Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday Videos

Jackson Browne's birthday (58 - oh my) is coming up Monday, so here's "Jamaica Say You Will" from 1972...

..and "Lawyers In Love" from "the land of the '80s."

The "Swiftboat" Has Landed

I knew this would happen at some point.

I absolutely knew it.

Given the fact that the race between Mikey and Patrick Murphy is as close as it is, I KNEW it was only a matter of time before Mikey and the Repugs resorted to this slimy tactic.

Let's not forget that this is the same group of people that, almost exactly two years ago, slimed then-Democratic congressional candidate Ginny Schrader by saying that she, a Jew, supported Hezbollah (the prediction from Fact-esque at that time that Mikey would cave on every decision in favor of his right-wing handlers the way he caved by refusing to blame the RNCC for the Hezbollah ad was 100 percent correct).

With the same total absence of a spine then as now, Mikey organizes a press conference with the group Veterans For Fitzpatrick that has suddenly given birth to itself as if by magic (as I noted below, the Inky can't count, but the Repugs can count to at least 527, if you know what I mean) and then, after listening to Air Force Major Kevin Kelly and Army Capt. Richard Barbato question Patrick's service, Mikey says...

"In no way, shape or form would I ever question Pat Murphy's service to our country."
I can't imagine the life form that Fitzpatrick must be for him to state these words while any sentient being with a pulse and any cognitive activity whatsoever hearing what he says knows beyond a doubt that THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT FITZPATRICK IS DOING!

(Here's a link to the main story, and of course the Courier Times thought this was worthy of additional coverage...and Brian Scheid and the paper actually report with a perfectly straight face that "Fitzpatrick abandoned Bush's 'stay the course' policy last month," when in reality, Mikey hasn't 'abandoned' a damn thing.)

I should add that this cretin Barbato said in the story that Patrick "was always back at the unit's headquarters while the rest of the unit's soldiers were fighting."

That is utter garbage.

The story did go to the trouble to point out that, according to Patrick's military records, he served seven months as a paratrooper and a regimental judge advocate, advising on the legalities of combat operations, overseeing Iraqi courts and police stations and prosecuting American soldiers for drug use and abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Patrick also said that the warehouse 14 miles south of Baghdad where his brigade was headquartered frequently cam under mortar and sniper fire.

Also included in the story is an appropriate comeback from Patrick totally calling Mikey on this nonsense, as well as these words from John Kerry who supported Patrick in the story also:

"I have news for Mike Fitzpatrick. In war, bullets don't differentiate between lawyers and medics, enlisted men and officers."
I know there will be much more forthcoming on this in the coming days, but please allow me to point out something else concerning this "story."

Yesterday, an article appeared in the paper about Patrick meeting with Tim Roemer of the 9/11 Commission at the Woodbourne Road train station to point out the fact that Mikey and the Repugs haven't done a damn thing to improve rail security. The Courier Times ran the story on Page 5 of the Local News section.

The story of the "Swiftboating" charge was the front-page headline today (overtop the story of Clinton's arrival next week to campaign for Patrick).

The stench of winger bias was just about palpable.

Update 10/7: It turns out that this group Veterans For Fitzpatrick (which, not surprisingly, must have deep pockets) has put a HUGE ad board at the intersection of Route 332 and Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield, PA, timed ever so well with the press conference they held yesterday with Mikey where they swift boated Patrick.

That location, by the way, is the same as that of Stony Hill Farms, which just started its Halloween festival, full of family activities including a "moon bounce" for the kids, haunted house and "Hayride of Horror" (oddly appropriate, actually).

And as you can imagine, the traffic is pouring right into that location (and right past that disgusting ad board).

The Repugs are masters of marketing, I'll give them that; smear Patrick while the Courier Times does its "Mikey Steno Patrol" bit, and then, after Mom and Dad read about it in the paper, drive out for weekend stuff with the kids and have the message reinforced loud and clear.

And Mikey continues to act like he doesn't know about any of this, and all of this timing is completely coincidental.

This reeks of a typical Repug 527 operation; Mikey gets hammered on the war and the fact that he votes in lockstep with Dubya and the Repug leadership, so in come these Veterans For Fitzpatrick clowns to slime the opposition.

As I've said before, we in the 8th district deserve much, MUCH better than this.

Update 10/8: What Atrios sez (along with Taylor Marsh at HuffPo)...

The Inky Forgets How To Count

This letter appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial section this morning:

Thank you for a job well done in coordinating the Trudy Rubin, Dick Polman and Kevin Ferris columns in the Sept. 24 "Currents" section. I appreciated the way each column addressed the notion that many in our country are blinded by partisan rage with little or no cognizance of where actual progress is being made, and where real failures are taking place.

While I often disagree with Rubin, I find her challenging me to establish a viewpoint beyond rhetoric. Her piece on the president's international critics was brilliant in its assessment of the dangers of embracing the likes of Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Hassan al-Bashir for their "witticisms" while ignoring their disregard for basic human rights. I would posit that these leaders are not simply emboldened by our struggles in Iraq, but that they are keen to the value of "Bush-bashing" in our entertainment-driven culture.

As usual, Polman has a sharp eye for the public pulse in the political spectrum. As an independent voter, I thought I was alone in being disappointed by what appears to be a president straying off message, with little or no intelligent response from the opposition. I have no problem with critics who wish to question where we're headed in Iraq; I'm kind of curious myself. But I need more than playground insults ("He's an idiot") to make me change my mind about whom I want making decisions.

Thank you, Kevin Ferris, for reminding us that, despite the rantings of a handful of pundits, there have been huge gains in antiterrorism and homeland security. It is important to remember that there have been no major, or even minor, terrorist acts on our home soil since 9/11. Isn't that what homeland security is defined by? There certainly are many more adjustments that will need to be made if we are to continue to survive and thrive in a changing world. But there is reason to be optimistic.

These columns serve as excellent reminders that our society works best when we trust our leaders, we trust each other, and we challenge each other with knowledge and truth. Petty jealousies and empty blather serve no one other than network executives.

Chuck McIlhenny
Johnstown, PA

I’m not going to answer what McIlhenny is saying in this letter, but instead I only wish to point out the following:

The Inquirer’s stated policy on letters to the editor is that they should not exceed 200 words.

The word count of McIlhenny’s letter?


Ah, but it praises Kevin Ferris, criticizes Trudy Rubin somewhat and gives kind of a wishy-washy opinion on Dick Polman.

And that, of course, dovetails nicely with the political opinion of Bruce Toll, Brian Tierney, and the rest of Philadelphia Media Holdings, L.L.C.

I see – it all makes sense now.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Video

I mentioned yesterday that one of Doomsy's axioms is that, if Bob Edgar is involved with something, it's probably a good cause.

Here's another axiom; there is no such thing as a bad time to hear Metallica (here's "Unforgiven").

Getting Milked By Neil’s COWs

The acronym stands for “Curriculum on Wheels,” which is what Neil Bush sells to classrooms nationwide as a member of the instructional software industry, which has raked in about $1.9 billion in large measure as a result of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), sponsored by Neil’s brother of course.

Sounds like Neil is “making a ‘go’” of things this time around, and as it always seems to work with this family, money seems to fall in your lap at the most opportune moments for you.

As noted from this story...

The stars haven't always aligned for Bush, but at times financial support has. A foundation linked to the controversial Reverend Sun Myung Moon has donated $1 million for a COWs research project in Washington (D.C.)-area schools. In 2004 a Shanghai chip company agreed to give Bush stock then valued at $2 million for showing up at board meetings. (Bush says he received one-fifth of the shares.) In 1988 a Colorado savings and loan failed while he served on its board, making him a prominent symbol of the S&L scandal. Neil calls himself "the most politically damaged of the [Bush] brothers."
I think this provides us an opportunity to look at the extent to which NCLB is an utter farce, illustrated in part by this excerpt from Deborah Meier’s fine article that appeared in The Nation in May 2004.

NCLB proposes to accomplish a statistical impossibility (that all children score in the top twenty-fifth percentile); it raises false expectations; it's built on an illusion that tests alone can--and should--measure worthwhile standards; that schools can do it all; that progress comes in steady increments; that penalties will motivate children and teachers; that lack of money is a mere excuse; that a single nationwide system is part of the American dream; and, finally, that schools can do it all. The law literally dictates the books we are allowed to use on a national basis, not to mention the pedagogy for teaching literacy and, coming soon, math. Before long, until eighth grade, little else will get taught at all.
To be fair, though, it should be noted that the idea of frequent testing as a means to solve educational problems has existed at least since the time of Bush Senior, and it was advocated by Clinton also (he did not argue it was a panacea for elementary education the way Dubya has tried to, though).

And what happens when we take a cold, hard look at NCLB, by the way? Well, I think this note from Meier’s story reveals a lot.

…when Houston's graduation and dropout data--put forward when Education Secretary Rod Paige was superintendent--was revealed to be blatantly false, the myth of the "Texas miracle" should have been forever put to rest, but the scandal disappeared from the headlines within days and it remains alive and well.
And just to refresh our memories, here are some more golden NLCB moments with Margaret Spellings ( here, here, and here).

So it sounds like Neil Bush is only the latest to capitalize on the NCLB feeding frenzy (typical for the Bush family history as noted here). The problem of course is that he is helping to sacrifice the educational opportunities for our kids in the name of feathering his own foul nest.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/06)

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.

(It was a really, REALLY bad week, boys and girls…)


Intelligence findings. The House defeated, 217-171, a Democratic motion for a closed House session to consider a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes U.S. involvement in Iraq has helped fuel the spread of global terrorism.

A yes vote backed the motion.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.) and Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., 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.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Straight party-line B.S. from the Repugs on the most important issue facing this country (and here's more from Frank Rich - hat tip to The Unknown Candidate).

Not voting: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.). Castle missed all votes last week because he is recovering from two minor strokes; he was released from Christiana Hospital in Newark on Wednesday.
I’d heard about this – our prayers and best wishes go out to Rep. Castle for a full recovery (and this is a hell of a vote for Crazy Curt to miss).

Interrogation rules. The House passed, 253-168, and sent to the Senate a bill that sets rules for interrogating terrorism suspects and trying them before military panels. The bill (HR 6166) affirms the Geneva Conventions but allows broad presidential leeway to determine interrogation techniques.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
Along with just about every left wing blogger in the known world, I posted on this here and here last week (and Molly Ivins also had a good commentary on this).

Domestic spying. The House passed, 232-191, and sent to the Senate a bill to codify the administration's program of domestic eavesdropping without Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. The bill (HR 5825) would permit spying on terrorism suspects in the United States for 90 days without FISA warrants.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.
The bill also permitted spying on American citizens who, in all probability, have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism or ever would, by the way.

Surveillance limits. The House rejected, 221-202, an alternative to HR 5825 (above) that sought a seven-day rather than 90-day limit on domestic eavesdropping without court warrants.

A yes vote backed a stricter limit on warrantless spying on terrorism suspects in the United States.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.

Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.
As far as the Repugs are concerned, they can do a hell of a lot more data mining to determine our medical histories, ancestries and party affiliations, among other information, in 90 days than they can in seven.

Minors' abortions. The House passed, 264-153, and sent to the Senate a bill (S 403) that would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion to evade a parental notification law in her home state, except when the abortion is necessary to save her life.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
I’m sure the Dobsonites were smiling over this; I commented that, as a parent, I definitely would want to know about what my son or daughter were up to in a situation like this, but I don’t consider this a common-sense counterbalance to the draconian anti-choice laws in other states that have passed or are being argued or contemplated at this moment (but just remember, the Dems are the party of “big government,” not the Repugs…).

And another interesting "yes" vote for Tim Holden, by the way...

Religion lawsuits. The House passed, 244-173, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 2679) that would prohibit courts from reimbursing the legal costs of plaintiffs who prevail in lawsuits against governments over taxpayer-funded religious displays, such as Nativity scenes.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.
Typically gutless, mean-spirited Repug crap here…what possible purpose could a bill like this serve except to poke a finger in the eye, metaphorically speaking, at anyone who may have a legitimate grievance about whether or not the separation of church and state is observed in our government?

I hereby make a prediction: one day, a court will rule this bill (assuming it is ever signed into law) to be unconstitutional.

Defense spending. The House approved, 394-22, the conference report on a bill (HR 5631) appropriating nearly $448 billion for the Department of Defense in fiscal 2007, including $70 billion for at least six months' actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate later approved the bill, 100-0, sending it to President Bush.

All Philadelphia-area representatives and senators voted for the bill, except Castle, who did not vote.


Tribunals, interrogations. The Senate passed, 65-34, a bill setting rules for the imprisonment and trial of individuals regarded as U.S. enemies in the fight against terrorism. The bill (S 3930) was nearly identical to HR 6166 (above), and a combined measure was sent to President Bush for his signature.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
Kudos to Biden for standing tall, and Carper wimps out as usual…I know this vote will help Menendez on balance in his fight against Baby Kean, but this was not a distinguished moment at all for Frank Lautenberg.

Terrorism suspects. The Senate rejected, 54-43, a bill proposed by the Armed Services Committee on the treatment of "enemy combatants." In part, the committee bill required strict adherence to the Geneva Conventions, prohibited prisoner abuse and included the right of suspects to examine and respond to all evidence presented against them. This vote made way for passage of a bill (S 3930, above) backed by the administration that authorized harsher treatment and fewer rights for terrorism suspects.

A yes vote backed the committee bill.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.

Voting no: Santorum and Specter.
As of this vote, I don’t ever want to hear again about how Arlen Specter is a “moderate.” In his latest two-step, he supported the habeas corpus rights of prisoners (see below), but when the proposal was rejected, he voted for this travesty anyway, marching in party lockstep as usual. He showed all of the strength and toughness of a bowl of overcooked vermicelli on this one.

Habeas corpus. The Senate rejected, 51-48, a proposal to establish habeas corpus rights for prisoners in S 3930 (above). This vote affirmed the bill's stripping federal courts of habeas corpus jurisdiction in terrorism prisoners' cases.

A yes vote backed the habeas corpus right for terrorism suspects.

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

Voting no: Santorum.
Votes like this are the reason why Little Ricky is losing to Mr. Casey Jr.

Ahead. Congress is in recess until Nov. 13.

For information on how to contact your member of Congress, go
What you have just read is the transcript of one of the most inglorious weeks in U.S. Congressional history, roughly approximating Dubya’s heinous 2003 State Of The Union address in terms of the damage it has wrought to our republic.

Though this does not quite mark the conclusion of the 109th Congress, it marks the end of major legislation given the distinct possibility that this body will be recomposed for the legislative session beginning next January.

And after watching this circus unfold for the last few months, I can think of no reason whatsoever why all of us should not do everything in our power to replace those responsible on November 7th.

Can Joe Go Any Lower?

Why was I not surprised in the least to see that PA 16th district U.S. House Representative Joe Pitts supports U.S. House Speaker Repug Dennis Hastert, currently embroiled in the Mark Foley controversy of course?

Why, in the totally bizarro world of Repug “moral-values”-campaigning politicians, does it make sense somehow for someone like Pitts, who will howl in a heartbeat over the removal of the Ten Commandments from the Chester County courthouse, to defend someone who ignored the actions of a child predator for 11 years who happened to be a member of his own political party?

Fortunately, Lois Herr has spoken out eloquently here on the folly of Pancake Joe, and provided more reason (as if any were needed at this point) to support her.

And concerning Pitts, all I can say is that at least one other person thinks (?) the exact same way he does (and even Jim “The Fixer” Baker also – how about that?).

Getting "Railed" By Mikey

I think that sometimes it must be nice to live in Mike Fitzpatrick’s universe (though, if I found myself in such a bizarre place, I’m sure I’d run screaming for the exit as soon as I could).

It must be a place where words and talking points are actual accomplishments in an of themselves without requiring action or anything approximating actual constituent service (such as his plan, based on a DRBC recommendation, to ask New York City to lower its reservoirs to 85 percent capacity that, in a best-case scenario, would reduce the amount of water that could flood homes in Bucks County along the Delaware River by about one inch, or his neat idea to ask for a plan for the Iraq War – I didn’t say “new” plan since that would assume that we actually had one to begin with – from this entity known as the Iraq Study Group).

See, to Mikey, that means that he’s actually doing his job. Just get face time with the media, lob a typically snarky quote out there against your opposition, and let the Bucks County Courier Times write another editorial about how great you are because you’re “one of us.”

(Oh, and by the way, on the Foley matter, Mikey shows valiant leadership again by calling for “a hard investigation of the facts” without either signing a letter of support for Denny Hastert or calling for his resignation as Patrick has…ladies and gentlemen, we deserve better than this.)

Where am I going with this? I’m glad you asked.

The Courier Times ran a news story today (link here) about Patrick Murphy’s press conference with Tim Roemer at the Woodbourne train station in Middletown Township, PA (Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, was a member of the 9/11 Commission). Both decried the fact that nothing has been done to protect the regional rail lines in this area or other means of mass transit.

Enter Mikey.

“Once again Pat Murphy is following my lead when it comes to securing our nation’s transit systems,” he said according to the news story. “Rail transit security has been one of my top priorities in Congress.”
But as noted in the previous paragraph…

“Congress has not voted on (something called the Railroad Security and Public Awareness Act of 2005; the paper states that Mikey co-founded the House Passenger Rail Caucus), which was referred to the House Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cyber security a year ago.”
So you see, “Pat,” Mikey has done something. He referred the bill from his subcommittee to his party leadership running the House.


Well, suppose one day (God forbid), someone leaves a suitcase in one of the R3 passenger cars during the morning or evening rush hours full of explosives, and it is detonated as the express trains are passing through with the maximum passenger capacity.

I drive by the Middletown Township train station regularly. It is a huge facility.

In that awful event, it is highly likely that lots of people would be killed or wounded.

And nobody would give a damn whether or not Mikey’s bill had been forwarded out of a subcommittee or not.

I don’t have anything else to add, only that you click here and help Patrick as much as you can to rid us of this Republican pestilence.

Hail To The Chief

Here’s more info on the campaign rally for Patrick Murphy hosted by former President Bill Clinton next Wednesday October 11th at Mill and Pond Streets in Bristol, PA. Come on out and support the best candidate we have for making sure Mikey returns to private life on November 8th.

This time of year, by the way, it becomes apparent how hard it is for Democratic candidates to outraise Republicans – I’ve seen at least two billboards touting Mikey’s “independence,” and I know it’s not necessary again to demonstrate once more how patently false and ridiculous that claim is (more on that in a few minutes).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Video

Janis Joplin, once of Port Arthur, TX, died of a heroin overdose at Hollywood's Landmark Hotel on October 4th, 1970, so here's "Ball and Chain," from 1967 I believe (kind of a raw video from that time, which doesn't dilute the power of her performance one bit).

(I read once that a movie of her life was going to be filmed with Renee Zellweger in the title role. That sounded pretty interesting - wonder if anything ever came of it?)

Miss "Today" Yet, Katie?

Gee, how’s that Evening News program from the Conservative Broadcasting System working out for Katie Couric (links here and here...hat tips to Atrios for both)?

Not so good, huh?

What a shame.

I found this column on the subject of this news program written by Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg, FL Times in March of 2005 (ancient history now, but still interesting), and it contains some information worth noting:

Under (CBS News president Andrew) Heyward's tenure, the news division hasn't groomed a successor to Rather or figured out how to make the tightly wound anchor more attractive to viewers. The network's promotions department even sends out news releases featuring "Danisms," those oddball phrases Rather drops during extended coverage stints in what he seems to think is a burst of folksy wisdom (my fave head-scratcher: "If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun.")

Such news releases may seem like a nod to Rather's unorthodox style. But all they really do is give a legion of TV writers ample material to further lampoon an already awkward figure - who just happens to be the news division's lead face.

And amid increasing questions of credibility, effectiveness and accountability at CBS News, it doesn't help that the top two guys in the division emerged largely unscathed in a supposedly independent report on the biggest journalism scandal of the year (the “Bush/National Guard” thing, of course).

As talented as CBS TV president Les Moonves is, he and Heyward have an awful track record when it comes to programming news. The longstanding success of 60 Minutes has camouflaged a network that plunged from first to worst in the evening news race and has been unable to create another successful prime time newsmagazine franchise.
The column does go on to praise Bob Schieffer, who achieved ratings success of a fashion before Couric was installed.

Deggans also had this good idea.

My suggestion for revamping the Evening News is much more modest than those spitballed in public by network showman Moonves: Move the show to 7:30 p.m.

One problem with today's network news shows is that they air too early to catch an American workforce working longer hours and stuck in significant commutes. These days, many workers are greeted by Jeopardy or reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond in the 7:30 p.m. "access" time period leading to network prime time.

Why not give viewers something substantive instead: a real news show that highlights all the significant issues of the day at a time when most Americans can watch it?
Nah, I’m sure granting more air time for Flush Limbore will do the trick (as opposed to unkempt, nasty little liberal bloggers like yours truly, of course).

Don't Forget The "ic," Ms. Schiavo

Inquirer reporter Christine Schiavo has profiled Mikey and Patrick Murphy the last two days in the paper’s Metro Bucks County section; yesterday, she wrote a piece on Fitzpatrick and his hometown connections, and today she featured Patrick and his service.

I’m not really going to take issue with much of what she said because I hold beat reporters and feature writers to a different standard than I do editorial writers and commentators (it’s possible that Schiavo was told to play up the Fitzpatrick “local” theme – which I still think is weak – and the Murphy “military service” theme).

It’s very rare that I would take issue with something a reporter wrote, though once Brian Scheid of the Bucks County Courier Times went out of his way to report that no area Democrats in the U.S. House opposed a pork-barrel spending bill that Patrick opposed a couple of months ago, which I thought was unnecessary; I only cared how Fitzpatrick voted, and of course he favored it.

As I read over what Schiavo wrote today about Patrick, I took issue only with the last paragraph, and it’s possible that it was just a matter of sloppy editing:

Murphy's candidacy is often typically Democrat. He toes the party line in supporting abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research. But he has said he voted for Bush in 2000, and he breaks with other Democrats in his support of the Patriot Act, warrantless searches, and secret courts.

"The war on terror," he told an audience at a late September debate, "has changed things."
This was the only acknowledgement of Patrick’s positions on other issues, and as you can see, it was flimsy at best (I’ll investigate the other claims in that paragraph about Patrick apart from this – not exactly where I come down, but Patrick is an infinitely better alternative than Mikey).

But the “Democrat” reference is nothing but a nod to the freeper faithful (and once more, Hendrik Hertzberg explains what’s going on with that here).

Today's Spiritual Interlude

There was once a time when the performer Chubby Checker (yeah – really “taking this out of mothballs,” I know) would pop up from time to time with a hit record that would get played on the radio, and we would all laugh at his dippy little dance songs until he was profiled on the ‘70s (I think) T.V. show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” one day and we all found out that the music he made that we used to laugh at had made him rich enough to buy all of us and all of our relatives.

There’s a lesson there, but I’ve never been able to figure out what it is.

Anyway, this attempt at a parody is based on one of his biggest hits (and this news story):

Benny proclaims that, for sure
No more Limbo anymore
Islam never thought it true
Now for Catholics, nor do you
In the third world, they’re the faiths
That they never desecrate
So this pabulum for the flock
Says that Limbo is a crock

Limbo came upon the scene
At time of
St. Augustine
It was there dead babies went
Who took not the sacrament
But sweet charity is missed
In this strange “hypothesis”
So let’s hail this new device
Send them straight to paradise

Make sure you move that Limbo far!
Don’t want to be a Limbo star…
How low could they go?
And you have no idea how hard I tried to rhyme the word “Protestant.”

The Toll Of Hypocrisy

This was one of the most unintentionally funny editorials I’d ever read (and truly sad in a way also), and it appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday.

An Owner's View
Boycott Citgo and Chavez

By Bruce Toll

Americans have had reason to dislike their oil companies over the last year, with gasoline-price spikes contributing to record profits. For the most part, though, oil companies are both victim and beneficiary of world events beyond their control.
This is the kind of milquetoast commentary concerning oil companies as a whole that you'd expect from an owner of a car dealership, by the way.

However, the head of one oil company has chosen to let political objectives trump normal business concerns. Citgo is the national oil company of Venezuela, and that country's president, Hugo Chavez, has thrust himself into the middle of world events by practicing a particularly cynical form of politics throughout Latin America and the rest of the world.
I suppose Citgo hasn’t purchased any ads in one of Toll’s papers, though that consideration never affects its editorial content, does it now?

Yes, we all know what Chavez is, Bruce, but here’s something Chavez does because our political “leadership” doesn’t have the time, desire or intestinal fortitude, apparently, to do it themselves.

Chavez was in Iran this summer, standing shoulder to shoulder with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he denied both Israel's right to exist and the Holocaust itself. Chavez further embarrassed himself at the United Nations last month by referring to linguist Noam Chomsky as deceased and equating President Bush with "Satan" and the "devil." As a result, even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called Chavez a "thug," and Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D., N.Y.) felt called upon to defend "our president."
The “even” before Nancy Pelosi is a subtle dig – yep, I picked up on that – and I can guarantee you that this is the ONLY context in which a Republican would defend Noam Chomsky.

As Americans, we know how to fight economic pressure with economic might of our own: Simply refuse to buy any Citgo products. We have no reason to support an oil company that does not have the best interests of Americans in mind.
I seemed to recall that, when Philadelphia Media Holdings took over the Inquirer, Toll and Bruce Tierney promised that they wouldn’t have a say in the news or editorial content of the Inquirer or the Daily News. I wonder how many of the paper’s employees were polled to find out whether or not they agreed with Toll before this was printed?

While Americans may have profound differences concerning the war, in this case even those who oppose the president's policies are unified in his defense. We can unify further by telling Citgo "NO!" We should not reward those who do not offer the proper respect to our country and to the office of the president of the United States.
Dear God (and I won't comment on the laughable "unified in his defense" remark because I have so much else to get to here).

I remember a day (long past, unfortunately) when honorable men and women taught me that we should be strong enough people within ourselves to withstand name calling (the whole “sticks and stones” thing). But I suppose that’s “so pre-9/11” of me.
Now, I guess the Repugs just want us to sing hosannas to Great White Father Dubya all day and marginalize (and if possible, humiliate) those who disagree (such as Smerky’s charming moment at the Roger Waters concert recently).

Well, I’m sure you know me well enough to realize that I wasn’t about to let this go without doing some digging, and I came across this amazing bit of reporting from Ellen Slack, a law school student at the University of Pennsylvania who criticized Toll Brothers, which is a donor to the university.

The response she received to her criticism motivated her to investigate Toll development projects, and what resulted was a four-part series on the company; Part One deals with the history of the Naval Square Development Site in West Philadelphia (an historic site Toll purchased to build luxury homes), Part Two deals with Toll’s escapades when pursuing development in the Dolington section of Bucks County (tied to a veterans cemetery…some months ago, Mikey stated that he would mediate and resolve the issue, but that was another “cotton candy” moment for him) as well as projects in Valley Forge and Fredericksburg, VA, Part Three deals with issues of sprawl and land use, and Part Four documents the environmental impact of Toll’s development projects.

To say that Toll is used to getting its way is an understatement (and as far as Bruce is concerned)…

An interesting factoid about Bruce that seems to have been swept under the carpet since the Inquirer purchase and his new-found prominence is the little matter of a $25,000 loan he made to former Congressman Jon Fox (of Montgomery County, PA) back in 1992. Exactly when in 1992 was never quite clear, and it was an issue because it might or might not have been during Fox's campaign.

Six years later, in 1998, there were no indications that the loan had been repaid or that there was any plan to do so. Fox was running for re-election and one of his opponents, Jonathan Newman, ran TV spots that accused Fox of lying about paying interest on the loan. Bruce Toll was unhappy about the controversy, so he phoned Newman's father (prominent plastic surgeon Julius “Dr. Nose” Newman) and complained. According to Toll himself (Inquirer, May 1, 1998), he said that his family was getting tired of reading about this in the paper. . . “they might think I did something wrong.”

A conservative group called the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) became involved in the controversy. (They were out to get Fox because he supported the Legal Services Corporation, and the NLPC doesn't think that poor people should have any publicly-funded legal services.) Digging deeper, the NLPC claimed that Fox promoted $10 million worth of public works on land near property owned by Toll Brothers and so benefited the developer at taxpayers' expense. The NLPC went on to document that Fox denied knowing about Toll's ownership of land near the proposed project (in the Lansdale PA Turnpike-exit vicinity), even though there had been news coverage of a visit, arranged by Toll employees, to the site by Fox.

The NLPC also cited another loan to Fox made in 1992: $10,000 from another campaign donor, Richard McBride. It appears that no one, including NLPC, ever realized that there have been connections between Richard McBride and Toll Brothers. Remember Dolington? (See Part 2 of Slack's series). This is most certainly the same Richard McBride who is the law partner of Edward Murphy, and their firm has been Toll's hired legal gun in the Dolington development battle! McBride has also worked for Toll on other projects recently. In any case, with this loan there were just questions about how Fox had or had not reported it, as well as the issue of the $1000 Federal Election Campaign Act contribution limit. The whole story more or less ended in June 1998 when the U.S. House Ethics Committee rejected, perhaps for procedural reasons, the NLCP's request for an investigation into the Toll-Fox loan.

Perhaps Bruce Toll learned a lesson about sketchy loans to politicians, but paying to play can be accomplished within the law and he seems to know how to do that. For instance, the St. Petersburg Times (FL) reported (May 23, 2005) the interesting timing of a letter sent by Republican U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, urging the Army Corps of Engineers (permission required if wetlands involved) to allow a Toll Brothers condo project in Palm Beach . . just two days after company vice chairman Bruce Toll donated $2,000 for Shaw's re-election.

And there was also the matter of Toll selling off its shares of stock when it hit a 52-week high last year, though at the time of this story from last November, the stock had fallen 68 percent (by all appearances, a perfectly legal move).

Finally, there’s the matter of Toll’s political donations (I haven’t been able to find Ed Rendell on any list of benefactors yet, but if he’s out there, then he is the ONLY Democrat who has received any help from Toll Brothers).

Yeah, so I guess we should just kiss off ol’ Hugo Chavez and Citgo since that’s what Bruce Toll wants us to do. Maybe Bruce will make this a regular feature in the Inky’s editorial section then (a “Villain Of The Week?”).

And I guess that means that there won’t be any surprises in the newspaper’s electoral endorsements in a few weeks also.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sting

I missed Gordon Sumner's birthday a couple of days ago, so as a tribute, here's a clip to a performance on "Saturday Night Live" from years ago - a comedy bit, no less, with him taking a turn as Billy Idol (this was one of the funniest damn things I ever saw, featuring the late, great Phil Hartman, and Jan Hooks and Chris Rock were hilarious also...embedding wasn't allowed, so I can only link to it).

Wednesday Video

Hoobastank performs "Inside Of You" at SummerSonic in Japan this year (the regular, non-performance video for this is pretty unbelievable).

No Sale On Crazy Curt

Lots of good stuff is happening for Admiral Joe in the U.S. 7th Congressional district race in PA; he outraised Crazy Curt Weldon in the 3rd quarter of the year, shattering district fundraising records in the process.

(And, as the commenter noted to this PA-7 post, he has kept silence in the Mark Foley scandal, just like Mikey has to date.)

And what does Weldon have to offer in return? Just more nonsense like an attack ad I happened to catch on local TV tonight (admittedly, I don't see a lot of that stuff) - "Sestak wants to raise your taxes! Sestak is bad for small business and will hurt the economy"...

"Whose" economy anyway, Curt? I don't know about "yours," but "mine" has stunk to high heaven since, oh, I'd say...since about JANUARY 2001!

It's so good to see the voters of this district getting ready to put this fossil out to pasture in favor of a really great Netroots Democrat (In the obligatory "I'm Curt Weldon and I approved this message" spot at the end of the TV ad, Curt looked like he'd had too much thorazine).

So, to answer the music question posed in this "YouTube" video, I'd say, yeah...I've have MORE than enough of Crazy Curt (and with Joe maintaining a slight lead in the polls - amazing for the first serious challenge Weldon has faced in years - apparently, the voters of the 7th district have as well).

Also, this takes you to a video the Crashing The States team put together for Joe last weekend when they were in this area (once again, my sincerest apologies to Mike and the team for not following through because of other commitments).

The Vote That Never Was

I’ve kept clear of the race between Lois Murphy and incumbent Repug Jim Gerlach for the U.S. House 6th Congressional District from PA – sorry, only so many hours in the day for yours truly, though Lois is a great candidate – but I absolutely stopped dead in my tracks when I read about this.

In this most recent example (re: a Gerlach attack ad against Murphy), the television ad charged that Lois Murphy opposes providing adequate body armor for troops and cited a vote in Congress as the source. Since Lois has yet to serve in Congress, it is impossible that she could have cast a vote on the bill. Not to mention, Lois has been a staunch advocate of providing our troops with adequate body armor.
The person in the Gerlach campaign who came up with this doozy must have armor around his or her brain.

As far as the congressman himself is concerned on military issues, though:

• Rep. Gerlach opposed expanding access to the military's TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of Reservist and National Guard members, even though 20 percent of all Reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage (just like Mikey - Gerlach is also included in the photo).
• Rep. Gerlach voted against granting a bonus to grant a $1,500 bonus to every American service member serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including National Guard and Reserve forces.
To help Lois, click here.

A Media Type Who Gets It

I really don’t have anything to say about the piece of human waste called Charles Roberts who just perpetrated this barely-speakable horror a few days ago in Lancaster, Pa., mainly because Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky captured my feelings on this so perfectly.

I DON'T WANT to know the details of the pathetic life of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the milk-truck driver who methodically turned an Amish classroom into a slaughterhouse yesterday before taking his own life.

It makes no difference to me that cops describe the suicide notes he left behind as rambling and weird, an indication that he was unraveling well before he prepared innocent children for their execution.

I care nothing about the mysterious wrong he told his wife he'd suffered 20 years ago, which fueled yesterday's mayhem.

All I care about is that, for a classroom aide and two little girls, the last moments of their lives were spent looking down the barrel of a gun, wielded by a coward who hadn't the guts to leave this world all by himself.

He needed others to pave the way for him.

So he took them.

On a beautiful, golden morning in the Lancaster countryside, the son of a bitch just up and took them.

Contempt is not what we're supposed to feel for people who die by suicide, the way Roberts did.

We're supposed to feel empathy for the deceased, sadness for the family, frustration that a person's profoundly twisted mental or emotional state went untreated, or that the treatment he got simply wasn't enough.

For me, that compassion vanishes when the victim purposely takes another life with his own.

Then I don't give a damn about psychiatric diagnoses or long-ago wounds that still ache in the present tense.

The guy becomes nothing more than a cold-blooded killer with a politically correct excuse for his actions.

I wish I didn't feel this way, because I know that suicide is the preventable, desperate act of a person in pain. I know it shatters the lives of loved ones left behind. And my heart goes out to Roberts' wife and kids, who'll live forever with what he did.

But I can't help it: When a person precedes his suicide with murder - the way Roberts' did, the way last week's shooter did in Colorado - all I feel is rage.

Ann Haas, Ph.D., wishes people like me felt otherwise, but she sure gets why we don't.

She's research director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, so she knows about suicide - and its awful subcategory, murder-suicide - more than most.

She stressed that suicide is caused by overwhelmingly intense feelings running the gamut from despair and shame to guilt and self-loathing. When those feelings play out against a background of intense rage, caused by any number of reasons, the result may be murder-suicide.

"The facts of this case as we know them really does indicate that this man was deeply disturbed and enraged," Haas said yesterday of Roberts. "No matter what we feel about the circumstances of his life, it's obvious that he was carrying a tremendous amount of unexpressed hostility. And the results were absolutely tragic."

Over the next few days, the full details of Roberts' life will come out. As they do, I doubt I'll feel sympathy for him, the way I would if the only life he'd taken had been his own.

It's hard to feel sympathy for people whose rage makes them kill - whether they're sane or mentally disturbed, locked up at Graterford or dead by their own hand, making excuses before a jury or explaining themselves in a suicide letter.

Either way, the innocent bystanders to their messed-up lives are still dead, whether killed on the streets of this city or shot in a schoolhouse in the hills of Lancaster County.

The only thing Roberts' form of murder spared the world was a long trial and a jury's verdict.

As for a sentence, he delivered it himself.
I try to stay away from topics like this, but I find myself particularly repulsed by the current cycle of this story whereby our august media gatekeepers decide that it’s in the public interest somehow to put something approximating a human face onto this monster.

As Polaneczky says, if he had been a real man, he would have gotten help. Failing that, he would have offed himself without taking anyone else with him.

One Of Saint Mikey's Mistakes

This letter to the editor appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today (it's been running pretty evenly in support of both Mikey and Patrick Murphy, which is an indicator of how close the race is I believe).

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick should be commended for being such a religious person that he completely follows the beliefs of his Catholic Church. As he indicated in the debate, this presents an impediment to federally funded stem cell research, but as a strong Catholic he is willing to prevent basic scientific research in an area that may help all of mankind.

While this may be popular with some Catholics, this position does not represent my views or, I suspect, the majority of people in this district. In fact, most surveys taken nationally show about 70 percent of Americans of all faiths support the research
Mr. Fitzpatrick opposes. It is another example of Fitzpatrick supporting a Bush position that goes against public interest.

While he was running for President, John F. Kennedy indicated that he would represent all the people and not be subject to manipulation by the Catholic Church. This may have been the deciding factor in his victory.

As each day passes, our present government is becoming more controlled by religious elements in society. This press toward theocracy is a concern of most thinking citizens. All politicians should be guided by strong convictions. However, such convictions must allow them, even Mr. Fitzpatrick, to represent all of the people, not just a small religious minority.

Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy is a leader for all the people. He will not allow a church and a misguided president to usurp a basic principle of this nation which is separation of church and state.

Bobbie Poppel
Newtown Township, PA
I’m actually surprised that the editorial board of the Courier Times didn’t stick in a note after the letter that Fitzpatrick is apparently considering supporting non-embryonic stem cell research (another one of his “cotton candy” non-solutions that disappear the minute another issue arises). See, this demonstrates that Mikey is supposedly open to considering other points of view as long as it doesn’t affect human embryos in accordance with his beliefs…uh huh, sure.

As a Catholic, I believe in the sanctity of life also. The unfortunate fact, though, is that the embryos would be there anyway. If the nonsensical argument that stem cell research encouraged abortion were somehow actually true, I would oppose it. But anyone with brain capacity beyond that of a house fly (which automatically excludes Dubya, I realize) knows what I also know.

And as you can read here once more, our decision to ignore this area of study will result in far-reaching consequences for our families and our country as whole.

(And lest I forget, click here to help Patrick).

Update 1: By the way, I think supporting this would be a good way for Mikey to "walk the walk" instead of just "talking the talk" (one of Doomsy's axioms, and I don't have many: if Bob Edgar is involved, it's probably a good cause).

Update 2: What Atrios sez (Mikey can duck the question of whether or not he agrees with Rumsfeld's "appeasers" remark, but somehow I don't think he's going to be able to duck this also).

Let Your Money Hustle

We know that CNN is trumpeting the rise of the Dow Jones to a new trading high today, but let’s not forget some information about the previous high that I verified from this link (curious that this is a “winger” site).

The all-time high on the Dow is 11,722.98, reached in January 2000.
Also, this reminds us of is how far the Dow has fallen (to a low of 7286.27 just about four years ago).

So, instead of pointing out just how prices have fallen and risen across the board for various exchanges and commodities for the last week or so, how about if CNN provides a little context and reports on the recovery of the Dow from the Clinton-era highs and the Bush-era lows (yes, I know I’m so naïve to hope for that).

Also, this provides some information on the economic impact of the Clinton Administration that was pretty even handed, I thought. Here also is a Think Progress link to more freeper propaganda about how Bush's tax cuts supposedly helped the economy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Make Way For New Blood

This Guest Opinion appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last Monday 9/25 (there are a couple of items I’ve been a bit slow to get around to, and this is one of them). It was written by Joe Martinez of Langhorne Manor, Pa., a retired Air Force master sergeant (married with two adult sons and 11 grandchildren – Patrick Murphy is mentioned at the end).

Finally the American public is beginning to wake up to the political nightmare that has been allowed to permeate this country. It was appalling to read that the Wright family has held power in Middletown Township, PA for 41 years. First James Wright, followed by his son, Matt.
Matt Wright, by the way, is one of the PA state senators who voted for the unvouchered-expense pay raise as part of that fiasco in the summer of 2005 (at least one other is the departing Joe Conti).

As I noted on a separate post at the time…

Republican State Rep. Matthew Wright justified the 16 to 34 percent pay raise the legislature authorized about a week ago, saying it took “courage” for him to vote for it. He partly used as justification the fact that he “has to be on call for his constituents on a 24/7 basis.”

Wright, however, had no comment on the fact that PA legislators receive the following perks: $129 in expense money for every day they’re in Harrisburg; up to $650 a month or $7,800 a year to lease a car; fully paid health insurance valued at $13,000 a year; and a fully paid pension.

As the Bucks County Courier Times noted, “The increasing cost of health insurance alone has wiped out the salary increases most people have seen in recent years. In all likelihood, millions of Pennsylvanians are taking home less than they were a few years ago.”
Back to Mr. Martinez…

Assuredly, these long tenures exemplify what has gone wrong with our nation’s political system. Lawmakers are permitted to stay in office long beyond their capacity to remain focused on their constituents’ and the national interest. After a prolonged period, they run out of new ideas, boredom sets in, and they become unproductive.

Laws must be established to permit only two four-year terms to prevent politicians from staying in power and becoming stagnant, corrupt and power hungry. We criticize politicians in other countries for staying in power for life, yet some of our politicians do the same thing.

You often observe lawmakers being carried by their aides. Are we to believe these individuals are still capable of formulating policies? Indeed, they rely on their aides to arbitrate and to wake them up for photo opportunities. Let’s stop fooling ourselves!

Long-tenured politicians become entrenched in a web of power and influence, so self-absorbed in planning re-election strategies, that they neglect their primary duties. They become dictatorial, arrogant and imperialistic. One of the longest serving politicians in Washington, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, held the country hostage for $450 million for two bridges, including the “bridge to nowhere.”

This is just one example of the national resources being bled by lawmakers to protect their political positions. This is obviously the result of not having “checks and balances.” Bipartisan cooperation is non-existent. The political doctrine has become malicious, cutthroat and leveraged and supported by lobbyists. The exposure of Jack Abramoff revealed corruption that is destroying the fiber of our democratic principles.

Lifetime politicians must be replaced with younger individuals not groomed by political operatives dictating the continuation of their agendas. We need new individuals with integrity that are up-to-date in today’s world – energetic, intelligent, with visionary minds focused on a better future.

Installing more experienced politicians is clearly not advantageous. They are the corruptible as witnessed by the seasoned Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice. They were specifically chosen to advise a less experienced man, President Bush. The state of our country, lack of leadership, and the disastrous world events are ample evidence that this philosophy does not work.

We have newcomers with 21st-century minds in the political arena. Worthy of mention is candidate Chris King. Chris has been working in the halls of Harrisburg since he graduated from college and has demonstrated the positive attributes mentioned above. He has hands-on experience on Harrisburg’s inner workings. It is chilling to hear him, as an insider, describe the waste that transpires without accountability. This is one of the reasons that inspired him to seek election as our state representative to stop the waste of taxpayers’ money.

Another man who has experience in what really is happening in the Middle East today is Patrick Murphy. He seeks the office of U.S. Congressman. Patrick served his country honorably in Iraq in spite of the deception. He preserved and remained loyal to his country until he was discharged from the Army. He now seeks to effect changes and a way to sort out a new and honorable path for our country.

These are the types of men that we must elect to office. They have clear minds uncorrupted by political operatives and lobbyists. They are working tirelessly for the opportunity to serve in our behalf to make a difference. I urge you to look beyond your political affiliation. Set aside what you hear and read in the media and listen to these individuals.

These are visionary young men dedicated, highly intelligent and obviously fed up with the status quo of the long-term incumbents’ failures to lead this country in the right direction.
And as always, to help Patrick, click here.

Help Burner Scorch The Repugs

This came my way from Jim Dean from Democracy for America on behalf of Darcy Burner, running against Dave Reichert in the 8th congressional district in Washington State.

The November election is a referendum on the status quo. Congress has blindly followed the President as he leads America in the wrong direction. No oversight. No questions. Absolutely no accountability. The President wanted to attack Iraq. They gave it to him. Torture? Sure. Spy on Americans? Go for it. This Congress doesn't know how to say "no."

It's time for Dennis Hastert and the Republican leadership to go.

On November 7, we have a chance to change direction. We can change this country if we change leaders in Congress. Darcy Burner is one of the best and will help turn this country around and move America forward. Will you help her with the resources to win?

Click here.

The daughter of an Air Force veteran and a public school teacher, Darcy Burner has lived the American dream. She worked hard in school, put herself through college, and went on to a successful career at Microsoft. Now she's taking on an incumbent Republican in Washington's 8th district to become a voice for working families. The district has never voted to send a Democrat to Congress, but it voted against Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Polls show that Darcy's race could go either way. That's why Karl Rove came to town in September to headline a fundraiser for her opponent. You can help beat the right-wing Republican machine and send Darcy to Congress by contributing now.

Click here.

As we've seen in Washington over the last few days -- a change in House leadership is desperately needed. We can not sit back and stay the course. We must demand a new direction. I ask you to join me in supporting Darcy Burner -- a great leader for change.

Thank you for everything you do,

Jim Dean
And to read more about the race, click here.

Let Lois Shine A Little Light

Lois Herr continues to blaze a courageous path in her campaign against “Pancake Joe” Pitts in the 16th U.S. District from PA.

As noted from her web site, she is the first candidate for elected office in the country to sign a pledge to publish her calendar online for the constituents of her district to demonstrate accountability and provide the best possible service, in cooperation with The Sunlight Network. As she states…

“I’ll be going to Washington to represent the residents of the 16th District, and they deserve to know everything I am doing on their behalf. Anything on my schedule that I’m not willing to reveal to my constituents is something that I shouldn’t be doing on their dime.”

And Lois didn’t need to be arm-twisted to sign the pledge. She had previously made her intentions known to keep an open calendar when she signed the Voter’s First Pledge as part of her campaign commitment to clean elections and Congressional ethics reform.

Lois also demonstrates her commitment to alternative sources of energy by driving an electric car (pictured) to her campaign events.

Also, Lois will debate Rep. Joseph 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.

Fluffing Saint Mikey

Leave it to the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times, when attacking House Speaker Dennis Hastert over his inaction on the Mark Foley scandal, to work in these statements:

Thus we agree with Fitzpatrick that any Republican leader who knew – or should have known – about Foley’s emails should not serve in leadership. We’ll go the congressman one better: They shouldn’t serve in Congress at all!
My goodness, what a display of high dudgeon by Mikey’s acolytes. I can picture 1930’s-era character actor Charles Bickford harrumphing into a telephone when asked to describe his upstart protégé young Charles Foster Kane!

(Ok, I know it’s a dated movie reference…cut me some slack here, OK?)

This being an election year, there will be those who accuse Fitzpatrick of political exploitation. We don’t buy it.
I would like to know what person in their right mind would criticize Fitzpatrick for speaking out on this issue (I guess “Pat” Murphy and the Democrats by association, then, if not actual fact). As I said yesterday, more than anything else, this is a human tragedy that transcends politics, though a political price will be paid for this at the very least, which is as it should be.

The congressman’s nationally debated bill targeting online sexual predators was prompted by his own daughter’s involvement with the controversial My Space social networking Web site popular with teens. A father of six, Fitzpatrick’s measure was the product of a parent’s horror and concern and his duty as a lawmaker to do something about it.
Only the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times could conceive of milking the human stain of Mark Foley’s actions to Mike (“A Father Of Six”) Fitzpatrick’s political benefit by working in a plug for Mikey’s ridiculous My Space legislation.

First of all, the My Space site, based on what we know at this point, has nothing whatsoever to do with Foley’s sick, twisted communications with under-age congressional pages. Foley communicated with the pages through “IM”’s and Email (I realize the Courier Times, with its spectacular technical innovation of web pages that disappear and reappear in a single session by trying to navigate the viewing pane with the page scrollbar, wouldn’t pick up on this sort of thing).

Fitzpatrick’s fraud legislation has to do with shielding schools and libraries from liability in the event that any online contact takes place between a student and a potential predator during the hours that these places are open. The more important reason for the legislation (and thus barely reported anywhere) is that, by stating that the bill attempts to regulate “social networking” sites, it opens the door for trying to restrict access to blogs and other online forms of communication for purposes of political fundraising and organization.

I’ll tell you what, though; I’d like to see the Courier Times and other newspapers treat the Foley story along with others that have recently developed (the revelation that, yes boys and girls, George Tenet really did inform Our Gal Condi that bin Laden actually was still a real-life, honest-to-goodness threat, the continued dreadful prosecution of the Iraq War, Bill “Don’t Let The Door Hit You As You Retire” Frist’s inane comment about letting the Taliban govern Afghanistan, Dubya’s continued one-pony-without-any-more-tricks routine of telling everyone that the Democrats want this country to be attacked again when, according to the NIE, the Iraq war has hastened that possibility more than any possible act by a Democratic politician) and put them all into a brand new narrative.

The old tried-and-true ones (the Democrats are “soft on terror,” the Democrats are “divided”…somewhat true, but grossly overplayed…the Democrats don’t care about religion or “values voters,” the Democrats this, the Democrats that, etc.) are soooo old and tired now. I propose this new narrative based on everything I’ve noted here: the Republicans are nothing but a bunch of corporate toadies and sycophants who have no instinct or inclination towards governance now or ever who have presided over the most tragic reign of gross incompetence that this country has ever seen!!

And by capitulating to his handlers at every opportunity, Mikey is as huge a part of that as anyone.

Of course, you’ll never hear that from the esteemed editorial board of the Courier Times.

So that’s why you’re hearing it from me.

Glenn Reynolds - Wrong Again

The Bucks County Courier Times carried this sidebar piece to the whole Mark Foley “Page-Gate” mess today (and I suppose automatically attaching the “Gate” suffix to this is a bit trite…my apologies).

This came from the Scripps-Howard News Service – I haven’t been able to find it online yet.

WASHINGTON – ABC News was the first traditional media outlet to report explicit instant messages between former Rep. Mark Foley, R-FL, and under-aged congressional pages, but an Internet blog broke the story almost a week earlier.

The Stop Sex Predators Now blog posted suggestive Emails about Foley on September 24th, after several earlier posts charging him with inappropriate conduct.
No, the Emails weren’t about Foley – they were sent by Foley; a whole different matter. Also, the Courier Times printed the wrong URL for the Stop Sex Predators Now blog; you can link to it here. Finally, I have not yet been able to find any posts from the site about Foley prior to 9/24.

The blog’s role in exposing the controversy raises questions that traditional journalists and experts have been asking about the relationship between blogs and the Fourth Estate.
A healthy dialogue, to be sure, though it’s a shame that it took a story like this to make that happen.

Few bloggers have broken national stories.
Really? I regularly hear about major news stories from Atrios, The Daily Kos or HuffPo before I hear about them from the Inquirer or the Courier Times. It’s partly the immediacy of the medium I realize, but I would argue that it’s the nature of the reporting also, which is generally quite accurate (and include Josh Marshall in that group, by the way).

Matt Drudge was the first to report about Monica Lewinsky in 1998, and discredited documents that CBS used in a 2004 story about President Bush’s military service.
Of course, this being the Courier Times, they obviously can only attribute right-wing freeper sites, since anything to do with liberals/progressives/Democrats/whatever effectively doesn’t exist as far as they’re concerned…and for the thousandth time, by the way, just because there were some questions about the documents from Bill Burkett that Dan Rather used in his report doesn’t mean that the report itself was automatically wrong.

Glenn Reynolds, who created the blog in August 2001, said the Foley controversy shows that mainstream media outlets are becoming increasingly willing to look for stories on blogs.

“It’s the media playing catch-up,” he said, adding that blogs, where people frequently post anonymous comments, are ideal for leaking political information.

Reynolds, who is also a law professor at the University of Tennessee, said the blogspot blog, which is only about 2 months old, acted less as a watchdog and more as a dumping ground for scandalous information.
I don’t quite understand why that is supposed to be a negative comment. Who cares about what Stop Sex Predators Now was supposed to be originally? The point is that it ended up receiving the Foley information before anyone else.

“The odds that this was put together by a political operation seems likely,” he said.
Oh, please. Which political party then, Perfesser? The Democrats? Then why would the site contain information on Democrat Gary Condit and the controversy surrounding him and disappeared (and later found murdered) intern Chandra Levy?

Admit that you don’t know who is behind it and whether or not the site has a stated partisan purpose and let’s move on, OK?

Because bloggers operate as individuals instead of employees as traditional news organizations, they don’t necessarily abide by journalistic standards of accuracy and fairness.
True, but then again, I can regularly count on the Bucks County Courier Times to publish a letter or Guest Opinion questioning whether or not Patrick Murphy is a faithful Catholic; the paper’s stated editorial policy on campaign letters is that they should not be personal attacks, which is really funny when you read these screeds against Patrick such as the most recent hack job by this lawyer named Gregory Sullivan a few weeks ago.

And while we’re on the subject, I hereby state that the next time I see a letter attacking Patrick for how he practices his faith, I’m going to write to the Courier Times editorial board and demand to know how many times Mike Fitzpatrick has attended mass during this campaign and received the sacraments of communion and reconciliation. After all, fair is fair.

But to back up a bit, I should point out, again, that Reynolds is cited here as the All Knowing Blogging Guru For All Time Above All Else by the traditional media (kind of funny to read his condescending attitude towards people who want to actually hear what he has to say anyway).

However, to be fair, I should point out that if I ever heard of Reynolds, Duncan Black, Markos Moulitsas or any other longtime, big hit blogger giving some kind of a seminar on the business of blogging and ideas on technical or design issues that must be addressed to grow a blog and propagate it as much as possible (as well as legal issues, which of course is Reynolds’ specialty), I would do all I could to attend because I know I would learn a lot.

But when it comes to editorial policy or journalistic issues, I’d want to get as far away from Reynolds as I could (and I think the Stop Sex Predators blog, whatever the intentions of the proprietor or its sense of journalistic ethics, should be commended and not impugned).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Video

Don McLean turned 61 today; I saw him many, many years ago at the Temple Music Festival in Ambler, PA, and he was just wonderful. He performed "American Pie" of course and messed up the lyrics part of the way through the song, so it did it over again from the top perfectly (if I ever find a video for "On The Amazon," I'm going to put that up as soon as I can get my hands on it).

In addition to all of the Foley perversion and the utter failure of our politicians to protect those pages entrusted to their care (which, beyond any political issues, is a human tragedy more than anything else...and believe it or not, allegations about other members may be forthcoming - ugh; as I said, "wire" all of the pages and put a stop to this crap), I personally have been shocked and saddened as have we all by the slayings in "Paradise" Pa. today - of all the most inappropriate places, though I know there are no "appropriate" ones - and I wish to extend my most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of the victims (particularly tragic when it affects young children...I know all I have to offer at this time are my feeble words which barely suffice). We in this area just observed the dedication of the 9/11 Garden of Reflection also a few days ago.

I know there's no direct correlation to everything I just mentioned and this video, but "Vincent" is of course is about the artist who died too young also and saw things we could not, and hopefully all of those in God's care who left us too soon are also experiencing the joy and peace we have yet to behold, and I want to dedicate this to them.

A Detour En Route To Privacy

I know that this story is kind of dicey considering all of the Foley-related activity currently going on, but I thought it deserved attention.

OK, so the Supreme Court struck down the Texas sodomy law in November 2003, but even though it supposedly enshrined a right to sexual privacy, the Supremes decided not to rule on a case involving a constitutional challenge to that state’s ban on sex toys.

(I’m sorry – I know there are a lot of good folks in Texas, and we have some “blue laws” here in Pa. that are kind of stupid, I have to admit, but who in their right mind would expect police who are outmanned and outgunned all over the place these days to enforce something like this? “OK, Clem, drop that dildo or we’ll shoot!” Excuse me if I express concern over trafficking in drugs, guns, stolen vehicles, or just about anything else as opposed to sex toys).

Yes,"Lawrence" is a much more important ruling over a more important issue, and I suppose the case in question today is more a matter of commerce than privacy. But in the state which incarcerates the highest percentage of its population of all of those in the U.S., I would tend to rethink the stupidity of locking up someone whose only crime is to buy a butt plug or a cock ring.

Patrick Stands Up; Mikey Steals

In case you had any doubt, Patrick has made great stands on a whole variety of issues besides the Iraq war, including this one:

I believe that under our present leadership, millions of seniors in the so-called coverage “donut hole” have been forced to pay millions for the drugs they need. Take Medicare Part D, for example, where millions of seniors found it more affordable for them to just pay out-of-pocket or to search for a more affordable plan rather than sign onto the Part D plan.

Now Medicare wants to cut its payments to the physicians by 37 percent. Would this then force the physicians to limit the amount of patients they serve? It is obvious there is a Medicare crisis!

Fortunately, the voters of Bucks County have the option of electing Patrick Murphy to Congress. He firmly stands with the seniors on this important issue. He supports closing the gap and allowing the government to negotiate for lower drug prices. He would reform Medicare Part D so that it benefits all seniors and not the pharmaceutical companies.

Common sense issues like this most definitely give Patrick Murphy my vote.

Edna Bordonaro
Falls Township, PA
And as for our current U.S. congressional representative from the 8th district...
I applaud the Sept. 10 editorial lambasting Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on “taxpayer funded campaign material.” That we have to pay for this literature is simply outrageous.

You did an excellent job exposing Fitzpatrick’s theft from taxpayers, but I would like to see an editorial run every week until Fitzpatrick or his campaign donates the money to the federal government or some worthy charity.

This was campaign literature and it should be paid for by the campaign, not by taxpayers. Let’s keep the pressure on Fitzpatrick until he does the right thing by returning that $360,000.

Jo Ann Teague
Bristol, PA
I am so on board with that also, Ms. Teague, but knowing Mikey as we do, I’m not holding my breath.

As always, to help Patrick in the final, crucial weeks of this campaign, click here.

Update 10/3: By the way, in this Courier Times story about Mark Foley, Patrick notes the following:

On Monday, Murphy called on Fitzpatrick to return $58,000 in campaign funds he received from Hastert, Congressman Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Congressman John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Page Board.

“The actions of Speaker Hastert and the Republican leadership are unacceptable and offensive,” Murphy said. “Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick must return all funds tied to these immoral congressmen who have severely betrayed the public trust by putting politics before our children's safety.”
This statement was met by yet another cynical Fitzpatrick attack against "Pat" Murphy (and I'll bet you twenty bucks Mikey won't return THAT money either).