Saturday, September 23, 2006

Can You Go Lower, Mikey?

Dear God, I certainly hope not after reading this fetid waste of a Guest Opinion the Courier Times published today from our 8th district representative.

My opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy, has changed his plan on the war in Iraq; he’s now calling for a withdrawal by the end of 2007.
No Mikey, this is a modification of Patrick’s original plan, and he explains why here (from

If my plan had been implemented nine months ago, we would have had 50,000 troops home, with 50,000 slated to come home by this December, and maybe Osama Bin Laden wouldn't still be at large making videos threatening America. Instead—nine months later—we are left with nearly as many troops as there were at the beginning of the war and the situation in Iraq has become a bloody civil war.

I therefore offer a renewed call for a change of direction in Iraq.

We need to:

(1) Redeploy our National Guard: Bring our National Guard troops home from Iraq in the next six months. Then they can redeploy to protecting our homeland. In Pennsylvania they can help secure our chemical plants, our nine nuclear reactors, and our mass transit.

(2) Redeploy our regular military: Bring home most of the remaining 130,000 troops by the end of 2007. Redeploy thousands of troops to reinforce the 18,000 troops we have in Afghanistan fighting resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.

(3) Keep a strike force in theater: Maintain an over-the-horizon strategic strike force in remote Iraq or Kuwait to help train Iraqi Defense Forces and serve as a force to deter Iranian aggression.

(4) Commence Aggressive Regional Diplomacy: Convene a Dayton Accords-style summit to bring Arab nations and Iraqi factions into the peace process. Have Richard Holbrooke— who successfully brokered the Bosnia peace agreement — lead this initiative to give it bipartisan and international credibility.

(5) Fund Redevelopment with Accountability: The Iraqi government must take responsibility for rebuilding their country. But the United States must work with the international community and other major donors to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to Iraq. Any assistance must emphasize stability, security and have strict accountability to ensure that no additional taxpayer dollars are wasted.

(6) Hold our Leaders Accountable: Donald Rumsfeld must resign or be fired. Unless there is a change in our nation’s leadership little will change in how we engage and eventually defeat Al Qaeda. We need leaders who know how to take the fight to our enemy while securing our homeland. I agree with fellow veteran Governor Rendell and question Rumsfeld’s decision to cut six brigades of our National Guard and Reserves during a time of war.
Back to Mikey...

His changed position is a final realization that his original strategy was not only extreme and out of touch with the people of the 8th district, but would significantly harm our national security.
Well, given the fact that 60 percent of the people in this country now oppose the Iraq war, I don’t think what Patrick proposes is “extreme and out of touch” at all, especially since we have now lost more people in Iraq than we did on 9/11. If anything, Mikey, the words “extreme and out of touch” apply to you.

Murphy’s original plan echoed John Kerry’s extreme withdrawal timeline that was overwhelmingly rejected by both parties in Congress.
Mikey is actually right about that – for now. However, this will be introduced again; let’s see if it’s “overwhelmingly rejected” next time.

His new plan follows recent statements by Gen. George Casey, President Bush’s top military commander in Iraq, that Iraqi troops could be prepared to defend themselves within 12-18 months. His plan also parrots my recent call for “a new strategy for success in Iraq” when I took issue with President Bush’s “stay the course” policy.
("took issue with Dubya"...Mikey makes a funny - tee hee!)

So what exactly is Fitzpatrick saying? That Patrick’s plan goes along with what our commander in Iraq is saying? Why is that a problem? Also, Mikey is a liar yet again when he says that Murphy’s plan “parrots” his “recent call”…Patrick originally proposed his plan for Iraq in December of last year, so if anyone is doing “parroting” here, it’s Fitzpatrick, who, after all, doesn’t have a plan for Iraq anyway.

And where’s that stinging criticism on Rumsfeld for his remark about those opposing the war suffering from “moral and ethical confusion,” Mikey?

Although his new “plan” is a step in the right direction, it maintains one fatal flaw – he renders his “benchmarks” meaningless by making the timeline an end in itself.
Does anyone know what that sentence means? And Mikey actually agrees with something Patrick proposes here? Can he enlighten us on that?

His plan gives the terrorists and the unstable president of Iran a target date for their conquest of the new Iraqi democracy and their conversion of the Iraqi nation into a giant terrorist base camp.
This is revolting hyperbole even for Mikey. Anything with an IQ beyond that of a garden slug can see that Iran is emerging as the dominant force in the region because of our clumsy and illegal invasion, after which Iran and Syria sent jihadists into Iraq to create “the peace from hell” after we toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue – which, as we now know, was a media moment orchestrated by the CIA – so, for all intents and purposes, Iraq is “a terrorist base camp” now because this administration ignored the dire predictions of generals such as Eric Shinseki, who said that we didn’t send over enough troops to do the job in the first place.

Iran’s dominance is not the fault of Patrick Murphy. It is, however, the fault of George Bush, his administration, and the Republican-dominated congress, including Mikey.

Military and foreign policy experts agree that an arbitrary withdrawal of U.S. troops before the Iraqi people are prepared to defend themselves would result in civil war destabilizing the entire region and the creation of a terrorist haven under the direct influence of state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Syria. I believe that U.S. withdrawal must be based on short-term and easily measurable benchmarks that demand that the Iraqi forces are capable of defending themselves.
Sounds like Mikey stole that from the Kerry plan.

I agree with Sen. McCain that the most important thing is not precisely when U.S. soldiers leave Iraq, but whether they leave successfully completing the mission to transition to an Iraqi security force capable of defending the country.

This is why I have called for a new plan for success in Iraq that would bring individual battalions home periodically as specific, short-term benchmarks are achieved.
“Bringing battalions home”? This is the first time Mikey has unveiled this. Of course, he knows he has to do something since Patrick has closed what was a 14-point gap in the polls to 5 points by showing that he has a plan to keep a regional civil war from developing and getting our people out of there.

Whenever any Republican talks about Iraq, by the way, they absolutely refuse to attach any kind of timeline for troop withdrawal, which we should have been talking about long ago. Otherwise, the Iraq War may yet end up being similar to World War II in one respect (the Repugs always love to draw up fake analogies between the two, as we know); it will have lasted for that long or possibly longer.

This is the only acceptable “exit strategy” – to bring our troops home without jeopardizing the current security of Iraq and the future security of the United States.
If Mikey thinks that the Iraq war has somehow “made us secure,” then he should read this.

And as far as “current security in Iraq,” there is none, particularly in Baghdad (“digging trenches,” huh? I take back what I said a minute ago – maybe Bushco ought to start comparing Iraq to World War I instead of World War II, with the former being a brutal and almost pointless struggle also).

We may be able to bring home one U.S. battalion for every Iraqi battalion that is prepared to operate independently and on its own.
Oh yes, those Iraqi battalions; just how are they doing anyway? Well, the story from this link provides the answer (this excerpt in particular).

During a late-September 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Casey acknowledged that the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions last June had shrunk to one in September. That is less than six months ago.

I thought it would be a good idea to find someone who is qualified to discuss how feasible it would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less than six months, as Pace now claims has occurred.

I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.

That person is Stan Goff.

"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be counting the resistance among his forces."
And “independently and on its own,” huh? Are you now also Bushco’s Secretary of Redundancy Secretary, Mikey?

Again, I agree with Sen. McCain that troop withdrawals must be met by conditions in-country, not arbitrarily rooted in our domestic politics.
I believe it is obvious to all but the most bald faced partisan like Mikey that what Patrick proposes IS “met by conditions in country,” with those conditions being an utter abomination. And as far as John McCain’s assessment of those conditions goes, click here.

It is not strong and decisive leadership to issue “new” plans every couple of months regarding the conduct of an ongoing war.
Patrick hasn’t done that and you know that, Mikey, you scumbag. That’s a typically disingenuous remark on your part; I can see how seriously you took that “honesty pledge” the Courier Times made you sign after Patrick knocked off Andy Warren – of course, not only did Patrick sign it, but everyone in his organization did as well.

My job is to vocally raise the concerns of my constituents about the growing costs of the war – both financially but more importantly in the lives of our brave men and women – with those responsible for executing our military and foreign affairs. I have asked tough questions of this administration and pointed decision makers in what I believe is the right direction.
Are specifics or attribution anywhere in sight here, Mikey? You know, trivial things like names, titles, dates, places, locations, particular issues discussed? Or is this more of your “cotton candy” pseudo solutions that just disappear as soon as our attention focuses elsewhere?

I have written to and met with the Iraq Study Group – a bi-partisan panel, expert in military affairs – who are working on a new strategy for success.
Oh, so this is Mikey’s idea of “vocally raising concerns” and “asking tough questions.” He goes to some think tank full of well-heeled Beltway former politicos who think they know how to fight a war degenerating beyond measure from the cushy confines of their corporate suites and tries to curry favor (and for the record, this is the group run by James “The Fixer” Baker III).

This is one of the most pathetic commentaries by a politician that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s a worse testimonial to Mikey’s totally ineffectual performance as our congressman on this issue or to the fact that Bushco’s “management” of this war has been so woeful that Mikey feels he has to go to some almost-faceless third parties to make a stink about it.

And by the way, it should be obvious based on Mikey’s slight acknowledgement of the human cost of the war that he has never served. I wonder at what point he thought that the prosecution of the war was going so badly that he felt that he had to ask The Iraq Study Group for a resolution instead of the characters who spent most of 2002 and some of 2003 scaring us with lies about Saddam Hussein? What was the body count when he felt that he had to stir fitfully to life on this issue?

I asked them hard questions and offered my suggestions for the most crucial areas in which we need change to execute a new strategy, including better equipment for our soldiers, better training for the emerging Iraq military and a greater focus on the economic reconstruction of Iraq.
By “better equipment,” is Mikey talking about proper armoring of our troops and vehicles? And what does he mean by “better training for the emerging Iraq military”? Is he referring to Casey’s phantom 100 battalions? The fact that our people weren’t given the equipment and methodology to succeed in Iraq (assuming that such a methodology existed now or ever) is the fault first and foremost of Donald (“The Defense Secretary You Have”) Rumsfeld, who would have been gone long ago from a competent presidential administration.

However, I think Mikey stumbled into the truth with the line about “a greater focus on the economic restructuring of Iraq.” Rep. Louise Slaughter feels the same way.

I agree with Gen. Wesley Clark that we must increase our diplomatic efforts to compel Iraq’s neighbors and our allies in Europe and Asia to accept their stake in this war. Iraq in civil war or under the influence of Iran will destabilize the region causing repercussions around the world.
It’s pointless to argue with Mikey that Iraq is and has been in a state of civil war already, but this is exactly why Patrick and John Kerry want to redeploy our troops along the borders with Syria and Iran, or to at least keep an “over the horizon” force available – to keep the conflict from spreading to other nations in the region.

Our allies must also be encouraged to honor their commitment to providing assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq.
I don’t want to say that doing that would be an empty gesture, but other nations won’t do that unless they know they’re going to get something for it, which after all is only human nature. That’s why mediation in this mess needs to be turned over to the U.N. because of our lack of credibility throughout the region as a result of the war, as well as our involvement in the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

My opponent will continue to search for a politically popular “plan” on Iraq, and continue to take shots at me for taking a thoughtful position rather than chanting a slogan sized to a bumper sticker.
This wouldn’t be representative of Mikey if he didn’t throw in some of his patented pissy, “holier than thou” snark, now would it?

Sound bites, buzz words and political opportunism will not ensure that we achieve success in Iraq. Thoughtful, reasoned leadership, a watchful eye, and a brave voice will.

OK, now you’ve just endured reading what Fitzpatrick said as I have. Now I’d like to ask you a question: what is he committing to do here?

What has he assigned for himself in the way of trying to change this mess? What has he assigned for himself to try and save more lives both of our people and innocent Iraqis, as well as trying to prevent more injuries to same?

What promise has he made to the families of our service people in harm’s way that will result in holding this cabal of crooks running our government to a higher standard (or ANY standard) of accountability for their dreadful, sickening betrayal to the people of this country by virtue of their illegal war?

Here’s the answer: Nothing.

He’s just told us that he’s going to wash his hands of everything and turn it over to “The Iraq Study Group.”

Did you or I appoint or elect “The Iraq Study Group”?

No. They’re not beholden to us. They’re not even beholden to the Repug leadership in Washington.

In point of fact, The Iraq Study Group doesn’t have to do a damn thing except listen to Fitzpatrick’s “hard questions” for a little while and then pat him on the head and say “Nice congressman” before they tell him to get the hell out of their offices so they can all have a good belly laugh at his expense.

This is what our government has become under the Repugs, ladies and gentlemen. A shadowy network of players connected incestuously within and without of public life beholden to no one but themselves and their handlers. For all intents and purposes, we don’t exist to them. And someone like Mike Fitzpatrick thinks that it’s perfectly fine to go to them for some supercilious gesture of accommodation disguised as doing “the people’s business” in an attempt to put an end at what is quite possibly the most divisive and controversial war our country has ever fought.

I think this Guest Opinion reveals more than Mikey realizes about how he views his job and the way he thinks he should be doing it. And I am sickened and enraged that he thinks that this should be acceptable conduct for someone who was elected to represent us.

This is, beyond a doubt, proof positive that we need to do all we can to support Patrick Murphy and send this laughingstock back to the Bucks County Board of Commissioners from whence he should never have left.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Bruce!

The Boss hits Number 57 in a few minutes, so to honor the occasion, here's a live version of "Candy's Room" from 1978 (amped up way higher than the serviceable studio version from "Darkness On The Edge Of Town")

Come As You Are

I heard on Y-Rock tonight that "Nevermind" was released fifteen years ago today, so here's "Come As You Are" (I'll save any editorializing about Kurt Cobain for another time and merely appreciate Nirvana's great music).

Friday Night Video

One of the best of all time for my money - "Smuggler's Blues" by Glenn Frey (lots of "Miami Vice" touches all over the place in keeping with the '80s, including the Porsche of course)

Margaret Spellings Strikes Again

No sooner do I mention in a post yet again that Bushco has done a lousy job appointing administrators for key government agencies then I come across this item.

It seems “a scorching internal review” revealed that Reading First, which is supposed to be a “jewel” (oh brother) of Dubya’s Every Child Left Behind program, was being mismanaged through dealing with preferred vendors in arrangements reeking with conflict of interest, as well as “violations of the law and ethical standards.”

As noted in the story...

Reading First aims to help young children read through scientifically proven programs…Just this week, a separate review found the effort is helping schools raise achievement.

The (internal review) found the department:

_Botched the way it picked a panel to review grant applications, raising questions over whether grants were approved as the law requires.

_Screened grant reviewers for conflicts of interest, but then failed to identify six who had a clear conflict based on their industry connections.

_Did not let states see the comments of experts who reviewed their applications.

_Required states to meet conditions that weren't part of the law.

_Tried to downplay elements of the law it didn't like when working with states.
(For more “golden moments” with Margaret Spellings, by the way, click here and here.)

Later on in the story, we read about the giddy Emails from program director Chris Doherty to his cronies who were all fat, dumb and happy over the fact that funds were directed to states that favored something called Direct Instruction (which I guess is a vendor Doherty worked with), while DI people served on the panel overseeing the program. And about the only thing I can do when I read about Spellings’ indignation over the fact that the Emails were made public is laugh.

I don’t know about you, but I detected at least two characteristics that are part of Bushco’s typical way of doing business. One is the “fox guarding the henhouse” mentality of program administration pursuant to our tax dollars put to work (and badly at that). Another is the almost adolescent sense of delight people like Doherty communicate as they willfully disregard what is plainly their duty to run these programs on behalf of their constituents (even worse in this case because we’re talking about the kids).

So what else does Spellings have to say about this?

Spellings, who became secretary in 2005, said she is not aware of any effort to favor certain reading programs. That, however, is just what the audit says has happened.

"I'm doing everything I can at this point," she said. "I can't undo what's been done."
Actually, that’s not true, Mrs. Spellings. You haven’t done everything yet; I’m still waiting for your resignation.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (9/22)

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.

(Not much went on, apparently.)


Border fence. The House passed, 283-138, and sent to the Senate a bill to authorize construction of 700 miles of two-layered fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The bill (HR 6061) does not fund the project, which is expected to cost $2 billion.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) and Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.).
I weighed in on this nonsense earlier (Tim Holden sure is an interesting “Democrat,” isn’t he?).

Prison industries. The House passed, 362-57, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 2965) to enable the private sector to compete with Federal Prison Industries, a government corporation, for federal agency contracts now set aside for goods and services produced by federal inmates.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Holden and Saxton.
From what I can read here, it looks like the plan is to allow outside companies to compete to make the products that are built by the inmates and delivered through Federal Prison Industries. It looks like this has bipartisan support also, since the companion piece of legislation was introduced by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan in the Senate. I suppose the thinking is to help stimulate the economy through job creation (a big deal everywhere, but particularly in Michigan) and to reduce what is probably a government expense through FPI.

However, the only thing I care about in this is the safety of the prison guards who would be at risk if the inmates have too much time on their hands if their jobs are taken away because someone else can make the products they used to make for less (and personally, I know something about the whole “more for less” thing). I’m sure inmates vary in skill and ability, and it will take a highly skilled administrator to figure out what the inmates should do in the absence of FPI jobs that are lost due to outside competition (as it stands, the Bureau of Prisons falls under Abu Gonzales and the Department of Justice).

And I don’t know about you, but given this administration’s track record on managing of government agencies (Brown and Chertoff at FEMA, Jim Nicholson and veterans’ information disappearing at the VA, Tommy Thompson at Health and Human Services and the flu vaccine crisis a few years ago – we’re in that season again now of course), I don’t see anyone with creativity and/or ingenuity in sight. And I don’t want to find out that this is suddenly a problem by turning on the news and hearing about prison riots, OK?

I criticized Holden a minute ago, but he, Rob Andrews and Jim Saxton may turn out to be right here.


Airport screeners. Senators voted, 85-12, to remove a 45,000-employee limit on the number of Transportation Security Administration personnel who screen passengers at U.S. airports. The vote occurred during debate on a port-security bill (HR 4954) that was later passed, 98-0, and now goes to conference with the House.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted to remove the airport-screener hiring limit.

This week. Both chambers will take up bills to establish military tribunals for trying terrorist suspects.
And we've already received a preview of that, haven't we?

The Shield And The Sludge

This Editor and Publisher story reports on Bushco’s opposition to a federal shield law for journalists, with time running out for the 109th Repug Congress to act on this law and ensure the free flow of information that we need to make informed decisions in this country.

(I mean, of course the Repugs have to oppose this. It’s a no-brainer. Can’t have those pesky journos sneaking around and checking up on us and holding us accountable, can we now?)

I’ll admit that there’s nothing newsworthy about that. However, the name of the person arguing in support of the shield law did catch my attention.

And that person would be Ted Olson.

I haven’t really found an answer to this question, but why would a totally unrepentant Repug sympathizer like Olson support shield law protection for journalists?

Why would someone hip deep in The Arkansas Project (which Joe Conason explains as part of his story on Olsen here) care about freedom of the press (to say nothing of the fact that, as solicitor general from 2001 to 2004, he coordinated defense of the legal challenges to this administration’s lawless anti-terror strategy)?

This excerpt from a article may shed some light:

Olson has often represented the news media and has argued in favor of a federal shield law for journalists. This, even though he has served Republican administrations which have launched leak investigations and have been largely hostile to the press. Olson sees no contradiction. Is there anything The New York Times could print, he is asked, that would make him unwilling to defend it? "I doubt it," Olson replies. "I can't think of any circumstance where The New York Times wouldn't deserve a really good lawyer." There is only one kind of client Olson would probably decline, he says. "A terrorist. I would have a problem with a terrorist."
This is understandable since Olson’s wife Barbara, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, was killed when the plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 (though I recall Barbara Olson’s talk show appearances with loathing for her vitriol against the Democrats, I still sympathize with Olson for the tragedy).

In the five years since his loss, Olson says, he has not connected often with other relatives of 9/11 victims. "I didn't have the time or the emotional resources to do my job and also connect with victims' families," he explains.
Don’t think for a minute that Ted Olson will ever “turn over a new leaf” in opposition to the Repugs and their sympathizers for whom he carried water for many years, and may yet do again (as the story notes, he is now in private practice).

But on this occasion, he should be commended for advocating passage of the federal shield law. It’s nice to come across someone in league with the crooks running our government who actually shows a conscience from time to time.

The "Crazy Curt" Chronicles

OK, it’s official now; according to this link, the Pentagon inspector general's office said yesterday that a review of records from the Able Danger unit showed the unit could not have stopped 9/11, and refuted most of the claims made by Curt Weldon.

Also, the latest Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report labels Weldon one of the 20 most corrupt Congressmen in the nation!.

And here is a link to Joe Sestak’s great new ad (I’ll try to embed the ad here later since my YouTube issue was resolved, thanks to Blogger support).

And to help Admiral Joe, click here.

Stuck In The "Doughnut Hole"

As reported in the Bucks County Courier Times, Patrick Murphy held a press conference in front of the BJ’s Wholesale outlet in Falls Township, PA yesterday with a lady named Charlotte McClellan who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Ms. McClellan was receiving her meds covered under Medicare Part D, but that is about to change since she has reached what is called the “doughnut hole,” which means a gap in coverage for her medications as part of the Medicare Part D fiasco foisted on us by the Repug congress.

(I don’t have a link to this at the moment, but I’ll put one up as soon as it becomes available; the paper used to be atrocious about that, but they’ve done a good job with it recently.)

Patrick noted that, although Mikey wasn’t in Congress at the time this disgusting farce of a bill was passed, he hasn’t done anything to fix the problem either. Mikey responded in the paper today that “he has fought the Bush administration to repair problems in the program.”

I’ll tell you what; here is a link to the “Mike On The Issues” page from his campaign web site, specifically his health care page. Do a search on the page for the phrase “part D” and let me know if you find anything, OK, because I didn’t.

Oh, and I love the quote from Mikey near the end of the story that he would “consider supporting” negotiations to buy drugs in bulk as Patrick proposed months ago but only “if it would lead to lower cost and better service for Medicare beneficiaries.”

Does it sound like Mikey is being dragged kicking and screaming into this position to you also?

This link takes you to a story of a woman in Arkansas suffering from a plight somewhat similar to that of Ms. McClellan, and this takes you to a backgrounder piece on this mess from Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

Also, in response to Mikey’s tepid endorsement, I’d like to highlight this quote from the Arkansas News story:

(Congressman Marion Berry) said he doubts the Republican leadership in Congress will allow a vote on his bill, HR 752 (co-sponsored with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill to try and fix the “doughnut hole”) this year. However, he said the bill will be a priority if Democrats win control of Congress in November.
And you can bet that Patrick would be part of that fight also.

Some Friday Blues

Jonny Lang performs "Lie To Me" (the announcer at the end may be from Brazil, according to the note at YouTube...that brunette "works for me," by the way - God, how can that guy be both so young and so damn good??!!).

On another level, the title of this song is my canned response to anything I hear from our corporate media about Bushco reaching some compromise with the Repugs in Congress, which apparently just took place over Dubya's torture policy, implying that there was an actual disagreement between those two parties as opposed to something utterly concocted for media consumption only.

Update: Though this post really isn't about the torture policy, here's a good Kos post on the subject (I just linked to some incisive thoughts on this in the upper right column).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vote For "Cleanup Chris"

This Guest Opinion appeared this morning in the Bucks County Courier Times (having nothing to do with the editorial board, so you can be sure of its integrity).

It was written by Chris Serpcio who, as noted, is the Democratic nominee for the 10th State Senatorial District. He is a former chief deputy district attorney for Bucks County. He and his wife, Maureen, have three children (and I defy you to find another candidate for Pa. state government who is putting out as many good ideas as Chris does here).

Even before I considered running for state Senate it was abundantly clear to me that the political culture in Harrisburg was more concerned with its own privileges, pensions, and perks than with moving Pennsylvania forward. Incumbent legislators have forgotten that government is supposed to serve the people, not their own special interests.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has failed to adequately address issues that are critical to Pennsylvania like property tax relief, access to health-care insurance, and overdevelopment and sprawl.

Although I initially felt the same degree of frustration as many others who believed that nothing would ever change, I began to develop a peculiar sense of optimism premised on the notion that in time of need, change can emerge out of crisis.

The most important principle I intend to carry forth is the notion of a “citizen legislature.” I don’t believe the Pennsylvania General Assembly was ever intended to be a life-long vocation for career politicians. We need to elect people who will bring their varied life experience with them into the legislature for a defined period of time and then leave. We should adopt reasonable term limits of 12 years; no more than three terms for state senators and six terms for state representatives. Our elected officials should provide a few years of public service and return to the private sector. They should not become permanent members of a governing class.

I will bring to the Senate a variety of life experiences that I’ve accumulated over the past 23 years as a former prosecutor, lawyer, college professor, mentor, community activist, husband, and father.

I’ve determined that the re-election rate for an incumbent in Pennsylvania’s legislature is about 98 percent. My opponent is an incumbent Republican legislator with all the advantages of incumbency. In order to maintain the advantages of their incumbency, many rank-and-file members have ceded power to leaders in exchange for things such as access to incumbency protection tools, extra staff, community grants, aka WAM (walking around money), and support for their pet legislation. This leads to a legislature where leadership feels free to move bills that may be unpopular with the voting public – such as the pay raise – in an unconstitutional manner.

In order to break the stranglehold the leadership holds on the rank and file, we should limit the terms of leaders and committee chairs; end the unlimited control of committee agendas by chairs; and either end the distribution of WAM funds, or if continued, make sure that a list of WAMs is published in a searchable data base by legislator and district.

We must act quickly to address the gaping hole in the state’s Open Records Law that currently exempts the state legislature. We should assign a legislative task force to hold Pennsylvania’s legislature to the highest standards of integrity and openness in America for public access to government documents.

At long last we must adopt a tough lobbyist registration law that is uniform for both the Senate and the House with online quarterly disclosure by legislator of all lobbyist contacts. All gifts and entertainment to legislators should be banned.

Finally, we must enact laws to bar a legislator and his or her family and business partners from doing business with any state or local agency and with any state-regulated business.

When my opponent, an incumbent Republican legislator, says, “Serpico doesn’t understand; that’s not the way things work in Harrisburg…,” I take that as a compliment. I don’t understand the way it works in Harrisburg. I hope I never do. Because from what I’ve seen, we need a complete break from what hasn’t been working and we need to start over again with a new approach.

It’s time to elect as state senator a citizen-legislator with real world experience who seeks public office not for personal gain, but rather to reform our state government so that it does the people’s business instead of protecting the interests of those already in office.
To help Chris, go here.

Sweating Yet, Mikey?

This was the lede paragraph of the story that Mikey now has a 5-point lead over Patrick Murphy in the election for the 8th district U.S. Congressional seat, which is barely above the statistical margin for error (no link is available yet from the Bucks County Courier Times web site…let’s see if they put one up).

Update 9/22: Here's the link.

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy has shrunk to 5 percentage points, a 9-point jump for Murphy since March, according to a new poll paid for by Murphy’s political party.
This letter to the editor also appeared today in the Courier Times.

Labor Day has come and gone and along with that comes the onslaught of misleading political rants as the November elections approach. One particularly disturbing attack was a letter penned by Mr. Weinstein, which can only be construed as a pre-emptive strike against congressional candidate Patrick Murphy.

Weinstein has a right to his opinion, of course, but he distorted and skewed Murphy’s answer to a question on Israel.

A caller’s question during a recent congressional candidates’ radio debate was in reference to Israel’s right to stage a pre-emptive attack against Iran. Murphy was addressing that very term “pre-emptive.” Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, however, twisted his own answer into a right of Israel to “defend itself” and dodged the issue of pre-emption entirely. There’s a huge difference between the two terms, and Fitzpatrick knows better.

He never was clear on the pre-emption issue.

No one would argue Israel’s right to defend itself, and Murphy has always been publicly and undeniably pro-Israel on that point. However, he stated that diplomacy is also critical, and he warned that pre-emptive attacks are not a first-resort answer to problems between countries.

Let’s not forget that the quagmire in Iraq was created in part by the pre-emptive actions of our own administration in response to faulty intelligence, ill-advised assessments, and a total miscalculation of the can of worms this war would pry open.

I would consider the careful assessment of an Iraq war veteran such as Patrick Murphy over the myopic view of the Bush administration any day.

And I hope that letters such as Mr. Weinstein’s are not going to be typical of partisan distortions in the days to come.

Sam Scalzo
Bristol, PA
That’s a nice wish, Mr. Scalzo, but unfortunately it has not come to pass (and I didn’t see the Weinstein letter – may have glanced at it but probably tuned it out since it was the usual inaccurate refrain against Patrick).

As noted in the upper right corner of this page, October 10th is the deadline for registration to vote in PA, so if you haven’t taken care of this yet, please do so soon (here’s more information).

And as always, to help Patrick, click here.

Hugo's Gas N' Go

I wonder if our lapdog press, as they blare the headline that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called Dubya “the devil,” will pay as much attention to these paragraphs of this news story as they did to what Chavez called our red state president (though somehow I know the answer).

Accusing Bush of neglecting the poor, Chavez started a program last winter for Venezuela's U.S.-based oil company Citgo to sell discounted heating oil to poor American families. It distributed more than 40 million gallons of oil last winter to low-income Americans, and Chavez announced a doubling of that this winter.

He also referred to his past threats that he could cut off oil exports to the U.S. if it tries to oust him.

"Believe me, if I were to decide tomorrow to stop sending oil to the United States ... the price would go up to $150, $200 a barrel. But we don't want to do it, and we aren't going to do it," Chavez said. "We ask only for respect."
And I love the quote from U.N. Rep. John Bolton calling Chavez “a junior note taker” (hey, how’s that confirmation going for you, Mr. “if the U.N. Secretariat lost 10 stories it wouldn’t make a bit of difference”?).

I should add, though, that I don’t approve of world leaders calling each other names, and that goes for everybody.

Update 9/22: Yes, I posted on this story of course, but the name calling was way down on my list when it came to what was important. I think that the fact that Chavez is providing heating oil for people in this country who need it while our government ignores that problem is what matters more than anything else here.

My Favorite Things

This Saturday marks the 80th birthday of John Coltrane, who lived for a time in Philadelphia, so here's "My Favorite Things" (I don't know who the musicians are here, but my guess is that McCoy Tyner is playing the piano and Elvin Jones is the drummer).

This was recorded in 1961, so please keep that in mind as you watch and listen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Time To Lighten Up

I don't know about you, but I could use a laugh, so here's a bunch of clips featuring Stewie Griffin from "The Family Guy" (video is pretty even but volume rises a bit part of the way through).

Time In A Bottle

Also, today marks 33 years since the death of Jim Croce in a plane crash (God, time has just run away), and I can think of no more appropriate song than this one (with A.J. as a toddler, of course...his story from the Wikipedia link about his dad is truly inspirational as well).

As great as he was, I think an unsung figure in popular music during that period was Croce's musical partner Maury Muehleisen, who died with Croce also.

Rest Ye Well, Jimi

Monday September 18th marked the 36th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix (only 27), and as an appreciation, here's "Hey Joe" from the Monterrey Pop Festival.

A Lot Of Dough For Ceiling Fans

So Home Depot is going to review the compensation of Chief Executive Bob Nardelli in lieu of the company’s lagging stock price.

Neither this character nor his company gets one shred of sympathy from me, nor should they from anyone else. I don’t know about you, but regardless of which employer I’ve ever worked for, once the company’s share price hit that magic 10 percent minus number, it was layoffs all around. And this guy will keep his job and only face the possibility of taking a dip in his enormously ridiculous compensation ($123.7 million since becoming CEO in December 2000).

As noted here, Home Depot was one of the companies to benefit from Bushco’s tax giveaways, which I guess is what happens when you donate $3.2 million to these crooks, as Home Depot did in the last presidential election.

So I would ask that you keep this in mind the next time you need floodlights, Allen wrenches, turpentine or electrical tape on short notice.

Besides, Lowe’s is better anyway.

Sliming Joe Wilson Again

(This post also has to do with Bob Menendez though, so that's why his photo appears here.)

I haven’t said much about the NJ U.S. Senate campaign between Dem Bob Menendez and Repug Baby Kean, but it looks like it’s going to be a dead heat to the very end.

This is a ridiculous development because, though I’ve was lukewarm when Gov. Jon Corzine named Menendez to fill his vacated Senate seat, this is absolutely no contest in terms of qualifications for office. Menendez is also a seasoned professional (as shown here), and all Baby Kean is going to do is trade on his name (which has a lot of cred in Jersey) and go “nyaah nyaah, tax and spend liberal, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Hillary, nyaah nyaah,” and that’s going to be his campaign (along with some questionable commenting activity by Kean’s campaign manager).

In the world of corporate media, though, I should point out that the Courier Post carried this column yesterday about Menendez campaigning with Joe Wilson, which must have been a “rip-and-read” special from the Gannett News Service.

I had two main issues with the article (aside from the "controversial" label in the headline - what Wilson has said and done is pretty "black and white" as far as I'm concerned), as shown in these excerpts…

Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador whose attempt to discredit one of Bush's most dire prewar assertions on Iraq's weapons program has become a controversial flash point in the war debate, said the U.S. military should not be used for "wars of choice."
“Attempt” to discredit? The Niger letter about Saddam Hussein trying to buy yellowcake for uranium was a fake, and Wilson stated as such categorically with no proof of the letter’s authenticity offered in response. What is in dispute about that at this point?


Wilson became part of a complex controversy after publicly challenging a key Bush assertion on Iraq's weapons program.
“Complex”? Try explaining what you’re saying and I’ll decide for myself, OK?

Critics have said Wilson overstated his evidence, but Wilson claimed the administration sought revenge by disclosing his wife's role as a CIA operative to reporters. Recent reports show the first leak to the press came from outside the White House.
This is factually accurate as far as I can tell, but as I mentioned when I criticized Broder about this last week, it is taken completely on faith that, somehow, Richard Armitage, working in the state department, provided the name of Valerie Plame to Bob Woodward independent of the Bush White House (as if ANYTHING in this administration happens without the approval of Karl Rove), with Broder even going as far as to say that Rove was owed an apology (unbelievable). All of this adds up to supporting the typically ridiculous quote from Kean spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker.

By the way, I thought these two entries from the Wikipedia article on Armitage were noteworthy.

On March 2, 2006, bloggers discovered that "Richard Armitage" fit the spacing on a redacted court document, suggesting he was a source for the Plame leak.

On May 10, 2006, Armitage was elected to the board of directors of the ConocoPhillips oil company.
Can you say “quid pro quo,” boys and girls?

Mining Not Truth, But Delusion

I never miss a chance to read Michael Smerconish’s posts at HuffPo (or to at least scan over them) and then read him getting eviscerated in the comments. Often, it makes my day.

His latest gripe is over his recent attendance at a Roger Waters concert in which Waters – gasp! horrors! – made comments of a political nature that Smerconish didn’t like, which prompted him to start heckling Waters.

I mean, he had to, right? How dare Waters exercise a measure of free speech! I mean, that’s an automatic excuse to start acting like a bully and an oaf, isn’t it?

And to think, Smerconish actually wrote a book complaining about “political correctness.” I would point out that “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor” when it comes to that, but I’m sure he wouldn’t bother to try and understand.

So, as a tribute to Smerconish, I hereby offer this (apologies to Pink Floyd, of course)…

So, do you think you can tell
Smerky’s mad, just as well
It’s a tired refrain
Censorship of free speech is beyond the pale. So why does he rail?
Don’t you think he can tell

For a concert he paid his hero the most
But Waters displeased, so he’s no longer “the bees knees”
How come Smerky changed? His love for Dubya’s deranged
Iraq has soured from war with our service people in a cage

How I wish, how I wish you weren’t here
From the “kool aid” he chugs shilling for the Repugs
Year after year
Smerky argues adroit, but what he seeks to exploit
Are the same old fears
I wish you weren’t here
And for Waters, I wish to add only this: Shine on you Crazy Diamond!

A Pimple On The Butt Of Democracy

(Hey, you think it’s easy to come up with titles for these posts?)

As we all listened to Dubya’s glorious speech full of his typical bubble-boy hyperbole about how peachy it is that free people throughout the middle east are embracing political reform and more would if only they’d just rise up and get rid of those nasty leaders who keep oppressing them (I mean, we all did listen, didn’t we? Or, at least, some of us, right? Any of us? Show of hands…), I found myself harking back to more glowing words from the red-state president that you can link to from here (I’m sure it must have been a site to behold in November 2003, watching Shrub invoke the name of the sainted Ronnie R. among the faithful repeatedly as the throng sighed in something which is probably as close as they come to orgiastic ecstasy).

Dubya’s speechwriters managed to name every country at that time where there was at least a rumor of some kind of activity related to a free press and open expression of popular political opinion, except one glaring omission. Can you guess which country that might be?

If you guessed Pakistan, then you get a free copy of “The Path To 9/11” on DVD, which includes a photo of Flush Limbore posing with all of his cute Disney pals (autographed by Flush himself), along with a complimentary pair of mouse ears that you can wear while watching.

As democracies go, Pakistan is a mess. And Dubya is due to meet with General Pervez Musharraf in a couple of days, so maybe it might be a good idea to talk to him about democratic reforms, right? And if I thought that would lead for real to something like what Dubya talks about, then I'd favor it; the problem is that this was part of the rationale for the Iraq war at it turned out, and to assume people in that area of the world would automatically embrace democracy is about as naive as you can get (which, sadly, most of us knew and others have learned the hard way).

And it might be dangerous by Musharraf to actually allow reform anyway (this is where Dubya’s pristine image of a “democratic, free market” middle east blows up in his face), since so much of that country hates our guts (and the feeling is mutual as far as I’m concerned), seeing as how Pakistan and Afghanistan are the biggest nation states out there that are sympathetic to al Qaeda. And their idea of democratic reform for Pakistan might be the ritual execution of the general currently in charge.

No sane person wants to see that, including me. But somehow I’m sure this is on the minds of those in charge of countries in that region who understand how they’ve been “painted into a corner” by Dubya’s stupid “us versus them” rhetoric.

And if I were Musharraf, I’d keep a loaded pistol by my side at all times, play ball with us, and do what I have to do to stay alive. I don't like the guy either, but the alternative is al Qaeda running the whole country with nukes at its disposal.

So let's save the jingoistic, naive speeches and instead try to keep Musharraf breathing for as long as possible, OK?

Update: Yep, I'd say "Fear And Smear 2006" is in full swing right about now (almost not deserving of mention, really, and in the blink of an eye, Dubya would say something to contradict that anyway - and here's some context from georgia10 at The Daily Kos).

Mikey The "PAC" Man

If it seems like I beat up Mike Fitzpatrick pretty regularly at this site, it’s only because he completely deserves it.

(By the way, sorry I don't have a link for this editorial at the moment):

Doylestown Intelligencer – Friday, September 15, 2006

Takes One to Know One (Doylestown Intelligencer Editorial Board)

GOP stretches in criticism of Murphy

It's a little like the pot calling the kettle black: the state Republican Party's criticizing 8th congressional District candidate Patrick Murphy for attending a $250 per person fundraiser in Washington DC for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

The state party's executive director, Scott Migli, took a shot at Murphy and three other Democrats who are waging challenges against incumbent Pennsylvania Republican congressmen in the Dems' effort to recapture control of the House they lost 12 years ago. Migli called the four challengers "political pawns of Nancy Pelosi and the national Democratic Party."

It must drive those who follow politics crazy to hear their party, especially Republicans who support Fitzpatrick, spout such drivel, especially on behalf of Fitzpatrick, who never met a PAC contribution he didn't welcome, who sends or approves slick election mailing masquerading as newsletters and pays for them with taxpayer dollars, and who only the other day on local TV invited President Bush to Bucks County. What with Fitzpatrick's disagreements with the administration over handling the war in Iraq, environmental protection and Social Security, to name a few, we're not so sure Fitzpatrick's invitation is motivated by the warm fuzzies. But we know the first-term incumbent loves the idea of Bush's financial drawing power and has unabashedly accumulated a huge war chest to help him retain his seat in Congress.

To criticize Murphy for attending a modest $250 fundraiser put on by the leading Democrat in the House seems not only petty. To us it indicates a desperate party, one that is looking for something – anything – with which to discredit a member of the opposition. We think it's a credit to Murphy that he received an invitation to the Washington event, a tit-for-tat following a Murphy-Pelosi fundraiser last month in Philadelphia. Obviously Fitzpatrick is seen as vulnerable, something many incumbents of both parties are not.

We hope that in the weeks ahead the state Republican Party has better things to do than quibble about a lousy $250 fundraiser by the Democrats while their own candidates are raking in far greater sums from business and corporate giants that have grown fat thanks to favorable GOP policies. We think Fitzpatrick should be embarrassed by Migli's statements and not hesitate to dismiss them as so much ranting that doesn't represent his feelings on the matter.
Note to the Bucks County Courier Times editorial board; if you people had an ounce of impartiality in the election between Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy, you would have already printed this.

And while I’m on the subject, I should point out that whatever credibility you have concerning your editorial section is deteriorating as this election progresses. Aside from the letters and guest opinions of many other writers that are interesting (on both sides, but more often from liberals and progressives), you continue to publish drivel from acolytes of Fitzpatrick that question Patrick Murphy’s religion, which should be rejected out of hand.

In a post on Monday about Joe Sestak (who has a new TV ad that’s really great…yes I know I’m partial, but it is – sorry I’m currently having issues with uploading from YouTube that I’m trying to resolve or else I’d have it here already), I linked to this column by Chuck Todd of Hotline who wondered why the Repug slime machine isn’t going after Patrick yet.

They don’t have to. The Courier Times is already doing it for them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fifty Ways To Win

More from Dr. Dean...

We're trying something different for the next 50 days -- and the payoff could be historic.

For the first time in decades, we Democrats have a true 50-state operation on the ground. Over the last year and half, we've invested in building the infrastructure for a permanent Democratic Party -- one that doesn't need to be rebuilt from scratch for every election.

How is this going to pay off this November, in what could be the most momentous election in a decade?

We're transforming our 50-state strategy into a 50-state voter turnout operation for candidates up and down the ballot everywhere.

The election is in 50 days -- will you make a donation now to fund the unprecedented 50-State Turnout operation?

This work has to be done. Candidates everywhere are fighting every day to get their message out and organize supporters. Whether it's getting our message out about changing course in Iraq, getting serious about destroying bin Laden and al Qaeda, restoring fiscal sanity or finally providing health care for everyone, there's a lot of work for our candidates to do.

Our 50-state strategy gave many of them a head start by getting an operation in place early in this election cycle.

For the next 50 days it's up to us to come through with a 50-State Turnout operation to win elections in every state.

The future of our party -- and our country -- depends on it.

Thank you,
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- There are some great examples of how the 50-State Turnout is coming together in this U.S. News & World Report article from a few weeks ago. Read these excerpts and then make your donation:

Dean's List
By Dan Gilgoff
U.S. News & World Report

DIAMONDHEAD, MISS.--Here's what the front line of Howard Dean's revolution looks like: two dozen senior citizens seated inside this gated community's clubhouse listening intently as operatives from the state Democratic Party pitch them on becoming precinct captains. A rep named Jay Parmley approaches an oversize easel and flips to a page showing John Kerry's share of the 2004 presidential vote here in Hancock County. "28%" is scrawled in magic marker. "Kind of scary," Parmley says.

But he flips the page to show former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's share of the vote here in his unsuccessful 2003 re-election bid: "43%." The discrepancy, Parmley explains, shows that the better Mississippians know a Democrat, the more likely they are to vote for him. Which is why he's here recruiting precinct captains. If Democrats can define themselves on a "neighbor to neighbor" basis, Parmley says, their candidates can win again, even here, in a red county in a red state.

If that doesn't sound revolutionary, consider this: Mississippi's Democratic Party hasn't trained precinct captains for more than a decade. Until recently, the state party consisted of a single full-time staffer. In 2004, the Democratic National Committee invested so little here that activists shelled out thousands of their own dollars to print up Kerry yard signs. That all changed last summer, when newly elected DNC Chairman Howard Dean began rolling out his "50-State Strategy," a multimillion-dollar program to rebuild the Democratic Party from the ground up. Over the past year, the DNC has hired and trained four staffers for virtually every state party in the nation--nearly 200 workers in all--to be field organizers, press secretaries, and technology specialists, even in places where the party hasn't been competitive for decades. "It's a huge shift," Dean tells U.S. News. "Since 1968, campaigns have been about TV and candidates, which works for 10 months out of the four-year cycle. With party structure on the ground, you campaign for four years."

You can read the whole article here:

You can donate to fund the 50-State Turnout operation here:

More Repug Voting Games

From the People for the American Way...

Key Republicans in Congress continue to spend their energy trying to disenfranchise voters – and it’s beyond distressing. Just two months after Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act (VRA), Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) would like to erect new barriers by passing legislation that would specifically disenfranchise minorities and the poor, the very people the VRA was designed to protect.

Rep. Hyde’s so-called “Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006” (H.R. 4844) would require all voters to obtain and show government-issued photo ID that proves their citizenship before they could vote. Since most states do not issue such drivers' licenses or other official IDs, this means voters will have to pay for new types of ID – or get passports. For those who can barely make ends meet, this proposal is little more than a poll tax – especially considering that neither Rep. Hyde nor his allies can conclusively document the “voter fraud” this purports to prevent.

We are writing to you because Rep. Fitzpatrick is one of only a few key members of Congress who have yet to make up their mind – and the vote is close! Please call today and urge a “NO” vote on H.R. 4844.

Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick
Phone: (202) 225-4276

After you call, please let us know how it went with
our online call report form and then forward this message to your friends and ask them to take action.

This is one of the most restrictive voter identification bills we’ve ever seen. An outrageous election-year attempt to give credence to the right-wing myth that undocumented immigrants are fraudulently voting in mass numbers, it places a huge physical and financial burden on voters.

Please take action now and call your representative now. A floor vote on H.R. 4844 is expected tomorrow!

Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick
Phone: (202) 225-4276
I just emailed Fitzpatrick at's definitely worth a shot.

You Can’t Run And Hide, Joe

I guess I really should provide a score card since there are a few “Joe’s” out there these days, including Admiral Joe Sestak and The Usurper Joe Lieberman, but for this time around, let’s take a look at Joe Pitts over at the 16th Congressional District (yes, we have to – sorry).

Do you know that this guy has thus far refused Lois Herr’s invitation for a single debate (sponsored by the League of Women Voters)? I guess this is what happens when a career politician becomes completely isolated from his constituents and wilts in the face of actual competition for his job.

What’s the matter, Joe? Are you afraid to be held accountable for your putrid voting record?

Update 9/25: Lois will debate Pitts on Oct. 11 at 12:30 at the Farm & Home Center in Manheim Township. The debate is sponsored by the Lancaster Rotary Club, and the cost of $12 includes lunch. Attendance is limited to members of the Rotary and their guests.

Let’s send all the “bloggy goodness” that we can in Lois’ direction and help as our means allow. She’s fighting the good fight for all of us. And there are just too many Repugs in government like Pitts for us to pass up this chance to support a fighter who wants to send him packing.

Hands Off Net Neutrality!

This letter (about halfway down the page) appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning concerning Net Neutrality, written by Mike McCurry and Christopher Wolf of the Hands Off The Internet Coalition, which sounds like a do-right, civic-oriented bunch; the problem is that it’s being bankrolled by the telecoms who want to do exactly what McCurry and Wolf claim Net Neutrality will do.

There is no need for vast new Internet "neutrality" regulations because American Web users already have significant protection against online discrimination. Well-established federal rules guarantee consumers' right to access the legal content of their choice and specifically prohibit any broadband provider from interfering.

Equally important is the inevitable harm to consumers if Congress gets involved in regulating the Internet. The Communications Workers of America has repeatedly urged Congress to oppose these new rules, citing higher prices for Internet users, fewer choices, and a slow-down in industry job growth. The impact on jobs is particularly troubling since America already lags far behind other nations in providing affordable high-speed Internet service.

Many historically underserved areas remain in need of high-speed access choices. But suffocating regulations that curb job growth will only delay or halt the deployment of new networks in these areas - and keep costs unnecessarily high for all of us.
OK, guys, nice work to peddle your load of crap to everyone. Here’s too much money – now go spend it however you want, having done your part to try and cripple innovation and free expression.

I’ve been meaning to get around to this anyway because of a column that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last week (9/15), which may be the worst drivel I’ve ever read on this issue.

User, Beware, Your Internet Freedom Is In Danger
Nothing like a good "scare" headline, is there?

Sam Zeisloft is the former Pennsylvania Christian Coalition chairman and Erie County Republican chairman. Clay Mankameyer is the former Pennsylvania Christian Coalition executive director and the former Christian Coalition Northeastern Regional Director.
By the way, “former” is noteworthy here because the Christian Coalition supports Net Neutrality – this issue reaches across partisan political lines.

As a free marketplace of ideas, the Internet has flourished throughout the world. Without government interference, the Internet has proved to be fertile ground for American entrepreneurs, making countless fortunes for investors and private citizens.
Primarily in the 90s through both diligent, hard work and IPOs of stock inflated by people like Frank Quattrone; the authors conveniently fail to mention that Al Gore helped secure funding for development during that time as Vice President.

Some parties who have taken advantage of this unrestricted area of opportunity now want to scare and confuse Americans into unfair regulations that will ultimately stifle the freedom and growth of the Internet.

Large companies, like Google and eBay, are using complicated language to deceive Americans about proposed regulations that only help these companies’ bottom lines while hurting consumers and internet providers. They’ve even misnamed the issue “Net Neutrality” claiming to want fair and equal access for all. It sounds great, until you realize what they’re actually saying.
To learn what Net Neutrality is all about, by the way, click here, particularly since the writers don’t bother to explain it of course. As you can see, there’s an incredibly diverse group of people and organizations supporting this fine cause.

Take for example your experience with this newspaper. You paid a few cents for today’s edition and the advertisers who bought space throughout the paper paid the rest.

Readers, advertisers, and the paper itself all benefit from this. But if “newspaper neutrality” regulations were imposed, its effect on readers like you would be like the government saying the paper can no longer charge advertisers for space, therefore all the costs of the newspaper would be shifted to you, the reader.
The authors don’t really explain what net neutrality is before they attack it – I can say a lot more here about the how the costs for community web sites such as blogs and others are assumed by the authors and site proprietors and are relatively cheap vs. newspaper costs, so the comparison is ridiculous, and the telecoms that oppose net neutrality have been getting tax breaks and have been allowed to charge whatever fees they want for years, so the playing field isn’t equal to begin with.

The incredibly disingenuous “inside out” argument by people like McCurry and their ilk is that net neutrality will lead to increased usage fees because of government regulation, which is ridiculous of course. The fees will go up anyway, unfortunately – it’s a matter of how much and how quickly. The real issue is whether or not the telecoms, under the guise of collecting fee revenue, use this as an opportunity to impose usage restrictions (not really a question actually, since that’s already going on, as noted here).

So what is net neutrality exactly?
Oh, so NOW you’re going to try and explain it after you’ve criticized it? Nice…

Well, here’s the FCC’s definition as described in a May Wall Street Journal editorial…
That’s an unbiased source...sure it is.

“Enter Net Neutrality, which has so far found its only official expression in a non-binding policy statement issued by the FCC last year. The FCC statement says, ‘consumers are entitled’ to the ‘content,’ ‘applications,’ and ‘devices’ of their choice on the Internet. They are also ‘entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.’”
Damn nice of the WSJ to so magnanimously allow us to have what we should be entitled to anyway, and by the way, that doesn’t even come close to explaining what Net Neutrality is really all about.

Take a moment to pause over this expansive list of ‘entitlements.’ If we take the FCC at its word, access to online pornography is now a right…”
Oooh, the internet “boogeyman” rears its ugly head! Whenever someone wants to trash the Internet, they immediately bring up pornography, forgetting about the incredible wealth of other positive features of the World Wide Web. I should point out, of course, that I don’t care for some of the truly unpleasant stuff out there either, witnessed by the unbelievable quantity of porn spam that finds its way into my Yahoo Email account. But this is the price you pay, unfortunately.

Clearly, the law of unintended consequences looms large when special interests seek sweeping new Internet regulations.
I don’t know what that sentence means, and I don’t think the authors do either, but oooh, it has the “special interests” hobgoblin in it – re: Dems, liberals, unions, environmentalists, etc.

Creating new regulations is not the answer. With “Net Neutrality,” a new bureaucracy would be required to handle the endless litigation these rules would cause.
What rules? That sentence is utter nonsense.

That’s more taxpayer dollars to fund the expensive and unnecessary interference with the Internet. When the market and economic forces of competition are working successfully, why are we manufacturing a problem to fit this pseudo solution?
I see that these guys have been tutored well at the knee of Frank Luntz and other Repug propagandists.

As a service regulated by natural market forces, the Internet has the flexibility to adjust to fit the demands of American users. The market-forces system allows constant revisions to handle technology’s ever-changing nature. Even the best intentioned government regulations run the risk of unintended consequences and market failure.
“Market Failure”? Gee, that’s actually some new Repug boilerplate as far as I know…

And by the way, am I the only one who has noticed that, aside from the selective WSJ quoting above, attribution for anything is nowhere in sight here?

If research and development are not encouraged, the Internet stands to lose billions of dollars in investments. We need that funding to bolster our economy and stay ahead of foreign competition.
You mean “the phonies” need that funding for their unnecessary fees because they can’t - or won't - compete fairly in the marketplace.

A faltering Internet economy means higher prices for users and, more importantly, a stagnant innovation-free industry. In a world-wide race to maintain our leadership in technology, we simply can’t afford that risk.

Any company that e-mails you to ask for your support of “Net Neutrality” is concerned only with its own bottom line. These companies profited from the fair market system as start-up businesses, but now they’re large and want to saddle the end consumer with all the cost of increasing bandwidth. It isn’t fair to give them that power.
This is absolutely unconscionable, since, as I noted earlier, those who oppose Net Neutrality are trying to do this very thing.

We should not let special interests lock in their marketplace dominance and leave consumers holding the bag.

Allow the system to continue innovating and keep government and greedy manipulators away from the Internet.
If it weren’t for “government,” the Internet wouldn’t even exist!

Congress had it right years ago when our representatives decided to stay out of the industry. The system is working. Let’s keep it that way.
This is some expert-level disinformation being peddled here, and we need some real effort to counteract it.

So please go to and find out where your elected representatives stand on it; so far, I can’t find a single Dem that opposes it (I have a feeling Ben Nelson does, though – just a hunch), and as far as I know, every Repug does. That speaks volumes right there.

The simple fact of the matter is that, unless Net Neutrality is signed into law, this blog and probably thousands of others will eventually disappear. Don’t for a minute think that the Repugs don’t have that on their agenda. Just remember what happened to public affairs programming on TV after the media mergers in the 90s; funny, but most of it went away also somehow (Remember “CBS Reports,” and “Our World” on ABC?).

And that will happen again unless we act now.

Petroleum And All Things Self Evident

This urgent report from “The Department Of The Obvious” sections of USA Today…

It’s almost fall, and gas prices are returning to their prior levels after increasing for the summer! President Bush gets a “bounce” in his approval rating to 44 percent with Republican voters returning to the fold (where else would they go, I ask myself? Also, I didn’t see anything in the story about how the study was conducted or in what geographic areas of the country, though I readily admit that I’m not an expert at polling or marketing research).

Update 9/20: Via Atrios, Eric Boehlert provides some context (thank God someone is injecting some freaking sanity into this matter!).

And Willie Nelson is busted for possession of about a pound of pot and some mushrooms (what else would they bust him for? Wearing white khaki pants after Labor Day?).

(Seriously, people, give Willie a break, OK? He’s not dealing, he’s just trying to take care of his stash. C’mon…).

Speaking of gas and energy-related stuff, I found this story about Lukoil from The Moscow Times (I don’t know about where you live, but they’re all over the place in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; from the article, it sounds like they started making inroads in this country by piggybacking off Getty and Mobil but have become industry “players” in short order).

Also on the subject of energy, I wonder if Mikey has anything to report from his little energy hearings a couple of months ago (or was that just so much more election year “cotton candy” from him?).

Finally, I’m just reading about the Q&A session he had with Patrick Murphy at Kings Caterers II at Bristol Township, Pa. – sounds like Patrick presented himself well and Mikey didn’t commit any gaffes either (Mikey still holds a slight edge…let’s help Patrick keep trying to whittle that down and take the lead!).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunday Ferris Follies

Even for the impossibly low standards of failed Editorial Page editor and right-wing hack Kevin Ferris of the Philadelphia Inquirer, I think you can consider this “scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

Once again, this, like Chuck Williams’ attack on all things that actually are liberal or merely perceived as such, this is considered acceptable editorial commentary under the reign of Brian Tierney and Philadelphia Media Holdings (as I pointed out last week, the paper decried anyone for opposing “The Path To 9/11” but failed to disclose that they had purchased a full-page ad for the movie that appeared in the paper the next day).

Also, I’d like to communicate something else to the editorial page writers of this paper: ladies and gentlemen, you people are not funny. You’re not cute or incisive or “cutting edge” in your writing in any way, shape, or form. Stick to the facts, and if you can’t write based on that, then don’t write at all!

(Some people would probably consider me to be as funny as root canal, but here’s the difference; I’m not getting paid for this, and the Inquirer editorial writers are.)

To: Robert A. Iger
President and CEO
The Walt Disney Co.
Burbank, Calif.

From: U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.)
Majority leader-to-be
TV producer wannabe
Sometime believer in the First Amendment
Oh cute, Ferris, you pinhead…if you’re such a believer in the First Amendment also, then why don’t you go out and watch “Fahrenheit 9/11” and give us a detailed review so all of your freeper pals can read it along with the rest of us, OK?

Dear Bob,

It is with deep regret that the Democratic leadership in Congress notes that your network, ABC, aired the mini-series The Path to 9/11 on Sept. 10 and 11, recklessly disregarding our threat... er, collegial suggestion... that you do otherwise.
A suggestion also made by 200,000 petition signatories, historians Arthur Schelsinger, Jr. and Sean Wilentz, and former president Clinton, by the way, as noted here.

We really couldn't have been clearer in our Sept. 7 letter. I quote, in part: "We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program."

You even ignored pleas to "tell the truth" by former President Bill Clinton, whose picture I have pasted in my dictionary next to the entries for honesty and accuracy.
Ferris almost makes this too easy sometimes. What can you say about an ideologue that dares to make a comparison between a president lying about sex with an intern and a president lying about an illegal war that has killed or injured thousands upon thousands of people and cost over $300 billion dollars? But then again, I guess that silly things like facts and reality don’t matter when you’re “drinking the Kool Aid.”

Perhaps you felt free to ignore our threat... er, collegial suggestion... because we are currently the minority party in Congress. This was shortsighted of you.

First, let me acquaint you with the power that even a minority can muster when a majority of that minority is in a mustering mood.

Effective immediately, no member of the Democratic caucus, House or Senate, and no spouse or child of a member, will be allowed to utter the phrase I'm going to Disney World. Allowances will be made for those who already have scheduled or expect to schedule junkets... er, fact-finding missions... to that great state.
And in Ferris’s myopic view of pseudo-reality, only Democratic politicians take high-priced junkets of questionable value, something Repugs would never do, right?

Further, Democrats will soon be introducing a nonbinding resolution in support of the International Astronomical Union's downgrading of Pluto, moving him, as I understand it, from top-drawer Disney star to supporting dwarf.
Can anyone imagine a life form in existence in the universe that would be amused by that remark? If so, please enlighten me.

Second, it is now clear to me that you have missed the headlines about the forthcoming Democratic tsunami poised to sweep us into power in the House and Senate. This historic event will unleash an era of multicultural joie de vivre that will pacify insurgents and terrorists the world over, topple with diplomatic kindness the tyrannical regimes of North Korea and Iran, and see Americans embracing their inner New Deal, too long suppressed by tax-averse Republicans.
I thought this was supposed to be a slap at the Democrats for protesting the Disney 9/11 fiction, but I suppose Ferris, in an effort to placate his playmate Jonathan Last, his boss Brian Tierney and their other freeper pals, has been given carte blanche to release any invective that pops into that tiny particle of brain matter that he is so desperately trying to cultivate through neural synaptic accidents.

Good for us. Not so good for media conglomerates that put their First Amendment rights above the collegial suggestions of those of us who truly know what's best for American families to watch on TV.
As my lefty blogger “betters” and I have noted, it is truly worth a chortle to hear freepers like Ferris invoking the “first amendment” over Disney’s disingenuous fraud of a movie when these people were the first to complain about the treatment their beloved Ronnie and Nancy R. received in that soap opera about them a few years ago…they were frothing at the mouth to keep it from airing on CBS and had it moved to the Showtime cable network – that was such a triumph of “free speech” also, wasn’t it?

Thus, please be advised of the changes that will result with our ascent to power. Henceforth:

All documentaries, docudramas, movies of the week, mini-series, sitcoms or infomercials that mention Democrats in anything remotely approaching a negative light will be previewed by the Office of Partisan Scrutiny, led by the epitome of accuracy and fairness in filmmaking, the Academy Award-winning auteur Michael Moore.
Oh, and Kenneth Tomlinson didn’t put his imprimatur all over PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, right? And his nomination hasn’t even been voted down, but only “frozen.” I guess that’s how the Repugs punish one of their own.

And as I noted earlier, Ferris impugns Michael Moore without making any substantive comments on his films (and he could file some legitimate complaints if he wanted to, but they would only be anecdotal, certainly about “Fahrenheit 9/11”). This is “par for the course,” I realize.

White House requests for airtime from now until January 2009 will not be approved until any and all presidential speeches, statements, declarations or attempts at homespun humor have been vetted by the Ministry of Mendacity, cochaired by former CBS anchor Dan Rather, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton and former ambassador Joe Wilson. (The first two are confirmed, but we're still verifying who recommended Mr. Wilson for the post.)
I read this and I recall some of the truly great writers who have worked for the Inquirer, some of whom taught me at another time like Dick Cooper, as well as William Marimow and Tom Gibbons, people who had more talent in one of their cuticles than someone like Ferris would ever have in their entire bodies. How the Inquirer has fallen into disrepute since that time, so much so that someone like Ferris, some wretched scab of a wannabe writer, would actually be granted column space, is symptomatic of the business as a whole unfortunately.

Current series will be updated. For example, in That '70s Show, instead of the kids hanging out in Eric's basement, we'll have them grow up and move to Capitol Hill.
I’ve never seen that show, though I’ve heard it’s good, so I’m particularly bewildered by that remark.

Eric (Ned Lamont), Kelso (John Kerry), Hyde (Jack Murtha) and exchange-student Fez (special guest, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) will reminisce weekly about the glory days, the late '70s. Some sample themes: "Losing a War Isn't Really So Bad"; "Learning to Love Being Humiliated by the Islamic Republic"; "A Humbled Superpower Is a Happy Superpower," and "FISA, Pop Rocks and 8-tracks, All Still Hip." Alas, Eric's dad will no longer be central to the show. But we'll have his picture (cameo appearance by Joe Lieberman) on the wall, tagged "Casualty of War."
As Atrios says, “OWWW! THE STUPID! IT BURNS!!"

So let’s see…assuming there’s anything remotely related to common sense in that last paragraph – a stretch, I know – it sounds as if Ferris is trying to draw some equivalency between John Kerry, John Murtha, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I’d pay for the privilege of watching Murtha dress down Ferris face to face over that one (I have no idea whether or not Ferris served, and I’m not going to waste my time trying to find out). And I know Kerry has been making noise about the Swift Boat liars lately, but though I respect Kerry, he’s “a day late and a dollar short.”

And in his freeper frenzy, another synapse fires off and Ferris decides to throw Joe Wilson into the mix (and FISA law is irrelevant to Ferris also, of course, as well as the notion that Connecticut voters are intelligent enough to see Joe Lieberman for the utter fraud that he is and vote for Ned Lamont based on other issues besides the Iraq war).

Next week, more details on our plans to keep politics and partisanship out of future Sept. 11 commemorations.

Enjoy the rest of your Constitution Day.
What? No gratuitous winger reference to Ward Churchill? You're slipping, Ferris.

I should point out that, yesterday, the Courier Times published a column by Dan Thomason on the ABC movie, and I read most of it since it was still better than anything Ferris had to say, until I got to the line "Bush had only been in office 8 months before 9/11"...I don't think anyone ever noted that "John Kennedy had only been in office a few months before the Bay of Pigs" (he was blamed for it, as he should have been, though I think he recovered, and Dubya should of course be treated the same way).

Also, regarding 9/11, there's the lumping together of intelligence failures with Bush and Clinton in an effort to make Dubya look legitimate, and I even saw a note in Thomason's column that "this goes back to the Carter administration," but why is it that Reagan always gets a pass here? If it hadn't been for our interference in the Russian-Afghan conflict, bin Laden and al Qaeda would not have had the opportunity to learn about weapons and tactics from us when they fought as part of the mujahadeen against the Soviets.

Finally, it might be a good idea for the Inquirer, about which editor and executive vice president Amanda Bennett once hilariously boasted that “we are the Internet in Philadelphia," to allow comments to the columns by their brilliant writers such as Ferris instead of saying at the bottom of the column "Email so and so at their address." Had they done that in this case, I’m sure the comments would have truly been memorable.