Saturday, October 28, 2006

Biting The Hand

Given what Blogger has been doing today (or not doing, to be more precise), I have no idea when this post will see the light of day, but I'm entering it anyway.

Out of sheer rage and disgust over this week's HORRIBLE performance from Blogger, I went to their "Blogger Buzz" site, and it was nice to see a post from someone who is presumably a Blogger tech dated 10/26 saying "Sorry, I know," with the stated excuse being that there have been some hardware upgrades taking place over the past week that have been responsible for the outages.

(By the way, when going to Blogger Buzz, is it too much trouble to provide a link back to the Blogger dashboard seeing as how you've already logged on and it's a pain in the ass to basically log off and start all over again after you leave Blogger Buzz? And is there a particular reason why comments aren't allowed to the Blogger Buzz posts?).

Being generally suspicious of these things, why do I get the feeling that this is part of an effort to cram Blogger Beta down our throats (especially since the author of the 10/26 Blogger Buzz post noted that Blogger Beta had no outages this week)?

If anyone from Blogger is reading this, let me pass along this idea to you.

Try publishing statistics of bugs and support issues from your help site for regular Blogger vs. Blogger Beta. I entered a bug related to my inability to upload to Blogger from YouTube (for which you never replied, by the way, and thanks so much for that - don't worry; I came up with a manual workaround), and I happened to notice A LOT of bugs for Blogger Beta (the name implies that that would be the case, I know).

Publish the list of the bugs of the one app vs. the other from week to week, and when I see a decline in the Blogger Beta bugs, then I'll decide that it's a good time to do the conversion.

Check Them Off Now Too

So CBS brings us The Katie Couric Evening News with a supposed free speech segment in which the only people who are entitled to speak their minds are conservatives, most notably the OxyContin addict Flush Limbore.

(And if anyone has an update to the "Free Speech" post at Media Matters, I'd like to know about it because I haven't been able to find one.)

Next, ABC presents "The Path To 9/11" containing fictional scenes that are roundly disputed but the network decides to air anyway.

Now, NBC has refused to run an ad for "Shut Up And Sing," a new documentary about The Dixie Chicks and all of the mess they faced after criticizing Bush on the Iraq war.

It is now official; I no longer have a reason to watch non-cable commercial network television.

Nice work, guys!

And speaking of the Dixie Chicks, even though I'm not a fan of this video, I am definitely a fan of this song.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Videos

"The Diary Of Jane," by Breaking Benjamin (something a bit gothic as we approach Halloween)...

...and since it's Friday, we should pay homage to the '80s (should we?) with one of the evergreens of pouty-big-hair-band, neon-rain-soaked-street, dry-ice-misted music videos, and that of course would be "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, with Tawny Kitaen draping herself all over everything in sight (works for me).

Bring This Guy Off The Bench

As somewhat of a Phillies fan, it’s kind of tough to have a rooting interest in this year’s World Series, where the St. Louis Cardinals are leading the Detroit Tigers by three games to one, and I believe the Cards can wrap things up tonight.

I was glad to see Jeff Suppan get knocked out last night since he, Patricia Heaton, and the guy who starred in Mel Gibson’s Jesus snuff film decided to respond to Michael J. Fox and say that they thought stem cell research will automatically lead to cloning humans (which echoes the paranoia of Amy Sullivan in my earlier post today with Beavis and Butt-head channeling "American Gothic" - love it!).

Let me know when “the rapture” comes along and lifts all of you guys right up to Heaven, OK?

The reason why I say it’s kind of tough to root in the Series is because ex-Phillies play on both teams. All-world third baseman Scott Rolen of the Cards busted his butt here for years, but he acted like a real jerk when he left, actually forcing the trade. Placido Polanco of Detroit, on the other hand (who, oddly enough, was traded here from St. Louis for Rolen), did the same thing and has shown nothing but class before and since (as far as I know, anyway – I’m a bit “out of the loop” on this stuff).

This post, however, though it has a nod to baseball, is really about politics. Specifically, it’s directed to one-time Democratic U.S. House candidate Andy Warren, who was defeated in the primary last spring by Patrick Murphy in the U.S. House 8th district congressional race.

I admit it’s a long shot that he will actually read this somehow, but I’d like to ask him this question anyway:

How will you feel somehow if Mikey is standing at the podium on Tuesday night November 7th waving to everyone with his wife and six children by his side and a big grin on his face with all of his followers whooping it up because he managed to pull out a victory due to a relentless torrent of negative advertising and provincialism while you did nothing to help Patrick Murphy?

I know that’s a lot to digest, so I’ll digress briefly and let you ponder it while I compliment you on your efforts to unravel the voting machine mystery here in Bucks and the 8th district in particular.

I remember quite well last spring how disenchanted you became with the Repugs, particularly over the Terri Schiavo circus, which was your stated reason for leaving the party. Actually, I don’t know how any individual would NOT be repulsed by the conduct of our politicians and assorted other “pro-life” zealots in that fiasco.

So you became a Democrat, and as far as I’m concerned, by doing so, you pledged your loyalty to the party. And during the primary, you pointed out that defeating an incumbent becomes exponentially harder the longer they’re in office (you didn’t phrase it that way, but that’s what you meant).

Well, I’m sure that, after all these months, you can swallow your pride and admit that Patrick Murphy is an outstanding candidate, and his campaign and the force of national and local events has put him squarely in contention for the 8th district house seat.

However, aside from the aforementioned torrent of negativity (and really, there’s only so much anyone can do about that despite the fact that we must continually fight it; we can't control what people decide to believe, nor should we be able to), you can help Patrick with the “provincialism” factor.

You can state that, even though you’re a lifelong resident of Bucks (I believe), you could argue that excluding anyone merely on the basis of how long they’ve lived in a certain area is a particularly backward way of thinking. You could stand up and say that, even though that was part of your campaign strategy at one time, you now realize how counterproductive that really is. You could say that that type of thinking deprives Bucks County of the element of vitality and fresh thinking that is missing so desperately in our political dialogue in these parts, and that it has a lot to do with why we can’t seem to resolve the issues that make a difference in people’s lives.

Basically, this would be kind of a “Nixon Goes To China” moment for you.

As a matter of fact, you probably could get away with not even endorsing Patrick by name if you didn’t want to (though everyone would know that that’s what you’re doing). You could do it strictly on behalf of the Democratic Party and its efforts to put an end to this blight of Republican government that is ruining this country for everyone but the investor class.

Because, Andy (may I call you Andy?), let’s face it: Mike Fitzpatrick’s accomplishments as our U.S. House Rep, such as they are, have been truly negligible – you and I know that. His support comes from people who hate Democrats anyway, though who have some principle of self interest in voting for him (I don’t like that, but I have to admit that I can relate to it), and others who are fooled by this ridiculous “nice guy” persona that he has been able to capitalize on, mythologized in part by the Bucks County Courier Times among others, all based in the mindset that he’s “one of us.” And as I said earlier, you could articulate the case that just being “one of us” isn’t even close when it comes to qualifying someone for the job Mikey presently holds.

So give it some thought, would you please (time is short, though). I’m sure that speaking out in this way wouldn’t represent a decisive moment in the campaign, but as a member of the Democratic Party, helping out one of your own sure would be the right thing to do.

Lois On The Move

Here’s an update on Lois Herr’s campaign to unseat Republican Joe Pitts in U.S. PA District 16 (from

- A fundraiser is taking place tonight from 7-9 pm at Café Aroma Borealis and RainbowNet Creations at 52 North Queen Street, Lancaster (in the Place Marie/Central Market Mall).

- Lois will appear at a rally with Bob Casey on Monday October 30th from 12:30 pm – 1:30pm at the Democratic Campaign Headquarters, 151 North Queen Street in Lancaster (RSVP to Erin Wilson at or 215-567-4190).

Also, did you know that Lois has outraised Pitts by a margin of over 3 to 1 in contributions from individuals in the third quarter?

Another item of note – Lois appeared recently with Lois Murphy (running against Repug Jim Gerlach in U.S. PA District 6) and pledged that the city of Reading will have a joint congressional office when both Herr and Murphy are elected to the U.S. House.

The following explains why this is important:

Reading has been gerrymandered into two Congressional districts and the City has suffered from the split representation. Herr's opponent, Rep. Pitts, has turned his back to the African American and Latino communities in the city by repeatedly voting for "Welfare for the Rich" and voting against programs that would promote minority business, make affordable healthcare available to inner-city constituents and provide resources to communities and neighborhoods.

"The idea of a single-point-of-contact resource center that we have heard proposed tonight is exactly what needs to be done to assure that federal, state, and community services and programs are readily accessible to every citizen in this city," Herr said to a group of leaders after the rally. "We have heard the Governor commit to placing state services in that resource center. By moving my Congressional office to that center, connections to federal services and programs will be located right where constituents need them to be."
Finally, the Alliance for Retired Americans, representing three million retirees, older Americans, and community activists including more than 301,953 members in Pennsylvania, endorsed Lois Herr, stating as follows:

"Your positions demonstrate a strong determination to improve the quality of life for older Americans. Your leadership on issues such as the need for a comprehensive prescription drug benefit plan under Medicare that benefits seniors -- not insurance and drug companies, the financial stability of the Social Security system, retirement and pension security, and quality long term nursing home care all exhibit a commitment to America's seniors.

"The Alliance for Retired Americans believes that your election to the House of Representatives will enhance the quality of life for older Americans. . . ."

Representative Pitts has a 0% lifetime voting record with the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Why am I not surprised in the least to hear that about Pancake Joe, by the way?

For more information on the Lois Herr campaign, click here.

Tell THEM To Back Off, Rummy!

By the way, Mr. “Defense Secretary You Have,” are you still stamping letters with your signature notifying family members that their sons and daughters have died in Iraq as opposed to actually signing them (as a follow up to this)?

Probably a dumb question to ask of this cretin, but I’m asking it anyway…

And by the way, not that Rummy would care I guess, but somehow he might be interested in knowing the results of his foul handiwork with the rest of Bushco from time to time by clicking here.

A Quagmire In The "Culture Wars"

I once asked awhile ago who it was who started the so-called “culture wars,” and I never received an answer. And somehow, based on this bit of theorizing by Amy Sullivan that appeared on yesterday’s editorial page of USA Today, I don’t think I’m going to get an answer anytime soon, seeing as how it is utterly full of tripe (this is actually a companion of sorts to the hit piece by CNN’s Candy Crowley the other day).

Despite my objections, I should give USA Today credit for putting this into a blog and allowing readers to post comments to the story online (would that Philadelphia’s “newspaper of record” did the same thing).

Why Democrats are losing the culture war
Republicans’ edge: Seeing the problem
And by the way, as nearly as I can determine, the “problem” is that Democrats/liberals/progressives/whatever don’t bend over backwards for people who will never agree with them the same way that ABC producer Mark Halperin did yesterday).

By Amy Sullivan

On the surface, solid majorities of Americans agree with Democratic Party values. They want universal health care, support increasing the minimum wage, believe stricter environmental regulations are needed and worth paying for, and think the best way to achieve peace is through diplomacy.

By contrast, only 12% say abortion and gay marriage are more important issues than poverty and universal health care, according to a recent survey by the Center for American Values in Public Life, a project funded by the liberal group People For the American Way. And a paltry 5% of Americans identified abortion and gay marriage as their top issues.
OK, before this column gets started, I want to point out once again how all of this recycled “blame the namby pamby liberals and embrace the almighty Third Way to reach Mr. and Mrs. Bedrock Whitebread (for the most part) America” claptrap is nothing more than a “chicken vs. egg” conundrum that can never be solved, with Democrats looking bad no matter what they try to do.

If they embrace gay marriage and support abortion (and most Democrats I read and hear about support civil unions with the attendant legal benefits but not gay marriage, and I find a pro-choice position to be reasonable also along with most other people, something else that negative-narrative-reinforcing columns like this ignore), then they’ve surrendered to their liberal base. If they don’t and address the issues Sullivan mentions (which I personally believe are more important also, but I can easily understand why someone else wouldn’t feel that way), then they’ll be dogged by the Repugs (of course) and their media sycophants until they admit that they actually do, along with the attendant “AHA!” faux outrage.

Based on these numbers, Democrats should be beating Republicans at the ballot box. But precisely the opposite has happened in the past few national elections.
This is because the Republicans simply cannot be touched when it comes to appealing to people’s prejudices and baser instincts, along with some heaping doses of voter disenfranchisement and fraud in strategic Democratic areas, though the Democrats aren’t utterly blameless either. The Repug strategy works best primarily when the charade is successful, but since Katrina and its aftermath, it has crumbled to pieces.

One answer is that national security is still a major issue, generally favoring Republicans. But more important is the fact that abortion and gay marriage are proxies for deeply held cultural concerns. They tell voters something about the character of a candidate — or a party.
“Proxies for deeply held cultural concerns”...what clever wording for southern and western white rural prejudice and northern “lu-bu-ruul” resentment.

So Sullivan said earlier that “only 12% say abortion and gay marriage are more important issues than poverty and universal health care,” though it turns out that they may be more important statistically than that? I’m confused (guess I’m not smart enough to properly interpret such deep analysis).

Real anxieties

Most voters worry about escalating challenges to family stability and the losing battle to instill good values in their children instead of the materialism and coarseness peddled by popular culture. They fear that our society has developed a casualness about life, especially as science has made it easier to manipulate and create beings.
Uh, where the hell is she going with this? Now, the issues of abortion and gay marriage are somehow morphing into cloning..??

Banning gay marriage and outlawing abortion don't directly address those anxieties.
Ah, but if the Democrats did advocate that, then those so-called “values voters” would just flock to our party in droves, wouldn’t they?

Can we explode and utterly destroy that fiction once and for all now and forever, please? That being said, though, I realize there are rare exceptions to everything, including Mr. Casey Jr. who is about to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Pa. running on a similar platform. I should add, though, that Casey has been aided in no small part by the fact that he’s running against a Repug incumbent who has completely and utterly lost his mind.

But proposals like these at least acknowledge that the concerns exist and are valid. So while Republicans offer the wrong prescriptions, they get the diagnosis right.
Over time, though, the “patient” would die anyway.

And they win because most of the time, Democrats won't admit that anything is wrong. In politics, as in most areas of life, something always beats nothing.
Sullivan will provide a couple of anecdotes shortly to support this flimsy contention – I’ll give her credit for trying to back this up with some chronological events from the real world.

However, I absolutely and utterly defy her or anyone else to provide an example to me of a Democratic politician ridiculing “people of faith” or their religion or stating that they don’t think their concerns are valid. THAT is what (as nearly as I can determine) is at the heart of this “value voter” resentment. The only reason I know of why they would feel that way based on the conduct of a Democratic politician is because of John Kerry’s decision not to campaign in southern states where he was projected to lose in 2004, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a flimsy excuse to hold a grudge.

Despite the uproar over Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction a couple of years ago…
You just knew “the tit that will never die” would figure into this somehow, didn’t you?

…most parents don't fret that the accidental sighting of a breast or hearing of a swear word will scar their children. They're more concerned about the unrealistic ideas kids get from popular culture about consumption and body image and violence as a way of handling conflict.
I wish that that were true, but somehow I have a feeling that it isn’t.

Sadly, too many liberals react to complaints about popular culture as if they're teenagers. They either jut out their chins and growl, "If you don't like it, don't watch it," or they stay silent for fear of looking like prudes. Given the ridicule that Tipper Gore faced for promoting warning labels for explicit music lyrics and the derision that followed Hillary Clinton's effort to keep violent video games away from kids, perhaps it's no surprise that most keep their mouths shut. That silence, however, hands conservatives a victory. As David Callahan points out in his book The Moral Center, "When the right complains about the media's descent into tawdriness, it puts them on the side of most Americans."
What a festival of generalities!

I don’t recall what happened in the case of Hillary Clinton, and I’m not going to do the research on this that Sullivan should have done herself. However, I admit that she has a point about the Tipper Gore thing with the parental advisories. I thought that was absolutely ridiculous at the time, but it’s kind of funny how being a parent changes your mind about some things.

Despite that, I still believe these two incidents are anecdotal and relatively trivial. The fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party doesn’t believe that the government has a right to intrude into people’s churches or bedrooms or doctor’s offices, and it doesn’t believe that it has the right to tell people how to take care of their bodies, practice their religion, or raise their kids. I think that’s sensible. And just because we believe that and stay out of these issues doesn’t imply that we don’t have an opinion on them. It just means that we believe that it’s none of our damn business!

And as far as this lie that conservatives are some kind of moral guardians (notwithstanding their support of the Iraq war, which is about as immoral an enterprise as this country has ever seen), consider that perhaps their biggest shout box is FOX Television. Well, do you know what Rupert Murdoch does with the ad revenue generated from “family fare” such as broadcasts by Bill Bennett, Michael Medved, and the rest of these holier-than-thou characters? He uses it to produce such morally uplifting programming as “How To Make Love Like A Porn Star.”

“Bait And Switch 101,” ladies and gentlemen...

Even an issue on which Democrats seem to have the winning position can turn out to be a loser for the party in the long run. Most Americans now believe that research on stem cells should be allowed. But as Noam Scheiber recently pointed out in The New Republic magazine, the polls also suggest that they have serious concerns about the morality of unrestricted scientific research. They don't want to wake up tomorrow and discover that we're cloning humans without ever having a conversation as a society about the moral issues involved.
Though there are currently no federal laws banning human cloning in this country (explained in this Common Dreams article), according to Wikipedia...

“Current regulations prohibit federal funding for research into human cloning, which effectively prevents such research from occurring in public institutions and private institution such as universities which receive federal funding.”
The notion that anyone could “wake up tomorrow and discover that we're cloning humans without ever having a conversation as a society about the moral issues involved” is true freeper nonsense.

By framing the debate as a choice between theology or science, Democrats essentially argued that anyone who has qualms about scientific progress is a troglodyte.
Says you (and what else are Democrats supposed to do here? It IS a debate between theology or science!).

If I were to point out all of the ways that pioneering scientific advancement in this country has led to the development of the prosperity we’ve inherited and much of the way of life that we take utterly for granted, then it would probably take three days to read this entire post.

That puts them on the losing side of the moral question, even as they win the specific policy debate.
In those terms, it’s impossible to “win” on the “moral question.”

There's promising evidence, though, that this moral tone-deafness of Democrats may be about to change. Abortion, perhaps the most contentious moral issue of them all, is also the one area in which Democrats are poised to move past the political debate and address the real concerns of Americans. Over the past two years, a growing number of Democrats in the House and Senate have gotten behind "abortion reduction" efforts that seek to prevent unwanted pregnancies and provide support to women who want to carry their pregnancies to term.
I currently cannot obtain data on abortions in the United States performed beyond 2001 or 2002 – I have a feeling the number has decreased across the country, but I cannot confirm that at the moment.

However, the following from this article (again, courtesy of Wikipedia) is noteworthy..

The Democratic Party platform considers abortion to be a woman's right, while the group Democrats for Life of America has growing strength within their own party.

Chairman Howard Dean has welcomed pro-life Democrats more than previous chairs and DFLA's 95-10 Initiative has increasing support. There is also a large disconnect between convention delegates who pass the party platform and rank and file Democrats. In 2006 pollsters found that 74% of Democrats favor the availability of abortion in most circumstances.
By the way, when you talk about preventing unwanted pregnancies, you’re talking about contraception, which the Repugs and their followers have fought tooth and nail. Their “abstinence only” teachings don’t work, and most parents favor a mix of abstinence and teaching their kids about contraception also. I don’t have any links to verify that at the moment, but trust me; as a parent who spends time with other parents discussing kids, I know what I’m talking about on this.

This new approach reduces abortions without risking women's lives. And let us NEVER forget the political party that would advocate or encourage that, by the way (and it’s NOT the Democrats!). I have two words for you on that – South Dakota (I scanned this article and saw quotes so barbaric that I'll have to find a way to post on this by itself later).

The average American doesn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade or start locking up doctors. But neither does she buy the liberal line that 1.3 million abortions per year are just the price you pay for living in a free and modern society.
I don’t know what “liberals” Sullivan spends time with, but never in my life have I felt that way either.

Threshold issues

Democrats are right when they argue that their party's position on issues such as poverty, health care and job creation reflect a powerful moral value — helping those who have less. But they're wrong to think that's enough to win back the cultural voters they've lost.
Again with the “cultural voters”…yes, as a Democrat, you can tweak your fundamental message without altering it or outright lying and win over some “swing” voters in the process, but there are certain “cultural voters” who would slit their wrists before they voted anything but Republican.

Abortion and gay marriage — and the deep-seated cultural anxieties they represent — are threshold issues for voters. If a candidate can show he understands voters' concerns about the culture, then they'll listen to what else he has to say. If he tells them instead that there's nothing to worry about and tries to change the subject, they've already tuned out.
I was sympathetic (a bit) to Sullivan at the beginning of this, but as I read her continuing to use phrases like “proxies for deeply held cultural concerns,” “a casualness about life,” “getting the diagnosis right with the wrong prescription,” “winning the policy debate but losing on the moral question,” and “deeply held cultural anxieties,” I came to the realization that she’s merely pandering to the Fox/NRO/Jewish World Review/Free Republic crowd who she wants to buy her book. Beyond that, what she says has very little validity.

The good news for Democrats is that if the party can just get past the threshold, it stands a much better chance of connecting with voters who already agree with them on the pressing issues that should decide elections.
“Should” decide, but don’t (at least, not up to now).

But we’ll see about that in a couple of weeks, won’t we (and by the way, I don't want anyone buying Sullivan's book for me for Christmas, OK?).

And for what it's worth, this is actually my 1,400th post - no fanfare please...

Does The Slime Really Work, People?

I’m reading the text from this Keystone Politics link that shows Mike Fitzpatrick having a nine-point lead in the polls over Patrick Murphy in the 8th district congressional race (as noted in today’s Philadelphia Daily News also), and aside from wondering why Tom Lingenfelter is included in the poll sampling when he isn’t even on the ballot (as the commenter noted), I also wonder about the sampling of individuals polled and (age, geographic location in the country, income levels, etc.).

I am also skeptical of this poll partly because of this story also.

And though the Letters To The Editor appearing in the Courier Times have tilted in Mikey’s favor at the moment (with some dirt thrown at Patrick so scurrilous that even the august Courier Times editorial board felt the need somehow to clarify a particularly odious letter today), I cannot imagine that he won’t pay a price at the polls for impugning Patrick’s service (indeed, some letter writers have stated that plainly…I thought John Kerry, appearing in a campaign visit for Patrick yesterday, had a good line when he said that Fitzpatrick’s attack on Patrick’s service “is like Jessica Simpson attacking Albert Einstein’s IQ”).

I have a feeling that there will be more reporting on this poll, and I’ll update this post as necessary.

And by the way, I was also skeptical of the DCCC poll last week that showed Patrick leading by four points, 44-40 percent. If anything, to me the poll showed a statistical tie at best, which actually was a bit worrisome because it came in the wake of Clinton’s visit, and rolling out The Big Dog is the biggest weapon in the Democratic arsenal, as it were (with all due respect to Kerry, he’ll never accomplish what Clinton does with likely voters).

But the title of this post still applies, as far as I’m concerned. And it still makes me wonder (and will right up to the closing of the polls on November 7th).

All we can do is our best in these matters. It’s very difficult to outspend the Repugs; we have to try and win through organization, communicating, and arguing based on the issues.

The drum beat over and over again in this campaign (and repeated in today’s Daily News story) is that, somehow, Fitzpatrick is some sort of “independent moderate” who has “paid attention to local issues” and benefits somehow from his past experience as a Bucks County Commissioner.

All of this is utter nonsense, and I’ve spent the vast amount of the last seven months or more doing my level best to prove that.

And as further evidence, we have today’s Courier Times story in which Patrick rightfully confronted Fitzpatrick at a candidates’ media forum last night over the slew of negative ads (as always, no link yet).

However, I do want to share this excerpt for now…

“..what had been planned as a debate turned one-sided when Fitzpatrick apologized to the crowd and said he needed to leave early to attend the Newtown Township supervisors meeting. The board was considering an ordinance supporting a proposed national veterans cemetery, and Fitzpatrick said he needed to speak to the board.

Murphy directed the television cameras to focus on Fitzpatrick leaving the room, saying the candidate didn’t want to debate the issues. Fitzpatrick stopped on his way out, turned towards Murphy and stared at him before leaving.”
Always the class act, Mikey.

If you wanted to speak to the Newtown supervisors about the proposed veterans cemetery at Dolington, I’m sure you could have prepared a statement in advance to be read into the meeting minutes. If a vote was going to be called for, you could have designated a proxy to cast your vote for you.

I’ll believe that Fitzpatrick has an edge in this race because there are sooo many people in this district who would sooner remove a body part from themselves without anesthetic than vote for a Democrat, but based on his swift boating and juvenile questioning of Patrick’s legal service (and by the way, read this post from Atrios to find out what to do about that) and assorted other nonsense from Mikey (including what I’m sure will be a continuing slew of attack TV ads and campaign mailers from the NRCC...and let's not forget Mikey's failure to call for Hastert's resignation over the Mark Foley stuff), as well as what Patrick brings to the table in his formidable candidacy, I refuse to believe that it’s a polling edge of nine points.

Update: This may be a first - I actually posted on this before Atrios did (don't worry...I have no "delusions of grandeur" here, and I'm sure he's seen more raw numbers on this than I have).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Videos

"Back To The Wall," by the Divinyls from 1988 (sounds like "wool," they being from Down Under and all that)...

...and as a tribute to drummer Sandy West, here's The Runaways (featuring Joan Jett and Lita Ford) and "Wasted."

Starving For The Truth

I came across this item yesterday and detected some stuff that I thought was worthy of note (you know me…).

The Yahoo News story has to do with the war on poverty (interesting to recall that ‘60s phrase, which I believe is heroic). It starts out with interviewing a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, and then follows up with a quote from John Edwards prior to this bit of editorializing:

Edwards ran for president in 2004 arguing there were two Americas, one for the well-off and another for those who struggle. When that effort failed, he ran for vice president on John Kerry's ticket. He said he has not decided whether to run again in 2008.
How exactly did Edwards’ effort fail? Does the writer mean his effort to win the primary or his effort to highlight and fight against the problem of hunger in America?

Edwards did finish second in the primary as I recall, and he pushed Kerry hard before the primary ended. But I guess the writer doesn’t believe that that context is necessary.

Also, though I’ve been “hot and cold” on Jesse Jackson in the past, I believe that when he’s right about an issue, he’s shown himself as a true visionary, as he does here with these words:

"There is a need to have politicians whose positions represent change for the better and not an accommodation with the worst of our status quo."
And the article next asks the question, “Does Poverty Exist?,” which is astonishing given what we witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last year (which the article cited previously). It does present the following statistic, though, to answer a question which shouldn’t need to be asked.

The U.S. Census Bureau said in August one in eight Americans and one in four black people lived in poverty last year.
I believe “African American” is the commonly accepted parlance here, but I guess I’m just splitting hairs again.

My real objection, though, comes here…

Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank argued there is little actual poverty in the United States and most poor people had a house, car, television, air conditioning, food and medical care.

Democrats only employed the word to stir emotions and "low income status" would be a better description in most cases, Rector said in an interview.
Why don’t we call those who are poor and hungry “economically deprived” or “missing out on prosperity” or something if Rector doesn’t like those terms?

God, I detest these people.

That case gains traction in the United States, a society with a fiercely competitive ethic and a belief that hard work and self-reliance are a sure route to success, making it risky to promote a national goal of helping the poor.
The above paragraph is editorializing, by the way, and has no place in something that purports to be a news story.

Also, the article quotes Jim Wallis, affiliated with a Christian ministry group called Sojourners which “promotes spiritual renewal and social justice,” which I applaud. Wallis said that “the religious right has hijacked the agenda for Christian voters promoting opposition to abortion and gay marriage but pushing poverty off the agenda.”

I would tend to agree, and I would also tend to wonder why this isn’t the lede paragraph of the story and is instead buried near the end (further evidence of the hypocrisy of the so-called “moral values” crowd).

I’ll tell you what: for anyone who has any doubt whatsoever as to whether or not hunger exists in America, go to the Second Harvest site here and try linking to some of the statistics presented by these good people for a dose of reality.

And if Robert Rector reads this information and STILL doesn’t believe that poverty exists, then I’ll encourage him to travel to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and see for himself.

No "Rush" To Judgement, I See

I know this is a post that I could regularly regurgitate if I wanted to with minor modifications, but in light of Flush Limbore’s recent rant that Parkinson’s disease-afflicted actor Michael J. Fox was “off his medication” when he appeared in an ad supporting stem-cell research, I’d like to say something.

My grandfather ultimately died from Parkinson’s disease. He gradually lost control of his motor functions until he was completely bedridden during his final days. This happened many years ago.

Now I will allow for the fact that medications have advanced since that time, and it’s possible that medication can mitigate the deterioration from the disease somewhat. But the medicine doesn’t stop the disease.

My point is that the question of whether or not Fox was taking his medication when he filmed the ad is utterly irrelevant (not really necessary to point that out to most people with IQs over that of a housefly, I realize, since the entire medication question from Limbaugh would only be considered credible by his zombie-like followers anyway). The disease (including the infamous Parkinson’s “mask,” which was plainly visible on Pope John Paul II before he died as well as Fox) will progress anyway, unfortunately.

I wish Godspeed to Michael J. Fox and all Parkinson’s sufferers, by the way, and I pray that the Democrats take over Congress on November 7th so we can revisit the issue of funding embryonic stem cell research again as soon as possible.

And I'm not going to ask the question "when is enough finally enough" with people like Limbore, Coulter, Hannity, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, O'Reilly, etc. and the rest of their foul ilk, because obviously, they can say ANYTHING and never have to worry about whether or not they'll be granted a forum for their toxic blather.

Besides, Fox takes drugs out of necessity. At least he doesn’t do it by choice.

Update: Despite "talent on loan from God," it looks like Flush's little gambit isn't exactly paying off (awww...).

Just A Reminder...

Don't forget our 11/7 theme song ("Stand Up" by Trapt)...

A Trail of 8th District Ooze

(Maybe Blogger will keep from crashing again long enough for me to finish this the way, John Kerry is going to appear for Patrick today at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pa. - see for details.)

As I arrived home from work late tonight, I walked up the driveway to my house and accidentally stepped on something that was kind of firm under the sole of my shoe. Since there were downed tree branches nearby, I thought it was a twig.

When I realized I couldn't flick it off, I soon found out that it was kind of firm and gushy, sticking to my thumb and forefinger a bit as I pried it off, leaving an oily coating on my hand. It turned out that what I had stepped on was a slug.

It turned out to be an appropriate harbinger when I entered our home, took off my shoes, and flipped through the pile of bills on the dining room table. It was then that I saw a glossy mailer with a red background and bold white type. Almost immediately after that I noticed that the mailer had a picture of Patrick Murphy looking a bit confused, and the sick feeling I felt instantaneously after that told me that this had invaded our house from the National Republican Campaign Committee.

On one side is a photo of a forlorn family, and on the other side under Patrick's photo is that of a little girl, arms folded under her chin with a spiteful look on her face next to the bold type that says, "Vote No for Patrick Murphy. He's not looking out for our families."

Here is the scurrilous text:

"With the rising costs of raising children in our state, Pennsylvanians can use all the help they can get. The recent federal tax relief included a doubling of the child tax credit. This has enabled parents to keep more of their hard-earned incomes - so they can better clothe, feed and enrich the lives of their children. In times like these, it's help we can all use."
Now comes the shot in the gut:

"Patrick Murphy's Law #5: You got kids, you got problems."
I shudder to think what lies are being told in #1 through #4, by the way, and I'm sure a mountain of this crap from these vermin awaits until November 7th.

And what exactly is Patrick guilty of, I wonder?

"Patrick Murphy has publicly criticized the tax cuts which have brought this much needed relief to the families in our state (The Intelligencer, 2/9/06). Apparently, under Patrick Murphy's law, the tax cuts should not be made permanent. If the tax cuts expire, it will cut the child tax credit in half for Pennsylvania families!" (the last sentence was highlighted in yellow, by the way).

"Patrick Murphy seems to believe the government needs the money more than our children do."
Ah yes, it's that bad "government's" fault, right? Well, I think this is an opportunity to link to what Mark Shields said about government a few years ago for some actual, real-world perspective as opposed to Repug propaganda.

I should note that I was unable to track down the reference in the Doylestown Intelligencer which states that tax cuts "have brought much-needed relief to the families in our state," so I can't comment on that, though I know speaking only for myself, I saw a check for $400 for the first tax cut after Dubya took over and NOTHING after that, while the investor class has ended up consolidating their wealth beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

And by the way, the "our" references in this mailer (implying this originated from Pennsylvania somewhere) is yet another lie. Here is where this mailer came from:

The Republican National Committee
320 First Street, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
And as far as the child tax credit under Bush is concerned, Paul Krugman (the noted economist from Princeton University and the New York Times) notes the following here:

"...the 2001 tax cut included a $400 child credit and also created a new 10 percent tax bracket, the so-called cutout. These measures had the effect of creating a ''sweet spot'' that could be exploited for political purposes. If a couple had multiple children, if the children were all still under 18 and if the couple's income was just high enough to allow it to take full advantage of the child credit, it could get a tax cut of as much as 4 percent of pretax income. Hence the couple with two children and an income of $40,000, receiving a tax cut of $1,600, who played such a large role in the administration's rhetoric. But while most couples have children, at any given time only a small minority of families contains two or more children under 18 -- and many of these families have income too low to take full advantage of the child tax credit. So that ''typical'' family wasn't typical at all. Last year, the actual tax break for families in the middle of the income distribution averaged $469, not $1,600."
Yep, about $400 - as I said, that's what I saw one time also.

And what about the wealthy and tax cuts anyway? Well, as Krugman also notes in the same paragraph:

"David Stockman (former budget director for Ronald Reagan) famously admitted that Reagan's middle-class tax cuts were a 'Trojan horse' that allowed him to smuggle in what he really wanted, a cut in the top marginal rate. The Bush administration similarly follows a Trojan horse strategy, but an even cleverer one. The core measures in Bush's tax cuts benefit only the wealthy, but there are additional features that provide significant benefits to some -- but only some -- middle-class families (which Krugman notes in the paragraph I cited above)."
Here is what the Repugs know but don't want to talk about: what really bites into our paychecks are inflation and energy costs (which are related), and payroll taxes. According to what I read, inflation rears its ugly head when energy prices go up, thus raising the price of anything dependent on energy (which is basically everything in the world, and this usually occurs right at the beginning of the summer travel season...what a coincidence, right?), but when energy costs go down, inflation is abated somewhat (of course, wages are depressed by offshoring and raises - if you're lucky enough to even get one - don't keep up with inflation anyway, but that's another story).

As I noted here, Mike Fitzpatrick had a chance to do something about energy costs, but he took a mulligan, as it were. And as far as payroll taxes are concerned, Patrick provided some interesting information on Mikey's position here.

Concerning our actual wages, Mike Fitzpatrick had a chance to help pass national minimum wage legislation, but he gutted it by trying to help sneak in another estate tax cut for the rich (to say nothing of the fact that he didn't help with rising health care costs either).

That's about all of the analysis of this NRCC garbage that I care to perform for now. It is total propaganda meant only to dupe people into supporting the tax cuts so near and dear to Repug guru Grover Norquist, among others, who want to shrink government "to the point where you can drown it in a bathtub," and who equates bipartisanship with "date rape."

These people truly are scum.

So I would only ask that you brace yourself for an onslaught of this crud, and remember that, as far as issues go, first and foremost, "it's the war, stupid" (and as I type this, Mikey STILL has no plan, and neither does his precious Iraq study group - I think it's safe to assume that this is the main reason why Chris Bowers of MyDD, who is generally spot on concerning these matters, once rated the PA-08 race as "skewing Republican" but now rates it "a toss up").

And by the way, if you want to know Patrick Murphy's position on the economy and family issues, click this link and read what he has to say.

So arm yourselves with the knowledge that, when you vote on November 7th, one candidate will stand with us to change the politics of poison in Washington, D.C. and represent us and on the issues that truly matter, and another will hide behind "swift-boating" garbage and mailers full of lies on the "bread and butter" needs and concerns that affect our families every day.

That should make it easy to pull the lever and touch the screen for the right candidate.

And last but not least, when you're walking to the polling station, watch out for the slugs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thanks For Remembering

Regarding this great post by Jonathan Tasini, I only wish to highlight this quote from Paul Wellstone:

"The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
So let’s go out and make that happen.

Hold Your Nose And Vote For Joe?

What the hell kind of an endorsement is this from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer?

So the paper supports Admiral Joe Sestak over Crazy Curt Weldon in the PA-7 U.S. Congressional District?

Well, that’s a good thing. However, the paper described Sestak and Weldon as “two disappointing choices.” I would agree in the latter case, but definitely not the former.

Editorial Joe Sestak for Congress
Pa. Seventh District

Historically Republican, the district covering most of Delaware and parts of Chester and Montgomery Counties voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections.

The Case for Sestak

Retired admiral, U.S. Navy
Democrat, 54

This seat, held by Weldon for 20 years, is ripe for a change. Sestak, a career naval officer, is a political novice - and it shows. But he's benefited from the mounting ethical woes of the GOP majority on Capitol Hill, including Weldon's.

Sestak's experience commanding a battle group in Iraq and Afghanistan is key. He'd bring valuable military expertise to Pentagon oversight. He seems eager to push for needed ethics reforms.

The Opponent

Curt Weldon
U.S. representative
Republican, 59

The Case for Weldon

Weldon wields the influence of seniority on the Armed Services Committee. He knows the district and has brought defense jobs back home. This centrist enjoys rattling government cages.
I think Blogger is going to have some more unscheduled scheduled maintenance shortly, so I won't be able to rip this laughable "centrist" label (??) to shreds.

Character / Ethics

The Justice Department is investigating whether Weldon used his position to help his daughter's lobbying/consulting firm. Another daughter was hired by a defense contractor after Weldon helped the company to get a federal contract. This smells as bad as it looks.

You expect admirals to have integrity and leadership. Sestak seems to. But he stumbled badly during an Inquirer debate, belittling Weldon's work with "bubbas" in the district.
And the Inquirer stumbled badly in not reporting on some of Weldon’s horrific screwups, including his reference to sailors onboard ship under Sestak’s one-time command as “servants.”

And Sestak seems to have integrity? If I were the Admiral, I’d tell the Inquirer what they could do with a remark like that in the most blunt language that I knew.

Edge: Sestak (Experience / Credentials)

Weldon is an expert on Russia and North Korea. But he can undercut his credibility with loose-cannon behavior, such as flogging his "Able Danger" theory of the Pentagon's failure to stop 9/11.

Raised in Springfield, Sestak has a Ph.D. from Harvard in political economy and government, and served in the Clinton White House on the National Security Council. He has commanded as many as 15,000 military personnel.

Even Ideas / Issues

Unable to defend the war in Iraq any longer, Weldon now wants the generals to decide when to bring troops home. His concern comes late. Sestak rightly believes the Iraq war is a "tragic misadventure" and wants troops withdrawn by the end of 2007.
Funny that somehow, to the Inquirer’s way of thinking, there’s a more dramatic difference here between Weldon and Sestak on the war than there is between Mikey and Patrick Murphy, when in fact it’s really about the same rift either way; the difference is that Admiral Joe wins points here (as he should), but Patrick doesn’t (Mikey’s “concern” came late too).

Weldon does not rule out tax increases to erase the budget deficit. Sestak would raise taxes on people earning $200,000 per year or more, and cap discretionary spending.

Edge: Sestak

Overall Edge: Sestak
By the way, while I’m on the subject of political endorsements by the Inquirer, I should mention something peculiar about their endorsement of New Jersey U.S. House representative Chris Smith last Saturday.

I should point out that Smith is an incumbent Republican who is facing Democrat Carol Gay (who, as “a longtime labor activist,” is automatically doomed as far as the Inquirer is concerned, though I hasten to add that I don’t know anything about how that race has been shaping up). Also, it’s a shame that Smith is such an anti-choice zealot also, because he has done good work for our veterans, and that leads me into this excerpt from the Inquirer’s endorsement:

“(Smith’s) dogged efforts on behalf of veterans cost him the chairmanship of the House Veterans Committee in 2005.”
This happens to be true, by the way. But let’s think about the fundamental absurdity of that sentence for a minute, OK?

Smith was removed from his post by Tom “The Hammer” DeLay because he showed up "The Bug Man" by doing his job too well on behalf of our service people. I think that’s about as damning a statement about the failed Repug leadership as anything I could muster on my own.

Which brings me to some final points I want to make about the Inquirer and their candidate endorsements – I realize they’re going to pick and choose and not really act in accordance with anything I say here (that would be nice, though – “if I ruled the world” and all that…), but I look at it this way.

When you are driving a car that is costing you hundreds upon hundreds of dollars due to frequent repairs, and you eventually come to the inescapable conclusion that what you have is a lemon, do you decide to fix it a piece at a time (a new alternator here, a new carburetor there, maybe a new oil filter or a tailpipe and muffler also)?

No, you chuck the whole thing and look for a new car.

To me, the 109th Republican Congress is a lemon (and based on the polls I read, a lot of other people feel the same way). You don’t chuck Crazy Curt and Gerlach (endorsing Lois Murphy was a nice move, though) but keep Mikey Fitzpatrick and Pancake Joe Pitts without the expectation that the car is going to break down all over again, since they’re all part and parcel of the same problem.

And you sure as hell don’t keep Rick (“Eye-Of-Mordor-Man-on-Dog”) Santorum either.

Also, the writing in these Inquirer endorsements shows no depth whatsoever, unless of course there’s some hidden rationale for some of them that the august Inquirer editorial board decided not to share with us.

So here’s what I think; the Inquirer should just give up endorsing candidates. Just cut and paste whole blocks of text from and other sites, list them in the editorial section under one column for each candidate, and let the voters decide for themselves.

Where's Your Old Man?

I don’t have the time (nor the desire, truth be told) to fully catalogue and respond to the lies and distortions from Laura “Hit And Run” Bush yesterday when she visited our area to campaign for Mike Fitzpatrick (and receive the Pearl S. Buck Award? God, what the hell is that group thinking?), but I do want to highlight a couple of them in particular. Here’s the first one:

“In Afghanistan today, Americans are bringing women and girls maligned for years back into Afghan society.”
This link takes you to an article written by a lady referred to only as Zoya (probably out of fear of reprisal) from the group RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) in which she states the following:

The security situation in Afghanistan is critical. It is like a ticking bomb, and it is very possible that at any time a civil war will break out. Women and girls have been particularly affected by the insecurity. There are hundreds of attacks on teachers, students and schools across Afghanistan, with girls' schools being particularly hard hit. In most remote villages there are not even any signs of schools for girls. Hundreds of Afghan women have committed suicide due to these intense pressures and hopelessness. When the entire nation is living under the shadow of guns and warlordism, how can its women enjoy their basic freedoms?
The column gets more graphic from that point on, and I’ll leave that up to your own investigation.

And this is in keeping with the failed strategy (using the term loosely, I know) on the part of Bushco and the pliant Repug congress in prosecuting what is laughably called “the war on terror.”

This makes Laura Bush’s comments about the alleged freedom of women worse than mere propaganda; to be honest, it’s an insult to our intelligence (to say nothing of the sacrifice of the people in that country trying to live their lives in the midst of the murderous resurgence of the Taliban, in part due to the “cooperation” of our “friends” in Pakistan).

Also, Mrs. Bush stated that Mikey “is a champion of the men and women in the U.S. military.”

I’ll tell you what; read this post from Paul Rieckhoff of the Huffington Post in which he grades legislators based on their votes regarding veterans’ issues to find out if that’s true (I’ll save you the suspense – Mikey got a C minus).

Also, this letter to the editor appeared in the Courier Times today from Kevin Treiber, the Lower Makefield veterans coordinator of the Patrick Murphy for Congress campaign (if you don’t like his allegiance, fine; try arguing with him based on the merits of what he’s talking about instead).

I am deeply disappointed by Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s lack of integrity at his press conference staged in front of the American Legion in Newtown with several Iraq War veterans.

I am a member of the American Legion, and I am insulted that Fitzpatrick would use the American Legion as a backdrop for his event and stand by idly allowing Patrick Murphy’s honorable service to be questioned.

No leader, particularly an elected official, should ever allow disparaging comments about a soldier’s service. It’s un-American. This was a typical political stunt to keep voters from seeing the truth. The truth is that, according to the Disabled American Veterans, Fitzpatrick voted against five out of eight key votes over the past two years that would have benefited veterans.

The truth is that
Congressman Fitzpatrick voted to cut the proposed increase in spending on veterans programs by $155 million. The truth is that Congressman Fitzpatrick voted against the interests of veterans, opposing an increase in funding military health care by $100 million. The truth is veterans are being turned away from the VA because they don’t qualify for health care.

The truth is we need someone who will take care of our military and veterans. The truth is we need Patrick Murphy.
Speaking of being deeply disappointed, I should point out yet again the ridiculously blatant double standard on the part of the Courier Times editorial board in publishing its campaign letters (though I suppose it’s my fault for actually having expectations of professional behavior on their part).

The newspaper has a stated policy of not allowing personal attacks to be printed. However, in recent weeks letter writer Richard Staedtler accused John Kerry of collaborating with the enemy and endangering our troops during the Vietnam War (which, beyond being merely stupid, is grounds for a lawsuit, truth be told), and today, letter writer Ed Monigan, in criticizing Bill Clinton’s recent visit to this area to campaign for Democratic candidates, said the former president “has the morals of a mangy dog" (I guess this was Monigan's attempt at being clever since Clinton used that term to describe the "swift boat" attack on Patrick).

Gee, aren’t you glad that the Courier Times allows such adult, mature commentary on the vital issues related to the upcoming election?

Update: I wonder if this is what Laura Bush had in mind when she called for "civility" in the election; I guess her definition of that word is the silent compliance from someone who is bound and gagged (and by the way, I think Brian Scheid of the Courier Times does a good job here of calling Mikey on his bullshit through solid reporting...sorry, I know that's a bad word, but that's exactly what it is.)

And also regarding this update, here's a link to an Atrios post with a copy of Patrick Murphy's appointment letter.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday Videos

Happy Birthday to Bill Wyman (70? Man...), former bassist for The Rolling Stones (just talking about The Beatles below, so "tit for tat" as they say - "Paint It, Black" live, from those groovy '60s)...

... and drummer Jerry Edmonton of Steppenwolf would have been 60 today ("Magic Carpet Ride," with some really trippy looking effects - John Kay kind of screwed up the lip synch before the long "jam" part of the song, and did the keyboard player have a big 'fro or what?)...

Guess You Need More Than Love

Now that The Beatles have been proclaimed Number One among the 885 greatest artists of all time by public radio station WXPN here in Philadelphia, I hope this restores the luster somewhat to the band that created the entire “album-oriented” radio format that eventually evolved into the ubiquitous “classic rock” format (an oxymoron if one ever existed).

Though they quite rightly will be held in highest esteem (in my opinion anyway) by a great many people, I have to point out that some of the legal escapades involving Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono lately are the stuff of cheap parody, or even a good one, recalling the following memorable lines from “The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash,” the funny Beatles sendup by Neil Innes and Monty Python’s Eric Idle, involving the “Prefab Four” of Dirk McQuickly (McCartney), Ron Nasty (Lennon), Stig O’Hara (Harrison), and Barry Wom (Starr).

Narrator: In the midst of all this public bickering, 'Let it Rot" was released as a film, an album, and a lawsuit. In 1970, Dirk sued Stig, Nasty, and Barry; Barry sued Dirk, Nasty, and Stig; Nasty sued Barry, Dirk, and Stig; and Stig sued himself accidentally. It was the beginning of a golden era for lawyers, but for the Rutles, live on a London rooftop, it was the beginning of the end.
Maybe this is just some passing turmoil, or maybe the stories of Paul and Yoko’s legal troubles will be with us for a little while yet (I’m afraid that’s more likely in Paul’s case, though I’d hate to be in Heather Mills’ shoes when his lawyers get done with her).

As someone once said, tomorrow never knows.

A Most Awful Intrusion

By the way, I searched my archives a few minutes ago and found more reasons not to vote for Mike Fitzpatrick, and I'll elaborate on one in particular in a minute (sorry for not including those reasons yesterday - I honestly thought I had everything). But for now (from 4/19/05)...

In the short period of time in which Mike Fitzpatrick has represented the 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has quickly endeared himself to his conservative Republican leadership by voting for the following:

· House Congressional Resolution 95, which approves the Bush budget and sets federal spending and revenues for the next five years; this includes a continuance of the Republican tax cuts through 2010 and a projected budget deficit of $376 billion for 2006.

· House Bill S686, otherwise known as the Terri Schiavo Act, in which Congress intervened on a legal matter in the state of Florida by granting jurisdiction to the U.S. District Court in that state to hear her case and render judgment.

Also, regarding the Social Security scam the Republicans are foisting on us, Fitzpatrick told me that he "will not support, and will actively oppose, any proposed reform to Social Security that will change the benefits received by today's retirees or those nearing retirement." With all due respect to upcoming retirees, Rep. Fitzpatrick, that doesn’t affect me, since my retirement is nowhere in sight.

By the way, regarding the Social Security issue, if the cap on earnings subject to withholding was removed instead of fixed at $90,000, then the entire matter would be resolved, and in addition to ensuring the program’s solvency, the contribution amount required for each participant could actually be reduced. It is interesting to me that no one is seriously discussing this option.

In March, Fitzpatrick wrote in the Courier Times that he is fighting to toughen EPA regulations regarding waste in our water. I find it curious that, while he is doing that, the Bush Administration is trying to relax regulations regarding mercury and arsenic in our water, as well as under funding cleanup.

In addition to legislation making it harder for litigants to file class action suits by now mandating that the majority of those suits be heard in federal as opposed to state courts, Rep. Fitzpatrick also voted for HR 975, otherwise known as the so-called Bankruptcy Abuse Act, which now makes it harder for individuals devastated by job loss or a health crisis to file for bankruptcy protection (including individuals with full health coverage).

And in mid April, Rep. Fitzpatrick voted for the permanent repeal of the estate tax. This does not represent my interests in any way, shape, or form. A recent Treasury Department study showed that almost no estate tax is paid by middle-income people. Most of the estate taxes are paid on the estates of people who, in addition to having very substantial wealth, still had high incomes around the time they died. The study found that 91 percent of all estate taxes are paid by the estates of people whose annual incomes exceeded $190,000 around the time of their death. Less than one percent of estate taxes are paid by the lowest-income 80 percent of the population, those with incomes below $100,000.

During the previous election, a group called the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania all signed a letter asking Senator Rick Santorum to back Mike Fitzpatrick in the 8th Congressional District rather than State Senator Joe Conti (presumably because Conti’s moderation was disagreeable to them). After witnessing Fitzpatrick’s voting record thus far, I can now understand why.
And speaking of the Terri Schiavo fiasco (in which Dr. Bill Frist watched the terminally ill and comatose woman on a T.V. screen and thought he detected signs of life, and in which Florida Sen. Mel Martinez thought he detected "a great political issue"), I should mention that, as reported by the Courier Times today, Michael Schiavo campaigned recently for Patrick Murphy since Patrick stated that “I don’t think the federal government has a place in a private, family matter.”

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, called his vote in the Schiavo case a “vote of conscience” and has said, as a father of six children (the Courier Times NEVER misses an opportunity to point that out), he wanted to give Terri Schiavo’s parents the chance to plead for their daughter’s life in federal court.

As some of us can remember, by the time the Schiavo case had made it to the national spotlight, it had already been litigated to death (no pun intended, I promise). And as we now know, Michael Schiavo turned out to be right when he told everyone that his wife was legally blind living in a permanently comatose, vegetative state (though I don’t recall that any of the zealots who fought to keep her feeding tube inserted actually apologized to him).

To take another stroll down memory lane on this (to point out once more how incredibly wrong Mikey was), here is a column from Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal from about a year and a half ago (chiming in on John Bolton and the entire "nuclear option" debate...not referring to North Korea at that time...also).

We should be grateful that circuses no longer have freak shows. Freak shows put legless men, hairy women and others burdened with physical abnormalities on display. The shows were cruel and tasteless affairs.

The spirit of the freak show, however, lives on in Republican politics. The Republican freak show starts with a perfectly valid issue, then twists it into a weird spectacle. Every week, it seems, GOP leaders offer a new curiosity to amaze us.

There was the Terri Schiavo sideshow. No, tragic Terri was not the freak. The stars were the politicians and their supporting cast of barking pundits, religious militants and various hangers-on.

At this very moment, thousands of good Americans are making painful end-of-life decisions -- and for loved ones who haven't spent the last 15 years in a vegetative state. Yet Republican leaders, from President Bush on down, jumped on this one case -- virtually calling Michael Schiavo a murderer for wanting to remove his wife's feeding tube. And just when you thought the performers had no more top to go over, Tom DeLay made his threat against the judges who sided with Michael.

The issue, when to let a patient die, is a real one. But it belongs in a serious bioethical debate. This land of gray areas doesn't do well under the bright colors of the carnival.

Next stop on the fairway is John Bolton. Imagine everything you don't want in an ambassador to the United Nations. Now imagine John Bolton, Bush's nominee. Bolton abuses subordinates. He makes childish remarks about how much he hates the United Nation. And he beats up on intelligence experts whose findings don't go well with his speeches. To liven the act, he keeps a brass hand grenade on his desk.

Now the United Nations is a highly flawed organization. People unsympathetic to American interests pack its halls. We all know that. And we've had tellers-of-hard-truths representing us there before. But the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick were masters of wit and verbal finesse. Bolton is the Babbling Boy.

Remember when he signed the document stating America's plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court? Though it offended some allies, the decision was sound. But Bolton couldn't just sign the paper and keep his mouth shut. He had to announce the action as "the happiest moment of my government service."

Step right up, ladies and gents, for "Justice Sunday." Republican leaders apparently thought that the Christian Sabbath would provide a nice tie-in for some politicking. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist made a curious telecast to select churches and beyond. He said that Democrats were "against people of faith" and that he wanted "more civility in public life."

Frist's idea of "civility" includes detonating the "nuclear option" in the U.S. Senate. The mission is to level the filibuster rule, which has been standing for over 200 years. The rule requires 60 of the 100 senators, rather than a simple 51 majority, to approve a judicial nominee.

This checks-and-balances device was designed to protect minority views. When Republicans were in the minority, they liked the rule just fine -- and used it against several of Clinton's nominees for the federal bench.

Never a dull moment for these guys. Note how they juice up their controversies with hints of violence -- threats against judges, hand-grenade props and talk of nuclear options.

You certainly can't fault them for lack of imagination. Not everyone can repackage a dusty Senate rule as a tool of oppression against pious folk.

Like the freak show of old, the political version leaves its audience astounded. But horrified fascination should not be confused with approval of the creepy offerings. The American people broadly panned the Terri Schiavo show, according to polls. And more than half do not appreciate this trumped-up case against the Senate filibuster.

What do the American people want? They want a normal political process. They want some privacy for people making tough medical decisions. They want their diplomats to be diplomatic. They want the last congenial institution on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate, to calmly go about its business.

What Americans really want is a freak-show-free week in their national politics. Or, as that great Republican president Warren G. Harding put it, they want a return to "normalcy."
I hope the “Warren Harding” comment was tongue in cheek, since his administration was nearly as corrupt as Bushco. Also, I’m not sure how positive a development it was that the U.S. withdrew itself from the International Criminal Court, but there you have it.

Help Me, I'm A Democrat...WAAAH!

I read on a Kos post (I believe) a few days ago that, even if somehow victory is achieved on November 7th, a Democratic congress will be dogged, scrutinized, and generally made fun of from pillar to post at the hands of our corporate media who will continually hold it to an infinitely higher standard than the Repug thieves who have spent the better part of the last six years passing legislation and rewriting existing laws in their favor and pillaging our government every way possible.

I think we’re already seeing the first signs of this with this CNN non-story (and as always, God forbid that they would actually report on Howard Dean and the Dems “50-State Strategy;” that would blow this narrative to pieces since everyone would be shocked to see the progress the party has made since 2004).

Oh, the Democrats are disorganized. Oh, the Democrats don’t have positions on the issues (granted, the party has to get its act together on Iraq, but it DOES have plans – the problem is that we have to agree to one and stick with it). Oh, the Democrats are wusses.

(By the way, I suppose only a purist like me would object to the fact that the term “wuss” basically is guttural slang, derived partly from a scatological reference to the female anatomy. Basically, it’s about as low as you can go when it comes to an insult that is likely to appear in a G-rated forum.)

And to reinforce it further, we even have a slide show, and the first photo is of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi with looks on their faces like the doctor just told them that the rabbit died (don’t get any rumors started now, OK?).

Next, we have Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, the strategist for former Virginia governor Mark Warner, stating that “the wimp factor in the Democratic party is real.”

Funny, but somehow I don’t think you’re likely to believe that Saunders really feels that way after reading this story.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer then appears on the next slide stating that “we talk to people about issues in a complicated way – people end up looking at their watch,” and though I admit that I don’t completely understand what you can do about that (would people do that now if you spoke to them about the Iraq war?), I respect Schweitzer for running a successful campaign in a truly red state. Given that, I’ll cede to him that the continual challenge for Democrats is to try and break down complicated issues in terms people understand (something Bill Clinton, for example, managed to do well, to the continual frustration of the Republicans who never had an answer for him).

Doug Hattaway appears next, stating that “we have to talk to people’s hearts as well as their heads” reinforcing the notion from Schweitzer that the Democrats are too brainy and have to “dumb down” their message (I’m sure Dr. Chuck is smiling over that).

I respect Hattaway (the spokesman for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000), and I have a feeling this is another example of a quote being taken out of context to reinforce the narrative.

In the next four slides, we have quotes from Dick Gephardt and Max Cleland which reinforce the fact that perceived Democratic weakness has been integrated into the “narrative,” which is correct, but then we have a quote from Paul Begala stating that “the Democrats ceased to be the party of the working guy in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s,” and someone named Bruce Reed stating that “the biggest problem we have is that we keep losing elections.”

As far as I’m concerned, the quotes from Begala and Reed undercut what Cleland and Gephardt have to say – Begala and Reed lend legitimacy to the “weakness” narrative that Cleland and Gephardt are trying to explode.

To sum up, what we have here is your basic hit piece. CNN could EASILY do something like this to demonstrate Republican weakness, but they won’t of course. True, the Repugs were more unified in 1994 in proclaiming their Contract On America with Newt Gingrich leading the way, and the Democrats by their very nature would have a difficult time replicating that, but that’s a lot different than trying to make the case that the Democrats could not govern effectively, by all appearances hamstrung by something called the “wuss” factor.

Finally, I have only this to say to the Democratic Party as a whole (echoing my lefty “A” list betters, I’m sure).

Stop talking in terms of metadata (e.g., “we need a more unified policy on Iraq, we need a more unified policy on what to do about Social Security”) and DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’LL DO and MEAN IT! Craft a more unified policy on Iraq, craft a more unified policy on Social Security, etc. (or whatever other issue you choose).

And you know what you should say to someone who tells you that they don’t like your plan? Too bad, that’s what.

Oh, so you’re trying to pay your bills with crappy health insurance and the prospect that your job will be offshored at any moment, and the Democrats are at least TRYING to help with that, but you think they’re “too liberal” or “too wonky” or something?

What are you going to do then? Go to the Repugs for help? That’s funny.

Who the hell do you think is primarily responsible for making such a mess of things in the first place?

So there’s your plan, Democrats. Let CNN and their brethren report on “the wuss factor” to their hearts’ content while we keep working hard in anticipation of a change for the better on November 7th.

And by the way, the line “the real test is in 2008” at the end is the most disingenuous one of all in this bilious piece of propaganda.

The real test is right now!

Update: Atrios noted that the author of this CNN hit piece, Candy Crowley, once wrote that Dick Cheney "oozes credibility."

Need I say more?

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Monday Videos

Happy Birthday to Eddie Brigati, lead vocalist for The Rascals ("People Got To Be Free")...

... and "Weird" Al Yankovic ("Like A Surgeon," the parody of that Madonna video from the '80s - gotta do it; sorry about all that Canadian promo business).

Also, I know she's in the news again over some adoption thing, but I really don't care.

Our Theme Song For 11/7

Trapt ("Stand Up," live - this should be blaring from our homes and every polling station)...

Scalito Kisses Off The Internet

Prof. Marcus noted today that Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supremes is blaming the media for not reporting on legal issues in a manner of which he approves, to wit…

Scalia expressed disdain for the news media and the general reading public and suggested that together they condone inaccurate portrayals of federal judges and courts. "The press is never going to report judicial opinions accurately," he said.

"They're just going to report, who is the plaintiff? Was that a nice little old lady? And who is the defendant? Was this, you know, some scuzzy guy? And who won? Was it the good guy that won or the bad guy?"

[He] complained that people understand the courts through a news media that typically oversimplifies and sensationalizes. He said people's ability to amplify their comments globally about judges and their opinions on the Internet takes a toll on the judiciary.

"This is not just like somebody handing out a leaflet in the past, where a small number of people can see this," he said. "This is available to the world. ... It changes what it means to be a judge. It certainly changes the attractiveness of a judicial career."
Aww, let’s shed a tear or two for Scalia and the rest of the Gang of Nine because of that darned Internet (and also, now and always, pray that Anthony Kennedy remains with us for a good while yet), ignoring the fact that such frequently shallow reporting is typical of every other issue also.

I’m bringing this up partly because I wanted to point out another moment with Scalia last week when he said that the Constitution is silent on abortion and race in school.

I know it wouldn’t do any good to point out to Scalia that our laws and courts are kind of like an overcoat that you would wear that changes and adapts as your body type changes. If your body changes for whatever reason, then maybe you might alter your coat accordingly.

(Actually, I didn’t think of this – I’m pretty sure Spencer Tracy portraying the Clarence Darrow character in “Inherit The Wind” used this analogy…if not, he easily could have.)

We all know Scalia doesn’t believe in a right to privacy – if he did, he’d understand the importance of respecting Roe v. Wade, among other rulings regarding behavior that I believe should not be regulated. Well, in the CNN story, it notes that…

Scalia, who marked his 20th anniversary on the court last month, generally finds himself taking the opposite position to the ACLU. Most notably, he wrote a majority 5-4 opinion last term giving police more leeway to enter private homes.
Well, here is a link to a Wikipedia article regarding the fourth amendment of the Constitution protecting us against unreasonable search and seizure. I don’t see any language here that states that this right should be modified to allow the police to have greater access to our homes.

It sounds to me a bit like Scalia is projecting his ideas of what settled law SHOULD be into his interpretation of the Constitution. But then again, conservatives are usually two faced in these matters when the end result is not of their liking, so why should now be any different?

The Inky Gives It Up For Mikey

(I had assigned myself the task of writing an omnibus post of sorts on Mikey, and here it is.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Mike Fitzpatrick over Patrick Murphy this morning, and in a way, this didn’t surprise me a bit.

It didn’t surprise me because this paper has shown almost the same lack of inclination to report on Patrick Murphy and his positions on issues besides the Iraq war as the Bucks County Courier Times.

It didn’t surprise me because, though the paper will rail against incumbency and voters who exercise their franchise in a way that maintains the status quo, this is exactly what the paper and Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC wants to see.

Apparently, it is too much work for this newspaper anymore to vigorously examine the voting records of incumbent candidates and the positions on issues of both the incumbents and their challengers. So, as I did the other day concerning the Inquirer’s laughable and truly pitiable endorsement of Joe Pitts, it falls upon your humble narrator once more to do the work that this newspaper is supposed to do (and once did very well in a “pre-9/11” time).

So, without further ado…

Editorial Mike Fitzpatrick for Congress
Pa. Eighth District

This politically divided, GOP-leaning district covers Bucks County, parts of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.

The Case for Fitzpatrick

U.S. representative
Republican, 43

Fitzpatrick's avowed aim to remain a moderate in the Republican caucus is convincing, and he backs it up by earning strong support from land-conservation voters and labor and, of late, by calling for a new Iraq strategy.
Apparently this is news to the Inquirer, but Republicans are running from Dubya left and right on Iraq. “Calling for a new Iraq strategy” is unoriginal. Calling for one instead of providing one yourself is a sad joke.

As a former Bucks County official, he has experience working with communities on regional issues such as flooding, transit and economic development. An interest in health-care reform and Internet safety are pluses.
I’ve exploded those in the past, and I’ll recall those posts soon.

The Opponent
Patrick J. Murphy
Democrat, 32

The Case for Murphy

The former Army captain and military lawyer is bright, in step with district residents on stem-cell research and abortion, and brings firsthand perspective to the challenges in Iraq.

Character / Ethics

Murphy disappoints with his go-along attitude on detainee rights in the war on terrorism…
Really? Insisting that detainees are guaranteed habeas corpus rights in accordance with the traditions upon which this country was founded “disappoints”? Insisting that we honor Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention in the hope that other countries will do the same thing “disappoints”? And giving other countries a reason to abrogate Common Article 3 is acceptable?

I must have missed the memo…can someone tell me at what point this country turned into the United States Socialist Republic again?

...but Fitzpatrick took the low road with a Web posting that appears to link his opponent to the Mark Foley page scandal.
He also took the low road by “swift boating” Patrick and his failure to call for the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who thought it was more important to protect an incumbent Republican politician than to protect congressional pages from a sexual predator.

Murphy Experience / Credentials

Both are accomplished, but Fitzpatrick's edge comes from his decade as a Bucks County commissioner. He knows the district intimately, while Murphy would have to learn on the job.
If I read this argument supporting Fitzpatrick one more time, I’m going to puke. Under that rationale, the paper should endorse Andy Warren, since Warren, as a one-time Republican, voted the same way as Fitzpatrick 100 percent of the time.

And here’s something else to consider; do you know what county commissioners are first and foremost? They’re bureaucrats. They move a bunch of paper from Point A to Point B all day and then call themselves successful for doing so (and also hold meetings in which the outcomes are prearranged behind closed doors in advance). I’m really not trying to attack them; I’m just describing what they do.

And that is what Fitzpatrick does – he writes letters, he makes the occasional phone call or holds the occasional meeting. Sometimes he actually accomplishes something, such as that open space tax credit he secured for farmers that are land rich but cash poor. OK, I’ll give him that.

But he doesn’t provide constituent service, and he never will (I’ve known precious few Republicans who ever have). He doesn’t follow up on issues. He doesn’t hold anyone’s “feet to the fire” (oh, he’ll say that he’ll write “a strongly worded letter,” but that’s more cotton candy that floats away when a stiff wind passes by).

I’m sure Fitzpatrick has a lot of familiarity with the area on some important issues, but he hasn’t used that knowledge or familiarity to the benefit of his constituents. And THAT is the difference; he has failed, but once Patrick acquires that knowledge also and more, he won’t.

Fitzpatrick Ideas / Issues

Both support a responsible plan to exit Iraq. Each backs conservation for a sprawl-threatened district. But they part ways on the tax-cut debate, with Fitzpatrick stridently backing Bush's cuts.
Oh, OK – so is THAT why you support Mikey? Because he’ll continue to make life comfortable for Bruce Toll, Brian Tierney and the partners of Philadelphia Media Holdings, all members of the investor class?

The Edge: Fitzpatrick
Close Call: Two good choices
God, what an utter joke of an endorsement!

Well, I try to act as a representative of the reality-based community whenever I can, so please allow me to bring back some of these “golden moments” with Mikey to refresh our memories.

- Here’s Mikey failing the mothers of children suffering from autism as these women advocate exploring whether or not vaccines could be responsible for this awful affliction.

Here’s Mikey sponsoring something called the Railroad Security and Public Awareness Act, which supposedly provides more funding for mass transit security; the problem is that the bill is currently stuck in a House subcommittee.

Here’s Mikey doing nothing (nothing good, anyway) about rising personal property taxes, health care costs, and student loan costs.

Here’s Mikey “considering” supporting legislation to allow Medicare Part D recipients to buy drugs in bulk for less money, even though Medicare Part D isn’t listed as an issue on his “Mike On The Issues” health care page.

Here’s Mikey’s ridiculous criticism of Patrick Murphy for attending a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. hosted by Nancy Pelosi when, to quote the Doylestown Intelligencer, Mikey “never met a PAC contribution he didn’t welcome.”

- Here’s
more evidence of Mikey the "independent moderate" supporting Bushco both on the Iraq war and its failed domestic agenda also.

Here’s Mikey voting to fund something called the Secure Fence Act (as opposed to an “insecure” fence? Does it have self esteem issues?) which provides funding for a fence along the Arizona/New Mexico border nowhere near the 8th congressional district, while Mikey and the Repugs voted down a host of homeland security measures including increasing the number of border patrol agents.

Here’s Mikey stating his support for adult stem cell research, which holds nowhere near the potential for curing life-threatening illnesses as embryonic stem cells.

(And by the way, to learn more about where Mikey really stands on this, watch this video here.)

Here’s Mikey trying to get New York City to lower its reservoir capacity to 85 percent, which would yield a likely flooding decrease for Bucks residents along the Delaware River of about one inch.

Here’s Mikey supporting Social Security privatization and taking campaign funding from Dick Cheney, though he proclaims himself an “independent moderate.”

Here’s Mikey voting against homeland security measures (I know I mentioned that above also) though he DID vote to fund the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.

Here’s Mikey voting for a conference report allowing drilling in the ANWR, and also voting against investing in cleaner energy (the mailing in question here, by the way, has no mention of the fact that Fitzpatrick is a Republican, though it does contain a quote from JFK as well as the former president’s picture).

Here’s Mikey stating that he’s abandoned Bush’s policy on Iraq (Dubya has one?) while Fitzpatrick offers no plan of his own instead.

Here’s Mikey trying to include an estate tax cut in legislation to raise the minimum wage (the legislation was defeated).

Here’s Mikey’s sudden conversion to exploring alternative energy sources to lower energy costs, though in ’05, he voted against bills to crack down on gasoline price gougers and creating a strategic refinery reserve.

Here’s Mikey calling for hearings on Bucks County flooding, even though, as a member of the Delaware River Basin Commission, he should have been familiar with the issue already.

- Here’s a mention of Mikey’s “Deleting Online Predators Act,” which is still bad law, and mention also of
receiving $20K from Tom DeLay and $800K from PACs overall.

Here’s Mikey shredding the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and remaining silent while Bush tried to raise acceptable levels of mercury in our drinking water.

- Mikey
wasted no time here in calling Iraq war vet Patrick Murphy “a cut-and-run liberal” right after Patrick defeated Andy Warren in the Democratic primary.

- Mikey
favored weakening House ethics rules, and his excuse was that he was trying to help pass a homeland security bill.

Here’s Mikey supporting the House immigration bill punishing religious aid workers, including Catholics.

Here is the context in which Mikey provided that wonderful “If Bush had a 50 percent or better approval rating” quote (the “gift that keeps on giving,” if you will).

Here’s Mikey trying to fudge on the “honesty” pledge he signed for the Bucks County Courier Times almost right after he signed it (with Mikey’s great quote, “The truth is a matter of interpretation”).

Here’s Mikey traveling to Iraq to check on our troops, including whether or not they have adequate body armor, but not saying whether or not they actually do (and as a bonus, he also channels “Crazy Curt” Weldon’s “Able Danger” nonsense).

here’s Mikey refusing to say whether he thinks Don (“The Defense Secretary You Have”) Rumsfeld should stay or go.
And somehow “the newspaper of record” in Philadelphia missed about 90-something percent of this.

To sum up, I have only this to say – to help Patrick Murphy, click here.

Update 1 10/23: I was wrong - Mikey only received $15,000 from Tom DeLay according to this link, which also notes Fitzpatrick's opposition to expanding the TRICARE health insurance program to reservists and national guard troops.