Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Video

The Beatles ("I'm A Loser," recorded in Paris back during the "moptop heyday" - personal reasons)...

Where's Your Halo, Mikey (And Curt Too)

I wasn't going to say anything about this any more, but enough is enough.

The Bucks County Courier Times published another Guest Opinion this morning questioning Patrick Murphy's Catholicism, so now here is what I want to see in response.

I want to know how many times Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick has attended Sunday mass this year, as well as holydays of obligation. I also want to know how many times he's received the sacrament of reconciliation. I want to know what parish he belongs to. And I want to know an approximate amount of his charitable donations to his parish and school for the year (I'm sure he and his wife have at least one child in Catholic school).

If he and his supporters are going to "talk the talk," then they should "walk the walk" too.

And of course Arlen "Watch Me Gut The FISA Law" Specter showed up to fluff Mikey also...kindred spirits, I guess.

Also, the Courier Times reported that Fitzpatrick's chief of staff Mike "Watch Me Phone Into Patrick Murphy's Press Conference Call Without Authorization" Conallen once worked for Solutions North America, the lobbying firm run by Curt Weldon's daughter that is currently part of an FBI corruption probe (Conallen took a trip to Serbia for which he apparently repaid the firm $2,400 from his own funds in compliance with ethics rules). You can imagine what I think of Conallen, but to be fair, it doesn't look like there's anything there to investigate, though we'll see where this goes (and Carrie James of Patrick's campaign was smart not to comment on it).

And speaking of Curt, Todd Mason gave a glowing account of what must have been a "furious" ("crazy" would probably be more appropriate) performance by Weldon in his last debate with Joe Sestak last night, with the Inquirer article harping on all of Sestak's real or alleged missteps, though the report does mention that Weldon was inundated by reporters' questions about the FBI probe (you KNOW Curt is in trouble when he trots out the "liberal bias" boogeyman).

Well, as Atrios and others mentioned yesterday, somehow I don't think Admiral Joe is going to be targeting the donors to Weldon's campaign for any kind of reprisals (every time you think Weldon can't go any lower, he finds a way to do it).

Finally, here is Admiral Joe's latest campaign ad (too good not to plug somehow - I'll try to embed it later)...

Update: Wow, read this to get an idea of what REALLY went on in the latest debate between Crazy Curt and Admiral Joe (and the Inquirer somehow ignored this...God almighty, what on earth is happening to that paper?).

Update 10/22: Concerning Crazy Curt, I know this is a couple of days old, but yep, I'd say Kos nailed it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Night Videos

The Buzzcocks ("Promises")...

...and none other than the late, great Warren Zevon on "Letterman" (Prince's "Raspberry Beret").

Orange And Black And Blue

(Taking a break from politics for a minute – it just gets to be too much at times…)

At this moment, the Philadelphia Flyers have the fewest points of any team in the National Hockey League (and I should point out that there are so many teams in the NHL that this is quite a feat).

In seven games, the team has one win.


This could be a very long year. And it’s not like there was no warning sign that this could happen also.

Now I will grant you that the retirement of Keith Primeau is a huge loss. However, no one put a gun to the head of Flyers GM Bob Clarke and told him to trade Michal Handzus, the team’s insurance at center, for another big, slow forward (Kyle Calder, this year’s Chris Gratton, for anyone out there who can remember back that far).

(By the way, the team Handzus was traded to was the Chicago Blackhawks, and they are currently in first place in their division.)

Also (as Philadelphia Inquirer hockey writer Tim Pannaccio noted after the end of last season) the Flyers could have signed two free agent players who would have helped them immeasurably: defenseman Ruslan Salei and forward Mike Grier. Last spring, the Flyers had just finished watching Grier and his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, dismantle them, so they knew he was a good player. Also, Salei played on the Anaheim team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals three years ago (hell, they could have had Janne Niinimaa again for a bag of pucks and a skate sharpener – that would have given them at least SOME more mobility on defense, where they currently have just about none).

But instead, Clarke signed a bunch of spare parts for other teams including defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, who I guess was supposed to add mobility and experience. However, he will provide neither now, since Clarke released him from the team this week and demoted forwards Petr Nedved and Niko Dimitrakos to the Phantoms, the Flyers minor league affiliate, in the same move.

There are many questions I have about this team, such as wondering why it has taken last spring’s playoff beating and this year’s awful start, highlighted by the recent 9-1 train wreck at the hands of Buffalo again, to emphasize once more the need for this team to improve its defensive mobility and second-and-third-line scoring. I also don’t understand why they continue to rely on Peter Forsberg the way they do when he clearly is on the down slope in his career (though, when healthy, Forsberg is still one of the finest players in the world); you can write off a minimum of 10 games a year that he’ll miss due to injury, partly because he will be continually fouled by players on other teams in a sport that allows this barbaric behavior with virtual impunity (and by the way, he's out again with a wrist sprain).

Also, if you have an opportunity (not sure why you’d want to, I admit), take a look at the Flyers team roster. Though they recently promoted young forward Stefan Ruzicka from Slovakia, this is a team which perennially does an awful job of drafting and developing players from that area of the world as well as Russia and the Czech Republic. The one notable exception was defenseman Dmitri Tertyshny in the ‘90s (his loss due to a horrific boating accident was tragic of course for his family and friends, but for the team, he brought exactly the skill set that they needed and really haven’t replaced since – the Flyers have also endured monumental bad luck in their history, which I realize is no one’s fault).

Another notable exception is Ruslan Fedotenko, who they traded to Tampa Bay for Joni Pitkanen (and when will HE ever put it together, by the way?).

I’m also starting to wonder if Ken Hitchcock is the right coach for this team. As great as he is, Hitchcock is the type of guy you bring in when you have a team that’s really ready to take off and compete for the Stanley Cup (and once again, that phrase and the words “Philadelphia Flyers” should not be used in the same sentence for the foreseeable future). I just don’t know where you go with this bunch right now.

At a minimum, one of the goalies has to go, since that’s the only position of strength. However, it doesn’t make sense to rush into anything, especially since it looks like the team isn’t going anywhere as it is.

To be fair, I should point out that I don’t see them finishing last; the New York Islanders are really going to have to show me something to make me think they won’t be there instead (though that’s possible). However, the Flyers will be in the same leaky boat with them.

And if it isn’t time to clean house now, it never will be. This organization still doesn’t understand the fact that the NHL is an international league at this point and the teams should be composed accordingly (to say nothing of Clarke and company’s alleged ability to scout, draft and develop talent, though they get lucky every now and then as they did with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards). Sure, the team has some Swedish (Forsberg) and Finnish (Sami Kapanen) players, but in terms of representation versus Canadian and U.S. players, they’re statistical tokens.

It’s going to be a long, hard slog to catch up to the rest of the league, but that’s what they’re faced with. And if this organization truly respected its fans, it would be honest with them and admit that, and then take all necessary steps to put things right.

Update 10/22: Clarke, yes; Hitchcock, no.

And gee, Bob, I'm sorry you were burned out, but how many bad trades and/or drafts are you responsible for because you apparently listened to other people?

Paul Holmgren and John Stevens represent the status quo, by the way. This organization is terminally inbred, and it needs a total transfusion - starting with a new owner also (forget about the stories of the Sixers up for sale...concentrate on these guys instead).

One More For Patrick

I think I’ll be all caught up after this Guest Opinion that appeared in this morning’s Bucks County Courier Times from Bruce Lloyd of Lower Makefield, an engineer with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and a retired commander in the Coast Guard Reserve.

I could write a book on why we must send Patrick Murphy to Washington as our next congressman, but there is not the space here.

To start off, as I predicted in an earlier letter, “Sleaze tactics tilted elections; don’t let it happen again,” right on schedule we have a Mike Fitzpatrick news conference in which a few Iraqi war veterans attacked Democrat Patrick Murphy’s war record. Murphy didn’t spend much time on the front lines and is inflating his experience, they said.

That’s great. We have another attempt at “swift boating” a Democratic candidate, just as was done to Sen. John Kerry in 2004. It worked then, it won’t now. The voters here will vote based on the truth and facts, not on nonsense.

Murphy has an extensive multi-page plan for Iraq that makes perfect sense. See it on his web site ( I could find no plan on Congressman Fitzpatrick’s web site.
By the way, speaking of Mikey’s web site, I’ve been meaning to mention this. That huge, obnoxious billboard for Veterans For Fitzpatrick at the corner of Route 332 and Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield advertises a site with the address of “Veterans for Fitzpatrick (no spaces) dot com.” If you enter that address, it takes you to Mikey’s campaign site and the Veterans Issues page. So basically, the Veterans For Fitzpatrick group doesn’t even exist. Nice.

Fitzpatrick and the Republican Party are trying to run from the subject, and hoping the rest of us won’t notice. I was able to find one short paragraph that said in the first sentence: “I had the opportunity to make two trips to Iraq to see firsthand the conditions our troops are facing.” Thank you, Mr. Fitzpatrick.

It is absolutely essential that the Democratic Party take control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Fitzpatrick is in the wrong party, and his votes are wrong. For example, on February 1, 2006, Fitzpatrick voted (216 to 214) to pass HR 653 that, among other things, slashes nearly $13 billion from the proposed increase in the student loan program, and likewise cut proposed increases for programs that help seniors get access to health care and prescription drugs.

In the economy, government deficits are soaring. When the Republican administration took over in 2001, Bill Clinton and his administration turned over a budget surplus of $230 billion, the highest in U.S. history. Now, for 2006, the expected deficit, according to, is $260 billion, reflecting the largest six-year deterioration in 50 years.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (, we will be looking at deficits totaling $3 trillion over the next decade. That’s assuming the Republican Party tax cuts, which Fitzpatrick voted for, all stay permanent. On May 10th, Fitzpatrick voted with the Republican majority for HR 4297 to continue permanency of these horrific tax cuts.

The government’s interest bill that this Republican administration is forcing on us is estimated, according to the New York Times, to be $220 billion for this year, up from $184 billion in 2005. According to projections by the Congressional Budget Office, the interest bill will grow to $249 billion in 2007 and $270 billion in 2008. That is unless we elect a government that will bring some common sense to the budgeting and management process.

Patrick Murphy will be one vote to do so. Remember, interest is wasted money. (see www. American, go to Economy, and then Economic Snapshot. Also on this same site, see Iraq, State of Disaster, and the Violence paragraph for the current update.)

It’s critical that we vote. We must make a change in Washington, and Patrick Murphy will be one vote for us to start bringing this country back to the center.
I totally agree of course, Mr. Lloyd (and once more, to help Patrick, click here).

The Return Of A Liar (10/20)

Wow, I think I’m witnessing what is truly the most bilious political garbage in the Bucks County Courier Times that I have ever seen concerning Patrick Murphy, which should be no surprise I guess since Patrick represents the biggest threat to the 8th district Repug status quo that has been seen in these parts since the days of Democrat Peter Kostmayer, who served in the U.S. House prior to Jim Greenwood (who of course preceded Mikey – I didn’t live in Bucks County at the time Kostmayer served, so I can’t post authoritatively on him as of now).

Someone today alleged in the Courier Times that “Patrick Murphy may be an Iraq veteran, but he’s not a war veteran” (which to me begs the question, “What exactly is going on in Iraq then, a tea party?”). Of course, a physician wrote in and said that Murphy is automatically beholden to trial lawyers since Patrick has a law degree himself (and as we all know, trial lawyers are responsible for high medical costs in this country, not high insurance premiums, “reasonable and customary” charges and treatment, and ridiculous medication costs courtesy of Big Pharma, right?).

The “residency issue” has made an inglorious return, and someone yesterday took Patrick to task because he couldn’t recall immediately that Bucks County has 13 school districts (somehow, with our troops dying in Iraq and Dubya flailing away incompetently as he pretends to be president, I think there are bigger issues at stake). Speaking of Iraq, Patrick was also accused of waffling (really?) in “his immature, 32-year-old fashion” (it is to laugh, honestly), and Mikey, of course, raised the biggest boogeyman of all today when he said that Patrick Murphy “would raise our taxes” (horrors!), even though Patrick has never said any such thing (though, as the article points out, Mikey raised our taxes six times in ten years when he was a Bucks County commissioner).

(Also, as I’ve said before, Republicans are absolutely silent on this issue of payroll taxes, and that’s where we suffer one of the biggest tax bites that there is).

And on top of all of this, you’ll never guess who slithered out from under the muck once more in the form of a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (the second one accessible from this link).

That would be Kevin Kelly, the individual primarily responsible for “swift-boating” Patrick Murphy (with Mikey’s blessing, of course) a couple of weeks ago.

His letter obviously merits a response, and he’ll get it.

Contrary to what the Patrick Murphy campaign is spinning, he's not being "swift-boated" ("John Kerry hits Fitzpatrick over 'Swift-boating,' " Oct. 11). Every veteran who spoke up for the reelection of U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) at an Oct. 6 press conference praised Murphy for his service in Iraq. I respect him and thank him, just as I respect all those who serve.
Here is what you said about Patrick at your press conference, according to the Courier Times story: he “was not a frontline fighter,” and he “didn’t see the same things we did,” clearly implying that Patrick’s time was spent in some air-conditioned office shuffling papers.

You’re a liar for not owing up to that, Kelly.

Where I disagree with Murphy is the statements he makes on behalf of the men and women still serving in Iraq. Murphy has stated that our soldiers don't understand their mission and are disillusioned. I disagree. I was there five months ago. I worked, briefed, and flew combat operations with our troops and supported them under fire. They understood the mission and overwhelmingly felt it was among the most honorable endeavors we have undertaken as a nation.
Says you...

This consensus extended even to the many wounded servicemen I spent time with at the combat hospital in Balad, Iraq. What our troops don't understand are defeatist statements.

I also disagree with Murphy when he says we must withdraw from Iraq. This would result in the torture and murder of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens who bravely stand with us now. This is to say nothing of the message it would send to the future generations of those willing to risk their lives in opposition to tyranny.
Putting aside the partisan idiocy of that statement, I should point out that it doesn’t reflect the fact that the National Intelligence Estimate has said that our presence is contributing to the war, as well as the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group along the lines that Patrick announced months ago. Kelly also mischaracterizes Patrick’s plan to keep an over-the-horizon force in the region to contain the violence in Iraq from spreading to other countries while also drawing down our troop strength, which of course isn’t surprising.

My problem with Murphy has never been his honorable service in Iraq, but the flagrant way in which he uses that service to act as spokesman for our fighting men and women in harm's way. He doesn't speak for me or anyone I know.
He speaks for me and the vast majority of the people in this nation including Bucks County, and I don’t much care if he doesn’t speak for you or not.

Something else that deserves mention is that Kelly identifies himself in the letter as the chairman of the Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans.

And isn’t it funny in a way that Kelly feels the need to try and explain his actions this way? Gee, do you think it’s because he knew his little PR stunt blew up in his face?

By the way, here are some letters supporting Patrick published in the Courier Times yesterday (couldn’t quite size them the way I wanted, but they’re readable).

And here are some from today:

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has never served in the military for a single day in his life. Democrat challenger Patrick Murphy devoted a decade of service to his country in the armed forces. Now Iraq war vets appearing at a Fitzpatrick news conference accuse Murphy of mischaracterizing his military record. This baseless attack should not be left to stand.

Congressman Fitzpatrick should remember that veterans of every rank and order have helped to make our country free.

He should remember that bullets and bombs don’t distinguish between officers and enlisted men, because on the streets of Baghdad they are all just targets (targets without a clear mission, and targets who are bravely serving in a questionable war for questionable leaders).

Targets that have returned to demand change, and been shunned by politicians unwilling to listen.

It is up to us, the voters of Bucks County, to stop these attacks, If Fitzpatrick wants to let his campaign be used by people specializing in rumor and innuendo, that’s his choice; it’s our choice to vote him out of office.

Linda Rossi
Middletown Township

Is there a front line in the Iraq war? I think the whole country is the front line and that any American serving over there is in a combat zone.

The two Iraq war veterans who accused Patrick Murphy of mischaracterizing what he did in Iraq are wrong.

Could these two veterans have the same backers as the veterans who attacked Sen. John Kerry’s war record in Vietnam (another country that had no front line)?

They helped re-elect George W. Bush so he could have another four years to continue this unjust war he started.

I like Mike Fitzpatrick and was on the fence as to who I was going to vote for in this election.

After reading the story in the Courier Times about the two veterans targeting Pat Murphy, I now have a “Murphy For Congress” sign on my front lawn.

Al Litz
Bensalem Township
Way to go, Kelly, you dunce (and I’ll try to get to something else on Patrick a little later).

And as always, to help the Patrick Murphy For Congress campaign, click here.

Sounds Like A Message To Me

Reading this editorial that appeared in USA Today reminded me to watch our backs (preparing for what hopes to be a Democratic congressional victory on November 7th, though I seem to recall us getting excited for John Kerry around this time two years ago, so we’d better be careful).

Of course, such a victory would surely lead to the end of civilization as we know it, according to the author of this opinion.

Polls indicate that if the November elections were held today, Democratic candidates would make major gains across the board. The Democrats are within reach of the 15 seats they need to win a majority in the House of Representatives and might even capture control of the Senate. That would be quite an achievement considering the party itself is in disarray.
Oh, here we go – more of the “Democrats are divided” narrative (but nothing on how the Republicans are truly that way, of course).

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been feuding with key members of Congress over how to spend the party's money. Things got so bad this spring that Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the party's point person for picking up House seats, stormed out of a meeting screaming obscenities. Their respective staffs patched together a compromise last month, but only after DNC staffers toyed with demanding a "good behavior" clause requiring Emanuel to stop badmouthing Dean.
And this blowup constitutes a party “in disarray”…as if the Repugs have never had a spat or two among themselves – please.

At the same time, congressional Democrats failed to put together a platform as effective as the Contract with America was in bringing Republicans to power in 1994.
Oh, I don’t know about that; I know this doesn’t really address Iraq, but it’s a good start on the other issues.

And again, I must ask this question. Why is it that, in these editorials, more blame is assigned to the Democrats for not having some kind of a “magic bullet” for Iraq when it was primarily (but not exclusively, I know) the Republicans who orchestrated this tragic war? If the Democrats had been in charge and done this, do you honestly think the minority of Republicans who may have gone along with it would be blamed also?

In 2006, Democrats could win despite themselves. They have the good fortune of running when the war in Iraq and corruption scandals have Republicans on the defensive.

For the Democrats to be more than a one-election wonder, however - or even to take advantage of increased power - they will have to do more than position themselves as the anti-Bush, less-bad party.
I actually agree with that. They must hit the ground running and make every effort to address the issues on the six-point list vigorously and show that they can craft an agenda, subsequently forcing Dubya and the Repugs into a corner and making THEM the obstructionists (with impeachment definitely in the mix a bit later on).

Dean, with an eye to the long term, has been pouring millions of dollars into hiring staff in all 50 states in an effort to make the party more competitive nationally. Emanuel and his Senate counterpart, Charles Schumer of New York, think it's insane to put scarce resources into GOP strongholds such as Alaska; they favor pouring funds into competitive races with an eye on winning now.
Dean is absolutely right; the "battle of ideas" must be fought door-to-door, place-of-worship to place-of-workship, meeting-hall to meeting-hall, Rotary-Club to Rotary-Club, etc. The Repugs figured that out years ago, unfortunately. It's all about grass roots involvement.

Either way, the Democrats will achieve little until they can put together a vision that rallies voters. That presumably would include credible plans for addressing the quagmire in Iraq, restoring fiscal sanity and reining in Washington's corruption.

So far all are missing, and if Democrats' high hopes aren't realized come Nov. 7, the screaming between Dean and other party leaders will only grow louder.
Aside from the fact that the “all are missing” sentence is a lie, it can be both funny and stupid to read this stuff at times; the Democrats haven’t accomplished anything yet, but we’re still getting blamed for what we are expected to do wrong.

I’ll tell you what – please take a look at the text that can be accessed here and here to get some idea of how the Democrats have stood up on homeland security issues only to be totally rebuffed by the Republican congressional majority.

Here and here are more related links also.

And by the way, according to this other Kos link, the money seems to be finding its way to Democrats for the last big push in the campaigns (I know it will lead to more annoying campaign ads, but guess what? That status quo will continue until we get serious in this country about campaign finance reform.).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Videos

Happy Birthday to Wilbert Hart of The Delfonics, who I would call the godfathers of Philly Soul ("La La Means I Love You" from 1968 - love the hand jive, guys...I once owned a turtleneck sweater and it was the most uncomfortable piece of clothing I ever wore)...

...and belated greetings to Russ Giguere of The Association ("Along Comes Mary" on "The Smothers Brothers" in 1967 with kind of an unusual opening).

Protecting Our Franchise

The following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday from Mary Ann Gould of Richboro, PA and Ruth Matheny of Doylestown, PA, Co-Founders of the Coalition for Voting Integrity (important local stuff...).

State bills were recently introduced with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, allowing citizens the choice to vote on paper ballots or non-voter-verifiable electronic machines. These bills are not mean to be symbolic, not just for PR. The need for paper ballots in this election is real. There is considerable evidence coming out almost every week providing data on the inadequacy and insecurity of electronic voting. However, we are stuck with these machines for now. Two short-term options are available.

1. Massive turnout of voters on Nov. 7. This will send a message that citizens want action to improve our voting system. The higher the voter turnout, the better chance voting machine problems might be identified. For example, it was the high turnout that provided New Mexico with the data that led them to the decision to replace the Danaher machines with optical scanners. Also, your preferred candidate or party could benefit from a high turnout to offset the possibility of lost votes with the new electronic machines.

2. Legislators need to change the currently proposed bill slightly by eliminating the 30-day training period. People already know how to vote on paper in the form of absentee and provisional ballots. Counties already have the absentee/provisional ballot layouts to use as a template for paper ballots. Perhaps add in some funds for printing and counting. Such an independent paper ballot cast by the voter is part of a short-term answer until we can develop a truly independent system of checks and balances. Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. supports such an emergency measure. Thirty-five other states require and use voter-verified paper ballots. Why can’t we do this in Pennsylvania?

We expect a fairly smooth election, ostensibly at least, with few breakdowns. The real problem is never seen and is internal to the machines and will take time to identify and correct. Thus, paper ballots offer an interim solution for those who want assurances that their actual ballot is counted and securely retained. It should be a citizen’s choice as to how they vote, machine or ballot. As long as there is so much doubt about existing machines, we must have this choice.

Legislators and candidates should be out there drumming up co-sponsorship for an emergency paper ballot option. With the considerable media attention already on the machine problems, candidates could spread this idea like wildfire across Pennsylvania in time for passage for this election.

Citizens are tired of just words. We need action now. If legislators are just going to sit back and not go all out to line up co-sponsors and pass this bill immediately, then perhaps they should be replaced by those who will better perform on behalf of the people.
This follows up on the earlier work of Andy Warren and Craig Zelin that I mentioned a few days ago – we need to get behind this however we can.

Sacre Bleu, Chuck!

Back to local PA politics again…

Did you know that Chuck McIlhinney, who is running for the State Senate for Pennsylvania’s 10th district, skipped 183 votes because he went on a wine tasting trip to France (Allentown Morning Call, 7/8/2001)?

Chuck also skipped a key budget vote, claiming that he didn’t want to change his vacation plans (part of me respects that, but not if you’re in government - Harrisburg Patriot-News, 7/1/2001).

But McIlhinney DID show up to vote to raise income taxes. And he voted for a bill which Republicans say would have allowed school districts to tax our savings (House Bill 200, Act 46, December 22, 2003, House Journal page 2574, Act 72, July 4, 2004, House Journal page 1596).

And he showed up to vote to raise his own pension by 50 percent (House Bill 26, May 8, 2001).

I don’t know about you, but as a resident of Pennsylvania, I’m truly tired of reading about this stuff. So as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing to do, and that’s to vote for Chris Serpico for the PA State Senate (10th District) on November 7th.

That way, Chuck will be free to travel to France as many times as he wants, and we won’t have to pay for any of it.

(And here's more from Chris, by the way.)

Taking Dubya To School

Arianna Huffington mentioned this site yesterday in a post at HuffPo, which is sponsored by the White House and supposedly offers instruction to kids, and those are two reasons right off the bat to be highly suspicious.

I reviewed the series of lesson plans offered by the White House Parents and Teachers Guide, and I realized that they were missing at least one lesson (I’ll continue to review this to determine if they missed anything else:- ). Here it is:

A History of Presidential Impairment

Teacher’s Guide


The student will be able to recall moments in the history of the White House when the president acted like a bumbling idiot.


The class will examine the legacy of
Andrew Johnson’s intoxicated ramblings upon his installation as Vice President, Warren Harding’s futile attempt to hide his mistresses while fleeing from the wrath of his wife (maybe a little more generous on the column width next time, OK?), John F. Kennedy’s intricate series of liaisons with Marilyn Monroe and Judith Exner (hey, fair is fair), George W. Bush’s near-death experience from a moment of clumsiness with a salted pretzel, and other episodes of presidential ineptitude.

Extension Activity One

Measure the observable mental acumen of each of our presidents in coping with situations of stress. Look for any tips or indicators that can be used for future conflict resolution.

Extension Activity Two

Create a collage of illustrations depicting moments of presidential awkwardness and subterfuge. For bonus points, draw photos of
Kay Sommersby and Lucy Mercer.

Parents’ Guide

After your child has explored this lesson and completed the activities, ask the following sample questions to extend his/her thinking.

How many words did President George W. Bush mispronounce today?
What memorable lie did Dick Cheney tell today?
How much did Bill Clinton pay for the tote bag he bought from “The Black Dog” in Martha’s Vineyard for Monica Lewinsky (again, fair is fair)
How many of your child’s friends’ parents (got that?) are members of the Democratic Party (contact the RNC immediately with that information if it can be obtained).
By the way, I took it easy on President Ford because I know he’s not doing too well (no joke there) – otherwise, he would have been an easy target.

Also, there was a time when I took shots at the Presidential Prayer Team site, including the kids’ version, but I stopped because I found out that it was privately funded, and though it was full of propaganda, none of it was paid for with my tax dollars. If it comes from the White House, though, that is an entirely different story.

Start With Power Line, O’Reilly

So you’d “go in with a hand grenade” concerning the blogs if you could, huh Bill?

You know something, pal? You’re all talk.

You got nothing, you know that?

What happened to that supposed Internet enemies list of yours? HOW COME I’M NOT ON IT?

And why don’t you just start babbling about “the war on Christmas” now like you do every year (I mean, it would distract voters from the fact that the Repugs are going to get absolutely hammered at the polls in less than three weeks).

You think you can just get away with treating us like we’re Andrea Mackris or something?


The Light Bulb Flickers, Then Shuts Off

Leave it to Dubya to misinterpret history once again.

In this story, he compares the violence in Iraq now to the Tet Offensive, which marked a turning point in the Vietnam War. Were it not for the loss of life involved in all of this, Dubya’s remarks would truly be laughable (though as I’ve said, since he signed the torture bill, I’m not inclined to find anything about this blight of an administration humorous any more).

As explained in this link, the Tet Offensive was actually a military victory for our forces. We repelled the North Vietnamese and depleted half of their troop strength, and they were unable to mount a similar attack against us for two years afterwards.

The problem is that the Tet Offensive was more of a PR victory for the North Vietnamese because it brought the war into the city of Hue in front of a greater U.S. TV audience and showed that they were able to mount a massive assault against us, which we didn’t think was possible up to that point. As the story also states, it gave a new impetus to questioning President Lyndon Johnson’s conduct of the war.

In Tet, our forces were victorious and repelled the enemy for a significant period. In Iraq, our forces are faced with a continual struggle to survive in which victory is measured by the fact that you’re still breathing at the end of the day.

(God, I can’t wait for November 7th, and anyone reading this should feel the same way – the time to get rid of this fool was November 2004, but with hopes of a Democratic congressional victory, we can try to do it again one day.)

Just Ship Out For Fallujah, Senator

I’ll tell you what, Senator “Straight Talk Express” (maybe he’s really living up to that billing here); if you really believe that, then we’ll let you choose whichever means you prefer. I’m sure there are certain poisons that will numb you and cause your bodily functions to slowly cease, or you could just choose the Budd Dwyer method we’re familiar with in these parts from many years ago (a simple gunshot to the head, that is).

In addition to further lowering the political debate in this country (Can it get lower? I’d better not ask), good job to trivialize a legitimate mental health issue faced by many people that requires medication and counseling, you moron.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Still Reelin' And Rockin'

I would be truly remiss if I didn’t recognize the 80th birthday of someone who is perhaps the founding father of rock n’ roll (one of them anyway, along with Elvis); before there were the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Jimi, Clapton and the whole bunch, there was Charles Edward Anderson Berry of St. Louis.

As I noted here some time ago, I read Bruce Pegg’s great unauthorized (but scrupulously fair and thoroughly researched) biography “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” and there are a few themes that emerge about Berry over and over again: 1) the role that racism played in his life, made worse by an early attempted burglary conviction which led to a legendary series of legal trouble, in particular his conviction under the Mann Act – as racist a piece of legislation as anything that has ever existed in this country – for what he was alleged to have done with Janice Escalanti, a one-time hat check girl at Berry’s Club Bandstand; 2) the fact that every single aspect of Berry’s professional life was governed by how much he got paid for what he did, which is partly understandable given what he had to do to make a name for himself; and 3) his relentless, almost psychotic need to control every single aspect of his performance, often to the point where he wouldn’t let other musicians playing with him know what he was doing and expected them merely to follow his lead.

Still, though, Berry commands respect among the vast legion of musicians who were inspired by him, including Steve Miller, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, and many others. The clever lyrics and accomplished musicianship of his songs (for which a large measure is owed also to the late, great piano player Johnnie Johnson) created the standard by which all rock n’ roll music was based primarily throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and the romanticizing of that period in Berry’s songs (specifically concerning cars, women, and adolescent life in general) created a sort of mythology unto itself.

But enough of my verbosity on this subject - here's "You Can't Catch Me" from 1956 (introduced by Alan Freed and featuring Berry's trademark "duck walk" at the end)...

...and the scene with John Travolta and Uma Thurman dancing in "Pulp Fiction" to Berry's "You Never Can Tell."

Another Bush Flunky Gets Spanked

After resigining from office suddenly, which is in keeping with the Bushco tradition (see Gale Norton and Porter Goss), former FDA head Lester Crawford is currently facing jail time (it's kind of scary to be linking to Fox on this, I know).

Let’s see...conflict of interest and falsely reporting information about stocks he owned in food, beverage and medical device companies that he was in charge of regulating – yep, that’s about the typical Bushco “M.O.” all right.

The biggest problem I have with this guy doesn’t have anything to do with this, nor does it involve his alleged extramarital affair (noted here), as well his ineffective response to the flu vaccine shortage last year, though that is a close second (has ANYONE in this administration whose overseen the FDA managed to get this right? We have chronic shortages every year!).

The real issue as far as I’m concerned has to do with his denial of over-the-counter status for Plan B emergency contraception. As this linked text from Planned Parenthood notes:

On December 16, 2003, a joint hearing of the FDA Nonprescription Drugs and Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committees voted 23 to four to recommend that the FDA make EC available over the counter. Virtually all major medical and health care organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move.

But on May 6, 2004, in flagrant disregard of this scientific consensus, the FDA notified Barr Laboratories, which manufactures Plan B, that its application for over-the-counter status had been denied, citing concerns about adolescent use. It conveniently overlooked studies showing that EC is safe for younger women and that they use EC responsibly. Studies also show that access to EC does not increase or encourage sexual activity among teens.

In response to the decision, Barr Laboratories submitted a revised application to the FDA, asking that EC be made available without a prescription to women 16 and older. (Teens 15 and younger would still need a prescription to obtain it.) The FDA had been asked to respond to this application by January 20, 2005, but, in a highly unusual move, it missed the deadline. At the time, the agency indicated that review of the medication was expected to be completed in the near future but did not specify a date.

The FDA, with Crawford at the helm, had two options — one was clearly rooted in science, the other in ideology. It chose ideology, bowing to anti-choice pressures and denying over-the-counter status to EC. The FDA is an agency that should be championing science. Under Crawford's leadership, science has been compromised. But Crawford's decision should not be surprising since the man who appointed him chooses, at every opportunity, to replace sound science with right-wing extremism.
So he endangered women’s health because of his own supposed “religious” agenda.

And the Senate voted 78-16 to confirm this guy (here is a report on how emergency contraception has been hopelessly politicized by the band of hypocrites currently running our government).

In the event of a guilty verdict and a sentence of what likely would be a year in prison, Crawford will no doubt have time to contemplate all of this; all of his insider “fox guarding the hen house” dealings will be of no use to him whatsoever at that point.

Let Patrick Help The Kids Too

This Guest Opinion appeared in today’s Courier Times, and it was written by Elizabeth Thomassen, a 35-year resident of Bucks County who, according to the bio, is the mother of two autistic children (you have my prayers and admiration for your sacrifice). Also, Virginia Poulterer, Beth Vogt, Holly Kimball, and Chris Keshanech contributed to this column.

Taking your kids to get a haircut or getting them to behave in a grocery store can be a challenge for any parent. For those of us with autistic children, it’s often impossible. That’s why the owners of Bouncing Off The Walls close their play center early a few nights each month. Our kids can have the place to themselves, and we don’t have to worry about being judged or questioned about our child’s outbursts and unusual behavior.

Recently, Patrick Murphy, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, met with us at Bouncing Off The Walls. While our kids played on the moon-bounce and brightly colored slides, Patrick listened intently to our frustrations with our current batch of so-called representatives. His opponent,
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, has been an elected official for more than 10 years and in Congress for almost two years. And yet, he has consistently failed to take active leadership in protecting our children.

Autism has the notorious distinction of being one of the most prevalent developmental disabilities, second only to mental retardation. About a year ago, it seemed like Congress was taking steps to address the need for additional education and information about autism. The Combating Autism Act, which autism advocates originally supported, would have channeled money to state agencies conducting applied autism research.

However, Congress slipped a revised version of the bill through just before midnight on Aug. 3rd. The new bill was drastically different than its original, and there was no public debate involved in the process. A-CHAMP, a self-described community watchdog on government autism programs, withdrew its support for the bill it had praised months earlier. The reason they gave was that it no longed mandated that the National Institute of Health examine the environmental causes of autism, including certain vaccines.
In case Mrs. Thomassen hasn't read it already, I would highly encourage her and her friends to read this article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the thimerosal scandal (it will likely enrage her - I'd feel that way if I were in her shoes - but it's something we must know about).

The fact that our children’s suffering could have been caused by environmental factors, and thus avoided, is a difficult thing to bear. Looking into all possible culprits, including vaccines, is one thing we must do to prevent other children from developing this devastating condition. If Congress truly wanted what is best for our children – and not what is best for pharmaceutical companies – it would explore this avenue fully.

Lisa, a frequent visitor of Bouncing Off The Walls, faxed a letter voicing these concerns to Fitzpatrick’s office. A year later, she’s still waiting for a response.
Gosh, I’m so shocked that Mikey (who, as the Courier Times never fails to mention, is the father of six kids) blew this lady off. Aren’t you?

We need people like Patrick Murphy in Congress who will ensure that these decisions are transparent and made with the best interests of our children in mind.

This Republican congress has simply let our children down. One of their most egregious failures is not ensuring that special needs children receive adequate therapy in school. Chris, the mother of an autistic toddler, explained to Patrick that early intervention could mean the difference between her daughter living an independent life or being a lifelong ward of the state. And yet, this year alone she spent upwards of $4,000 hiring educational experts and advocates to negotiate with her school. For many, these costs are prohibitive. Denied adequate therapy, Chris said, autistic children will sit like zombies in overcrowded classrooms.

The cost of caring for autistic children affects everyone’s pocketbooks, making it prudent for early intervention to be a major priority among our legislators. In fact, the cost of lifelong care can be reduced by almost 66 percent with early diagnosis and treatment.

Before Patrick left, he spoke with Virginia, whose 6-year-old son suffers from a rare brain abnormality. Several surgeries and various therapists left her with a $200,000 medical bill which she couldn’t even begin to pay. To try and raise money, she started a fundraiser selling chocolates for $1. It took months of appeals and endless haggling with her insurance company to get them to cover the bill.

Patrick believes that every parent deserves to have whatever resources they need so our children can live fulfilling and independent lives. We hear a lot about how Mike is looking out for kids. What about ours?
What indeed (these letters appeared also).

I am deeply disturbed with the new campaign tactic utilized by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick at his recent press conference in Newtown. To stand by shamelessly as two Iraq war veterans publicly disparage the military record of Patrick Murphy, his Democratic opponent, is bothersome.
That’s one word I can think of (and by the way, I haven’t seen Kevin Kelly’s connection to the Philadelphia Republican Party reported anywhere but in blogs here and elsewhere).

Our armed forces serving in Iraq are placed in danger every day as they fight for freedom and democracy in that country. Bullets and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are not discriminatory based on a job description. It is troubling that Congressman Fitzpatrick remained silent at his press conference as potentially slanderous remarks were made about his opponent.

Yet later he claims he disagreed with the veterans who spoke on his behalf. Is this behavior status quo for Fitzpatrick?

As we head down the home stretch towards Election Day, it appears Fitzpatrick and his fellow Republicans are attempting to “swift-boat” the military record of Patrick Murphy, who served honorably in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. Because of Patrick Murphy’s surging campaign, Mike Fitzpatrick may be resorting to Karl Rove’s smear tactics.

I have known Patrick Murphy for many years. As a fellow alumnus, teammate and friend, Patrick always took action to help those who needed it most. It light of Mike Fitzpatrick’s newest campaign tactics, I encourage all voters to carefully consider their congressional vote.

Robert Graebner

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick separates himself from the attacks on Murphy’s military record but endorses his swift-boaters’ attacks on Murphy’s plan to return the war on terror to Afghanistan, where we should have been all along.

According to two polls reported by the Associated Press and Yahoo News conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes and by the State Department, 61 percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on American troops and 72 percent want their government to demand our withdrawal within the year (they also overwhelmingly despise Osama bin Laden and 57 percent disapprove of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad).

I wonder how they’d respond to the question, “Are you better off now than before the U.S. overthrew Saddam? On I read a reporter’s claim, “After six weeks away from Iraq and returning to Baghdad, I find the city appears much worse than when I left.”

I’ve heard dozens of reporters on C-SPAN say that for the last two or three years. Our patch of military control in the Green Zone keeps shrinking. That’s a “strategy for victory”?

Alex Liddie
Lower Makefield

The Sept. 19th article about the debate at King’s Caterers between
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy refers to Fitzpatrick’s comments on Social Security. He is factually incorrect.

The truth can be found on an urban legend web site. The Social Security web site also has the entire history of Social Security, all the legislation and all the information you would ever need to be knowledgeable about Social Security.

The statements by Fitzpatrick about Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton are wrong. He also misspoke about Jimmy Carter. The president of the United States cannot make laws or impose taxes or act without the consent of Congress.

Clinton did not impose the income tax on Social Security benefits. That was an act of the 98th Congress in 1983 and signed into law by Ronald Reagan. The majority of Republican representatives from Pennsylvania voted yes, including the two senators. Former Bucks County Congressman Peter Kostmayer voted no.

If the Republicans find this tax so onerous, why, in the six years that the Republicans have been in control of the congress and the White House, have they not moved to repeal it? Ask them.

Robert Parrillo
Bristol Township
Nice research there, Mr. Parrillo (and to help Patrick – 21 days to go – click here).

Protest, But Buy My Book First

I’d be a lot more inspired by Lou Dobbs on this if it weren’t for my nagging suspicion that all of this is just a stunt to plug his latest literary effort.

I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Lou; if you care so much about the middle class, then go out and do the hard work of trying to form a third major political party that this country DESPERATELY needs, fundraise, organize, recruit and field candidates across the country, and generally put your money where your mouth is, OK?

That being said, though, I applaud Dobbs for doing what he can to encourage people to vote on November 7th (and I bemoan the fact that it is necessary for him to do that).

And by the way, here is a history lesson of sorts (glad to see things have improved to the point where they were when Clinton left office, and as always, God bless The Onion).

Clearing The Fog Of Lies

My intent with this post is to plug The Patriot Project, which is explained by John Kerry in this HuffPo post as a group that “will defend any man or woman, regardless of party or affiliation, who is attacked or defamed and whose patriotism is questioned simply because they exercise their rights as Americans.”

As Kerry notes (using unusually blunt language, which is refreshing…no one can accuse him of being “nuanced” here), it is critical that we all respond to the Repugs and their slime machine as quickly as possible when they attack our candidates. The Patriot Project is a vital tool in accomplishing this task.

And by the way, I had been meaning to compliment Kerry for some time because, since his electoral loss, I believe he has reclaimed his ground as a leader in the Democratic party, certainly on the Iraq war (the only other nationally visible elected Dem with something of a plan is Joe Biden, which calls for partitioning Iraq, notwithstanding Jack Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal; I think Biden's idea was interesting a year or so ago, echoes to British colonialism notwithstanding, but I think the whole country is too far gone now to make that happen).

(By the way, as long as I mentioned Kerry’s defeat in 2004, I should point out that I believe it was brought on by voting fraud and the lies he mentions in his post, but also brought on a bit by his own campaign’s disorganization and inability at times to understand what the 2004 campaign was all about…as soon as he addressed Bush’s failures on security issues, Kerry’s poll numbers went up, but then he always seemed to revert to ‘90s-era themes related to the economy – those were important, but secondary at that time. I also can’t recall a single memorable TV ad from his campaign, and that unfortunately is one barometer to use to measure a campaign’s effectiveness.)

Since the 2004 election, Kerry has also come out in a big way to support both Joe Sestak and Patrick Murphy, he led the failed filibuster of “Strip Search Sammy” Alito to the Supreme Court, he also stood up immediately to Holy Joe Lieberman after his loss in Connecticut to Ned Lamont, and he has criticized the media silence in this country on the infamous “Downing Street Memos” dealing with the Iraq War.

That’s pretty darn impressive to me.

After the November 2004 debacle, I heard one Democratic beltway insider (Leon Panetta, I believe) state that “we shouldn’t nominate Democratic presidential candidates from Massachusetts any more,” lumping in Kerry with Michael Dukakis (and if you think THAT is stupid, get a load of Panetta’s quote here about the Democrats, FDR and Michael Moore…Faux News couldn’t have put it any better).

I’ll tell you what, Leon; if you can get the Repugs to agree not to nominate any more presidential candidates from Texas ever again, I’ll think about it, but I won’t promise you anything (pinky swear).

I have one final note – I mentioned Admiral Joe Sestak earlier. I haven’t said anything about the campaign because it seems to be going well at the moment and I’ve been focusing on the battle between Mikey and Patrick Murphy here, as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s laughable endorsement of Joe Pitts in the 16th district yesterday. Also, with the implosion of the Curt Weldon campaign in light of the FBI investigation (absolutely LOVE the timing on that one), I would say that things look good for the admiral at the moment (though stranger things have happened, I know…also, my lefty blogger “betters” have been covering that campaign every way over Sunday just fine).

Update: Speaking of the 7th district Congressional representative, congratulations to Crazy Curt for making the "Rolling Stone" list of the Top 10 Worst Congressmen (Curt slithered in at Number 8).

Update 10/24: You might want to have a word with your spokesperson, Senator.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tuesday Video

The Cure ("Inbetween Days" - no, I don't know what's going on with the socks either)...

You Shall Not Pass, Sen. Scumwad!

(channeling Gandalf for a minute there…)

I can’t find a link to this yet (Update: here it is...), but Alison Hawkes of the Bucks County Courier Times reported this morning that Rick Santorum issued this pronouncement in defending the Iraq war (referencing the “Lord of the Rings” stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, apparently during a meeting with the Courier Times editorial board, who I’m sure took him seriously):

As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

A spokesman for Democratic opponent Bob Casey Jr. questioned the appropriateness of the analogy.

“You have to really question the judgment of a U.S. senator who compares the war in Iraq to a fantasy book,” said Casey spokesman Larry Smar. “This is just like when he said Kim Jong Il isn’t a threat because he just wants to watch NBA basketball.”

According to a Harrisburg Patriot-News editorial, Santorum said the North Korea dictator “doesn’t want to die: he wants to watch NBA basketball” as a reason why Iran is the biggest nuclear threat.”
Keep it up, Ricky (what a sight it is to watch him go down in flames…I give Mr. Casey Jr. credit for showing more spunk than I thought he had.)

And by the way, ThinkProgress brings us this assessment from The Liar-In-Chief (I, however, prefer to live in the real world, ugly as that is at times).

And by the way, speaking of reality in Iraq...

Update 10/19: This is one YouTube video I will DEFINITELY check out later (re: the comments above by Senator Man-On-Dog).

Strange Help For Pancake Joe

I never really quite understood what the phrase “almost made my head explode” meant until I read the Philadelphia Inquirer’s endorsement of Joe Pitts for the U.S. PA 16th Congressional District over Lois Herr this morning.

Joe Pitts for Congress in Pa.'s 16th District

This heavily Republican district covers the southern half of Chester County, all of Lancaster County and a slice of Berks.

The Case for Pitts

U.S. Representative
Republican, 67
Kennett Square

At a time when many are concerned about the image of the United States, Pitts works to show the character and decency of the American people. He speaks out for religious and political prisoners, pushes educational and professional exchanges with central Asian nations, and hosts biannual visits to his district for foreign ambassadors. The connections made between envoys and their 16th District hosts often result in school and medical supplies, even farm equipment, being sent where they're needed, from the Western Sahara to Romania to Pakistan.
I read that and was astounded, and here’s why:

I’m not even going to bother to investigate whether or not any of these claims are true. What is absolutely shocking to me is that, apparently, the Inquirer supports Pancake Joe without a whit of regard for anything approximating constituent service that Pitts either did or did not provide (the latter is more likely) during his term (the following is available from this link).

Does the Inquirer know that Pitts opposed a bill that directed the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and prosecute price-gouging by sellers of gasoline and other fuels?

Or that Pitts supported drilling in the ANWR?

Or that Pitts voted for a bill that would have disallowed illegal/undocumented workers from reporting crimes against them?

Or that Pitts voted against recommending a deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq?

Or that Pitts voted against Amtrak funding and raising fuel efficiency standards?

Or that Pitts helped defeat a measure that would have ensured that Dubya conducted his domestic spying within FISA guidelines (the old ones that are about to be abrogated when Dubya signs new guidelines into law, including a 90-day period of spying without court supervision, courtesy of the Repugs)?

Or that Pitts voted for a provision that would have stripped a requirement that voting officials provide ballot information in multiple languages from the Voting Rights Act (with Pitts also voting for an amendment that would have allowed southern states to exempt themselves from pre-clearance requirements as specified in the act)?
From here...

Does the Inquirer know that Pitts had once pledged to serve only five terms in the U.S. House, but he’s now abandoning that pledge?

Or that Pitts once uttered some truly ridiculous (and racist, actually) sentiments about how kids in Lancaster County aren’t supposedly affected by video games the same way that kids in Philadelphia are (Pitts didn’t use those words exactly, but that’s what he meant).

Or that Pitts also supported Dennis Hastert amidst the Mark Foley controversy?

Or that Pitts basically was on autopilot throughout his recent debate with Lois Herr (though he did take the time to utter that stupid quote on what he thinks government should and shouldn’t do)?
And speaking of Lois…

The Opponent - Lois K. Herr

Scholar-in-residence, Elizabethtown College
Democrat, 65

The Case for Herr

Herr believes the United States was misled into the war in Iraq, and wants the occupation ended as soon as possible. "Leaving won't make it worse," she says. Herr wants Congress to take its oversight role more seriously, says the military tribunals act is a mistake, and would repeal the Bush tax cuts.
There’s more to Lois than this, of course, including her recognition of “the birth tax,” which of course is a legacy of the Repug Congress, and the fact that Lois is the first candidate in the whole 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. The Inquirer could have also mentioned Lois’ commitment to alternative energy sources, including her use of an electric car at campaign stops, but I guess it was too much trouble for them to find that out.

Experience/Credentials: Pitts

Pitts, a congressman since 1997, was a state representative for 24 years. Herr has held teaching and other posts at Elizabethtown College.
I don’t know how those two sentences add up to an edge for Pitts, but again, we’re talking about a newspaper owned by Bruce Toll and Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, so since Pitts is a staunch conservative, I guess it makes sense to them.

Ideas/Issues: Pitts

Pitts says it would be wrong to withdraw from Iraq prematurely and wants more training for Iraqi security forces. Herr is less clear on when to withdraw.
Given my long “Does The Inquirer Know” list earlier, this statement is a joke.

Also, they quote Lois with the statement that she “wants the Iraqi occupation to end as soon as possible,” so I don’t know how the Inquirer could think she is being “less clear on when to withdraw.”

I’ll tell you what – here is Lois’ policy on Iraq from her web site; the authors of this bogus endorsement can read it if they have any questions.

Lois Herr’s Iraq Policy Statement

Lois Herr believes that the first step toward fixing the situation in Iraq is telling the truth about where we are. No partisan rhetoric, no rose-tinted glasses, and no spin.

Three years ago, President Bush declared the end of “major combat operations in Iraq.” Since that time, thousands of American soldiers have been killed and tens of thousands more have been injured in the ongoing Iraq war (not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths).

As the nation now knows, this White House did not plan effectively for the post-invasion aftermath. In fact, President Bush and his advisers did very little war planning at all. Instead, they cherry-picked intelligence, undermined the work of U.N. weapons inspectors, misled the nation about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and stiff-armed our allies in a headlong rush to war. In doing so, they diverted the nation’s resources from our true enemy – al Qaeda – and created a breeding ground for terrorists where none existed before.

Today, our military is stretched to the breaking point, caught in a complicated conflict between insurgents, militias, and Iraqi security forces. And despite the best intentions and valiant work of our armed forces, our presence in Iraq is creating deep suspicion and resentment toward America. (Even General Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor to President George H. W. Bush, has said that the Iraq war is “feeding” terrorism.) Most Iraqis want us to leave, and most Americans want to bring our soldiers home.

It is time to bring them home. We must change our policy and change our course. With a top-level commitment to bring our troops home, the logistics can be worked out very quickly by our quite capable military leaders, and experienced and respected diplomats can once again be charged with the rightful task of international negotiation. Withdrawing from Iraq involves the complicated task of bringing personnel home safely and recovering weapons and materials. It would be irresponsible and financially foolish for us to allow our weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

While America must remove its military presence from Iraq, we still have a responsibility to aid the Iraqi people not just for their own future but also to avoid destabilizing the entire region and threatening our own national security interests. We must work with the international community to assist Iraq’s newly formed government in ensuring that all the major parties – Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds – feel well-represented, to refocus on providing training and technical assistance to Iraq’s newly-forming ministries, and to seek international aid for reconstruction efforts.

Making progress requires that our leaders put aside partisan attacks and face the facts. America has made great sacrifices in the past three years. Now to honor those sacrifices most fully, we must acknowledge that our men and women in uniform have done their job. It is time for them to come home and for a redirected policy to take effect for the future of our country and for the future of Iraq.
Back to the endorsement...

Character/Ethics: Even

Pitts disapproves of adding earmarks to unamendable conference reports. Herr wants a "completely transparent" earmark process.
Lois wins this automatically for no other reason that Pitts’ support of Dennis Hastert on the Foley scandal.

The Edge: Pitts
Strong: Clearly superior
I should explain this…the Inquirer has four contest rankings for candidates: 1) Close Call: Two Good Choices, 2) Weak: Two Disappointing Choices, 3) No Contest: Overwhelmingly Superior, and the fourth choice cited above. Again, their ranking of Pitts in this fashion is ridiculous.

Finally, I have only this to say: The Inquirer frequently rails against the power of incumbency and complacency on the part of voters pulling the lever for the same candidate over and over without investigating the person’s record. I agree that that’s a concern at times to be sure. However, lazy “reporting” such as this only adds to that process, and it is beyond disgusting that the Inquirer chose to publish this without investigating Pitts and his pathetic on-the-job performance, to say nothing of short changing a worthy candidate like Lois Herr; people like her are needed in local, state and federal government desperately, and that is no exaggeration.

(Sorry I forgot to add this earlier, but to help Lois, click here.)

No Wisdom From Solomon On Reid

I’m sure that, any day now, AP reporter John Solomon will break the story that Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid used political campaign funds to tip his gardener or pay for his dry cleaning, and that will generate more screaming headlines.

Let’s see what we have so far, OK?

- Reid gets blamed for accepting boxing tickets with John McCain and not paying for them, when it turns out that the Nevada Boxing Commission would not have been able to accept payment anyway since the tickets were gifts (McCain paid, but the amount was donated by the commission). (my link)
- As of a few days ago, we find out that Reid
made a nice tidy profit on a land deal when he formed an LLC for a property he owned with a business associate (perfectly legal), while Solomon reports that Reid didn’t own the land, even though the LLC has no other assets but the land and Reid paid taxes on the property. (my link)
- Now, we find out that
Reid used $3,300 of campaign funds to pay Christmas bonuses for the support staff at the Ritz-Carlton where he lives in an upscale condominium even though federal election law permits campaigns to provide "gifts of nominal value."
Let me communicate some news of my own to John Solomon:

Right now, Iraq continues to deteriorate, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, Dubya signed the torture bill today, no Republican has taken the fall yet for the Mark Foley scandal (though Foley has resigned, of course), and North Korea is threatening war over UN-imposed sanctions at the behest of the United States.

THAT is what people care about at the moment, Mr. Solomon; a questionable $3,300 expenditure for tips to condominium employees doesn’t even appear on the radar of anyone but the most rabid partisan.

Update 10/18: The fine people at Media Matters for America are truly doing God's work.

Patrick Closes The Gap

I just had a feeling that when the latest numbers came out they’d be good…and they are (from this Kos link):

Fitzpatrick 40%
Murphy 44%
This is from the Grove polling service commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Caucus among registered voters in the 8th district. Given that the statistical margin for error is 4.9 percent, what we have here is basically a tie (actually, Mikey still has a razor-thin lead, but considering that he was once up on Patrick by 14 points, I don’t know how anyone can say that this isn’t trending in Patrick’s direction).

As everyone who knows these things keeps saying, there are two issues in play here above all others: the Iraq war and the failed presidency of George W. Bush. And it pains me to say this, but as great a candidate as Patrick is, Mikey would definitely be leading if either one of these issues weren’t so catastrophic for the Repugs.

I only say that to point out what a bedrock Republican area the 8th district basically is; also, I know I’ve linked a million times to Mikey’s quote from last May about how he’d be leading by 10 points if Dubya had a 50 percent or better approval rating – tee hee – but there is somewhat of an element of truth there. My main purpose in highlighting that quote is to highlight Mikey’s arrogance also.

Also, given all of this, we can count on about three more weeks of truly venomous garbage from Mikey until this thing is settled on November 7th since he has, aside from fluffing hosannas from the Repug die hards, nothing else to run on. And to prove that, some really awful screeds attacking Patrick appeared in the Courier Times this morning (all “in play,” unfortunately, though they are gross misrepresentations of Patrick…it’s always a drag when we have to play fair because we should though the Repugs never do).

However, there were a few good letters supporting Patrick (I’m sure it will be 50-50 in that department from here on out also), and here they are:

As the mother of a 14-year-old boy, I am very disturbed by the Republican Party’s stance on Mark Foley’s involvement with male pages. That it was apparently known for years leads me to believe that Republicans chose holding onto a seat in Congress over the welfare of children. How can anyone approve of or ignore this behavior?

I am also concerned that
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has accepted $20,000 in campaign contributions from House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert. He has also accepted contributions from Congressman Tom Reynolds, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Majority Leader John Boehner and Congressman John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board. Taking these campaign contributions from people who chose to ignore the situation as soon as they were notified would make Fitzpatrick beholden to men who overlooked what went on.

Would we allow a known predator to teach our children? What if a judge knowingly received campaign contributions from someone who covered for a child molester? Would we re-elect that judge? I would not!

These congressmen are supposed to protect children that go to work as pages in Washington, not look the other way when they knowingly hear of sexual interaction between a 50-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy.

Debbi Kalstein
Upper Southampton, PA

Being a Vietnam-era veteran, I really resent the Republicans for slinging mud on military service, from Bush doing it to John McCain, to the swift-boating of John Kerry. Now, we have vets who spoke at a Mike Fitzpatrick press conference smearing Patrick Murphy with the swift-boating technique again.

At least McCain, Kerry, and Murphy have served. Murphy was a paratrooper. Paratroopers are always the first to participate in a combat situation.

Jack Sussle
Middletown, PA

Last election cycle, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick promised to keep an “open mind” about embryonic stem cell research. Well, apparently his mind wasn’t open for too long, as he’s been a staunch supporter of the president’s policy. Now he’s trying to sell himself as someone who opposed Social Security privatization, despite his statements on several occasions in favor of the Bush privatization plan. Fitzpatrick is also trying to pretend that he suddenly has a new position on the Iraq war.

How can we trust Fitzpatrick? We can’t.

The voters of the 8th congressional district deserve a representative who doesn’t flip flop – like former Army Capt. Patrick Murphy.

Christina Spitzer
Northampton, PA

If there is one thing Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is good at, it’s writing letters.

He wrote a letter to (Philadelphia Mayor) John Street supporting the discriminatory actions of the Boy Scouts.

He wrote a hollow letter to House Majority Leader John Boehner applauding Boehner’s laughable efforts at bipartisanship. This is the same John Boehner who can’t decide what or when he knew about Mark Foley’s sexual antics towards congressional pages.

Fitzpatrick also recently wrote a letter to House leaders “demanding” accountability in this scandal.

Bucks County residents do not need any more patronizing letters devoid of substance.

We need someone who will take charge, stand up for what is right and do something. Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, is a man of action. Fitzpatrick is a rubber-stamp Republican who cannot think for himself, and he proved it by caving in to Republican leadership on the CAFTA legislation by flip-flopping his vote at the last minute.

It was an act of betrayal that will siphon even more jobs away from hard-working Pennsylvanians and hand them to Third World countries.

Let’s leave Mike Fitzpatrick to his word processor and give the job to someone who is not afraid to take action.

Someone with guts and a spine. Someone like Patrick Murphy.

Matt Slavick
Middletown, PA
(I forgot about Mikey's CAFTA vote - glad someone else remembered.)

And as always (this is a LONG way from being settled, people), to help Patrick, click here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Video

Happy Birthday to Bob Weir; to mark the occasion, here's about four minutes of "St. Stephen" by The Grateful Dead which they performed on "Playboy After Dark" in 1969 (Weir looks like he's about 15 here).

As one YouTube commenter noted, it was kind of funny to see everyone dressed up and groovin' while The Dead performed resplendent in paisley and tie dye, and it was rumored that the guests had a little surprise in their drinks back when that sort of thing was tolerated, but I don't know it that's true or not and I suspect I never will.

Three More For Patrick

These two letters to the editor appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today...

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s recent flip-flop on Iraq and subsequent refusal to offer a new strategy is offensive. Intelligent people can certainly disagree as to what we should be doing in Iraq, but it is indefensible for a sitting congressman to have no position at all.

While Fitzpatrick is engaging in desperate ploys to save his political hide, Americans are dying in Iraq. Fitzpatrick accuses his opponent, Iraq War vet Patrick Murphy, of “cutting and running.” But anyone who has read Murphy’s detailed plan for Iraq knows that these swift boat-like charges are ludicrous. The only candidate who is cutting and running is Mike Fitzpatrick, who is attempting to run as far away from his close friend George W. Bush as possible.

Fitzpatrick has walked lockstep (sic) with Bush on Iraq for too long for voters to fall for this charade.

Luvon Griffin
Bristol, PA

The Republicans’ handling of the war with Iraq has been the equivalent of driving the family car into a brick wall, then jumping out and demanding to know what the Democrats are going to do to fix it. Well, we can continue to do it the Republican way, put the car back in drive, hit the gas, and hope we can eventually punch our way through the thing.

We could do it the Mike Fitzpatrick way, sit on the ground outside the car and, like Mike, belittle every suggestion for a remedy that we ourselves did not think of with a clichéd phrase “No to cut and run” or “No to stay the course.”

Or we could do it the Democrats’ way – take away the car keys.

Mike Fitzpatrick thinks that finding a solution for the war is someone else’s job. Rick Santorum still believes there are WMDs over there.

The Republicans always have a lot to say about patriotism like they invented it. The most patriotic thing you can do this year is to vote for Democratic congressional candidate Patrick Murphy over incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick and for Democratic senatorial candidate Bob Casey over incumbent Republican Rick Santorum.

The most patriotic thing you can do this year is to take away the car keys. It’s our car and they have, without a doubt, proven themselves unfit to drive.

Daniel Deagler
Plumstead, PA
Also, this Guest Opinion appeared from John Abbott, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a resident of Newtown Township, PA.

I am a disabled American veteran who enlisted in the Air Force in 1962 and I currently suffer from Parkinson’s disease. My days serving my country were the proudest days of my life. However, I never thought the government I fought so hard to protect would let me down in the face of death. I feel betrayed by George Bush, Mike Fitzpatrick and the other Republicans who are blocking federal funding for research that could save my life.

That’s why this November’s election is so important to me – because the future of my life could very well rest on its outcome. I will be voting for Patrick Murphy, a fellow veteran who I hope can help push federal funding for embryonic stem cell research forward despite Bush’s ill-advised policy. You see, Fitzpatrick is one of the Republicans who helped Bush sustain a veto on funding for this research despite the objections of scientists and patients like me. I can’t in good conscience vote for a man who let me down when I most needed his support.

Last month, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system. My symptoms began with shaking and occasional loss of movement. The disease is continuing to spread through my nerves and muscles, slowly crippling my ability to live life normally. It will eventually take all voluntary muscle control away from me, leaving me trapped in my own body.

Scientists and Parkinson’s disease advocates like Michael J. Fox are working hard to find a cure for the disease, but the federal government has thrown a massive roadblock in the way. A few months ago, President Bush vetoed a bill that would have allowed for federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells. These stem cells have a unique ability to help repair the nerve damage caused by Parkinson’s disease.
By the way, it should be pointed out that this remains the only veto by Dubya of legislation throughout this nightmare of a presidency.

Embryonic stem cell research offers great hope for me and those like me who suffer from Parkinson’s. In fact, it is believed that Parkinson’s disease could be the first disease to be made treatable by stem cell transplantation.

That is why I become so offended when Mike Fitzpatrick and George Bush blatantly distort the facts by claiming that their support for adult stem cell research justifies their opposition to the more promising embryonic stem cell research.

The truth is that adult stem cell research alone will do nothing to help me withstand the disease. A few years ago, dozens of Nobel Laureates sent a letter to Bush saying “Current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential. Therefore, for disorders that prove not to be treatable with adult stem cells, impeding human pluripotent stem cell research risks unnecessary delays for millions of patients who may die or endure needless suffering.”

If Fitzpatrick and Bush continue to block funding for embryonic stem cell research, I am old I will have one to four years before I end up confined to bed and unable to control my body. This is what is at stake when we talk about stem cell research: my right to live life. To claim that this right is somehow less important than playing election year politics is simply hurtful. These embryos are currently discarded as medical waste. Bush and Mike Fitzpatrick don’t complain about that – this is just election-year grandstanding at its worst.

Patrick Murphy has been an outspoken champion of embryonic stem cell research. The prospect of him fighting to federally fund this research beings me great hope.

This fall’s election may be about politics for some, but for me it is about my future and my life. I need embryonic stem cell research and I need Patrick Murphy to be elected to Congress.
We all need Patrick to be elected on November 7th, Mr. Abbott (you have our gratitude for your service and our prayers).

And to help make that happen, click here.