Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Videos

Iggy Pop("I'm Bored" - heard this on "Highs In The 70s" today; not a big fan of this guy, but it's not a bad song)...

...and Happy Birthday to Michael McDonald (with James Ingram from about 1984..."Yah Mo B There" - I think all of the stuff that's going on here is supposed to have religious symbolism or something, but don't ask me what it means when they decide to trash the eggs and wieners at the beginning; I just like the song)...

...and Army Of Anyone with "Goodbye" - the band consists of Robert and Dean DeLeo (formerly of Stone Temple Pilots), Ray Luzier, and Richard Patrick (of Filter).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Videos

I'll get caught up on my posting eventually, but for now, here's Madness, which I'd like to dedicate to Bushco ("One Step Beyond" - my homage to the 80s, via 1979)...

...and Happy Birthday to John Densmore of The Doors ("Roadhouse Blues," live - kind of appropriate, with images in the video depicting imminent danger as always with Morrison).

We Still Must Protect The Vote

The latest from Democracy For America...

On Election Night, DFA-endorsed candidate Barbara McIlvaine Smith was down by 19 votes in her race for the Pennsylvania state house. She refused to concede, saying, "It is not about winning or losing... It's about making sure our democracy is intact."

Earlier this week the count of absentee and military paper ballots concluded, and Barbara won by 23 votes -- switching the Pennsylvania House from Republican to Democratic for the first time in 12 years.

This powerful victory happened because every paper ballot was counted. But across America votes are increasingly being cast electronically with no paper record. Had the election in Pennsylvania been conducted electronically there is no saying how the race might have been decided.

You helped elect a new Democratic House and Senate in Washington, D.C. It's time to put our majority into action. Ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put paper ballots on the agenda in the new Congress's first 100 hours:

Click here.

The danger of paperless elections is clear. Look at Sarasota County, Florida. They use paperless touch screen voting machines. In the hotly contested Congressional race there, Election Night ended with Republican Vern Buchanan ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings by less than one-quarter of one percent. This triggered an automatic recount.

On November 20, state election officials certified Buchanan as the winner by 369 votes, despite the fact that there were 18,000 "under-votes" in the county. An under-vote is when a machine reports a vote cast for another office, but not for the Congressional seat. The percentage of under-votes in Democratic leaning Sarasota County was far higher than in surrounding counties. And many voters reported that their votes were not recorded on their electronic ballot. Some said the machine skipped the race while others couldn't find the race listed at all.

Currently this contest is being litigated in the courts. But the results of this election will be forever in doubt because there are no paper ballots to review.

This is unacceptable. Congress has the power to mandate that all elections take place using paper ballots. Ask the new Democratic majority to make it a priority:

Click here.

The Democrats are committed to an impressive agenda in the first 100 hours of the Congress. They will raise the minimum wage, require Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, implement the 9/11 Commission security recommendations, cut the interests rates on student loans, and broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds. But Democrats can't stop there.

Let's restore America's faith in Democracy too. Let's make sure that in the first 100 hours the Democratic majority makes paper ballots mandatory:

Click here.

Thank you for doing your part,

Jim Dean
I don't know how much posting is going to take place today - I'll do what I can.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pearls For Holiday Swine

After I saw this at HuffPo (I did a screen grab of the headline because it was so far beyond belief), I suddenly realized why Bushco doesn't want to print the word "hunger" in any government correspondence about poverty and malnutrition.

As also noted here, Dubya is trying to start a library based on his alleged scholarly influence from the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville. Well then, he should recognize the following quote from his supposed mentor:

America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
Read some more de Tocqueville, Dubya, since you apparently omitted a few chapters in your study (and probably some Victor Hugo while you're at it, especially pertaining to Jean Valjean).

See If These "Blue Dogs" Hunt

As noted in the following Inquirer story by Steve Goldstein (and confirming what has been mentioned online over the last few days), U.S. House PA-08 Congressman-elect Patrick Murphy has joined the “Blue Dog Coalition” of Democrats.

What follows is Goldstein’s report…

WASHINGTON - President Harry S. Truman famously said: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

For the new Democratic majority in Congress, the maxim should be changed: Get a Blue Dog.

The Blue Dog Coalition, a pack of conservative-to-moderate Democrats, has grown to 44 members in the new House of Representatives, including Bucks County's Patrick Murphy, and represents a powerful and pivotal voting bloc that could determine what legislation is passed in the 110th Congress.

Resident scholar Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said the Blue Dogs "hold the balance of power" for the Democratic agenda.

Political analyst Charlie Cook said a prominent Republican told him that if House Republicans want to remain relevant, "they would take their cues not from the White House" but from the Blue Dogs.

"Who would have thought even six months ago that one of the largest groups in the Democratic House caucus would be conservative to moderate Democrats," said Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, communications cochairman for the group.

There are nine new blue "puppies," in the group's cuddly lexicon, an increase of about 25 percent and a voting coalition that makes up about one-fifth of House Democrats.

One of the litter is Murphy, of Bucks County's Eighth District. He actively sought the group's endorsement early in his race against incumbent Republican Michael G. Fitzpatrick.

"While campaigning over the last 18 months, there were two issues that families were most concerned with: the war in Iraq and irresponsible spending in Washington," Murphy said. "I reached out to the leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition to show my dedication toward restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington."

Murphy's application was seconded by Rep. Tim Holden, the only other Pennsylvania Blue Dog member.

Wanting to be a Blue Dog is not nearly enough. Aspirants must undergo an extensive interview and screening process, according to Ross.

"We want hands-on participation and we want members that aren't just trying to look conservative back home, but who really do share our values and priorities," said Ross.

The Blue Dog endorsement carries a financial benefit, too. The coalition's political action committee raised $1.3 million for this election - much of it from the usual special-interest groups - and Murphy received $5,000 for his general election campaign.

Coalition members are expected to attend twice-weekly meetings and actively participate in making proposals and discussions. Murphy said he looked forward to "rolling up my sleeves and getting our fiscal house in order."

Ross said the group would focus on the budget, the debt and the deficit. "We have a 12-point plan for budget reform and a package of accountability bills to hold federal agencies accountable for their spending," said Ross. The latter is sometimes referred to as "paygo," for pay-as-you-go government spending programs.

Blue Dog Democrats also support strong defense policies, while steering away from "bedroom," or social, issues.

The Blue Dogs may already have had an impact.

Shortly after the election, the coalition wrote to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to object to her plans to award the chairmanship of the House intelligence committee to Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, bypassing Californian Jane Harman, the senior Democrat on the panel. Hastings is the only member of Congress ever to have been impeached and removed from office as a federal judge. He was acquitted by a jury of bribery charges in 1983, but an appeals court called for impeachment on different charges and referred the case to Congress, which removed him in 1989. Three years later, he was elected to the body that voted to end his judicial career.

On Tuesday, Pelosi told Hastings that he would not be chairman. She will choose someone other than the two top candidates, she said. The about-face on Hastings was welcomed by the Blue Dogs, though Harman, one of their pack, won't get the job.

The Blue Dog Coalition was formed by 21 House members in 1995 in the wake of the GOP congressional sweep. The name is a reference to "yellow dog Democrat," an old phrase describing Southerners so loyal to the party that they would sooner vote for a yellow dog than a Republican.

A Blue Dog Democrat is a yellow dog that has almost been choked to death - turned blue - by party extremists. Or one that's been left standing out in the cold.

Former Rep. Charlie Stenholm of Texas, a founding member, used to say that a Blue Dog "has a little better sense of smell than a yellow dog, and sometimes will bite you, which a yellow dog won't do."

Ross said the election results showed that Republicans were defeated by conservative to moderate Democrats, not liberals, so the new majority should let its Blue Dogs howl.

"We do not plan to be obstructionist," said Ross, "but we also do not plan to be rubber stamps." Or to follow the pack.
That's nice. Oh, by the way, I wonder if Patrick knows that Tim Holden voted for the following:

HR 861 on June 20th, which ruled out any deadline for removing U.S. troops from Iraq?

HR 4761 on July 6th that ended a policy that for a quarter century has banned oil and gas drilling in U.S. coastal waters except the western Gulf of Mexico?

voted in favor of changing the Voting Rights Act (HR 9) and taking out its requirement that certain jurisdictions provide ballots, notices and other voting materials in languages in addition to English (it lost)?

Or voted for
HJ Res 88, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage (it also lost, fortunately)?

Or voted for
S 403, which would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion to evade a parental notification law in her home state, except when the abortion is necessary to save her life?
Holden also voted for that stupid border fence, but Patrick supported that also in his campaign, to be fair.

Now please don't get me wrong; Patrick hasn't even been sworn in. This definitely is NOT buyer's remorse - he already is a quantum improvement over Mikey, and he hasn't even done anything yet.

All I'm saying is that, though you can argue that the "blue dogs" deserve to emerge as the biggest winners of the election, they (and Patrick, of course) should still be careful. They should stay true to their centrist, populist themes and positions, sure - most notably, the Iraq war, balancing the budget, stem cell research, and fixing Medicare Part D are the most obvious ones - but just know when not to imitate the Repugs is all I'm asking.

Also, Glenn Greenwald had some interesting thoughts on Jane Harman recently (the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee under the Repugs who will be in charge now with the departure of the challenge of Alcee Hastings, as noted above). Greenwald may have been a tad harsh, but I always find his observations to be interesting and well founded (and I mention her because she is a "blue dog" favorite). Besides, I think Greenwald was attacking the incestuous Beltway punditocracy and Washington "group think" more than anything else; Harman isn't innocent, but when it comes to accepting bad intelligence on Iraq and voting for war, a lot of other people are guilty also.

Update 12/1: I'm prepared to give Pelosi the benefit of the doubt on this - we'll see.

A Tribute To Failure

As Dan Geringer of the Philadelphia Daily News notes here, Don (“The Defense Secretary You Had”) Rumsfeld is due to receive the Philadelphia Union League’s Gold Medal tomorrow, and that has outraged union members James Ounsworth and Sandra L. Cadwalader (and with a name like Cadwalader, do you honestly think this lady can be poor?).

My hat, figuratively speaking, is off to these two people (and Cadwalader wrote a letter to the editor that the Inquirer published this morning).

Let me back up for a minute and try to describe how sumptuous the building of Union League of Philadelphia is, by the way; I can’t find confirmation at the moment, but I am almost positive that it was featured in the movie “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, with Aykroyd stumbling into it all disheveled from a practical joke played on him by the Duke Brothers (played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy); they are having brandy and cigars or something and generally lounging around soaking up their glorious wealth when Aykroyd arrives (the movie also features unforgettable footage of the World Trade Center towers…).

And as Geringer notes (and supported by this Wikipedia article), the league was founded to help promote the policies of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War on behalf of a Republican party that could not be more different from the one that has had such a ruinous effect on this country over the last six years.

Since this is a private organization, I cannot determine who its members are. However, I was able to find some contacts at the league, and one of them is James Mundy; he can be reached at (215) 587-5592 or you can click on his name to send him an Email.

Let’s all act like patriotic Americans and send a deluge of correspondence to this guy (as least as much of one as is possible) telling him exactly what we think of this travesty, OK?

"There Is No Problem"

Dubya and Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister of a country that is only slightly recognizable now as Iraq, should have their negotiations (along with the king of Jordan) in Shatha al-Awsy’s living room instead of the Four Seasons in Amman, assuming that al-Awsy’s home hasn’t been utterly destroyed by now of course (this is truly courageous journalism by al-Awsy, a correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, that appeared in the Inquirer yesterday):

BAGHDAD, Iraq - I left my home Monday.

As my family fled the fighting that's engulfed our neighborhood in Baghdad, I gazed out the car window, thinking that I might never again see the fruit stand off our street, the shops where my sisters and I bought soft drinks, the turquoise-domed mosque where we prayed in the holy month of Ramadan.

And to think I'd spent Sunday in my garden, using the forced free time of a curfew to plant geraniums for spring. Later that night, Shiite militiamen encroached on our Sunni enclave; the reverse had happened in so many other neighborhoods, and now it was our turn. Any thoughts of the future were overshadowed by the need to survive the night.

A year ago, I was a newlywed excited about finally having a place of my own. I filled it with what we call baghdadiyat, the artifacts of a bygone time in Iraq's history: an Ottoman trunk, Persian carpets, copper spoons and silver vases finely etched with designs of birds and flowers. Abstract paintings by young Iraqi artists hung on the wall. My garden outside was ringed with stones and filled with climbing vines and seasonal flowers.

When it became too dangerous to dine at restaurants, my husband and I would sometimes set a table in the garden and eat together under a floodlight - if there was electricity. This was my sanctuary from war.

With the birth of our daughter last September, I became even more grateful for a safe place where I could play with her and momentarily forget the sad stories I hear all day in my job as a journalist.

But the violence in Baghdad worsened over the summer. Strangers crept into our middle-class neighborhood of Sunnis and Shiites. Were they there to protect us? Nobody knew for sure.

Many families didn't stick around to find out; both Sunni and Shiite neighbors began to flee. More strangers took over the deserted homes, sometimes renting and sometimes simply moving in. Their sect wasn't the problem - it was the breakdown of a community's trust, the sudden vulnerability of a once close-knit street.

My husband and I weren't ready to give up on Iraq, but we asked our relatives and friends not to visit because they, too, would be regarded as strangers. We kept telling ourselves that this would pass and that things would return to normal. We just wanted to hold on to our life.

But things never returned to normal. When the school year ended, the neighborhood grew even more deserted. One day, a carload of gunmen drove by our home and peered into our garage. We'd already endured a wave of killings and kidnappings in the area, so we didn't want to take any chances. We packed up and moved temporarily to my in-laws' home in a safer district.

Two days later, a car bomb exploded on our street. It blew out every window in our home. A chunk of the bomber's car landed in our garage. Shrapnel and dust covered my pretty carpets. And still we returned to our home.

This time, however, we took more precautions. My husband knocked down a wall and built a passageway to my parents' home next door so we'd have an escape route in case we were attacked. We stopped shopping at the neighborhood grocer because we were afraid of drive-by shootings and bombings on the main street.

We lived there, on the edge, still hoping. After much debate, my husband overruled me and left on a job-hunting trip in another Arab country. I hated it, but I knew that he was doing it for the good of the family.

He was still out of the country when another tide of violence washed over Baghdad last week. We heard that Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents were battling in other areas, and we began to understand that we weren't immune. In the past few days, we began hearing of an imminent attack in our neighborhood, and a 24-hour curfew caught us unprepared.

We hadn't stockpiled food. Like many Iraqi families, we had only light weapons in our home - an AK-47 rifle and a pistol. We grew nervous, especially the men. They would be responsible for defending our home. Since his compulsory weapons training in Saddam Hussein's era, my brother hadn't had much target practice.

I stuffed my passport, cell phone, cash and ID into a small pouch that I kept on my body or under my pillow. By the third day of the curfew, we'd run out of fresh bread, so my aunt, my baby daughter and I walked to a nearby bakery. A strange car circled the area at least three times, defying the curfew. My aunt whispered for us to go.

We walked away quickly, my legs heavy with fear.

"Here they come again," my aunt said, and we started to run.

I looked back and saw the blue car again, a few feet away. Gunfire rang out, and the people in line at the bakery scattered. I pushed my daughter's stroller as fast as I could through a garbage-strewn lot to get home faster. I decided that we wouldn't leave home again until the curfew ended.

On Sunday night, I was home watching the evening news when my sister rushed over from next door and said, "There's a lot of shooting outside. Can't you hear it?"

The loud whir of my generator, our only source of electricity that night, had drowned out the gunfire a few blocks away. Within minutes, we feared, we'd be under attack.

Even though we'd planned for this moment, I panicked. I switched off the generator, but I couldn't find my flashlight. As I fumbled in the darkness, my daughter started crying and grabbing my leg. I scooped her up, wrapped her in a blanket and rushed to my parents through the back passageway.

My family gathered in the living room, terror in their eyes. The women and children moved to a corridor away from the windows. The men made frantic phone calls and readied their weapons.

Men stood watch on the roofs, and some neighbors fired warning shots out their windows. After a while, it seemed as if everyone was shooting. Then a loud boom sounded, a rocket or a mortar, very close.

My daughter woke up crying. When the shooting grew louder, I covered her ears with my hands.

"What am I still doing here?" I asked myself. "What more needs to happen for me to leave?"

I felt angry with myself for being so stubborn, for staying in the neighborhood long after most of my friends had fled. I made a promise to myself: If we made it through the night, I'd leave.

The shooting died down after midnight. We tried to sleep, but we woke up nearly every hour and checked to see if the sun had risen. Somehow, morning seemed safe.

After dawn, the curfew ended, but we didn't want to be the first family on the road. Who knew if there were illegal checkpoints? Car bombs? Gunmen?

I stood in my home, remembering how my husband and I had told everyone that we'd never leave. I looked at my paintings, the century-old chest, all the antiques that we'd spent days picking out so carefully in Baghdad's ancient markets. They weren't just things, they were memories.

I had two suitcases. What to take? I stuffed one with my daughter's clothes and diapers, along with all our personal documents. Into the other went my smallest painting, a cherished Indian bedspread and warm sweaters for winter.

As we began loading the car, I realized that there was no space for the second bag. With a broken heart, I left it behind.

I told myself they were just material things. There's nothing we can't buy except our lives. Nothing was as important as my daughter, and I was still just grateful that we'd made it to morning.

I took one last look at my cozy living room, locked the door and walked away.
And to think an AK-47 is considered a “light weapon” in Baghdad...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday Videos

Yes, all the videos I posted last night should have been for tonight...totally my bad.

Well then, happy belated birthday to Randy Newman (he hit the mark yesterday; this is a montage set to his song "Falling In Love" from "Land of Dreams" many great songs over the years, and the kids movie tunes are great too - his acceptance speech for the Oscar-winning song he wrote for "Monsters, Inc." a few years ago was pretty hilarious)..

...and Disturbed, for something completely different, as they say ("Stricken").

Throbbing Towards Literary Ecstasy

Congratulations to Iain Hollingshead for winning the Bad Sex In Fiction award; he was chosen for his novel “Twenty Something.”

I’ll get to the climax prematurely and summarize as follows:

Judges were moved by Hollingshead's evocation of "a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles." His description of "bulging trousers" sealed the win, the judges said.

"Because Hollingshead is a first-time writer, we wished to discourage him from further attempts," the judges -- editors of Literary Review magazine -- said in a statement. "Heavyweights like Thomas Pynchon and Will Self (other award nominees) are beyond help at this point."

Hollingshead, 25, who received his award from rocker Courtney Love at a London ceremony, said he was delighted to become the prize's youngest winner.

"I hope to win it every year," said Hollingshead, who receives a statuette and a bottle of champagne.
Great attitude, and receiving the award from Courtney Love is a nice touch.

Keep up the bad work.

Sneezin's Greetings

(Now come on – you know I was overdue for a really bad pun.)

CNN reported today on workers taking sick time when they aren’t really sick in an effort to catch up on holiday shopping or other year-end kind of stuff like that. I’ve found the tone of these reports lately to be much more along the lines of “maintaining work-life balance” and trying to squeeze in “family time” whenever possible, which is immensely important as we know (though far be it for me to encourage sloth).

Now if a story like this had been reported by The Wall Street Journal or U.S. News and World Report, the emphasis would have been on lost man (person?) hours, perceived decreases in productivity, hurting the domestic gross national product, and generally how lazy Americans who are lagging behind the world in math and science are generally causing seismic shifts in the earth’s axis, leading to our eventual destruction.

With this is mind, I should note that there is enough documentation out there pointing out that we Americans need to take more vacation time. As Mark Ames notes here (and I hope some of his remarks are merely tongue-in-cheek):

According to Expedia, American workers save their employees some $21 billion per year by not taking even the meagre vacation time they're allowed.
And yes, I’m lumping vacation time together with sick time, and that’s definitely not the same thing, but it is a bit because it’s time not spent working of course.

So if you’ll excuse me (cough), I’m (cough, cough, hack, cough) going to cut out a bit early (hack, spit) since I’m a bit (cough) under the weather (and no, it has nothing to do with that half-price sale at Eddie Bauer :- ).

"Love And Kisses" To Yoo, Too

This all-timer of a Guest Opinion appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday from Mike Borek of Langhorne (pictured), a student at Penn State majoring in history and business.

I was in Center City recently and witnessed a disturbing display of anti-Americanism by a radical group called Members of this organization include all types of liberal activists, including Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda, and intellectuals (I use that term loosely) like MIT professor Noam Chomsky and historian Howard Zinn, author of the America bashing “People’s History of the United States.” Other assorted America-haters associated with WCW are disgraced Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, and University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill who called the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns” after notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

Other supporters listed on the Web site include Casey Kasem, Margaret Cho, Sean Penn, Al Sharpton, and Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.

This extremist group placed tombstones outside Independence Hall with the names and photos of soldiers killed in Iraq, despite the opposition from hundreds of family members who explicitly asked them not to exploit the memory of their sons and daughters. After hearing one of the speakers rant for a couple minutes (sic), I talked with some of the organizers, many of whom were ardent Communists, and absolutely not shy about admitting their hatred for this country.

The other organizers were comprised mainly of grossly misguided college students, who seemed to enjoy citing weird 9/11 conspiracy theories, and a few token veterans wearing old army fatigues and ripped jeans.

At the end of the protest, listeners were treated to a concert by a Palestinian band rapping, “Intifadah, Intifadah, Intifadah!” So much for peace.

I wondered whether I was still in the United States, or if I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Bizarro World, where up is down, black is white, and good is bad. Apparently killing terrorists responsible for 9/11 is offensive, but applauding a rap song encouraging Palestinians to kill Jews is acceptable.

This protest was not about peace. It was about showing hatred toward this country.

The extremism of this fringe group was even more profound when contrasted with the regular Americans counter-protesting across the street. These people held signs that showed support for the troops and waved big American flags that were notably absent from World Can’t Wait’s freak show (I’m assuming they had already burned theirs). As I talked to one of these counter-protesters, he informed me that his son was serving in Iraq and it made him sick to see such rampant Anti-Americanism in this country. is a dangerous and poisonous organization. Our newly elected Congress will come with some unfortunate baggage as powerful Democratic members like John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Major Owens, John Dingle (sic), and Nancy Pelosi have shown support for this pathetic group. Regular Americans should take note and resist this type of insanity.

While writing this I was reminded of a quote from former Vice President Spiro Agnew who spoke at West Point in 1970. I find it relevant in light of the blatant disrespect too often shown to our military. Agnew said, “Some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies to preserve the freedom which most of those misfits abuse.”

I’m going to try and address the snark of Borek’s column, but I can guarantee you that I’ll miss some points (and by the way, if Ward Churchill were actually as important as the freepers make him out to be, he would be President of the United States).

Borek’s intention plainly is to tar as many Democrats/liberals/progressives as possible in the space provided to him by the Courier Times, designating them as “America haters,” “America bashers,” or whatever freeper parlance is acceptable at the moment.

If he had stuck to an account strictly of what transpired at the protest and nothing more, I would not be able to argue with him because I wasn’t there (though I suspect such an account would be hopelessly biased against However, he doesn’t bother to tell us approximately how many protesters were in attendance or communicate what kind of dialogue he may have had with them, but only to describe the college students as “grossly misguided” and veterans as “tokens” with “old army fatigues and ripped jeans.”

Also, it is beyond laughable to point out to a college student who is allegedly a history major that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Communist Party affiliation in this country in the year 2006. It likewise is a “laff riot” to hear him quote convicted felon Spiro Agnew as a source of guidance (and who exactly was it who sent our best men to those Asian rice paddies anyway?).

Let me just digress and point out that the reason for the World Can’t Wait protest in Philadelphia is because it was a response to a visit from John Yoo. As noted from this link…

John Yoo is the main legal architect behind Bush’s response to the “War on Terrorism;” an unapologetic lawyer calling for unfettered executive power which has translated into the infringement on civil liberties in the name of national security. This fairly young attorney has made his career on re-defining and justifying torture, spying, detention, Gitmo, and the Patriot Act.
If you want to read more about John Yoo and make up your own mind, here’s some more information.

And besides, the last I read, it was still permissible in this county to assemble in a somewhat peaceable fashion to protest, especially in these times (I wish there was more of it and that I could personally participate in it, to tell you the truth, but I do what I can do).

I’m not too familiar with this organization, but as I learn more about them I find that I have common cause with them to a point (actually, Borek is going to have to line up behind me to protest Mumia Abu Jamal – as far as I’m concerned, it is an obscenity that he still lives).

So because of Borek’s screaming, bilious rant, I just took action in my own way and added a link to the group’s site in the right nav column. And I wish them luck.

The Dark Eye Of Newt

I’d really planned to do something else besides post on Newt Gingrich again, especially since my “A” list “betters” have been all over the story of Gingrich saying that we may need "a different set of rules" to fight terrorism, a set that might not include the free speech we currently, sometimes, enjoy (as noted by Harry Shearer on The Huffington Post today), with the amazing irony that Gingrich spoke these words at a New Hampshire banquet honoring free speech advocates (Newt also said, in essence, that we should be prepared to sacrifice an American city in the process, with Shearer saying that we already did that in the case of New Orleans – that’s a bit of a stretch, but Shearer’s point is well taken).

The problems I and others have with Gingrich are legion, and there’s no point in rehashing them all here. However, I want to take a good observation from SadlyNo and cited by Atrios today pertaining to Glenn Reynolds and work with that; namely, that deep down, Repugs like Gingrich and his acolytes (which, for all intents and purposes, is the rest of the Republican Party and their media subsidiary, whether they want to admit it or not, and I don’t mean that to praise Gingrich) harbor these apocalyptic fantasies of doom in which anything like laws, regulations and civil order has been totally smashed, and all that prevents total anarchy is a lone white, Anglo Saxon-descended Republican male with a prayer book and at least one gun (the bigger with the greatest capability to fire off lots of rounds as quickly as possible, the better).

I mean, hey, I watched “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” too, and they were good movies. But that’s my point…they were movies.

So, since Newt has decided that he wants to be the Great White Father Protector Of Us All in 2008, I thought it best to do some more checking on The Once And Future King In His Imagination And Consummate Egotism.

Well, it would stand to reason that a man harboring such delusions of grandeur would have his own domain, and indeed he does, and I journeyed to this font of wisdom to read some of what “The Great Man” has to say. I found, among other things, a provocative post boldly titled, “Real Change Requires Real Change.”

The patriotic heart just stirs, doesn’t it?

I also found this excerpt, which actually makes some sense…

The collapse of math and science education in the United States and the relative decline of investment in basic research is an enormous strategic threat to American national security. This is a strategically disappearing advantage. There is a grave danger that the United States will find itself collapsing in scientific and technological capabilities in our lifetime. In fact, the 14 bipartisan members of the Hart-Rudman Commission on national security unanimously agreed that the failure of math and science education is a greater threat than any conceivable conventional war in the next 25 years. The Commission went on to assert that only a nuclear or biological weapon going off in an American city was a greater threat.
(Oh, I almost forgot; Gingrich also states that the United States “is in greater danger today than at any time since 1980 when Jimmy Carter was president.” I guess, being a chickenhawk, Gingrich doesn’t know that Carter has the second-longest record of military service of any president between 1950 and 2000 behind only Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was head of all Allied forces in World War II.)

I think Newt, though, is actually onto something by focusing on “the relative decline in basic research” in this country compared to our advances during and after the second World War. The problem is that the Republican Party composed primarily of people he recruited, supported and promoted in the U.S. House has greatly exacerbated this shortcoming.

This link takes you to a document that outlines spending plans for research and development proposed in August 2000 for the fiscal year 2001 budget. Please keep in mind the context in which this document was written; President Clinton was calling for funding increases and the Republican congress (particularly the House) was strictly adhering to budgetary ceilings and not giving Clinton what he wanted, to the point where Clinton was threatening to veto the budget (that kind of restraint would be laudable now, but I would argue back then that there was more leeway because of the budget surpluses which were envisioned into the future…ugh).

I think this excerpt is particularly important (and yes, I know Gingrich himself was gone from Congress by this time)…

The House would be far less generous to nondefense R&D than the Senate, and would cut R&D funding for many agencies. Although the House joined with the Senate in agreeing to substantial increases for DOD and NIH, nondefense R&D excluding NIH would decline 1.3 percent in the House appropriations bills. Although the House would award a slight 3.9 percent increase to NSF R&D to $3.0 billion, this would be far short of the nearly 20 percent increase requested by the President. The House would cut NASA R&D by 1.0 percent, mostly because it would eliminate the Reusable Launch Vehicle program. Commerce R&D would fall by nearly a quarter because the House would eliminate the Advanced Technology Program and slash NOAA R&D. USDA R&D would decline 2.0 percent because the House would prevent a mandatory competitive grants program from spending any money in FY 2001 and would cut other competitive research grants, while boosting funding for congressionally designated research projects. While DOE R&D would edge up slightly by 0.7 percent, the House would balance increases for DOE’s defense R&D activities with sharp cuts in nondefense energy-related R&D activities and stagnant funding for science activities.
So Gingrich is now calling for investment in technology and R&D as part of his “let-them-come-to-me-because-I’m-so-great-that-I-don’t-have-to-campaign-for-President” campaign?

I found a great post on The Daily Kos from diarist DarkSyde who had what I thought were important words on this subject:

Wise science policy, combined with innovation, Western capitalism, and research gets us to the moon and eradicates polio or small pox. Right-wing pseudoscientific drivel fueled by short-sighted corporate greed, institutional cronyism, and willful ignorance gets us a polluted, toasty planet spiraling down the environmental drain, an economy beholden to the tender mercies of Middle East Petro Tyrants, and maybe another boner pill -- if we're lucky.

While either path can produce jobs and thus boost the economy, one clearly raises our quality of life and leads to a bright, long term future, and one does not. You can pretty much guess which road we've been racing down at break neck speed these last six years ...
Newt, here’s what you can do if you want to have a prayer of generating any kind of positive energy for your campaign: for starters, you and Wired Magazine can apologize to Al Gore (you on behalf of your party, for the words of Trent Lott, Dick Armey and others) for helping to propagate the lie that Gore said he invented the Internet (a lie which I don’t think will ever be completely removed from our dialogue, unfortunately), since Gore is partly responsible for actual technological innovation in this country during the ‘90s which your party has opposed and you profess to encourage now.

And the next time you get the urge to prognosticate about the threats faced by this country, please do us all a favor and shut your yap instead.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Videos

This is a strange way to wish John Mayall a happy 73rd birthday, I guess, but here's a clip of perhaps his most famous protégé (Eric Clapton) performing in an impromptu gathering called The Dirty Mac as part of The Rolling Stones' "Rock N' Roll Circus" back in the late '60s (the tune is "Yer Blues" with John Lennon, of course - amazing how young all of those guys used to be)...

...also, Happy Birthday to keyboardist Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals ("Lonely Too Long" and finishing with "Come On Up" from the '60s also - all you have to do is check out the clothes)...

...and speaking of The Beatles, we lost George Harrison five years ago today (as a remembrance, here's "This Is Love" from "Cloud Nine" in 1989, which was a great recording).

The Latest From "Steno Mike"

I actually read this column from Mike Allen with its laughable title and found virtually nothing of substance whatsoever.

This column was literally dictated to him from Dubya’s inner circle, including National Security Adviser “Steve” Hadley (maybe my imagination, but just a tad informal?), and the following talking points were communicated:

- Dubya and his people refuse to refer to what is transpiring in Iraq as “civil war” and are calling it “sectarian violence” instead.

- Dubya does not consider himself beholden to Jim “The Fixer” Baker and the Iraq Study Group (and by the way, how much longer is it going to take for this insulated gang of Beltway “players” to issue their findings? I mean, it’s not like lives are on the line or anything, right?).

- Dubya is going to be a “good listener” when he meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (as if that somehow is news, thought I guess it is for Dubya sadly…and for some perverse reason, while Dubya and his Iraqi-proxy-du-jour meet concerning some of the worst violence on earth, Allen perversely leads this piece with the line “Get used to seeing the Four Seasons Amman,” as if any of our people fighting and dying could ever hope to spend time there – and James Russell earlier couldn’t figure out why we aren’t on “a war footing”; maybe it’s because no one else is besides our troops.)

To me, the “money quote” from this piece (such as it is) comes from Hadley.

"We're not at the point where the President is going to be in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan at this point."
And he never will be.

"Commit" To This, Chickenhawk!

This appeared in the editorial section of yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer (please note that I end up using a bad word further down in this post - couldn't find a better one)...

Serious or not on Iraq war?

That's the choice, not run vs. stay. And if we are, we need a national debate on sacrifices required.

By James Russell

The midterm elections were only the latest occasion for Americans to listen to shop-worn variants of the "cut and run" or "stay the course" sound bites describing our choices in Iraq. All such characterizations are wrong. The real choice facing us is to decide how seriously we take the war.
Now before I say anything about this trite, pathetic screed, let me provide this link to a bio on the author from the Naval Postgraduate School of Monterrey, California; the site features scenic vistas of that state’s glorious coastline and lots of images of classroom instructors and students impeccably dressed and listening attentively in almost antiseptically clean classrooms.

As I reviewed James Russell’s bio, I found that a record of military service was noticeably absent. And given that, I’d like to make the request here and now that any propagandistic garbage such as this henceforth should at least be written by someone who has actually served or it shouldn’t be published anywhere.

And by the way, Mr. Russell, who is this “we” and “us” that you’re talking about, the ones who supposedly aren’t taking this war “seriously”? We are ALL affected by it, and MANY of us ARE TAKING IT SERIOUSLY, so much so that we ACTUALLY ELECTED A NEW CONGRESS A FEW WEEKS AGO AND TOLD THEM TO END THIS MESS!!

And, Dubya, tone deaf as always, continues to ignore us.

Most observers would rightly conclude that up until now the United States remains uncommitted to the fight.
That’s an incredibly insulting comment on our troops who are fighting, getting maimed and dying in that nightmare, you chickenhawk.

Less than 13 percent of our 1.4 million active-duty military are deployed in Iraq. Fewer than 15,000 of the 150,000 troops in Iraq today are actually engaged in combat operations.
Where exactly are you getting that number? The same bodily orifice used by Flush Limbore, perhaps? (please scroll down slightly for the 75 percent number...freeper alert site, by the way).

The insurgents and the death-squad militias in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan have figured this out. While not 10-feet tall, this loose collection of groups is resilient, adaptive and tenacious, and the insurgents are fighting on their home turf. How else is it that a series of street thugs and gangs armed with AK-47s, RPGs and cell phones are pushing around the world's preeminent global power?
How else? Maybe they’re doing it because we didn’t send enough people over to do the job in the first place because Don (“The Defense Secretary You Have”) Rumsfeld decided that he knew more than the generals. Maybe because we didn’t have a plan to help the people who we did send over. Maybe because Shi’ites, Sunnis and al Qaeda all figured out long before we did that our troops could get stuck in such a mess of almost unspeakable stupidity to the point where their presence would be both loathed and begged for at the same time. Maybe because we’re fighting a war in a place where it never should have been fought to begin with.

The surrounding states have also figured this out and are hedging their bets against what looks like the inevitable attempt to craft politically acceptable circumstances that will give us "peace with honor" and the withdrawal of American forces.
If we’re lucky, though it sounds like Dubya is pretty much begging Iran and Syria for help at this point, though it won’t be reported as such in our corporate media, of course, spun instead as Bush showing something like statesmanlike leadership or some such lie.

Our adversaries and our erstwhile allies see a nation that refuses to place itself on a "war" footing. They see a nation of people who spend most of their time in movie theaters and at shopping malls. Our enemies are right to conclude that they are more committed to the fight than us.
And whose fault is that? Is it somehow supposed to be OURS?

I’ll tell you what, Mr. Russell; read this to learn more about the corporations who are getting rich off blood money in this mess from the price paid by our troops; it sounds like they’re “committed to the fight” as long as they can make a buck from it. I’ll communicate these highlights (lowlights?) to you:

- CACI and Titan's role at Abu Ghraib led the Center for Constitutional Rights to pursue companies and their employees in U.S. courts.

"We believe that CACI and Titan engaged in a conspiracy to torture and abuse detainees, and did so to make more money," says Susan Burke, an attorney hired by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), whose lawsuit against the companies is proceeding into discovery before the Federal Court for the District of Columbia.

The private suits seem to have already had some effect: In September 2005 CACI announced that it would no longer do interrogation work in Iraq.

- In July, (Bechtel’s) reputation for getting things done unexpectedly plummeted like a 12-ton slab of concrete when Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), released an audit of the Basra Children's Hospital Project, which was $70 million to $90 million over budget, and a year and half behind schedule. Bechtel's contract to coordinate the project was immediately cancelled.

Now that the money is running out, American officials are beginning to blame Iraqis for mismanaging their own infrastructure. But as Bowen warns, contractors like Bechtel, the CPA and other contracting agencies will only have themselves to blame for failing to train Iraqi engineers to operate these facilities (esp. water, sewage and electricity) when they leave.

- The fraudulent use of outside contractors by Aegis Defense Services and Custer Battles is likewise documented.

- The stock of General Dynamics has doubled and the company’s profits have tripled since 2001. That by itself is not bad, but due to lax to nonexistent oversight, David K. Heebner, a former top aide to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, was hired by General Dynamics a year before a contract was sealed to provide Stryker Light Armored Vehicles used in the Iraq war (Shinseki announced a new "vision" to transform the Army by moving away from tracked armored vehicles toward wheeled light-armored vehicles at around the same time that Heebner was hired in November of 1999 – I should point out though, to be fair, that I worked in DoD consulting for a time, and stuff like this is a common occurrence).

- Chevron and ExxonMobil are also mentioned in the article concerning profitability due to the war, and do I really need to point out anything else there?

And why should we stop at blaming our august captains of industry for their “commitment to the fight”? Let’s read the ThinkProgress information from this link about the architects of this horror that were once “committed to the fight” also, but are now “committed” to reaping whatever reward they can for their dark deeds.
Back to Russell...

If we want to rescue any favorable outcome in Iraq, the nation must decide whether or not to commit itself to the fight.
Why don’t you say the “D” word, Mr. Russell? Do you want to get roasted like Charlie Rangel, who is wrong but at least has a record of service?

Here’s a link to the great “Peace Takes Courage “ site, OK? Try viewing some of these heartbreaking presentations and then seriously try to stand up in front of some grieving families and friends and spout this “commit to the fight” bullshit!

This should be the starting point for the Baker Commission and the other groups examining courses of action in Iraq. Being at war and committing the nation to achieving its objectives in Iraq means shared sacrifice and service, and may mean - gasp - higher taxes.
It may mean also – gasp – repealing the Repugs’ insane, sickening, insulting tax cuts since the incoming Democratic congress will be left with the mind-numbing task of trying to fix the results of perhaps the worst fiscal congressional stewardship this country has ever seen.

It means getting serious about the nonsensical way our military is organized and funded, wrenching these hidebound bureaucracies away from their Cold War mentality. Perhaps most importantly, it means engaging the American people in a national debate about the real human and monetary costs that are entailed in rescuing success in Iraq.
How do you define “rescuing success in Iraq,” Mr. Russell? Do you have the guts to at least try to venture a guess on that?

The time for all of this, by the way, was prior to March of 2003. Lay the blame squarely where it belongs for the fact that that did not take place.

Iraq has become a "slow bleed," in which American blood, prestige and credibility are all slowly and inexorably being spilled in ever increasing quantities.
That is your first intelligent statement in this entire column.

Neither political party appears to know how to stop the hemorrhage. Neither party displays any interest in forming a unified front to address the slow-motion disaster.
That’s not true, of course. Different Democrats have offered different plans that will have to be hammered into a coherent strategy since the people of this country tasked them to do that when they elected them to power a few weeks ago (oh, I'm sorry; I were trying to breathe new life into the "divided Democrats" narrative again - my bad). Dubya, of course, will ignore this recommendation as usual and do his best to leave Iraq as a mess that will have to be cleaned up by someone else.

For all the talk of Iraq's flawed constitution, fractured government structures and ineffective president, perhaps it's the United States that doesn't realize the gravity of the situation and the crying need for a national unity government of its own.
With all of our issues of trying to get the Dems and Repugs to play nice, is Russell SERIOUSLY trying to compare our government to what passes for that in Iraq?

Iraq is a strategic problem that requires a strategic solution - a solution that blends mutually supportive steps on the domestic and international fronts to bring a truly coordinated response to the crisis. Another series of missed ultimatums or deadlines foisted on a hapless Iraqi government won't cut it.
And again, this is a lesson Bushco has learned far too late.

As a first step, it's time for us to acknowledge that the American center of gravity in Iraq lies not in Baghdad or in Anbar province, but here in the United States. If our political leaders would prefer to continue having foreign debtors finance the war rather than ask the American people to open their wallets, maybe we have no business remaining in Iraq. This has been the default approach of both political parties, and it's just plain wrong.
I sense that Russell is slowly – very slowly – coming to the realization that the Iraq war has been a totally misbegotten enterprise from its foul origins. And as far as “opening our wallets,” that is a sick joke given the corporate thievery and cronyism that has taken place since the war began that I mentioned earlier (and if Russell wants his argument to be taken seriously, the least he can do is support the commission into contractor fraud supported by Rep. Louise Slaughter that, God willing, may now become a reality).

The situation cries out for elected officials to do what they were elected to do: lead. Honestly explaining the real costs and the stakes for the United States in Iraq is a good place to start. And the results of the midterm elections provide an opportunity to forge a national consensus.
And by the way, don’t you just love the way that Repug sympathizers like Russell manage to give their favored political party a total pass here? “Now is the time to forge a national consensus,” and we must “hold our leaders accountable.” How about holding accountable the political party under whose alleged stewardship this horror has transpired?

Could anyone argue with a partnership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and President Bush that formed an effective unity government to bring all instruments of national power to bear on Iraq? Does anyone believe that Mideast states would remain on the sidelines hedging their bets if they were confronted by a U.S. government they knew was finally serious about solving the Iraq problem?
I don’t know what that first sentence means exactly, but the answer to the second sentence for me is yes; they would stand on the sidelines if it weren’t for the fact that they realized the danger of Iraq’s civil war spreading throughout the region long before we did.

And by the way, a traffic ticket is a “problem.” A hangnail or a doctor’s appointment canceled at the last minute perhaps requiring child care coverage necessitating missing a day from work is a “problem.” The Iraq War is a full-blown, epochal military, humanitarian and ecological disaster of proportions that I, for one, have not seen in my lifetime and hope never to see again.

The current "slow bleed" is the worst possible place to be - a place that will inevitably lead to our ignominious retreat. It's time for our leadership to take this issue to the people and collectively decide how serious we really are about the war. Once we address that issue, we can decide whether to make the necessary commitments of national resources that can make "success" more than just a sound bite.
I actually agree with some of that; it is “the worst possible place to be.” And that’s why we need to start getting the hell out.


It's Over Already, PA-08 Freepers!

I’ll bet you thought you’d never see this picture again, right? Sorry to disappoint you…

I hope that any day now, outgoing PA-08 U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick will show some leadership and write a letter to the Bucks County Courier Times telling his supporters to stop whining and complaining and acknowledge the fact that Patrick Murphy won the election a few weeks ago.

(Yes, I know – I can dream, can’t I?)

I am a combat veteran of the air war over the hostile skies of North Vietnam and Laos when our Marines were under siege in early 1968 during the Tet Offensive. I voted for Mike Fitzpatrick.

It doesn’t bother me in the least that some Iraq veterans questioned what Patrick Murphy did in Iraq, but from the coverage that you gave this issue one might have the impression that all veterans support Murphy. You published letters that were amazingly similar since they contained the same buzzwords; swift boating, Max Cleland and John McCain.

It didn’t matter to me what Murphy did in Iraq, but for the fact that his campaign seemed to be predicated primarily on the fact that he went to Iraq and Fitzpatrick didn’t. It seemed to me that this handsome young man was plopped into our Congressional district by the Democratic party because of his service.

So what did he do as a military attorney? Process Article 15s while he was in the Green Zone? If the Democratic Party thought his service was the primary reason why we should turn Mike Fitzpatrick out of office, the question is proper. We are a patriotic bunch of people, but was the Democratic Party playing on our patriotism?

I didn’t think my war experience qualified me to run for Congress when I came back from Vietnam. I thought the same about Murphy. I’m a Fitzpatrick guy. I’ve met him only once, but because I read our newspaper, I know his record.

Clark Martin
Lower Makefield, PA
So much misrepresentation and nonsense yet again…Patrick “dropped into” this district, failure to acknowledge his service with the 82nd Airborne, the insinuation that Patrick is a “pretty face” beholden to that dastardly liberal Nancy Pelosi (and I’m sure that’s the reason why Patrick joined the Blue Dog Democrat coalition, as reported about a week or so ago at The Daily Kos). And Martin actually DARES to accuse the Democrats of “playing on patriotism”? This post would last from here until tomorrow if I started documenting all the ways the Repugs do that.

And what exactly was the "issue" that Young Philadelphia Republican Kevin Kelly raised about Patrick's service again at that press conference? Oh yeah, the charge that "blew up in Mikey's face," right? And as we know, Repug sympathizers NEVER write letters repeating boilerplate catchphrases...

It’s a dark day for Bucks County, losing a great man like Mike Fitzpatrick to a greenhorn like Patrick Murphy. Mike did a lot for our district and deserved to win and keep up the good work he was doing. Now we have a young man who can’t give you straight answers on any issue.

I am a Republican who voted for years for just my party. This election I chose to vote for who I thought was best for the job and voted for more Democrats than Republicans. But what were people thinking when voting for Murphy? No experience and no answers, or at least no answers that were not given to him by someone in his party.

We lost a great man and I hope we don’t pay too much of a price for it. He showed us all, claiming victory before anyone else would, he has a lot to learn and we will be the ones that suffer.

Scott Van Blarcom
Falls Township, PA
Oh, please.

I’ll tell you what, Scott; here is a link to my post explaining why I voted against Mike Fitzpatrick, and here is a link to my post explaining why I voted for Patrick Murphy. Take a few minutes, read them, then get out of my face and try to enjoy the holidays, OK?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Videos

Two birthdays for No. 1500 (jeez): Charlie Burchill of Simple Minds is 47 ("Don't You Forget About Me," the first song the cowards at Beasley Broadcasting played on 96.5 in Philadelphia in November 2000 after they booted the late, great talk station WWDB off that frequency - they turned it into an '80s station, though I'm sure the format has changed half a dozen times by now; that happened just before the election, and I always wondered about that timing)...

...and Jimi Hendrix would have been 64 today, believe it or not ("Killing Floor," from the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival).

Victims Of Intolerance

I spent a few minutes earlier today at the web site of the Chronicle (newspaper of San Francisco) and found no mention of the fact that today is the 28th anniversary of the murders of former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by former Supervisor Dan White (there is a gay and lesbian link from the site’s home page, but I am currently blocked from it, so there may have been mention there – a long story that I’d better not get into…I’ll double check tonight). Moscone’s death had the quite unintended effect of boosting the political career of Dianne Feinstein, former President of the Board of Supervisors and currently a U.S. Senator from California.

I would strongly suggest viewing the excellent documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk” to get a better understanding of this story and everything that led up to it. That would do more justice to the memories of both of these men than anything else I could say here.

Just Go Away Next Time, OK?

I’m not sure how much this has to do with politics, but I feel like I should say something anyway.

After witnessing the aftermath of the fiasco with Michael Richards of “Seinfeld” spouting racist profanity at a comedy club, I think it’s safe to say that many people really don’t understand the concept of humility (and I don’t mean to exempt your humble narrator here on occasion).

Sorrow and unfortunate personal circumstances shouldn’t be used as a means to promote oneself. How many damn times did we hear about Mel Gibson saying “I’m sorry” to everyone in the universe for his anti-Semitic rant after he was pulled over by the police? Why must we know about what seems like a new celebrity divorce every single stinking week (apparently, Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock are the latest to qualify…the all-timer was Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, of course). And as far as I’m concerned, you can toss the James Frey/Oprah controversy into that mix also.

And of course, the same corporate media “news” sites that bring this stuff to us will also run an opinion piece periodically about the “coarsening” of our culture, prudishly admonishing us for ingesting the fluff that they themselves publish whenever it hits the fan.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t apologize or atone when they do wrong (are you reading this, Dubya?). I’m just saying that they shouldn’t turn it into a cottage industry.

And finally, I have to wonder why Richards even has to work at all. If he isn’t making a fortune off “Seinfeld” royalties along with the other three stars, then he needs a new business manager (who of course will then initiate a lawsuit and start the “star meets unfortunate circumstance” news cycle all over again).

I'll Ask Again; No Archie Comics?

(I was thinking of this post with the title, by the way.)

So George W. Bush and his fellow wingnuts are trying to (shake down campaign contributors) raise funds for a “presidential library”?

Considering this venture pertains to a man who once asked “Is Our Children Learning?,” that makes about as much sense as putting Dick Cheney in charge of UNICEF.

ThinkProgress, Morse at Media Needle and a few others have chimed in on this already, but I want to highlight this excerpt from an ad that appeared in the New York Times for “The George W. Bush Center For Freedom and Liberty.”

Update: Morse got me on the phony ad...good one; the story is legit, though.

“The Center’s core philosophy will be modeled on the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose observations on American democracy, were central to George W. Bush’s formative years as a scholar.
I don’t know what is more hilarious, the fact that anyone would consider Dubya to be a scholar of anything except fraud and any other manner of duplicity or the appearance of such an obvious typo in this highly prominent ad.

But as long as some copywriter who obviously doesn’t know how to proofread his or her own work bothered to mention de Tocqueville in the same sentence as President Stupid Head, I think some clarification is in order (in particular this excerpt from the linked Wikipedia article)…

“(de Tocqueville was) a representative of the ‘liberal’ political tradition who recommended segregation between 'Arabs' and European colonists.”
Sweet Mother Of Ronnie Reagan! Dubya influenced by a “liberal”? And French too! And why is the part about segregation oddly appropriate for the political party that adopts a “southern strategy” every election cycle?

And here’s something else that Our Red State President should consider (author of the quote, “it was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship”)…

To Tocqueville, America was set apart by its peculiar democratic mores. But, despite maintaining with Plato, More, Harrington, and Montesquieu that the balance of property determined the balance of power, Tocqueville argued that, as America showed, equitable property holdings did not ensure the rule of the best men. In fact, it did quite the opposite. The widespread, relatively equitable property ownership which distinguished America and determined its mores and values also explained why the American masses held elites in such contempt.
And if Dubya, by virtue of his last name, doesn't qualify as an "elite," then I don't know who does.

With the phrase “widespread, relatively equitable property ownership,” de Tocqueville was talking about the rise of an industrious and prosperous middle class, which is critical to a functioning democracy (and which has been under steady assault by Republicans and some Democrats in this country for at least the last 25 years).

Actually, I think Paul Ford of The Morning News envisioned what Bush’s “library” should look like in this article.

As for me, I have only one request; the library should contain a wing displaying the names of every single person who voted for Bush and Cheney in either 2000 or 2004 along with a photo exhibit of all Allied forces personnel killed or injured in the Iraq war along with all innocent Iraqi civilians who met the same fate (and make sure we don’t forget anyone tortured on orders from Bushco also).

Update: Indeed we should, Arianna.

Living Up To My Name Again

I don’t think anyone wants to look into this crystal ball.

As a response to Dubya, more countries in Latin American are electing leftist leaders, including Daniel Ortega again in Nicaragua (though time will tell if he’s mellowed or learned anything from his missteps back in the ‘80s), and now, Rafael Correa in Ecuador (who, coincidentally, is a friend of Hugo Chavez). Correa defeated “a conservative, Bible thumping banana baron named Alvaro Noboa” in the election (oh, and did I mention that Ecuador exports about 540,000 barrels of crude a day and plans to rejoin OPEC – all of this is noted in this Yahoo news story).

So as our energy sources become less reliable (and as I noted last week, we’re only minor players in this international energy development project), we will have a harder time maintaining our standard of living, to say nothing of maintaining our debt. And the benefactors of our debt are ascending on the global stage to the point where they will be the dominant economic players into the future (as stated in this article, India and China are actually investing in Africa – should be interesting at the very least).

Meanwhile, we are stuck in Iraq where both Shi’ites and Sunnis are simultaneously outraged at us but want us to stay anyway (nice – and of course, that doesn’t even account for al Qaeda in that country) in a war that has now officially lasted longer than World War II.

(By the way, Michael Moore spoke of atonement in his column; I believe we should feel that way as a nation, but I don’t feel that way personally. I never supported this war for one single, solitary second, and I, along with a great many other people who feel the same way I do I’m sure, did all we could to persuade people that it was the wrong course of action).

It’s only 11:30 A.M. EST, and I already feel like I need a drink.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Videos

Seether ("Remedy" - probably more appropriate for Halloween, but there you are)...

...and Happy Birthday to John McVie of Fleetwood Mac ("The Chain" from '87, hacked every so slightly at the end...if you ever wondered about how great Lindsay Buckingham is, consider that they needed TWO guitarists to replace him for this tour).

A New 8th District Arrival

Best wishes to Patrick Murphy and his wife Jennifer on the arrival of their baby daughter Margaret Grace at 5:03 pm on Friday, as reported in today's Bucks County Courier Times. "Maggie" weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20 inches long. Everyone is fine, and best wishes to all.