoped to discuss how it was that he had beaten one of the savviest political strategists in modern history, and I expected to hear more of the raucous campaign tales that are a staple of Alabama politics. Neither Kennedy nor our meeting was anything like what I had anticipated. A small man, impeccably dressed and well-mannered, Kennedy appeared to derive little satisfaction from having beaten Rove. In fact, he seemed shaken, even ten years later. He quietly explained how Rove's arrival had poisoned the judicial climate by putting politics above matters of law and justice—"collateral damage," he called it, from the win-at-all-costs attitude that now prevails in judicial races.

He talked about the viciousness of the "slash-and-burn" campaign, and how Rove appealed to the worst elements of human nature. "People vote in Alabama for two reasons," Kennedy told me. "Anger and fear. It's a state that votes against somebody rather than for them. Rove understood how to put his finger right on the trigger point." Kennedy seemed most bothered by the personal nature of the attacks, which, in addition to the usual anti-trial-lawyer litany, had included charges that he was mingling campaign funds with those of a nonprofit children's foundation he was involved with. In the end he eked out a victory by less than one percentage point.

Kennedy leaned forward and said, "After the race my wife, Peggy, was at the supermarket checkout line. She picked up a copy of Reader's Digest and nearly collapsed on her watermelon. She called me and said, 'Sit down. You're not going to believe this.'" Her husband was featured in an article on "America's worst judges." Kennedy attributed this to Rove's attacks.

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."
Oh, and here’s something else to consider about Broder (again, courtesy of Media Matters for America…these people are truly doing God’s work). It’s funny to read Broder chastising other reporters, telling them to “stick to the facts” when he decides to speculate on the status of the marriage between Bill and Hillary Clinton, believing it is “fair game.”

I don’t know if Broder has any kind of an agenda at this point or not. I don’t know if he is morally or ethically compromised or suffering from senility or any other health impairment at this point.

I do know, however, that based on this column and others like it, it’s time for him to retire.

As Seen On TV

With the success anticipated by the American Broadcasting Company of its “fictionalized docudramatic unauthorized simulated recreation” (or whatever they’re calling this pack of lies) of the events of almost five years ago (and I’m referring to this “Path To 9/11” farce that is scheduled to air next Sunday and Monday), I think we can look forward to the following historical recreations serving the same propaganda purposes:

“Herbert and Franklin: Anatomy of a Swindle”

Recently released, unattributed memoirs found underneath the hot water heater inside the men’s room of the National Archive in Washington, D.C. prove conclusively that the much-beloved 32nd President of the United States bought off Republican party bosses in the South and Midwest to steal the election of 1932 from Herbert Hoover, whose “stay the course” approach to the Great Depression was starting to win favor among bankers, real estate interests and other industrialists. The result was a period of socialist big government that had never been seen before in this country, which fortunately was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. However, the consequences of Roosevelt’s shocking theft live on in America to this day (starring Charlton Heston as FDR, Kelsey Grammer as Herbert Hoover, and Ron Silver as a young Whittaker Chambers).

“LBJ: The Final Tortuous Months”

In his small-screen debut, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe portrays “the man from Stonewall, TX” whose pro-military theories of government were corrupted when rich Massachusetts liberal Bobby Kennedy, capitalizing on the country’s sympathy after his brother’s murder by a lone gunman, instituted the Great Society tax-and-spend government programs while Johnson concentrated on maintaining American dominance during the war in Vietnam. When Johnson discovers Kennedy’s secret dealings, he resigns in shame, and as an act of revenge, pledges token support to the Democratic Party while encouraging the ultimately-victorious candidacy of Richard Nixon. Tucker Carlson guest starts as Bobby.

“I’m A Loser: The Life of John Lennon”

As he is rushed in an ambulance to Roosevelt Hospital in New York City after suffering gunshot wounds on December 8, 1980, a dying John Lennon reflects on his life and loves and regrets supporting radical liberals such as Abbie Hoffman, John Sinclair and Tom Snyder. However, he takes solace from the knowledge that his death will come in advance of a conservative ascendancy the likes of which America has never known. Byron York stars as Lennon with Michelle Malkin as Yoko Ono.
And of course, this guy will write all of the screenplays (haven’t heard much from him lately, which is a good thing I realize).

Indecision '06

We all know well by now the narrative that the Democrats are weak and divided on a whole range of issues, including 1) the nomination of “Strip Search Sammy” Alito to the Supreme Court and subsequent confirmation; 2) estate tax and/or tort “reform”; 3) supporting Joe Lieberman since his defeat by Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Democratic primary; 4) the Iraq war (and on and on and on…).

I’m not going to link to those topics, since it’s common knowledge at this point; there is some justification unfortunately, but it’s been greatly exaggerated.

Well, I’m waiting for the narrative to emerge from our corporate media that the Republicans are weak, indecisive and divided on many issues as well, including immigration, energy policy, stem cell research, and the congressional budget (and now, on detainee rights for those held in the recently-acknowledged-by-Dubya-at-long-last secret CIA prisons).

(Actually, speaking of Dubya’s announcement yesterday, I have a question; since former CIA employee Mary McCarthy was dismissed over allegations that she leaked information that we were running secret prisons overseas – a charge she strenuously denies – does this mean that she’ll get her job back since it turns out that that charge is true?)

I know I’d better not hold my breath waiting for that narrative to emerge, but fair is fair, even under the United States Republic (for now) of BushCo.

Returning To Life Again

The sun is out, I've got a full cup 'joe, so let's sit back and enjoy the easy-listening sounds of Godsmack to begin our day ("Awake" live).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Music For Criminals

Man oh man - I take off one day and the next thing you know, Katie Couric decides to let Flush Limbore appear on CBS, Bush admits that the CIA ran secret overseas prisons, ABC heightens its fantasy treatment of 9/11 by stating that, yes boys and girls, Saddam Hussein really did have WMD after all (and denying Clinton and those in his administration copies of the movie but leaking same to Hugh Hewitt and other freeper toadies), and mutant fish start appearing in the Potomac (hat tips for just about all links to Atrios).

I think the great ska band The Specials have the perfect musical accompanyment for all of this (here's "Gangsters" from 1979).

(Looks like I'll be busy starting tomorrow...)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Farewell To A Friend

This has nothing to do with politics, and it probably won't mean anything to someone who has never lived in Bucks County, Pa., but here it is anyway.

Labor Day marked the end of the line for Goodnoe's Restaurant, which will now close. Owner Skip Goodnoe (the final owner from the storied Goodnoe family in Newtown - ownership of the restaurant was passed down through the family for years) sold the restaurant because he was unable to keep it operating on a daily basis, and apparently, no one in his family had an interest in it either. It's the sort of story where you first get mad and wonder why this happened when you hear about it, but when you hear the story, you just kind of sigh in exasperation and realize this, ultimately, is no one's fault.

It wouldn't be right for this to take place without saying thanks to the Goodnoe family and the restaurant staff, made up mostly of young kids who were always pleasant and professional. We went there often, and I took the young one a few times; he always had fun with the complimentary crayons and drawing pad during the toddler years (of course, he's way too cool for that now), and I loved their potato salad and chicken salad croissant sandwiches (and the ice cream, of course, which almost goes without saying).

Goodnoe's was a special place, and we'll miss it (and this song by Iris DeMent accompanied by Emmylou Harris has been running around in my head a bit over it lately...I don't like much country, but this is an exception - consider it a tribute of sorts).

Probably no posts tomorrow, so be good to each other and fight blogofascism always!

For The Record

ABC put up the blog again for "Path To 9/11," so (assuming they don't take it down again), feel free to access it and blast these charlatans here.

Here is the comment I left (the blog is set up for moderation like this one, so it's highly possible they won't publish it - feel free to borrow from my comment if you want):

I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We will be commemorating the 9/11 Memorial Garden here on September 30th.

The memories of the 17 people from our area who died are very important to us, and speaking only for myself, I should say that it sickens me just about beyond words that some individuals sympathetic to the Republican Party and the conservative cause are milking the horrific events of that day yet again for partisan political gain. This piece of tripe you have concocted is but the latest example.

Please don't entreat us with more "further clarifications." The premise of this "docu-fictionalized-dramatic-interpretation" or whatever the hell this is supposed to be is the equivalent of spitting in our faces. No amount of equivocating is an escape from that fact.

I now hereby boycott ABC (not that I watch much network TV anyway), and I will likewise boycott any company that advertises on your network. Further, I will have as little to do with the Disney corporation or any other corporate entity affiliated with ABC as I possibly can.

Actually (in a way), I hope you end up making a lot of money off this. It will be even more of a rude awakening for you when you find that it will never buy you a clear conscience.
To read more about the 9/11 Memorial Garden or make a donation, click here.

An Iran Freeper Hate Fest

Let’s start with the notion that former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami is right to a point, OK?

Now before anyone goes nuts out there and asks me if I’ve forgotten the role that Iran has played in state-sponsored terrorism and its role in arming Hezbollah, let me point out to you that I definitely have not.

But when Khatami says that American policies have "only increased, and will only increase, extremism in our region,” how is he wrong?

How is it wrong to point out that al Qaeda and their sympathizers filled the void in Iraq created by Saddam Hussein’s downfall because of our poor-to-non-existent postwar planning (or is it so obvious at this point that it doesn’t need to be mentioned)?

How is it wrong to point out that, as long as our people remain in that country as human targets, we give the terrorists an enemy and exacerbate the process of securing that country and forming a government that they should be doing themselves?

But oh no, we can’t have common sense actually prevail, can we? You see, it would take away an enemy for the freepers, which we cannot do. They must be in a state of perpetual combat with someone or something, or else they will be rendered even more irrelevant than they already are.

And with that setup out of the way, I now bring you what is quite possibly the most hateful, sickening freeper attack I have ever read – I know it would have to be really bad to rise to the top of such a foul list, but trust me…it is.

This is the product of Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and it appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last Sunday (at least the paper ran this next to a column dated 9/3 from Gene Lyons dealing with much of the same topic, only from the reality-based community instead…the C/T actually showed more editorial balance last Sunday than the Inquirer, sad to say).

The State Department has granted a visa to Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, to visit the United States.

Mr. Khatami is coming this week chiefly to attend meetings at the United Nations. He also will speak at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; at a function sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Arlington, Va., and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. And he will meet with former president Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Khatami requested the meeting with Mr. Carter. Perhaps to say "thank you."
I suggest that you put your hip waders on about now. It will get deep in a hurry.

For those with short historical memories, when the Ayatollah Khomeini began making trouble for the autocratic, but pro-American, shah of Iran, Mr. Carter essentially pushed the shah from the Peacock Throne.
If Kelly wants to blame Carter for allowing the Shah to fall from power, not anticipating the rise of militant, radical Islam, then I guess that’s a fair shot. However, as noted in this Wikipedia article, we, along with Great Britain, installed the Shah in 1953 over Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, who was democratically elected (of course, you can forget about Kelly ever pointing that out), and the Shah’s serial abuses hastened his own demise. What I’m saying is that, if we’d left well enough alone in 1953, our current mess may never have materialized at all.

Mr. Khomeini repaid Mr. Carter by authorizing the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, where Islamic radicals (among them Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Typically sneaky for Kelly to imply some imaginary quid pro quo gone bad between Carter and Khomeni.

After a rescue attempt went awry, Ayatollah Khomeini reportedly sneered: "Neither does Carter have the guts for military action, nor does anyone listen to him."
I don’t have any attribution for that quote, and Kelly of course fails to provide any also (I’ll admit though that, given the context, that could have been said).

The hostages were released on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.
Oh yeah, funny thing about that – I’ve checked around a bit and I came up with this article that pieces together a lot of information that paints a big, ugly picture of Ronnie Reagan and his pals, along with the Israelis, paying off Iran to get the hostages at the same time that the Carter Administration was negotiating for their release also (and yes, I know there were some inglorious moments, including the ill-fated helicopter rescue attempt as Kelly just mentioned).

There’s a word for that kind of activity from our illustrious movie-star president. It’s called treason.

Ayatollah Khomeini recognized Mr. Reagan was made of sterner stuff than the man who flinched from the attack of a "killer rabbit."
Don’t worry – this isn’t the worst thing Kelly says (and by the way, if you want to read about how this turned into the “Al Gore said he invented the Internet” freeper rumor of its time, click here).

Thanks to James Buchanan, Pennsylvania's unfortunate contribution to the presidency, Jimmy Carter can claim not to have been the worst president in U.S. history.

But he is unquestionably the worst ex-president, snuggling up to every tyrant who will allow his buttocks to be smooched.
I read that and I could not believe that any newspaper purporting to serve something like the public interest would allow that to be printed. I can assure you that I would have written something in response, but I have something “in the queue” to the newspaper already.

Kelly is right about one thing, though; James Buchanan was a bad president. But when it comes to “bad presidents,” that discussion begins and ends with Dubya.

Before Jimmy Carter, no former president had ever criticized an incumbent president before a foreign audience. But Mr. Carter rarely misses an opportunity to run down his country.
How professional and representative of journalism Kelly is for not even bothering to attribute this. It is to laugh.

"Less an elder statesman than a soft cushion who bears the impress of whoever sits on him, the 39th president is the last person Khatami should meet," declared the journalist Oliver Kamm in The Times of London on Thursday.
Another kissass reference – unbelievable (and to read more about Kelly’s fellow ultra-right nut case from “across the pond” Oliver Kamm, click here).

Those like Mr. Carter who delude themselves that more appeasement can prevent a confrontation with Iran describe Mr. Khatami as a "moderate." Intelligent people make distinctions. But they also know when those distinctions are important, and when they are not.
Don’t you just love the sanctimonious generalizations masquerading as informed commentary? As I’ve pointed out before, if I’d written crap like this in journalism school, I would have ended up working as a men’s room attendant at the Greyhound bus terminal.

As Islamofascists go, Mr. Khatami is more like Gregor Strasser than Heinrich Himmler or Reinhard Heydrich. But the important thing about Strasser, Himmler and Heydrich is that they were all Nazis.
I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to “wave the white flag” at this point (and I’m sure Kelly got a “gold star” from Karl Rove and Frank Luntz for working the term “islamofascist” into the story, which carries approximately the same weight as “death tax” and “partial-birth abortion”).

As president, Mr. Khatami was an enthusiastic backer of Iran's nuclear weapons program and its sponsorship of terror, and among those howling for the destruction of Israel.
“Howling,” Jack? So Khatami isn’t even a person at this point? He’s something like an animal, I suppose?

And by the way, outside of third-person references repeating what Kelly just said (without the “howling” reference), I can find absolutely nothing to substantiate the claim that Khatami has called for the destruction of Israel (AhMADinejad, of course, is quite another story).

Mr. Khatami's visit comes a few days after his successor formally defied the U.N. Security Council resolution calling upon Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program, and as Iran, by rearming Hezbollah, stepped up its defiance of the U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolution in Lebanon.
This proves that Kelly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Iran can’t rearm Hezbollah because the Israelis are currently blockading Lebanon, despite the call from Secretary General Kofi Annan to stop, though the Israelis fear that once the blockade is lifted, Iran and Syria will rearm Hezbollah for real, and unfortunately that may be right (Lebanon has to stop Hezbollah from rearming, and the Israelis have to back off and let Lebanon take the lead – easy for me to point out from my current location, I’ll admit).

Many conservatives fear granting the visa to Mr. Khatami indicates President Bush's approach to Iran is more like Mr. Carter's than Mr. Reagan's. Of 13 experts consulted for a symposium on National Review Online last week, only one didn't think granting the visa was a terrible idea.
What? One of those robots actually dissented? Send this person back to the factory immediately!

"Mohammad Khatami is one of the chief propagandists of the Islamic fascist regime," said Sen. Rick Santorum, who, for a politician, has been saying some remarkably forceful and clear-headed things about the war on terror lately. "I am opposed to granting a visa to such a man so that he can travel around the United States and mislead the American people."
Guess it takes one to know one, doesn’t it Little Ricky (it's all about "the base," isn't it)?

"Giving Khatami prestigious platforms all over America is a dumb move, and it will enormously discourage the Iranian people," said Michael Ledeen, an Iran expert who works for the American Enterprise Institute. "For those who believed Bush was serious about regime change, this is a numbing blow."
And you guys were all so correct about Iraq, weren’t you? We would be “greeted as liberators,” right? Idiots (and if he belongs to the American Enterprise Institute, then the only thing Ledeen is an “expert” at is fluffing Dubya).

The one participant in NRO's symposium who didn't think granting the visa was a bad idea was Iranian exile Amir Taheri. Mr. Taheri also didn't mind that Jimmy Carter was having a meeting with Mr. Khatami.

"By begging to meet the head of one of the most repressive regimes in the world, Carter would simply show which side he is on," Mr. Taheri said. "Having refused to meet Iranian dissidents, and rejected repeated calls for statements of support of Iranian trade unionists, student leaders, persecuted minorities and political prisoners, Carter is precisely the person who should hang around with people like Khatami."
Again, there’s no evidence of any of this – no dates, times, places, etc. (and “begging to meet”…I told you it would get thick). It’s up to yours truly I suppose to investigate the veracity of all of this, but guess what? I’m not going to do that. I’m not the author of this column (thank God), and it’s not my ultimate responsibility. I’ll take issue with points of contention, but I’m not going to do the journalistic legwork that Kelly should have done.

This is what passes for informed commentary among our “mainstream” news outlets, ladies and gentlemen.

What country am I living in again?

Choking On The Truth

With another 9/11 anniversary nearly upon us, we have this story of medical problems (sinus, lung, general breathing difficulties) among first responders at the World Trade Center site that approximate epidemic proportions at this point.

This article from 2003 gives some more background on the nature of the problem and names those chiefly responsible.

A week after the attack, the EPA announced that the air near ground zero was safe to breathe, but the agency did not have enough information to make such a guarantee, the inspector general's report said.

Christie Whitman was too premature to say it was safe," Cahill said Tuesday. "I think the EPA should have known. The EPA had its own reports saying it could be dangerous. Why didn't the EPA bring in their own people from all over the country? They could have. Never thought of it. They did later. But not in the time that mattered."

The White House "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones" by having the National Security Council control EPA communications, the inspector general's report found.
And I know Hillary Clinton tried to hold Bush’s feet to the fire on this by delaying the nomination of Mike (“Run For Your Lives! The Bird Flu Is Coming”) Leavitt to replace Whitman as head of EPA, though Leavitt eventually got the nod as head of HHS.

Update 9/15: Here's how the Repugs thwarted another effort by Hillary Clinton to look after her constituents on this.

Mikey's Ball And Chain

So The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today that Mike Fitzpatrick, Curt Weldon and Jim Gerlach, all running for re-election to the U.S. House of course, are now “cool” to Dubya and his failed policies (most notably the debacle in Iraq).

Glub, glub, guys. You’re tethered to this loser of a President also.

I’ll concentrate this post on Mikey for now, and I may tend to Crazy Curt later (I don’t know enough about Gerlach yet, but I have no doubt that he’s a cookie-cutter clone like the other two).

So let’s begin this recap with a quote from Mikey that appeared in this article where Fitzpatrick defended his decision to take PAC money in the ’04 election where he defeated Ginny Schrader (I gag when I contemplate the hypocrisy of a political party that gleefully accepts campaign donations from “working men and women” while demonizing the opposition party for doing the exact same thing).

“(Fitzpatrick) believes the United States is a safer place since the capture of Saddam Hussein. He said he supports President Bush's doctrine of pre-emption to preserve national security. He said he would support withdrawing American forces from Iraq when it's "practical," adding that he expects the former dictatorship to embrace democracy.

"Elections are scheduled and people are registering to vote. I believe freedom will prevail," he said.
In addition to that quote, the campaign web site for Patrick Murphy has a lengthy list of statements, votes by Fitzpatrick and related commentary that demonstrably proves that, when Dubya tells Mikey to jump, Mikey asks how high, as it were.

This item in particular caught my eye (especially in light of Rummy’s recent ‘appeaser’ remark):

“It's curious that Rep. Fitzpatrick is unwilling to voice his opinion on Bush's decision to stay the course with Secretary Rumsfeld. We asked the congressman and he wouldn't tell us. When pressed to say whether his silence indicated agreement with the president, we were told not to make such an inference. Through a spokesman, Fitzpatrick said he doesn't feel it's his place to offer an opinion, since he didn't hire Rumsfeld and only the president can fire him.”

[Bucks County Courier Times, 6/26/06]
(And speaking of Rummy, the DCCC is pressuring Dubya again and showing a more united front for a change – hat tip to Atrios).

So the answer to the question is no, Mikey; only the most rabid partisan thinks that you are actually “independent,” despite the attempt of some Repug-generated propaganda to try and paint you otherwise.

You “hearted” Dubya all along, and now you’re stuck with him. Deal with it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Video

Here's "Workin' For A Livin'" by Huey Lewis and the News (having great hair in the '80s put a lot of things in a new light, I guess, and so did that peppy little "run" thing of his in the middle of the song).

More Incubus!

Ask and ye shall receive, as a prophet once said; every time I hear or read someone casually discussing whether or not we should attack Iran - more of an act of madness than invading Iraq - I feel pretty much like this song ("Megalomaniac").

Aw, Screw It!

I'll tell you what - I need a laugh after that last post, so here goes ("The Family Guy" "salutes" the FCC).

The Labor Day Blues

The sun is shining where I am mixed with clouds, but I'll tell you the truth; I see very little reason to celebrate a holiday at this moment.

The Inquirer recycled another column in its editorial section today about the income disparity between workers and robber-baron CEOs, a nod towards some sense of civic responsibility that the paper, as far as I'm concerned, abandoned long ago (try making this story a regular feature in this paper, and also try refuting pro-business apologist Andrew Cassel once in awhile, and maybe I'll take you seriously...also, don't waste our time any more with stories like this one, OK?).

And, golly, The Bucks County Courier Times reported today on a manufacturing company in Bristol, Pa. that - get this - is actually hiring, under the headline of "Not All Manufacturing Jobs Heading Offshore" (boy, that sure is a cause for celebration, isn't it...can't find a link from their flaky web site at the moment).

At the moment, I also can't find the column (sorry) by Paul Craig Roberts where he stated that the Department of Labor does not keep track of jobs lost to offshoring, but I can find this one from a year ago that provides a dose of reality therapy for The Inquirer, the Courier Times, and the rest of us who may not already know this by now.

And from the "wishful thinking" department, I give you this.

Update 1 9/3: Here are more reasons to "celebrate" (I'll be drinking early today), and David Sirota has more here.

Update 2 9/3: Well, how do you like this (I was looking for a reason to move to "the boonies" of Wyoming, North Dakota or Montana anyway).

Listen To A "Grunt" Who Knows

This Guest Opinion from Patrick Murphy appeared in yesterday's Bucks County Courier Times (I second, third, and fourth Patrick's words).

Leaders must have a position on Iraq.

Fewer than 10 percent of Americans have great confidence in their congressional leaders.

I can sympathize with those who feel betrayed, those who feel that our current elected representatives care more about political gain than about the people they represent. I can relate to them because I felt the same way three years ago in the middle of Baghdad, Iraq, which is why I’m dedicated to changing the direction of our country.

In 2003 and 2004 I was with the 82nd Airborne Division in al-Rashid Baghdad, a section of Baghdad that is about the same size as Philadelphia. But whereas the city of Philadelphia has more than 7,000 police officers, my men and I in Baghdad were shortchanged with 3,500 troops struggling to protect the peace in the middle of a war zone. President Bush claimed that if officers on the ground asked for more troops they would get them. Sadly, that was not true.

The troops on the ground were let down in other ways as well. I drove in a Humvee without doors and I knew soldiers who walked patrols without body armor. President Bush even had the audacity to propose cutting our combat pay as we were risking our lives overseas. My men and I knew that our government should have done more – and if it had, maybe 19 men I served with over there would have made it home.

This is why I was particularly troubled when my opponent, incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, recently conducted one of the most transparent and shameless acts I have ever seen in politics. Exactly 93 days before the election, Congressman Fitzpatrick suddenly broke from his two-year “stay the course” pledge to the current administration and, in an act of political desperation, tried to distance himself from President Bush and his failed policy in Iraq.

I doubt that Congressman Fitzpatrick will ever be nominated for a “Profile In Courage” award if he continues to pander to poll numbers.

Worse, this is not an honest reconsideration of his position on the war. Congressman Fitzpatrick refused to embrace any timeline, any phased redeployment, or, in fact, any plan at all regarding the war in Iraq. This paper even noted that “the congressman has no plan of his own.” (Bucks County Courier Times editorial, Aug. 9)

Reasonable people can disagree about the best course of action in Iraq. But when Congressman Fitzpatrick announces that he “disagrees” with the president, also “disagrees” with my plan, and then fails to outline a single alternative, it is not a courageous disagreement, it is political pandering, using our military men and women as pawns.

Our community needs leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say. That is why I am proud to have announced in December of 2005 – against the advice of the pundits and professional politicians – a plan to change the direction in Iraq and start bringing our men and women home. I stated then, just as I have every day since, the need for a responsible exit strategy, a plan with benchmarks and a timeline that encourages the Iraqis to stand up on their own and that brings our men and women home. Most importantly, I introduced a plan that refocuses our efforts on winning the War on Terror by capturing Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terror network, and securing our borders and mass transit.

Our brave men and women in harm’s way deserve more than empty rhetoric, and our country deserves more than politicians who flip-flop with the prevailing political winds. There is nothing more disgraceful than my opponent’s ploy, which plays politics with American soldiers. It is beneath the office of a United States congressman.

We need to change the direction of our country. That starts with electing leaders who stand for what they believe in their heart and make decisions based on what they believe is best for American families both abroad and here at home.
To help out Patrick, click here.

And by the way, as I alluded to yesterday, the campaign season has begun in earnest; one indicator is the debate yesterday between Santorum and Mr. Casey Jr. on "Bleat The Press." I didn't watch it partly because Santorum's voting record is so odious that I would vote for a King Charles spaniel instead if it were running against him (and I've heard mixed reports on Casey's performance - have to check it out more for myself).

Another indicator is the quantity and virulence of the freeper-generated letters pouring into the Courier Times all of a sudden (I have a Guest Opinion in their queue, so I can't respond to the paper at the moment). I'm not going to comment on the idiotic hosannas to Dubya from Eugenio Albano and Tom Humphrey, but Larry Weinstein of Northampton, Pa. wrote a particularly bilious letter against Patrick, saying that he would "turn his back on Israel" (particularly stupid since Patrick has stated emphatically that he supports Israel's right to exist and defend itself).

I'll tell you what, Larry: try reading this and let me know why we should continue to support Israel's wars of aggression (and since Dubya helped plan the attacks with Olmert, this is merely an extension of the Iraq war as far as I'm concerned, which was fought for oil and in the sick, twisted belief that Democracy could be established from Baghdad to Tel Aviv and all points in between).

I know it's incredibly screwed up that I've linked to a column by Patrick Buchanan at the RealUnclearPolitics site, but guess what? Despite all his "Fortress America For White People" rhetoric which scares the hell out of me actually, I believe he's one of the few people in this country who calls out Israel in a manner which is completely deserved.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Video

Here is Incubus with "Drive"; I don't know much about these guys, but I caught them a few times and, as Bob Perkins on WRTI (the DJ on the jazz/classical Temple station in Philadelphia) would say, "that's a whompin' tune."

Tisk, Tisk, Mikey

This editorial in today's Bucks County Courier Times is as close as this newspaper will ever come to chastising "Saint Mikey."

No one can accuse Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick of not looking out for his constituents who live along flood-prone sections of the Delaware River.
I can (here and here).

Last week, Fitzpatrick sent a letter to Gov. Rendell asking him to push for an agreement with New York City and New York, New Jersey and Delaware officials that would require water levels in three reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains - reservoirs which ultimately feed the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey - be kept at 85 percent or below.

That's a perfect way to somewhat mitigate the flow of the river during times when the reservoirs are at capacity and heavy rains have nowhere to go but into residents' living rooms, which happened along the river as recently as June and which periodically occur along the Delaware.

But during times of drought? That's another story for the residents of New York City who rely on the reservoirs for much of their drinking water. Lowering reservoir levels may help those in Fitzpatrick's district, but such an action could be disastrous for the 8 million people who call New York home.

Now, it's pretty obvious Fitzpatrick doesn't have any constituents living in the Big Apple, and he was elected to work and speak up for the residents of Bucks County's 8th District, some of whom living along the river are quite weary from worrying about two feet of water in their homes and flooded streets every time it rains hard. Another bout with Mother Nature could be in store this weekend as the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto pass by.
I read this prior paragraph and I find myself wondering who writes this stuff. This is a paragraph that could have been written by Jerry Seinfeld, because it says absolutely nothing. Also, as it turns out, today is a dry but somewhat overcast day; they could have at least bothered to write this in such a way as to indicate that Ernesto has passed us by at this point.

But look at the issue from New Yorkers' point of view. Eight million or so people use a lot of water every day. Just a week or two of dry weather, at any time of year, puts a strain on reservoirs used to supply potable water to the city.
That is precisely why, assuming the involved players in New York City even consider Fitzpatrick's proposal at all, they will spent very little time do so. They will no doubt recognize this as another PR stunt in short order.

There is some question just how much a voluntary lowering of the reservoirs would help in the event of flooding along the lower Delaware River. Why 85 percent? Why not 90 or 75? Keeping the reservoirs at 85 percent capacity would help some potential flood victims, but at what cost to the peace of mind of those living up river who depend on the reservoirs for their very existence?
These are good questions that the editorial doesn't bother to answer.

Fitzpatrick's heart is in the right place; he's looking for ways to help those he represents. But as Carol Collier, Executive Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission points out, flooding vs. drought is a very complex problem that will require a complex solution.
You've got to be kidding me. Didn't Reagan also say "his heart was in the right place" also when he was trading arms for hostages? This is a completely and totally subjective statement and it doesn't mean a damn thing to the residents flooded along the Delaware River.

Also, it's obvious that the Courier Times Editorial Board didn't read my post the other day when I pointed out that asking New York City to reconsider its revenue capacity was way down on the list of Carol Collier's recommendations (unlikely that they would, I'll admit).

We recommend that Gov. Rendell look at Fitzpatrick's suggestion as part of the answer. At any rate, we're sure New York officials will have plenty to say before anything is done.
Nothing is going to be done on this proposal...take that to the bank. This is an election-year stunt by Mikey, and it's kind of pathetic that the Courier Times didn't bother to acknowledge it as such.

This Is "Number Two" All Right

Sorry for the attempt at bathroom humor, but it's appropriate.

So this is the latest story of "a number two Al-Qaeda operative" captured or killed, is it?

Well, how about this one? Or this one? (oh, only a "number three"...sorry). Or others that are too numerous to mention?

I think R.J. Eskow was onto something here (and all of this is vaguely familiar anyway).

And just remember, as Leo McKern (pictured, with Patrick McGoohan of course) pointed out as Number Two in "The Prisoner," in what is undoubtedly Bushco's credo, "questions are a burden to others, and answers are a burden to oneself."

Spinning the "Macaca" Mess

I skimmed over Jonathan Last's column in the Inquirer today; if I can, I'll try to read the whole thing and dissect it later, but I'll make sure I take an antacid first.

Of course, far be it for the paper to publish Chris Satullo or Trudy Rubin to counterbalance the freeper nonsense (including David is short, you know?), but instead, devote practically an entire page to John Mark Karr along with the biggest graphic I ever saw of this guy's face (I've attacked Glenn McCoy from pillar to post for his disgusting cartoons, the volume of which is practically infinite, but I have to give him credit for once - he's absolutely dead-on with this one).

Here is an excerpt from what Last wrote about the George Felix Allen nonsense that caught my eye:

...this could actually be good news for Republicans. All presidential prospects get vetted eventually, and the sooner the better. And since Macaca, few, if any, conservatives have stepped forward to defend Allen. That's a healthy and productive impulse.
It would be more of "a healthy and productive impulse" if they repudiated Allen and his disgusting remarks, but I suppose it's too much to ask of a freeper to show an ounce of integrity, isn't it?

Every movement has problems; Allen's behavior no more "represents" conservatism than Moran's does liberalism. What matters is how a movement handles these problems. Democrats and liberals have, in recent years, shown a tendency to defend their own (Dick Durbin, anyone?) regardless of the transgression. Republicans and conservatives, on the other hand, have taken a more Darwinian approach toward figures such as Pat Buchanan and Trent Lott.
I don't know what Last is talking about by "a more Darwinian approach." But as far as Dick Durbin is concerned, all he asked for in his statement was for Bush to apply the Geneva Conventions to detainees at Guantanamo. The only thing Durbin did wrong was apologize, because he was correct (but of course, Last and his brethren don't want us to remember any of that).