Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday Video

One of these days I should put up "Blister In The Sun," but for now, here's "Gone Daddy Gone," the other signature song from The Violent Femmes (1982, with a xylophone solo no less).

Friday, September 15, 2006

One More Video

When you think about punk in the late '70s with Elvis Costello, The Clash, Joe Jackson, Talking Heads and other great artists, just make sure you don't forget about The Jam with Paul Weller, which exploded out of the gate with this one ("In The City").

Friday Night Video

I honestly can't recall ever seeing a trumpet in rock before until this song (Cake with "The Distance" '90s, I know).

How Not To Mediate

John Edwards sent this communication about the tragedy of Darfur a few weeks ago, including the following excerpt:

Sudan began a genocide against tribes of small farmers in its Darfur region three years ago. Militia groups backed by the Sudanese government have slaughtered an estimated 400,000 people and driven 2.5 million people from their homes. U.N. troops are on their way, but will take at least five more months to arrive in Darfur.

The people of Darfur cannot wait five more months for U.N. troops to arrive. At the current rate of violence and destruction, another 30,000 civilians will die and another 300,000 people will become refugees over the next five months. In addition, as the international community stands by, violence and chaos is spreading to neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. More than 100 Chadians were hacked to death in a single incident earlier this year.

I admire the African Union troops stationed in Darfur. They have done their jobs courageously and deserve the world's gratitude. But they need help. The African Union peacekeeping troops, which number just 7,000, have been unable to protect civilians or enforce a 2004 ceasefire. In the meantime, security has deteriorated dramatically.
And today, George Clooney said that the U.N. must act or it would be faced with “the first genocide of the 21st century” (Clooney has visited the region, and he spoke with Elie Wiesel on this urgent matter).

I provide this as background because I read an excellent column yesterday in the Inquirer on what the Bush Administration has done wrong on Darfur written by a man named John Prendergast, who is senior adviser for the International Crisis Group in Washington.

I just returned from rebel-held areas of Darfur on a trip with Scott Pelley of CBS's 60 Minutes, and I found that the crisis is spiraling out of control: Violence is increasing, malnutrition is soaring, and access to life-saving aid is shrinking. The Bush administration has made some noise about Darfur over the last two years, but it has made a series of deadly mistakes that have served only to make matters worse.

The administration's first deadly mistake is that while it helped broker a peace agreement in May, its negotiator left after only one rebel group signed, leaving at least two other rebel groups wanting more detail in the deal. The Khartoum regime is now partnering with the signatory group to launch a major offensive against the nonsignatories, thus deepening the divisions in Darfur.
The U.S. negotiator was Robert Zoellick, by the way.

Second, the United States and its partners did not make explicit in the peace deal the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping operation to oversee implementation. U.S. officials took verbal promises from Khartoum as sufficient, which the regime has since renounced. Without a U.N. force, Darfurian displaced and refugee populations have no prospect of protection.

The third mistake was not ensuring sufficient international involvement in the dismantling of the deadly Janjaweed militia structures. The task was left to the very entity that arms the Janjaweed, the Khartoum regime. Without real international participation in the dismantling, no displaced Darfurian will ever go home.

Fourth, the United States has politically supported the rebel group that signed the peace deal, including having President Bush meet the group's leader. This faction has since effectively become a government militia that has been responsible for gross human-rights violations.

Fifth, after the senior U.S. official who helped negotiate the partial peace took a job on Wall Street, almost his entire team departed. For these last four critical months, State Department officials have opposed the naming of a presidential envoy to clean up the mess and make Darfur a genuine priority.

Sixth, the United States and Europeans have left the African Union force in Darfur in a state of limbo, not giving it the requisite resources and political support needed to protect the people of Darfur.

Seventh, the United States crafted a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized targeted sanctions in early 2005, but has since imposed sanctions on only one regime official, a retired air force commander. This leaves Khartoum with the correct impression that there will be no accountability.

Eighth, the United States has not provided information and intelligence to the International Criminal Court as the latter conducts its investigation of the war crimes committed in Darfur. Sharing such material could be a critical part of leverage on Khartoum as it would face the prospect of accelerated indictments of senior officials.

Ninth, the United States invited the security chief of the regime to CIA headquarters in Virginia, thus cementing the relationship with a man believed to be the architect of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in Darfur. This tells Khartoum that as long as they are "with us" in the war on terror, they can continue to pursue what the U.S. president himself has labeled genocide in Darfur.

Tenth, and most recently, the United States continues to offer incentives rather than pressures in its bid to change Khartoum's behavior and induce it to support a U.N. force. An administration official went to Khartoum recently and offered President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir a meeting with Bush and discussed the possibility of removing some of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. If we have learned anything over the last 15 years, it is this: Being soft on perpetrators of crimes against humanity does little to alter their behavior.

The administration's press statements and offers of incentives, and U.N. Security Council resolutions without real punitive actions have left the impression in Khartoum that Washington and the rest of the international community are all bark and no bite. "Constructive engagement" sometimes works, but it is making no impact here. Until the international stance, led by the United States, becomes much tougher, Khartoum can be expected to go on relentlessly targeting the civilian population in Darfur.
I’ll save the snark since this is a humanitarian crisis as opposed to political nonsense (though that played a part here to be sure). I’ll only add that you can click here to access the Save Darfur coalition and help however you can.

More Gas For Your Fire, Benny?

I know he’s the leader of my faith, but no one on earth is infallible, and I would say that this speech shows judgment which, at best, can be called questionable.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put on my “tin foil hat” as it were and wonder if this is another attempt by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to ratchet up tensions which plays into the hands of Bushco in an election year (I mean, he’s no stranger to doing that sort of thing, as witnessed here).

Also, this comprehensive article by Chris Floyd explains some tricky dealings between the Pope and the Bush family, Neil in particular, and their involvement with a Swiss management trust masquerading as a religious charity (a real potboiler of an article, I must say).

If it is truly the intention of this pope to act in accordance with an agenda that favors Bushco, then he must be called on it. Men and women of conscience should do no less.

Update 9/17: Fair enough...

Update 9/18: Despite how I feel about what the pope said, this sickening act of cowardice is worse than that beyond anything in my memory (it's hard to communicate my revulsion for shooting a 60-year-old nun in the back).

Go Ahead, Fence Him In

I tried to find the following story from the Courier Times web site, but I was unable to do so (the site has improved somewhat lately, so I promise I won’t take a shot at it). So, for this reason, I must link directly to the web site of Mike Fitzpatrick from here so I can highlight the following quote regarding Mikey’s vote on something called the Secure Fence Act (as opposed to an “insecure” fence needing constant reaffirmation I guess…and how exactly will this help Pennsylvania?):

“Terrorists know of our vulnerabilities and seek to exploit them,” Fitzpatrick said. “We don’t know who among these illegal aliens may be migrant workers and who may be terrorists. Congress must act to stem this flood and improve our security.”
Oh, sure; we’ve just had a “flood” of terrorist attacks from migrant workers in this country since 9/11, haven’t we? Yes sir, I can see them strapping whatever possessions they may have onto themselves including all manner of explosives, negotiating the hard trek over our southwest border, and then somehow traveling all of the way to the 8th Congressional district just so they can blow up themselves and take as many of us with them as they can.

Is it my imagination, or is Mikey starting to become a bit unhinged?

Besides, if this Republican congress were really interested in border security, they would have addressed this issue in some intelligent manner (a stretch, I know) right after the attacks we remembered a few days ago and not waited five years until many of them were running for re-election.

I tend to listen to a position on this from a politician who actually has a lick of common sense, so please allow me to present the point of view of U.S. Rep Allyson Schwartz of Philadelphia (noted in the Courier Times story on this available only in print at the moment):

“Congressional Republicans may talk tough on securing America’s borders, but the reality is that time and time again Republicans have voted against tough border measures, such as increasing the number of border patrol agents.”
I think the framing of this whole issue is utterly ridiculous. The problem is that, when employers hire illegal/undocumented/whatever workers, they don’t do their due diligence, so these people end up stuck here with nowhere to go and no one to help them but the U.S. taxpayer. And no fence will ever be worth anything if employers don’t police themselves on this first and stop this practice.

Find A Clue, Bob

I am having a harder time mustering support for Mr. Bob Casey, Jr. than you can possibly imagine.

He gave a speech at Catholic University yesterday where, according to the Bucks County Courier Times, he emphasized one of the age-old right wing chestnuts; namely, that the Democratic Party (always with the “ic,” as Hendrik Hertzberg pointed out) would not let his father speak at the party’s convention in 1992 because Casey Sr. opposed abortion.

As Atrios says, zombie lies never die (especially when uttered by someone who is supposed to know better…please excuse the stuff in the linked article on Jim No-Talent and his supposed “independence” from Dubya, and by the way, vote for Claire McCaskill, any of you fine people in Missouri who may be reading this).

Mr. Casey Jr., let me point out now and forever that, if you somehow end up losing this senatorial election to a human nematode like Rick Santorum, I will make it my personal mission to hound you at this space for the rest of your days.

Why Rummy Is Still Here

I’ve been meaning to get to this (a week late which can be like a year doing this, I know), but for the record, let’s note that we are still saddled with Don (“The Secretary Of Defense You Have”) Rumsfeld because of Repug Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (pictured).

And by the way, did you know that, according to this Sourcewatch article, Stevens is actually third in line to become President if something happens to Dubya, and then Cheney, and finally Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, since Stevens is president pro tempore of the Senate? So we’re totally screwed regardless unless the Democrats take at least one house of Congress in a few weeks (among the many reasons to can the Repugs, that should be on our list also).

Last Wednesday (9/6), the motion to fire Rumsfeld was defeated by Stevens with a procedural move. Looks like Ted “got that Internet that his staff sent to him” in time to save Rummy’s butt.

And with a quote like that, it’s not a surprise that Stevens is “totally out to lunch” on the issue of net neutrality (I may have something more to say about that later), though the big problem is that he is in charge of the Senate Commerce Committee which has a lot to do with online oversight. To me, that’s like putting Tom DeLay in charge of a task force on ethical reform in government.

Well, did you know that Stevens also held up Defense funding and Katrina relief to get and get an amendment for drilling in the ANWR in December of last year (according to Sourcewatch)? And he (along with Robert Byrd, unfortunately) also tried to block development of an online database to track federal grants and contracts as part of the never-ending battle to rein in government pork (including Stevens’ infamous “bridge to nowhere”).

As Sourcewatch also notes, Stevens was first elected to the Senate from Alaska in 1968 (God, is he the best that great state can do?), so I’m quite sure there’s a treasure trove of stuff out there on this guy like this, including that tidy little $29 million earmark for the "Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board," chaired by his son Ben.

I don’t have much of anything else to add, except that you should be wary of any politician who poses with Marvel Comics superheroes wearing a “Hulk” tie (thanks to Rising Hegemon…you couldn’t make this stuff up, could you - and doesn't that kid look so thrilled?).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Heat Is Rising, Past Is Calling

From all accounts, Pete, Roger and the New Who put on a smash-up show at the Wachovia Center last night (well done, lads), so, with that in mind (and hopefully Pete's ears are OK), here is a slightly abbreviated version of "Substitute" from the "Mod" days.

(A YouTube commenter liked Roger's shirt, but I think Pete's "arrow" jacket was hip also.)

Thanks, Keith

A non-political post coming up…

You would be hard pressed to find an individual who was angrier than I was when the Philadelphia Flyers traded Rod Brind’Amour to the Carolina Hurricanes five years ago. I could not believe that even Bob Clarke would trade one of the great heart-and-soul players in the storied sports history in this area (including Clarke way up on that list in his day) for some overrated, narcissistic athlete who had done nothing but hold out for more money from his two previous employers (Carolina, which necessitated the trade) and the Detroit Red Wings.

This has to be it, I thought. Even Ed Snider has to realize that Clarke needs to find another line of work.

Well, Clarke is still in his present job, having done some things well while screwing up countless others (including, most recently, the trade of Michal Handzus to the Chicago Blackhawks, which I believe will be the repeat of the Brind’Amour scenario – I hereby predict that, in five years, Chicago will win the Stanley Cup with Handzus as captain…we’ll see).

But back to the overhyped forward for a minute, OK?

His only distinction in his early tenure with the team was the fact that he was instrumental in getting former coach (and another Flyer legend) Bill Barber fired, and I thought that even if he was right and Barber really wasn’t that good of a coach, he had a hell of a lot of nerve to act the way he did.

But after that episode, I think Keith Primeau got the message, because he totally changed his approach to the game, and it showed in his play. He worked harder than just about anyone, did anything he was told to do by Ken Hitchcock (who replaced Barber), and helped the younger players on the team, particularly the forwards. Also, he became a defensive specialist, trying to neutralize the top players of other teams. Doing well in a role like that is proof positive that you care about the team first and aren’t preoccupied with your own statistics. Basically, he carried the responsibility of team captain as completely as anyone could have asked, and his performance against Tampa Bay in the 2004 playoffs was truly inspirational in a losing-in-seven-game cause (Tampa Bay would win the Stanley Cup, with Barber having joined the organization after leaving the Flyers).

But the head injuries caught up with him in a sport that doesn’t properly value the safety of its own athletes (against Toronto, against Tampa Bay in all likelihood in the playoff series in which he excelled – imagine what it must have taken to accomplish that – and finally against Montreal a year ago from an elbow by Alexander Perezhogin). He has never been able to recover completely from his concussion history, and he is expected to retire in a day or so.

I wish him luck and I want to say thanks for his contribution to the team. Don’t even think about trying to return any more – as much as the Flyers could use you when healthy, I think it’s plain by now that we won’t see that day, and concentrate on the rest of your life with your family instead.

Now if only Eric Lindros would get the message…

Fight With Patrick

This letter to the editor appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today.

Young parents, struggling to provide for the needs of their children in today’s difficult economy, are going to face an $8.5 trillion national debt supported by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. The Republican Congress, so insensitive to the financial stress which average citizens have to endure, even doled out millions in pork barrel spending and tax breaks for the wealthy.

Democrat Patrick Murphy hears our cry for change. He wants parents to be able to keep alive the American Dream for their children. Murphy wants to stop the escalating cost of the national debt.

We need new priorities and change in leadership. We need to elect Democrat Patrick for Congress, a man who is prepared to roll up his sleeves and fight for the needs and the rights of the people of Pennsylvania.

Penny Paton
Middletown, PA
Amen, sister.

And by the way, this “story” also appeared today (with the blessings of the Courier Times editorial board, of course…it is beyond childish and doesn’t deserve a response).

And as far as Iraq goes, let's let Patrick and Mikey speak for themselves on this, OK?

As always, to help Patrick, click here.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (9/14)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week (light agenda of stuff).


Horse slaughter. The House passed, 263-146, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 503) to outlaw the slaughter of horses in the United States for human consumption overseas. The bill sets fines up to $5,000 and maximum jail time of two years.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Tim Holden (D., Pa.).
Holden is currently assigned to the House Agriculture Committee, where, according to the Open Secrets link, “…active donors with business before the committee include the poultry and forestry interests, ranchers, and agribusiness giants like Archer-Daniels-Midland.”

I’m glad that we’re not going to be sending the remains of Mr. Ed or My Friend Flicka to some other country – I mean, if somebody in Azerbaijan wants to do that, for example, then let them kill their own damn horse. And Holden stands up for a constituency here in what turned out to be a losing cause, which makes him look like a winner for the next time his committee hears a proposal for legislation and “one back needs to scratch the other,” if you know what I mean.

By the way, with elections looming, look for our esteemed members of Congress to debate pabulum such as this as they work extra hard to keep lulling voters to sleep before November 7th.


Defense spending. Senators passed, 98-0, a bill to appropriate $470 billion for defense in fiscal 2007. The bill funds a 2.2 percent military pay raise and includes $50 billion for six months of actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill (HR 5631) goes to conference with the House.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted for the bill.
I wonder what the "over-under" is on how quickly Dubya comes back for a supplemental appropriation to this one?

Iraq. Senators killed, 54-44, an amendment to HR 5631 (above) requiring the administration to report to Congress every three months on whether Iraq is in civil war and, if so, to detail plans for protecting U.S. troops from the cross fire.

A yes vote opposed the amendment.

Voting yes: Santorum and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper and Lautenberg.

Not voting: Menendez.
Oh, but Arlen and Ricky had to oppose this, you see; it was sponsored by Ted Kennedy, and after all, what does he know about military service, right?

(And by the way, Senator, welcome to the fight for Net Neutrality!)

Your Republican congress hard at work, doing the people’s business as always...

Cluster bombs. Senators rejected, 70-30, an amendment to HR 5631 (above) that would have barred spending for producing or selling cluster bombs until such time as the Pentagon sets rules to prevent their use near civilians.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper and Menendez.

Voting no: Biden, Lautenberg, Santorum and Specter.
Great idea sponsored by Rep. Dianne Feinstein (maybe a message to Israel also since they used them in the recent war with Hezbollah?), but once again, Biden casts a bad vote (how lame is it that Carper actually looks good this time), and I think Lautenberg understood that this could be a black eye against a core constituency, so...

Osama bin Laden. Senators approved, 96-0, an amendment to reactivate a CIA unit set up after 9/11 to hunt down Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. The vote added $200 million to HR 5631 (above) to reactivate the unit.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

Not voting: Santorum.
How about an amendment telling Dubya he’s got 90 days to get him or he’ll be impeached for sure (hey, I can dream, can’t I?).

Iraq public relations. Senators killed, 51-44, an amendment to bar the Pentagon from spending funds in HR 5631 (above) on a $20 million public relations contract it has awarded to generate positive news coverage about Iraq.

A yes vote was to allow the contract to go forward.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.

Not voting: Santorum.
Menendez was actually the sponsor of this amendment; hats off to him for trying to maintain fiscal sanity from this plutocracy (and I would accuse Arlen Specter of doing a “two-step” again, but with his nearly-successful attempt at legalizing Dubya’s warrantless spying, unfortunately, I don’t think he’s even bothering to “shift to the left” at all – kind of the real-world version of Chancellor Palpatine turning into Darth Sidious for good in “Revenge Of The Sith”…obligatory geeky “Star Wars” rant mode off.)

Besides, maybe this will be a good thing at that, since I heard that “Baghdad Bob” needs to find permanent work once and for all.

This week. The House will consider a bill on prison industries, while the Senate will debate port security.
For information on how to contact your member of Congress, go here.

Bad Joe Don't Know

Though I tried to avoid commenting on Dubya’s speech on Monday night (which was fitting propaganda to accompany a program on ABC/Disney that was essentially the same thing), I confess that I didn’t try hard enough and came across this story from CNN today.

(By the way, if you want a dose of the truly unpleasant reality of the situation in Iraq, I would recommend Trudy Rubin’s column in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. It was one of the most depressing reads I’ve ever had, but this is the reality, and it would be nice if our government would act like adults for a change and talk to us the same way.)

And buried way down in the CNN story is this quote from Repug U.S. House Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina (in response to a remark from Nancy Pelosi where she said capturing bin Laden wouldn’t make us any safer – though that is highly desirable of course – echoing some Repug comments along those lines…we know about the other Joe Wilson of course, who is the husband of Valerie Plame, but this guy is something completely different):

"That quote clearly indicates a misunderstanding of how important and what a symbol Osama bin Laden is," (Wilson) said.

"I actually thought that the Democrats would pursue a policy of national security almost identical to what the president's proposing of taking the war to the enemy," he said. "But now I understand ... that indeed they would, I believe, cut and run. I believe that they would appease."
Congressman, bin Laden is a hell of a lot more than a symbol (maybe that’s what he is to you). He’s quite probably the most notorious terrorist of our generation who deserves nothing less than death.

So, with Wilson’s words still fresh in my mind and starting to induce nausea (which is in keeping with prior behavior, as noted here at Source Watch under “Positions and Views” for a little June 2005 spat with Henry Waxman), I decided to do some searching for anything he has written previously on this subject, and I came across this item from a web site called Military Training Technology (I will give Wilson credit for having served, but it begins and ends there).

After the White House recently released to the public a 16-page letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s deputy in al-Qaida, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq, the American people got another first-hand look at terrorists’ ability to constantly evolve in the global war on terrorism. In the letter, Zawahiri specifically details al-Qaida’s point-by-point plan to expel American forces from Iraq, and to establish the country under supreme radical Islamic rule. His words serve as a chilling reminder of the challenges our troops face as they continue to fight a sophisticated and technologically savvy enemy.
I tried to find this letter through Google, but all of the hits I got were for freeper chat rooms where I needed to log in, and to be honest, I have neither the time nor desire to do that.

Oh, and by the way, the prior paragraph is deceptive in that it implies to someone historically impaired that Zarqawi had been running the show in Iraq prior to our invasion, which was not true of course. That person would be Saddam Hussein, and as noted in this Washington Post story:

Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the (recently declassified) report (by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) said.
Back to Wilson...

The global war on terrorism is unlike any other war in our nation’s history, and U.S. troops fortunately have the greatest technological advantage. As readers of this magazine, you are well aware of the daily advancements that make our troops lighter, faster and safer in today’s war.

Congress plays an active oversight role to ensure that the Department of Defense is able to quickly deliver the most efficient military technology to troops without being bogged down in red tape. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a father of three sons serving in the military (including one who served for a year in Iraq), I take this responsibility seriously.
Tell me another one, Joe.

From the moment our troops entered Iraq, they have adapted quickly to the enemies’ ever-changing warfare tactics. After the fall of Baghdad, terrorists began targeting coalition forces with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as our troops patrolled the streets of Iraq. When soldiers attempted to overcome these attacks, terrorists were able to defeat our countermeasures.
From this article (including the following paragraphs in particular)...

“…even with these proven technologies (in ballistic protection and IED signal jamming), it's hard not to get the feeling that bomb-stopping isn't anywhere close to the top of the Pentagon priority list. Yes, an extra $250 million was sent over to the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in October, to buy more jammers. I assume that's on top of the agency's $1.2 billion per year budget. But even with all that extra cash, only a slim minority of American troops on the ground – (possibly) less than 15% -- will get the jammers, which are one of the few proven methods for actually keeping the bombs from going off.

And remember: getting these jammers to frontline troops helps in the war after Iraq, too. If IEDs continue to be this effective, you can bet, for the next decade or two, guerilla groups will start jury-rigging some bombs as soon as U.S. (forces) land.
Back to Wilson again...

Under the leadership of Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-CA, the House Armed Services Committee responded to this challenge by ensuring that necessary armor kits were sent to Iraq. We provided the funding, collaborated with federal research laboratories, partnered with companies and learned a valuable lesson: to win this war, we must stay technologically on the offensive.
I give Hunter some credit for trying to make sure the vehicles for our troops are armored properly (Hunter has a personal interest because his son has served in Iraq), but this quote from a USA Today article in May sums up the problem as far as I’m concerned.

"The enemy adapts to everything we do," said military analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank in Arlington, Va.
Yep, that’s what happens in war unfortunately (and by the way, Rep. Hunter, stop using our troops to buttress your support for Dubya’s failed, illegal invasion).

We took the process one step further by providing crucial funding for jammers, which have the capability to render roadside explosive devices useless. After the Army reported in March 2005 that it had fielded 20 percent of the validated theater requirement for jammers, the committee authorized $161 million from the Iraq Freedom Fund to increase IED jammer production. Additionally, the House requested that $60 million be added to the FY05 supplemental request for jammers.
Once more, from the defensetech article...

Yes, an extra $250 million was sent over to the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in October, to buy more jammers. I assume that's on top of the agency's $1.2 billion per year budget. But even with all that extra cash, only a slim minority of American troops on the ground – (possibly) less than 15% -- will get the jammers, which are one of the few proven methods for actually keeping the bombs from going off.
And back to Wilson again...

Congress also increased protection for American troops by providing $5 billion for the Tactical Wheel Vehicle armoring initiative. When my son was serving in Iraq, his convoy came under fire twice and, fortunately, his unit survived both attacks. His two close calls are a vivid reminder of the critical importance of up-armoring military vehicles.
Well, that’s a good thing all right. But as noted here...

Archie Massicotte, president of military and government business at International Truck and Engine said, “the Humvee has served a great life for the military for 20 some years. I think what they’re finding is that we’re fighting battles now in Iraq, and they’re using it as a tactical wheeled vehicle. And it was never intended to be a tactical wheeled vehicle,” he said...

The question of armor—how much is needed, when to use it and the trade-offs in engine power, weight and carrying capacity it entails—will be a technological challenge for any proposed follow-on vehicle, experts said...
So based on this article written in February of this year, it sounds like a bond fide tactical wheeled vehicle is still being designed, when Wilson makes it sound like it’s a matter of funding an existing program (the word “initiative” stuck at the end of the sentence is the most important clue). If I had a son or daughter on the ground in that mess over there or knew someone who did, the only thing I’d care about is when this vehicle would be deployed.

I have basically nothing else to add to Wilson’s column at this point, except to point out that the Victory in Iraq Caucus, of which Wilson is a co-founder, is described in this article as “a group of 118 Republican lawmakers.” I haven’t been able to identify who all of these people are thus far (can probably guess some of them, but not all).

So, with his rhetoric implying that Democrats would “cut and run” since they are “appeasers” who “conduct guerilla warfare on American troops,” Wilson tries to set himself up as some sort of Repug protector of our military and our country, promoting peace and victory in The Global Now And Forever and Ever You Better Goddamn Believe It You Bedwetting Liberal War On Terror.

But by implying a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that didn’t exist, and by failing to report that mission critical battlefield programs are being cut by Congress from the DoD budget (and those for IED jamming and ballistic protection aren’t being funded properly anyway), and by implying that tactical wheeled vehicles properly armored are available for our troops right now as opposed to existing in the minds of engineers as unfinished theoretical concepts at this point, Wilson is promoting no one but himself (and that goes for the rest of this “gang of 118” also).

The Yellow Rose Loses Its Bloom

Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends of Ann Richards this morning (I'm sure the tributes and remembrances will start shortly, and I'll try to keep up with them).

Via Atrios, here is her speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

Update: Here's the first one from Martin Lewis at HuffPo (fewer words is better, I keep telling myself).

Update 9/15: I somehow knew this column would be forthcoming, and I'm glad it was (I hope Molly is well also).

Update 9/16: Bubba was and still is a class act with this stuff, but most importantly, he helped give Richards the sendoff she deserved.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Music For Our Times

"Your Time Has Come" by Audioslave (not really a messsage song per se, but just kind of wondering about things that are generally screwed up I guess - lyrics here).

What's Up With "Real Time"

For the benefit of anyone who cares, I'd just like to take a minute and point out the fact that I've given up on "Real Time With Bill Maher," and at this point, I don't think that I'll ever go back to the show.

I'm saying this partly for the benefit of the people who work for agencies and promote the show to one degree or another who have been nice enough to contact me and let me know that some downloadable material related to the show is available to me at such and such a location or whatever. After all, it would be of mutual benefit if I stuck in a plug for the show (though I'm quite sure Maher gets a much larger audience than I do).

But the thing with Christopher Hitchens giving the audience the finger twice during the first show a few weeks ago without a word of rebuke from Maher (as well as Hitchens' overall combative behavior) just got to me. And at the end, I'm sure the applause lights came on in the HBO studio when Maher finished up and people responded in kind to Hitchens and the other panelists, though with all due respect to the others (including the great Max Cleland), I simply would have gotten up and left the studio at an opportune time, probably extending the same gesture towards Hitchens also.

And yes, I did contact HBO about it, posting a message with links to both of my prior posts. And I received no response. And I took a look around the "Real Time" site at HBO and I couldn't find any acknowledgement or apology from anyone.

Well, when someone is abusive to me (and yes, though I wasn't in the audience, I considered the gestures of Hitchens to be directed towards me personally), I either respond in kind or I get out of there. And at this point, I'm taking the latter route.

Besides, I honestly don't think I can stand to listen to another person in this universe proclaim that George W. Bush is actually a smart person, but he's just misunderstood by people like me who like to believe he's stupid (which apparently recent guest reporter David Gregory did - kind of surprising since Gregory has tangled effectively with Bushco and Tony Snow lately). I said awhile back that Bush is certainly cagey in the ways of the world to worm himself into all of the business ventures that either blew up on him or he walked away from, and with the benefit of his name to trade on, he found himself in the presence of influential people who helped to put him where (God help us) he is today.

But don't you DARE try to make a case for me that George W. Bush is anything other than what he is, and that is a serendipitous frat boy who more or less resembles Forrest Gump in many ways had he grown up under the tutelage of William F. Buckley (and it doesn't make he happy to say that because I like that movie). I also find no humor in anything related to this man any more. He has left absolutely nothing but ruin in his wake, and until he finally leaves office by one means or another, I expect nothing but that from him. Ha ha ha...

It's a shame that I feel this way I guess, because Maher is genuinely funny. And I'm not unsympathetic to the fact that he has a fine line to walk between politics and entertainment, and I can take criticism aimed at liberals (hey, I came back to the show after enduring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Coulter, didn't I?). But the Hitchens stuff was going too far; I had some other issues with that first show that, though annoying, weren't "show stoppers" that would make me avoid "Real Time" entirely, though (for example, no mention at all of the Ned Lamont win, and Maher's interview with Markos Moulitsas that made it obvious that Maher had never even been to The Daily Kos).

So there, I've spoken my peace on that subject. If you decide to watch the show, I hope you have fun. But count me out.

Patrick Stands Up On Iraq

Note to Mikey...this is called leadership (dated yesterday).

Bristol Twp., PA – Patrick Murphy, former captain in the U.S. Army, Iraq war veteran, and Democratic Nominee for Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district, today unveiled an updated version of his Iraq plan at the Joseph Schumacher VFW Post 1597. Joining him were soldiers from the district and the country, including Koby Langley, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, and Kevin Emore, an 8th District native and captain currently serving in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division.

Last December, Patrick Murphy released "A Soldier's Promise" which outlined a phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. If his plan had been implemented last December, 50,000 troops would be home with their families, and another 50,000 would be scheduled to come home by this Christmas. Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq has gotten progressively worse, not better. Patrick Murphy's plan, drawn from his experiences as a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq and from the experiences of countless other veterans, is a comprehensive plan to redeploy our troops to focus on winning the real War on Terror:

1) Redeploy our National Guard and Reservists within 6 months;
2) Redeploy our regular armed forces by the end of 2007;
3) Keep a strategic strike force in theater to aid in training Iraqi troops;
4) Commence an aggressive, Dayton accords style summit to reach peace in Iraq;
5) Fully fund redevelopment with real accountability and oversight;
6) Fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"It's time to start changing course in Iraq, because 'stay the course' is no longer a strategy for success," said Murphy. "Our troops in Iraq deserve a real plan, and Congressman Fitzpatrick just stands with President Bush, offering more of the same. We need a change in direction in Iraq and Congressman Fitzpatrick has shown he's not going to bring about that change."

"My troops and I have been blindly sent into war without a plan for withdrawal, or a plan to win," said Kevin Emore, Captain in the U.S. Army. "It's time for a change in leadership, and that starts by electing Patrick Murphy who is a step forward for our military and our country."

Koby Langley, who served with Patrick in the 82nd Airborne Division, said, "While serving in Iraq with Patrick Murphy, we experienced the failure of the 'stay the course' Republican strategy. We need leaders in Washington who have seen war, who know what soldiers need and who will stand up and make the tough decisions -- not leaders who serve as a rubberstamp for the Bush agenda. I trusted Patrick Murphy with my life while in Iraq, I now trust that he is the man to change the direction in Iraq."
The Bucks County Courier Times covered Patrick’s announcement in its issue today, and featured this illustrious quote from our current 8th district U.S. Congressional representative (who also tried to blindside Patrick here):

“Every time Pat Murphy wants to draw attention to his campaign, he draws up a different plan for Iraq,” Fitzpatrick said. “Essentially, Pat wants to play secretary of defense, second-guessing generals in the field. His newest plan still wants to give terrorists the precise date of U.S. withdrawal, which is dangerous.”

Fitzpatrick, who has not given his own plan for the end of the war, said Murphy's plan was essentially unnecessary.

“What the generals don't need is a gaggle of politicians filling the air with a bunch of plans,” Fitzpatrick said. “Should every member of Congress have their own plan? And every candidate have their own plan? That's 1,070 separate plans.”
And by the way, in addition to that gem from Fitzy, the Courier Times published a Guest Opinion this morning from one of Mikey’s acolytes questioning Patrick’s religion again (so tired…).

After I read those quotes from Fitzpatrick, I found myself asking this question: why exactly is he leading by any margin whatsoever in this campaign (I think IPSOS had him up by 6 percent).

As I said before, Fitzpatrick is a cunning political animal (possibly answering my own question here). He has a knack for turning up on the right side of innocuous issues and acting in as obsequious a manner as possible, more often than not in front of a T.V. camera; pinning a medal on a military veteran here, sticking his nose in a dispute involving Boy Scouts when the headquarters isn’t even in his district there, advocating some legislation allowing extra tax credits for open space on another occasion…all nice, feel-good stuff, most of which will slowly disappear once the media focuses elsewhere like so much cotton candy.

And it's funny in a way to read Mikey's criticism of Patrick on this because trying to hide unpopular votes on appropriations or other issues (in this case, the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska) is something Mikey tried once before and was called on, as Josh Marshall notes here.

I hereby assign the following to myself: I will provide a compilation of my posts on Mikey and try to summarize them in an effort to show who he has really served in his two years in the U.S. Congress (there are also links in the right column to detailed posts by other more worthy individuals providing this information also – this Inquirer story about the abuse of the congressional “franking” privilege by Fitzpatrick and Jim Gerlach references Mikey’s mailing on the environment that I posted on here). I will tend to this as soon as I can.

Ricky "Takes Us To School"

Is there a single, solitary thing to like, respect, or admire in any way at all about Rick Santorum (don’t worry…I long since figured out the answer to that question).

Will Bunch provides details on the latest Santorum misadventure here; it’s bad enough that the taxpayers of Pennsylvania will pay for his kids’ cyber-schooling, but it turns out now that we’ll do so even though his kids live in another state!

Let’s use this occasion to take “a stroll down memory sewer,” if you will (and let’s pray that Mr. Casey Jr. stops consulting with his consultants and trying to figure this out long enough to say something about it).

(Note to the CaseyForPA webmaster...I tried to go to the site to find out if Casey said anything, but though the "sign up" splash page supposedly gives you the option to go directly to the site, I couldn't do it - ugh...).

Words Indeed Do Matter

Via Atrios, we learn today that recently hired editorial writer Michael Gerson of the Washington Post, who previously worked as Dubya’s former speechwriter, was responsible for providing one of the WMD “scoops” to the New York Times that left “the old gray lady” with egg all over its face, and they’ve been trying to wipe it off ever since.

However, I want to comment on the Gerson literary contribution that, more than any of his others, has helped foster the climate of our current misery. I speak of course of the “axis of evil” line of Dubya’s State of the Union address in 2002 (even more timeless than his elegant insult, “the soft bigotry of low expectations”).

I’m not saying there wasn’t at least a particle of truth in the line. What I’m saying is that there’s a way mature adults handle conflict, and if you’re having a disagreement with someone, calling them a name isn’t going to do anything to help (obvious, I know, but so much of the behavior of this administration defies common sense that, alas, it must be pointed out).

I should also note that right wing fellow traveler (and another former Bush speechwriter) David Frum also claimed credit for the phrase, originally calling it “the axis of hatred.” I have two immediate thoughts: 1) How many people does it take in this administration to come up with a single phrase for a speech, and 2) Given what has resulted from that unfortunate choice of words, I’d be looking to sidestep any responsibility for it.

So Dubya said the words in 2002 of course, and the reaction is predictable, including that of former moderate Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami (as moderate as someone in Iran’s leadership gets, I should add). This gets Iran stoked even more against us, which is only increased by our invasion of Iraq. As a result mainly of the invasion but partly because of Dubya’s antagonistic words authored by Gerson, Khatami loses the election in August 2005 and more-radical hardliner and former terrorist "student" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rises to power (of a sort, anyway, since the mullahs will always run the show).

And for this, the Post hires Gerson as an editorial columnist? In what universe does the Post think Gerson will inhabit in which he will demonstrate a shred of objectivity after his fawning worship of the occupant of the Oval Office since January 2001? And, as noted here, everything has gone just swimmingly for Gerson and his freeper pals since he came up with that infamous phrase.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of once-reputable news organizations either compromising whatever standards they have or trashing them entirely in favor of the Bushco regime.

And I’m also fed up with giving credit to the cretins responsible for the slaughter of young American lives while these individuals profess to act in the name of some type of morality known only to themselves.

Music For Our Times

The CD “Kakistocracy” from Spicewood Seven was released yesterday and is available here from Austin Records Direct, a newly revived record label that once launched a variety of Texas artists from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Omar And The Howlers (have to catch up with them actually). As someone who has frequently dumped on red states throughout my online existence here, I’m proud to help a product that comes from the reddest state of all.

I guess I should start with the name. The term “kakistocracy” means government by the most corrupt or incompetent (how perfect, sadly), and Luke Powers came up with it; Powers is a former Morehead scholar from UNC-Chapel Hill who earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, and he and his friend and musical partner Tommy Spurlock (billed in the record’s bio as “an Austin-based musician, producer and wildman”) assembled the musical talent for the recording.

This includes keyboardist Garth Hudson of The Band, drummer Jamie Oldaker (formerly of Eric Clapton’s band), Elana Fremerman (Bob Dylan and Hot Club of Cow Town) and Leon Rausch (legendary singer of Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys). Spurlock made his name as a guitar and steel guitar player before producing and playing sessions with Shania Twain, George Jones, Guy Clark, David Olney, and John Prine.

The CD contains 17 tracks ranging from hard-driving rhythm and blues (“Mercury’s in Retrograde”) to radio-ready tunes (“Crawford, Texas” and “Poor Boy”) to melodic acoustic ballads (“America, What’s Happened To You?”) to more anthemic contemplations of where our country is at this moment (“400 Years”).

As you may have guessed from the song titles, the music is very topical, consisting of slice-of-life observances of people’s lives, even “Crystal Time” with great C&W “swing” vocals from Brennen Leigh as a “meth” mama (“well your tongue is waggin’ like a windshield wiper/If you make a beer run, don’t forget the diapers”) conjuring up an image to your humble narrator of Loretta Lynn gone straight to hell.

Of the many fine individual performances on the CD, David Hearne's vocal on "America, What Happened To You?," Spurlock's fender steel riffs on "Prayer For The Living And The Dead," Jamie Oldaker's drumming on "Going Down The Road To Baghdad" (creating a feeling like you're rumbling up Route Irish in a Humvee - lots of grunt slang worked into the song by the way) and Elana Fremerman's fiddle accompaniment in "Iraqi Soldier Blues" stood out chiefly for me.

I didn’t find the songs to be overly preachy, with the exception of “Dying Planet” (leading off with a lyric like that is a tough rode to hoe, which is kind of a shame because it has the best dance groove on the recording). “Chinese Murder Mystery” is a sad story which, unfortunately, didn’t translate into a good song (though, like all of the recordings, it is interesting to listen to).

Though some of the songs definitely oppose Dubya, they’re not particularly angry or confrontational but questioning and introspective, which makes them more powerful as far as I’m concerned (Powers and Spurlock consider themselves commentators on everything as opposed to advocates for change, which is fine). More than anything, Powers and Spurlock are pretty much wondering just what the hell happened to this country over time and putting their concerns to music, and their concerns are pretty much apolitical.

I said something on Monday which more or less questioned how much we’ve really thought about the events of a little over five years ago now and what they mean to our lives and this nation, and I think it was, in part, an occasion to look inside ourselves a bit. These guys have done that and taken a good look around also, and they should be applauded for it. And we really need to help them with this, because the likely place to hear this music on the radio would be on country stations, which may be difficult because it's actually intelligent music and has nothing to do with pickup trucks, bar fights, or Jessica Simpson parading around in her "Daisy Dukes" (not that I have a problem with that, mind you).

So go to the Austin Records site and order “Kakistocracy” now. You laugh a bit, think a bit, and maybe even dance a time or two.

That sure sounds like a good deal to me.

Another Silly '80s Video

Tommy Shaw turned 53 a couple of days ago, so to recognize the occasion, here's "Music Time" (I guess this came before "Mr. Roboto," which, happily, was the end of the line for Styx...I think Shaw is one of the people with his head sticking out of the dinner table at the end a la Curly Howard).

I tried to find a video for "Girls With Guns," but I didn't have any luck. Sorry.

Someone at YouTube actually flagged this as inappropriate...give me a break.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

As Dubya Becomes Even Less Relevant

We continue to debate the acceptable level of force required to achieve the military goal.

We continue to debate the politicizing of the worst terrorist attack on our soil that led to the horrendous Iraq war and our deteriorating military occupation.

(And by the way, Mr. Casey Jr., I’d like to see a sign of life from you on this issue. I’d like to hear you ask how the hell Rick Santorum could have the gall to criticize the Democrats on the war when the only thing he ever did about the military was to run away from service as fast as he could.)

And while we do so, age-old friends-turned-enemies are friends again.

Sorry, I don’t really have much to say, only to repeat once again that any human life form with a pulse and some functioning gray matter could see that Iran was going to end up with perhaps the greatest influence in the region outside of Syria after we blew Iraq to pieces.

And the only other thing I mean to say here is this; pray and offer good thoughts and wishes (and whatever we can give of our time, funds or other means) for our people stuck in that God-forsaken mess (the “Help Our Service People” box with related links is about halfway down the page in the right column).

Death In "Crazy Curt"'s Backyard

On Sunday Tom Ferrick, Jr. of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a place in Upper Darby, PA called “Lou’s Loans,” which, according to Ferrick, is “a hole-in-the-wall pawnshop on 69th Street.”

The problem, according to convicted-former-gun-trafficker Nate Finkley and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, is that Lou's was well-known “within the Philadelphia underworld” as a source of guns.

The article goes on to state the following:

A few years ago, (the U.S. Congress) passed a law forbidding the (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) ATF to conduct more than one unannounced inspection of gun shops each year. Recently, it passed another forbidding the ATF to release to the public information on the gun tracing it does.

But wait, there's more. The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to "reform" the ATF. The bill would lower penalties on gun-shop violators and insulate gun sellers from ATF action by allowing them to argue the violation was not intentional.

In other words, it shoots more holes in ATF's enforcement powers, if you'll forgive the phrase.

(An aside: One of the cosponsors is U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, whose district includes Lou's.)
Gee, I wonder if genius moves like this are part of the reason why Crazy Curt received a B+ rating from the NRA?

I guess this is in keeping with a pattern of behavior that would advocate giving military commanders the ultimate decision-making responsibility on when our troops should come home (uh…not a good idea – see, that’s the responsibility of the President, Curt. It’s part of that whole “separation of powers” thing. Of course, if our current occupant isn’t up to that task, he should return to Crawford and “clear brush” for the remainder of his days.)

And by the way (on another note), did you know that Weldon tried to bring back the draft a few years ago (which I will strenuously oppose, by the way, regardless of which politician is talking about it)?

If you want to put an end to these antics, click here and help Admiral Joe.

Patrick And The "Concern Troll"

I had not heard from our good and dear friend J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times for a little while now (not since he proclaimed his hosannas to Dubya and reported Mikey’s proclamation last May). So imagine my surprise when I saw his column today about Patrick Murphy and the race against Mikey Fitz for the 8th district U.S. congressional seat.

Before I comment on it, I have to say that I think “the four horsemen” may be saddling up, since this is a shockingly sensible column from Mullane (who would have thought it?), though of course it wouldn’t be a Mullane political column without some “winger” shadings here and there (I’m not sure what happened, but I should point that out).

It's a sunny Saturday and Patrick Murphy is working the crowd in Bristol.

Murphy, a Democrat, wants to be the next U.S. congressman from Bucks. He's got a tough fight.

His opponent, incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, is about $1 million ahead in fund-raising. Fitzpatrick has another advantage: name recognition.
True, Fitzpatrick does have that within the county, and the Repugs will always outspend the Dems out here – we should donate of course, but we should also be realistic. Fitzpatrick also has the albatross of supporting Dubya on Iraq and stem cell research, but Mullane won’t go there of course.

Murphy's out early at the Mill Street 5K Run. He approaches onlookers and launches into a quick autobiography.

“Hi, I'm Patrick Murphy. I'm a Democrat running for Congress. I'm an Iraq war veteran. I was a West Point law professor. I believe we need to change the direction of the country.”

He's not antiwar, but the troops need to be “redeployed” from Iraq.
Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why Mullane put that word in quotes?

“The Iraqis have to get off the sidelines,” says Murphy, who was a captain with the 82nd Airborne.

He's tells me he's pro-choice, but believes in limits to abortion. He and his wife are expecting their first child.
Wonderful news - congratulations!

“Pat,” I tell him, “neither you nor anyone you know will ever refer to your baby as "the fetus.' ”

He agrees, but as a lawyer who taught constitutional law, he believes abortion is a right.
Uh, yeah J.D., it is. Roe v. Wade still happens to be the law of the land (for now anyway).

On the campaign trail, Murphy chats with voters and fills in his life story ... Archbishop Ryan graduate ... attended Bucks County Community College ... lives in Bristol Township ... son of a Philadelphia cop ... played ice hockey at Grundy ... married a Pennsbury girl, but took a Bishop Conwell girl to his high school prom ... bought his wedding bands at Mignoni's Jewelry across the street.

He travels the lower county.

At Middletown Community Day, he buys an Eagles scarf for his dog and talks up the vendor.

At Warwick Community Day, he enlists as a member of a veterans organization, talks to a guy on stilts, and strikes up a conversation with a Tupperware lady.

He has a happy warrior approach to campaigning, and his 100-watt smile rarely leaves his face.

The race for the 8th Congressional District is hot. Murphy says his polling shows he's within six points of Fitzpatrick, excellent for a guy who's never held public office.

In August, the National Journal, which ranks the nation's “most competitive” races, moved the 8th District from 26 to 15.

Murphy says he can beat Fitzpatrick if he's able to appeal to Republican swing voters.

But he needs two things. Money, certainly, but also name recognition. A voter who knows you is more likely to vote for you.

The most reliable way to attain name recognition is through door knocking and introducing yourself to as many voters as possible.

But with only 59 days to the election, can he overcome the odds?

I tell him my take: The Democrats are not serious about winning the district until they bring in Bill Clinton. Bucks County went twice for Clinton. For many, he is revered.
This is actually an interesting idea from Mullane (God, somebody pinch me...). However, I think there are tradeoffs. I think Patrick is right to wage this campaign on his own terms, since if The Big Guy stumps for him, it will look like Patrick needs help (I think that’s part of the reason why we haven’t seen John Kerry here yet; Kerry won Bucks also, though Dubya actually won Lower Makefield – hisssssss…). And you can bet that Mullane will be all over Murphy on that if either Clinton or Kerry shows up (though it’s OK for Dubya to show up and provide more cringe moments to try and help Mikey and Jim Gerlach, you see).

I think bringing Clinton to Bucks would tighten the polls by at least two or three points. Since the event would be widely covered by the media, Murphy would get a boost in name recognition, too.

Clinton is due to visit Philadelphia Oct. 5, but so far has no plans to help out the suburban congressional candidates, where the House will be won or lost.

“I'm working on it,” Murphy said. “Obviously, it would be great to have the president here. But this is my fight and I think I can go toe to toe with Mike Fitzpatrick.”
And to help Patrick in that fight, click here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Prayer Amidst The Ruins

I'll never forget this song - Helen Leicht of WXPN in Philadelphia played it while I was driving home early from my job on 9/11/01 with tears in my eyes...I remember that she was scrambling to find songs to play that captured the horrific mood, and she did an admirable job ("Angel" by Sarah McLachlan originally recorded in 1998).

Everything And Nothing Changed

Before I say anything else, I’d like to recommend the following:

- This column by Marie Cocco and this column by Hendrik Hertzberg both put this day in the proper historical context as far as I’m concerned.

- This post by DarkSyde at The Daily Kos illustrates the failure of leadership that led to the events from five years ago that we remember today.

- This illustrates that, as with everything else, political considerations trump anything having to do with 9/11 for Bushco and their minions (and don’t think for a minute that you can fool the kids either).

- Both Americablog and Rising Hegemon tell the advertisers and the “merchants of pity” what they can do with their “Where Were You?” ads (I’m not saying that no one should discuss that today – I’m only saying that advertisers, marketers and other various manipulators out there should stay the hell out of the discussion - probably about four different hat tips owed to Atrios for the above)

As far as my own thoughts, feelings and emotions on that day, I got into a lot of that last year.

I have to admit that, slowly over time, this day has come to feel more and more normal to me once again. The first anniversary in 2002 was truly surreal. Nothing seemed to fit and everything felt out of balance, as if I’d continually forgotten to do something and what I did never quite seemed to feel right. More than anything, though, everything felt unresolved, as if I had more to do and I was gradually realizing that the issue of whether or not it actually would get done was out of my hands. I don’t know if that makes one bit of sense, but there you are.

But maybe coming to terms with this day is also balanced by the realization that we have not internalized enough what this day means in a matter that truly lends itself to action. Many of us will take our sense of introspection out of the closet, blow off the dust and parade our pieties everywhere we go today. And then tomorrow, it will be forgotten for a year (what I’d like to hear somebody ask, actually, is where were you on September 12th – how much did the events of that day really affect your family relationships, your relationships with your friends or co-workers, your knowledge of the world around you and your politics; I’m sorry, but I really don’t care about your thoughts and emotions, and they’re personal to you anyway and none of my business - I also don’t know if anyone else has asked that question).

Try this; I’m sure there are people out there who know the individual who was just named to host the Oscars next year and there are others who know how many passes recently acquired Eagles receiver Donté Stallworth caught yesterday in the win over Houston, but how many of those people know the names of their elected officials or the names of the main two factions of Islam vying for control of Iraq?

And here’s another one; how many people are flying flags today as opposed to five years ago?

In short, I’ve seen a lot of internalizing and “hunkering down” in this country (rabidly encouraged by all Repug and some Democratic politicians and political appointees who have a vested interest in keeping the people of this country ignorant), but I haven’t seen nearly enough people stepping back and saying “How the hell did this happen” and then following through and doing their best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Update: Speaking of "keeping the people of this country ignorant," I submit this.

George W. Bush neglected the war on terrorism (the real one). George W. Bush fought the formation of the 9/11 Commission. The Republican Congress hasn’t implemented most of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. We all know about the Iraq War.

As DarkSyde wondered, is this the leadership we deserve? It’s the leadership people like Cynthia Sneed deserves (I apologizing for staining the memory of this day with her presence), but I absolutely refuse to believe that people like her represent the majority of the people of this county (this poll shows some hope). If so, then we quite simply are doomed.

And once and for all, can we dispel this notion of shared sacrifice as a result of 9/11? That’s an insulting lie. The sacrifice has been borne in as disproportionate a manner as we can imagine by the families, friends and relatives of the victims of the attacks, to say nothing of our service people fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only other group of individuals I can think of who’ve had to bear a burden at this time (a larger group than our corporate media will ever identify) is those of us who’ve encountered a job loss or any kind of economic downturn which took place after the attacks.

Aside from that, try identifying anyone who has suffered from 9/11 (and the anthrax attacks that followed – will that be commemorated also?). Go ahead – I’ll wait.

As you ponder this, I should point out that Atrios said today that 9/11 “isn’t about (Bush), and unless you were in New York or Washington or were close to people who were directly affected, it's probably not about you either.” I can see where he’s coming from on this. To people like Cynthia Sneed, it is a cultural reference point and nothing more. To the people Atrios describes, it is a flesh-and-blood wound that will never completely heal.

And my eternal hope is that, one day, the former group of people will truly understand that about the latter group.

Update 9/12: I didn't expect Keith Olbermann to top his recent commentary about Rumsfeld, but he definitely managed to do so here.

Update 10/06: I just found this - Sting put things into perspective very well I thought.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Words From A Man Who Knew

I know that you-know-what will be broadcast shortly despite our entreaties, perverting (in my mind) what is definitely an occasion for reflection and remembrance. More than that, though, I think this anniversary should be an occasion for reaffirming what it is that we're all about, despite it all.

With that in mind, I can think of nothing more appropriate than this (though I suppose it typically should be shown on July 4th). I'm referring to this performance of "The House I Live In," by the one-and-only Frank Sinatra at "The Main Event" at Madison Square Garden in 1974 (and yes, that's Walter Cronkite getting appropriately choked up - how could you not feel that way actually - and I thought the looks on the faces of some in the audience told stories all by themselves).

Our Perilous "Path"

Gee, I wonder if the reason why the Inquirer endorsed this sick, twisted sham of a 9/11 movie in its editorial section yesterday had to do with the fact that they purchased a full-page color ad for it that appeared today in the front U.S. and World News section?

Also, Dick Polman wrote another piece today about how confrontational our politics and our media are anymore; I give Polman more credit than the typical journo, but I'm tired of reading recycled stuff like this that just bemoans how bad everything is without mentioning the media mergers and consolidation in the 90s that ended up playing a huge role day in and day out regarding "the corporate voice" that we hear anymore to the exclusion of practically anything else (with humble bloggers such as yours truly trying to "horn in" and get their points across any way possible). And to still blame "a backlash against the '60s" at this point is laughable.

Polman hinted at a possible career change in what he wrote, by the way. If he's leaving the fray, so be it; I wouldn't totally blame him if he did.

But since this sick, twisted fantasy of a movie is apparently going to air, I guess I only have one word to say at long last: good. It will finally be proof positive for anyone who still has doubts that most of what we see, hear and read cannot be trusted because it is beholden to the radical right. Conservatives complain about a soap opera movie regarding their two most beloved cultural icons and it gets pulled, while over 200,000 people sign a petition telling ABC to pull a fictitious film about the worst terrorist attack on our soil (with a former President of the United States calling for removal of it also) and the movie airs anyway. If that doesn't tell you who is behind the messages we receive masquerading as information (and that is true in the extreme for Brian Tierney and the Inquirer), nothing will.

Update 1: Good for Harvey Keitel, and isn't it nice how the production gets the small details right (dear God - hat tips to Atrios for both)...

Update 2: Whatever keeps Mickey smiling...