Saturday, October 27, 2007

Video From Chris Dodd on FISA Filibuster

Another hat tip to Prof. Marcus for this one (from here)...

Prof. Marcus also noted that we should be hearing words like this from the John Edwards campaign (I would say we should be hearing this from all other Democratic candidates also).

(By the way, this isn't quite all of what Dodd said - I've seen the full version from his congressional site - but it's close enough.)

Update 10/28: Speaking of Edwards, good stuff here, but...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Videos

Happy Birthday to Keith Strickland of The B-52's ("Private Idaho" - insert your Larry Craig snark here)...

...Happy Birthday also to Bootsy Collins ("Play With Bootsy" - like the beat)...

...Happy Birthday tomorrow to Simon LeBon of Duran Duran ("Come Undone" - so the guy is in drag and the woman is singing under water; got it)...

...and Happy Birthday on Sunday to Randy Newman ("I Think It's Going To Rain Today" - maybe for another day or so around here).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/26/07)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

(This has been one nutty week for your humble narrator, by the way - it's a miracle I've been able to post anything or answer a single comment...yeah yeah, I know, I got 'yer cryin' towel right here, ya' wuss.)

Children's health insurance. In a 273-156 vote, the House failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to override President Bush's veto of a bill that would have renewed the State Children's Health Insurance Program through 2012 at a cost of $60 billion, up $35 billion from current levels.

A yes vote was to override the veto and enact the bill (HR 976).

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
Yeah, I seem to recall saying something about this here (and this guy is talking to you, Pitts and Saxton).

Confidential news sources. The House passed, 398-21, and sent to the Senate a bill that would protect reporters from most attempts by federal authorities to compel them to reveal confidential sources. The shield would not apply when disclosure would help to solve a crime or probe national-security leaks.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for HR 2102.
Even Pancake Joe supported this? Jinkies - color me shocked!

This is definitely a step in the right direction, but as nearly as I can figure, the bill seems to draw a line between bloggers such as my "A"-list betters who are able to scratch out some kind of a living doing this sort of thing and people like yours truly who, in our masochism, insist on doing this without compensation. I don't completely understand that, but then again, I guess that's why I'm not an "A" lister, among other reasons.

Railroad safety. The House passed, 377-38, and sent to the Senate a bill that would set tougher railroad-safety standards, including a 12-hour maximum workday for train and signal personnel.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2095.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Pitts.
That list of people/constituencies/inanimate objects that Joe Pitts doesn't like just keeps getting longer every week; now he's got it in for choo-choos?

Oy (and by the way, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii was the only Dem who voted agains this).


Mine safety. Senators voted, 89-4, to increase the Mine Safety and Health Administration's 2008 budget by $10 million so it can more quickly get caught up on coal-mine inspections. The vote, which amended a 2008 appropriations bill for the Labor Department and other agencies, raised the MSHA's budget to $340 million.

A yes vote backed the amendment to HR 3043.

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

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
And by the way, if it seems like the Senate doesn't do much (though it does), this might be the reason why.

This week, the House considered bills on workplace discrimination and small-business contracting. The Senate continued to debate fiscal 2008 budgets for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

Have A Banana, Carlos

Yesterday’s New York Times reported something that I thought was a bit amazing involving Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (I’ll get to it below).

The focal point of the story was Bushco’s typically wrongheaded demonization of Hugo Chavez in pursuit of a trade agreement with Colombia; though it’s an understatement to say that Chavez has issues, he has managed to achieve a level of popularity with those totally ignored by our executive regime, and Chavez has actually tried to establish warm relations with the same nation we are courting also.

As reported by the Times here...

Many Democrats have opposed trade deals, even those pushed by President Bill Clinton. The administration hopes to win over enough Democrats to pass the Latin American pacts this year or next. There is, however, considerable disagreement whether the argument of countering Mr. Chávez as a security matter will persuade Democrats.

Democrats say that the House speaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi, has warned the administration not to invoke the specter of Mr. Chávez but to focus on curbing the labor abuses under (Colombian President Alvaro) Uribe.

“The problem is that Hugo Chávez is not their main thrust — he is their only thrust,” Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said. “Nobody likes Chávez, but I don’t think a bogeyman is going to get people excited into voting for these trade deals.”

And as if we needed proof that Chavez is exactly what Rangel says he is to Bushco, we have this from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (showing his astonishing ignorance)…

When Mr. Gutierrez said recently that labor violence was no longer a problem in the country, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat who won last year in part by challenging recent trade agreements, said he was “astounded” by the comment.

“On the contrary,” Mr. Brown said in a letter to the commerce secretary, “there is overwhelming evidence that Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a labor leader.”
Kudos to Brown for slapping down Gutierrez on that one right away.

For the benefit of our commerce secretary, here is a prior post on the travails of Chiquita Brands as they have dealt with the labor violence in Colombia that is supposedly “no longer a problem.”

Bushco's New Poodle?

So Aussie PM John Howard has said “the surge” has "been more successful than many of its critics wanted it to be or believe it would be," huh (from here – h/t Thers at Eschaton).

Well, according to here, our buds down under have about 820 troops total in Mesopotamia at this moment, and this story from last February tells us that Howard acted like a real pal for us and send over an additional 50 to 70 troops (in advance of a visit from Dark Lord Dick Cheney, who no doubt threatened to “accidentally” shoot Howard in the face if he didn’t pony up).

That’s nice, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to make much of a difference since, according to the Wikipedia link, we have about 168,000 over in that pit at this moment.

On the other hand, Rep. Jan Schakowsky went over to Iraq about two and a half months ago and tells a very different story here; call me a skeptic, but I’m inclined to believe her over the head of a country that has decided to send what qualifies as a token presence into that nightmare.

Today’s Reasons To Vote For Diane And Steve

The following letters appeared in the Courier Times yesterday (here, here, and here)…

Why haven't Republican Bucks County Commis- sioners Charley Martin and Jim Cawley, both up for re-election, gone on record expressing concern about the Draft Bucks County Regional Traffic Study recently published by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) for state Reps. Dave Steil and Scott Petri's Regional Traffic Task Force?

The commissioners were copied on a Sept. 19 letter from citizen watchdog group RRTS to the DVRPC, which stated this about the study: "The strategic and peculiar placement of the roundabout [at the intersection of Stoopville and Washington Crossing roads exacerbates the serious safety and quality-of-life issues that exist on Stoopville and Lindenhurst roads, as it will encourage even higher volumes of traffic, especially commercial traffic, to travel these roads at even greater speeds."

The placement of this roundabout will cause Stoopville Road to function more like a main artery, and arterial highway Washington Crossing Road (Route 532) to function more like a minor road. This opposes the principles of highway planning.

The commissioners share responsibility for the DVRPC's study because Commissioner Martin represents the county on the DVRPC's board, and the Bucks County Planning Commission (an agency the commissioners are responsible for) provided technical assistance for the study.

In my book, Charlie Martin and fellow commissioner Jim Cawley's silence speaks volumes. This lifelong Republican won't support them on Nov. 6. I'll vote for Democrat Commissioner candidates Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia who spoke out against the study at last week's League of Women Voters candidates forum.

I applaud Santarsiero, who was quoted in an Oct. 22 Courier Times article saying, "It's troubling that the draft report proposes the realignment of Stoopville and Washington Crossing roads. If that were to happen, it would turn Stoopville into a major artery and would spur development in the Stoopville Road corridor, which would lead to more traffic in that area and onto Lower Makefield's roads."

Todd Herman
Newtown, PA

The government purchasing open space or development rights from farmers is not the answer to every negative environmental issue facing this county. Yes, I consider it a worthy program. But, some of us in the older and most densely populated areas of Lower Bucks believe some taxpayer dollars are being given to well-connected landowners for property already precluded from development.

Consider the benign approach of Republican Commissioners Martin and Cawley to the recent story, "County's water worst in the nation." They said at a recent debate that water pollution is a primary concern of the state Department of Environmental Protection. They choose not to acknowledge that the Bucks County Department of Health acts as the initial responder and follow-up investigator of Clean Stream Law violations for the DEP.

The commissioners can and should be more proactive through their own health department in our quest to clean up our lakes, streams, and the river.

Mike Slipp
Bristol Township, PA

The Oct. 18 county commissioner debate was informative and engaging, except for the actions of Jim Cawley.

Cawley lowered the level of political discourse with his actions, primarily occurring while his opponents were speaking, patting Jay Russell, Constitution Party candidate, on the back, engaging in one-on-one conversations with him, and constantly cracking jokes. This resulted in a rebuke from the moderator.

Cawley should remember that he has never been elected to any public office. He should learn to take the voters and the issues more seriously, or else he runs the risk of extending his string of electoral defeats.

Jeanne Bray
Lower Makefield, PA
To help Diane and Steve, click here.

Kudos To Casey

I’ve rightfully dumped on Sideshow Bob Casey for a little while now since I believe that he, like many other congressional Dems, has utterly failed us on the two most critical issues facing this country: namely, the FISA giveaway to Dubya (it would be nice if you supported Chris Dodd’s filibuster on immunity to the telecomms, Bob) and the Iraq war (though he did support the Webb amendment entitling our military to stays at home that matched the length of their deployments to Iraq).

Update: Speaking of Dodd, if you read nothing else online all day, or all month for that matter - read this!!.

However, I should note that Casey did vote here against the confirmation of Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals. However, as was the case with the Webb Amendment, Casey did the right thing in a losing cause.

Here are the so-called “Democrats” who supported the Southwick confirmation…

Akaka (HI)
Byrd (WV)
Conrad (ND)
Dorgan (ND)
Feinstein (CA – ugh)
Johnson (SD)
Lincoln (AR)
Nelson (NE – no surprise)
Pryor (AR)
So just as a reminder, what exactly is the problem with Southwick? Well, as noted here (I cleaned up some of the stray characters in the text)…

Leslie Southwick upheld the reinstatement with back pay of a white worker after she had been fired for using the single most offensive racial epithet, calling a black colleague a “good ole nigger.” In the wake of heightened racial sensitivity engendered by the Don Imus imbroglio, it is amazing that there is so little outrage over the unbelievably insensitive position taken by a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

In another case, he agreed that an eight-year-old girl could be taken away from her birth mother, in large part because the mother was living with another woman in “lesbian home.” Southwick went even further, joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence suggesting that he believes sexual orientation is a “choice” and that one legally acceptable consequence of that “choice” is losing one’s child.
This country’s proud history of jurisprudence took another big step backward with the Southwick confirmation, though Casey’s vote (which should have been a no-brainer for any member of a party that purports to represent us) is something of a baby step back to respectability for him.

SCHIP, Again

The New York Times tells us here that the U.S. House in Congress made the following revisions to the SCHIP bill before they voted on it yesterday…

House Democrats tried hard to address the issues raised and relentlessly hyped by Republican critics. The bill would speed up the removal of childless adults who have been enrolled in the program in a handful of states, and would reduce the enrollment of parents, even though including parents is often the best way to reach their children.
So the Dems thus turned a winning hand into a losing one in an effort to placate the Repugs here – unbelievable.

And as the Times editorial continues…

House Republicans still wanted more. They sought to eliminate all adults from the program, except pregnant women, and to base eligibility on gross income — with no ability to discount spending on child care or other vital needs. The Republicans also wanted to impose arduous documentation requirements to ensure that no illegal immigrants are enrolled, even though there is little or no evidence that any ever have been.
Memo to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer; this is called playing hardball.

It is plain that, in typical fashion, the only way the Repugs will allow this bill to pass is if it completely gutted to the point where it is unrecognizable, and then they will claim to be the ones looking out for the health and welfare of our kids as opposed to those chicken, terra-loving, Pete-Stark-supporting lii-buuu-ruuls.

And even with all of these concessions, the Times tells us, not a single House Repug budged to help override Dubya’s veto yesterday (including Joe Pitts and Jim Saxton).

Not a one.

So, Dems, here is what you do: reinstate the provisions into this “compromise” that allow childless adults to be enrolled as well as parents, and maybe keep the restrictions on illegal immigrants since that (unsurprisingly) appears to be a non-issue anyway. And then send this back to Dubya again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Make him veto it as many times as he chooses to in his ignorance (if the Repugs aren’t going to budge, then neither should you).

I’ll be watching, and so will the kids.

Friday Morning Funnies

I was at first hesitant to put up a video with such an extended excerpt of Dubya, but I think Keith has too many good things to say here, so...

And as I watched our red-state president, I found myself wondering if he's been indulging in a little too much in his beverage of choice lately, if you get my drift (some Dickel Sour Mash perhaps)...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Videos

Seether ("Fake It," uncensored; the song is about 3:36, and there's a lot of stuff after the song ends that you can just click out of if you want)...

...and happy belated birthday to Bill Wyman, formerly of The Rolling Stones ("Monkey Man," accompanying an edited montage from "Goodfellas" - terrific stuff).

Remembering Heroes

We continue to greatly miss Paul Wellstone in this country, both as a person of character and a politician of vision and courage; he, his wife, their daughter and five others died in a plane crash five years ago today.

I can only imagine how he would be reacting at this moment to the sight of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer slapping down a fellow Democratic member of Congress for speaking out against Iraq (and Pete Stark is an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, no less).

Update: I went a bit "brainless" above; though I'm sure Wellstone would have been concerned, to say the least, about Pelosi and Hoyer, I think he would have taken issue more directly with the actions of Harry Reid, since Wellstone served in the Senate.

Also, our forces sustained our 2,000th casualty in Iraq two years ago on this date; who could have ever imagined that we'd be closing in on almost twice that number today?

Update 10/27: mcjoan at The Daily Kos has more.

"Genghis" Cohen And Memories Of "Old Europe"

I don’t think we’ll ever have to worry about anyone getting wistful for the return of Don (“Hiding Out At The Hoover Institution”) Rumsfeld to Bushco, particularly since Roger Cohen of the New York Times seems to be so eager to “channel” Rummy today concerning the Now And Forever You Pete Stark-Supporting Chicken Libtard Global War On Terra Terra Terra!!!

(“Libtard” – I haven’t been called that for awhile now, and it chokes me up a bit actually…sniff :-).

Here is an excerpt from Cohen’s latest offering today, in which he laments the toll on NATO exacted by the Afghan war, particularly in the Taliban-held south and east (I made a passing reference to that conflict in the last post)…

That, however, is a fact Europeans are reluctant to accept, just as the link between slaughter in Madrid, London or Amsterdam and the Afghan-Pakistani terror nexus seems unconvincing to many Europeans floating on an Iraq-comforted wave of moral smugness.
That’s some interesting new freeper code that I hadn’t encountered before. Somehow, though, I don’t believe the Iraq war is a cause for “smugness” on the part of anyone except possibly Iran.

And regarding Cohen’s contention that, though the German Army (the Bundeswehr) is involved in the Afghan effort, it is not fighting in “the hot spots”…

One German retort I’ve heard is that it’s no good having the United States demand that its allies fight and die in southern Afghanistan when Washington refuses debate over the role of its pampered friend, Pakistan, in the violence.

That’s a fair point. Still, it’s time to bring on the Bundesmacht and past time for continental Europe to overcome its pacifist mirage and accept that these are dangerous times demanding serious defense budgets and sacrifice.
I know this is Cohen having an oh-so-genteel hissy fit over the fact that our forces are shouldering the overwhelming fighting burden here, but in response, I have two observations.

First, this is the consequence of Dubya’s absurd linkage of Iraq with Afghanistan and other terrorist uprisings around the world. Does anyone seriously think, for example, that a Palestinian fighting an Israeli feels any kind of common cause with a Taliban goat herder?

Well then, if a nation doesn’t want to send its troops to Iraq, why would it send them to Afghanistan when our preznit keeps spouting the name nonsense over and over that the conflicts are all part of the same battle?

Second, I continually fail to understand why Cohen and his ideological fellow travelers continue to give our new good buddy Nick Sarkozy in France a pass because he refuses to get involved. Is it because he’s done such a good job of sucking up to President Brainless that such a reprisal is considered unnecessary?

Yes, Afghanistan and Pakistan is (are) the front (s) where the legitimate terror fight needs to be carried out by the forces we have left that survive the decimation of Iraq (and maybe we’ll even get that bin Laden guy, though not with this president). And we’ll need all the help we can get.

That’s why continually demonizing the few friends we have left by accusing them of “moral smugness” and constructing a “pacifist mirage” is particularly stupid, Roger old boy.

You Want It? Pay For It!

I am adamantly opposed to any notion whatsoever of trying to reinstate the draft because George W. Bush has decimated our military to the point where new recruits are so desperately needed.

However, I do support a war tax such as the one proposed here a few weeks ago by House Democrats David Obey, Jack Murtha, and Jim McGovern.

I didn’t say this previously perhaps when I should have, but I was reminded to do so by this New York Times editorial today which restates Bushco’s catastrophic fiscal priorities. And at this point, I’m tiring of the pathetic whining of this “president” about spending when he continues to sink untold dollars into the black hole that was once the country known as Iraq.

And I am equally tired of the placid acceptance by too many people in this country of the horrific status quo; as nearly as I can determine, it really is true that the war at this point has turned into background noise for anyone not immediately affected by it or willing to protest it in any manner (are you reading this, Flyers fans who continue to give your money to Ed Snider, and you Sixers fans as well – actually, this really goes out to anyone who attends an event at either the Wachovia Center or the Wachovia Spectrum).

So, then, it’s time to ante up.

And how typical for Nancy The Nag and Sellout Steny to bail on Obey, Murtha and McGovern over their proposal. Advocating something like this would have the effect of getting the attention of the people who ingest Dubya’s pabulum with drone-like compliance. Nothing like making people part with what they hold most dear in the name of what they believe in as far as I’m concerned.

And actually, that leads me into the following poll conducted by the Presidential Prayer Team about whether or not you believe the Iraq war has become too costly in terms of the lives of our service people or for financial reasons. Here are the depressing results (I guess I stumbled onto the heart of Bushco Zombie land)…

So once again, I say it’s time to ante up.

And the freepers will cry, “Oh, there go those tax-and-spend Democrats again, slowing down the wonderful, robust engine of our economy.”

Gee, I don’t see it as so bloody wonderful from my end based on this (and I know some of this information goes back about four years, but it describes a pattern that hasn’t changed throughout this nightmare of a presidency).

And I have a news flash for our Democratic congressional “leadership” (I’ll probably be repeating this as long as I can draw a breath); the freepers are going to attack you regardless of what you do, so stand up and show some guts, OK?

Also, this tells us what the war costs us at this moment without the surtax proposed by Obey, Murtha and McGovern (the Kos blogger DHinMI includes Afghanistan also; might be a good idea to figure out what our objectives are there at this point also).

Lastly, here is a reminder of what we can do about the war on Saturday.

Another SCHIP Reminder

Another vote coming up in the House today (more here)...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Doing Anything On Saturday?

The Mobilization To End The War will take place on October 27th; here's more...

(and they're planning for more, as we know...)

Some Surprising Help

The WaPo tells us today that former PA governor Dick Thornburgh testified before the House Judiciary Committee that his client, Cyril Wecht (a coroner and high-profile western PA Democrat) was being singled out by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan (pictured)…

"(Wecht) has always been a contentious, outspoken, highly critical and highly visible Democratic figure in western Pennsylvania," Thornburgh told the House Judiciary Committee. "In other words, he would qualify as an ideal target for a Republican U.S. attorney trying to curry favor with a department which demonstrated that if you play by its rules, you will advance."

Thornburgh also said that Wecht "was not the only apparent political prosecution in western Pennsylvania," pointing to three high-profile cases of other local Democrats brought by (Buchanan) of Pittsburgh.
And this tells us more about Buchanan’s penchant for self-promotion through prosecuting specious cases other attorneys wouldn’t touch, such as one in particular…

When federal prosecutors in California passed on cases involving glass bongs and hard-core sex movies, Pittsburgh-based U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan swooped in and stole the show.

Critics blasted “Operation Pipe Dreams,” calling the nationwide sting on drug paraphernalia trafficking a waste of resources. Buchanan charged on, though, and in 2003 won a conviction against Tommy Chong — the Los Angeles actor made famous by the marijuana-laced “Cheech and Chong” movies.

That same year, she charged Extreme Associates and the California owners of the porn production company in the first major federal obscenity prosecution in more than a decade. Critics again wailed about resources and the government fiddling with constitutional freedoms.

The Justice Department and (former Attorney General John) Ashcroft praised both cases. Buchanan was rewarded with a string of lofty posts, one of which — director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys — has landed her at the forefront of a congressional investigation into a group firing of fellow Republican prosecutors.

Buchanan was appointed U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania by President Bush in September 2001.

Her office has opened at least five investigations into prominent Democrats over the past five years. Critics say she has ignored allegations against fellow Republicans during that time.

She has prosecuted former Allegheny County Sheriff Pete DeFazio and aides in his office and former Allegheny County Judge Joseph Jaffe. An investigation of former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy ended without charges being filed.

“There’s no greater adherent to using public corruption charges against the other party than Mary Beth Buchanan,” said Jerry McDevitt, a defense lawyer representing (Wecht) against charges he abused his former public office as Allegheny County coroner for private financial gain
Commenter Douglas also has additional information on Buchanan at this post, including an attempt by Buchanan to investigate Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor before he died.

Whether or not Thornburgh called out Buchanan only to represent a client or because he wanted to put the brakes on another scheming opportunist and inheritor of the “Gonzo” Gonzales DOJ, the former Reagan and Poppy Bush confidant should be credited here (which is shocking; I never envisioned a day when I would give Thornburgh credit for anything).

Update: And speaking of matters related to criminal justice, I give you this.

Little Ricky And The Inky Consummate At Last

Well, isn’t Brian Tierney of Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. all aglow over this.

It seems that our infamous former Senator has decided to ply his minimal talent in the name of writing a column for Philadelphia’s freeper paper of record (and as D-Mac notes here, I was expecting “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” to come and go pretty much without incident; color me surprised).

Who knows, though – Senator Man-On-Dog may actually prove to be an improvement over Smerky, who seems content any more to churn out such dreck as another of his “muzzle meter” columns, an ode to stink bugs (serious), and a supreme fluffing of Flush Limbore (no shot on links).

However, I want to take a moment to focus on the other columnist hired by the Inquirer today, and that would be George Curry (see, the Inky seems to think they can get by forever with this “conservative spin/liberal spin” thing on any chosen writer or topic, and that will always be good enough – not holding my breath).

I don’t know much about Curry, but based on this column from 2003, I think he needs to spend a little more time with gays and lesbians before he decides to write about them (notably)..

…I usually have pretty clear views on most social policy issues. But I confess that I have mixed feelings about same-sex marriages. Not only am I in a quandary, I’ve been in one for weeks as I’ve tried to look at this issue from both sides. And when I do that, I end up right back where I suspect a lot of people are — torn between feeling that homosexuals should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and believing that same-sex marriages should not be sanctioned by the government or the church.
Full disclosure: I don’t support gay marriage either, but I support gay civil unions with all attendant legal rights and benefits (and I certainly have no problem with civil unions sanctioned by the government; not sure exactly what Curry means by that).

More importantly, though, I have a problem with Curry’s pejorative language about the gays and “abnormal” behavior (we’re talking about legal rights for a long-discriminated minority here; stop trying to sound like some full mooner if you profess to be the “anti-Santorum,” OK?). I also don’t understand why Curry, in his column, disagrees so strongly with the notion that the struggle of gays and lesbians for legal rights in this country echoes the civil rights movement to a degree (Curry even goes so far as to say that there’s no comparing the struggle of blacks and gays because the latter group “was never lynched”).

Let’s see now, Mathew Shepard, Andrew Anthos, Billy Jack Gaither – even though they weren’t lynched, they all came to pretty horrific ends in their lives, wouldn’t you say, George?

I don’t know how Curry is on other issues, but on this one, he sounds a little too much like the guy he was introduced with today.

Maybe, though, both Curry and Santorum will give new life to this moribund journalistic enterprise and kick-start “Flying Pigs II,” the ad campaign that will play up what I’m sure will be another upcoming increase in the Inky’s circulation numbers…right?

And speaking of freeper ideological kinsmen, Robert Bork was denied a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years ago yesterday (here).

Wednesday Bucks County Dem Wrapup

The following Guest Opinion appeared in today’s Bucks County Courier Times from Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia…

With Republicans in charge of Bucks County, property taxes have risen 46 percent in just six years. As we approach Election Day, taxpayers should ask themselves: What have we gotten for our money?

During this campaign, we have been saddened by the missed opportunities and disturbing pattern of misplaced priorities we have uncovered. Just a few examples should make our point.

We suffered three catastrophic floods recently. Congressman Patrick Murphy quickly offered to help launch an Army Corps of Engineers study of the Delaware River. The current county commissioners refused to help fund this critical initiative even though significant federal funding will not flow unless the study is done. Our opponents found $250,000 for political mailings and self-serving signs, but ignore the health, safety and welfare of our residents along the Delaware. There is no excuse for their indifference. As commissioners, we will approve the funding in our first week in office.

The commissioner election four years ago focused largely on the county's $140 million courthouse proposal. Four years later, the county commissioners have yet to break ground on the project even though millions of dollars in professional fees have been spent. As commissioners, we intend to rethink the entire courthouse project before spending any more money on it. We believe that satellite courts located in existing district court buildings in the lower and upper end of the county will better serve the people and save residents tens of millions of dollars.

The newspapers have been filled recently with revelations of the total imbalance on our county boards and commissions, based solely on party registration. As commissioners, we will staff our offices, boards and commissions with competent people, not party loyalists. Our administration will reflect the wealth of talent and the breadth of skill found throughout Bucks County. Our records underscore our commitment - even though we are both Democrats, the townships we help run have more Republicans than Democrats on their boards - and significant numbers of independents as well.

One of the great scandals of local government is the pay-to-play culture that tilts the playing field in favor of political contributors. The press has reported multiple instances of county contracts being awarded within days of political contributions being received by the Republican Party. As commissioners, we will institute a Citizens Board of Ethics to evaluate professional appointments and contracts. There must be a wall of separation between political donations and county contracts.

Lastly, while our opponents constantly point to the land preserved with our tax dollars, they never mention the land lost forever from their inaction. Consider that 34,000 acres have been subject to development in the past six years. Our traffic congestion is worse and school expansion has led to massive tax increases. As commissioners, we have a different vision to revitalize our older boroughs and communities. We are committed to economic redevelopment that means jobs, safer neighborhoods, and a growing business tax base which provides relief to homeowners. We will also modernize the county comprehensive plan, which has not been fully updated since 1993, to help local municipalities fight on an equal footing against developers.

Some say things are good enough; we ask how they can be better. We have proven records as municipal and regional leaders. We have led on nationally recognized environmental initiatives and local anti-sex offender legislation to protect our children. We have kept taxes low and improved the quality of life for our communities.

We ask for your consideration and your vote on Nov. 6. We offer a proactive vision of progress, fairness, and fiscally responsible stewardship for Bucks County.

Steve Santarsiero is a Lower Makefield supervisor and the former chairman of Residents Against Matrix.

Diane Marseglia, Middletown, is the mother of Becky, May 1, 1988-Feb. 7, 2005; a licensed clinical social worker, member of the Neshaminy School District Suicide Task Force, member of the Middletown Township Teen Task Force, a former Middletown Township supervisor, a former member of the Neshaminy School Board and a 10-year chairman of the Middletown Youth Aid Panel.
To help Diane and Steve, click here.

The paper also published this letter from Deb Wachspress, running with Matt Maloney for the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors…

A knowledgeable and involved electorate is the foundation of a healthy democracy. It is only when voters have full access to information about issues impacting their communities and their wallets that they can cast educated and informed votes. While for some this may be stating the obvious, my opponents in the upcoming race for the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors appear to think otherwise.

Several months ago, my running mate Matt Maloney and I challenged Pete Stainthorpe and Grace Godshalk to a debate to be held at the township building, televised on Comcast's public access channel and rebroadcast five times. We also invited our opponents to participate in an additional two debates to be held at Makefield Glen and at a local house of worship. To guarantee fairness, we invited the non-partisan League of Women voters to moderate the televised debate.

What followed that original invitation was nothing less than surreal. For months, we were subjected to a series of statements ducking and dodging to avoid appearing before the public at election time. These excuses included never receiving the invitation to questioning the legitimacy of using a public building and public access channel to televise candidates running for public office.

Stainthorpe went so far as to express fears about footage being copied and posted on YouTube, a curious concern given he was recently quoted as saying, "We're not running for president. The issues in Lower Makefield aren't that complex." If that's the case, then why all the concern about what appears on YouTube?

I and my running mate stand for open government. We stand for transparency at election time and throughout the rest of the year when the people's business is being done. The "public" in "public servant" actually means something to me.

One would think that with a combined 36 years experience, our opponents would eagerly welcome any venue to tout their accomplishments. Going to such great lengths to avoid our challenge, one must ask, What have they got to hide?

For those with cable access, the live debate will be featured on Comcast Channel 22 on Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. It will be rebroadcast Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. and again on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
To help Matt and Deb, click here.

Also, the paper also published the following editorial indicating that the Upper Makefield Veterans Cemetery is all but a done deal except for those 16 idiots who filed suit to stop it. I’ll let out a sigh of relief when the case of the litigants is dismissed, and not until then.

It's Called Telling A Story, David

(Posting looks like a big question mark for today, by the way – lots of other stuff going on at the moment..)

I honestly was willing to let sleeping dogs lie over this, as they say, but David Chase, creator of “The Sopranos,” just ticked me off big time (not a thing to do with politics here, but I have to vent).

This is what Chase said here…

Breaking his silence months after the HBO mob drama ended its run, he is offering a belated explanation for that blackout at the restaurant (i.e., the screen went dark at the very end of the last episode with no further explanation). He strongly suggests that, no, Tony Soprano didn't get whacked moments later as he munched onion rings with his family at Holsten's. And mostly Chase wonders why so many viewers got so worked up over the series' non-finish.

"There WAS a war going on that week, and attempted terror attacks in London," says Chase. "But these people were talking about onion rings."

Chase says the New Jersey mob boss "had been people's alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted 'justice' ...

"The pathetic thing -- to me -- was how much they wanted HIS blood, after cheering him on for eight years."

So fan devotion to your TV show is “pathetic”? You blame your audience for getting worked up over the fact that you didn’t bother to write an ending for your TV series? Your audience that patiently endured the breaks that lasted FOREVER between seasons when your show aired?

Now before I go on here, I should come clean and state that I never watched the final episode, even though I had slogged through the series for all but the first season (and I read a recap of that year to familiarize myself, including the attempted hit on Tony by his mother and the death of boss Jackie Aprile that led to Tony’s ascendancy).

And the reason why I never watched the last episode is because, when it aired, I was in a location without access to HBO. I had decided to watch the last episode when I returned home, but after hearing about the blackout, the onion rings and Meadow’s apparently clumsy attempts at parallel parking, I decided that I had better things to do than watch that and took a pass on the finale.

Truth be told, even though “The Sopranos” was well written and well acted, watching the show was an unutterably depressing experience. All of the characters were traveling a downward arc of one type or another, and maybe I just decided that I couldn’t subject myself to it any more.

And I love what Chase tells us here…

He defends the bleak, seemingly inconclusive ending as appropriate -- and even a little hopeful.

A.J. will "probably be a low-level movie producer. But he's not going to be a killer like his father, is he? Meadow may not become a pediatrician or even a lawyer ... but she'll learn to operate in the world in ways that Carmela never did.
Uh, hey David, do you think you could have bothered to construct your stories in such a way that the viewer could intuit all of that without you having to explain it?

And given all of this, I think Chase himself asks the $64,000 question, so to speak, here…

"Why would we entertain people for eight years only to give them the finger?"
Why indeed?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Videos

Coheed and Cambria ("The Running Free"; such a cheerful, uplifting song - possibly the first time I've ever seen an alternative rocker singing (?) under water)...

...Happy Birthday to jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves ("How High The Moon"; wonderful in "Good Night, And Good Luck" if you've never seen her - the musicians are Billy Childs on piano, Chris Severin on bass and Billy Kilson on drums )...

...Happy Birthday to Weird Al Yankovic ("Eat It," the closest you'll ever get to a Michael Jackson video here, by the way)...

...and to commemorate the 76th birthday of Repug Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning (wow, can they pick 'em down here between 'ol Jimbo and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, or what?), here's "Crazy," by Gnarls Barkley :-).

A "Mickey Mouse" Cover Up?

The following news item pretty much came and went in the business section of today’s New York Times…

ABC News said yesterday that it had ended an investigation into a consultant whom it fired for falsifying his résumé and concluded that the reporting he had contributed to the network was sound.

In response to the incident, ABC will make changes to its system of hiring consultants, reviewing claims of prior employment and academic credentials more thoroughly, David L. Westin, the president of ABC News, wrote in a memorandum yesterday. Also, the network’s news practices unit will be involved in all hiring decisions and reporting situations involving consultants, he wrote.
One would wonder why this unit was not involved in such decisions in the first place.

The Times story deals with Alexis Debat, a terrorism analyst who had been on the payroll of ABC as a consultant since 2001, according to the Times.

Call me just another filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I think this sort of blanket absolution by the Disney (owned) Network is just a little phony, particularly given the extent to which Debat (as a former French defense official who now works for the Nixon Center, which has more than just a little to do with beating the media drum for hostilities with Iran, reported thoroughly by Will Bunch here) has generated stories that dovetail nicely with the neocons’ dream of a brand new war to be fought by anyone except themselves.

As Bunch also notes, Debat supposedly hired an intermediary to conduct an interview with Dem presidential candidate Barack Obama, in which Obama supposedly stated that Iraq was “already a defeat for America” (patently untrue). Also, in a second update, Bunch notes that, in addition to Obama…

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have added their names to the list of people who say they were the subjects of fake interviews published in a French foreign affairs journal under the name of (Debat), a former ABC News consultant.
And given all of this, David L. Westin of ABC can summarily pronounce all of Debat’s network reporting as “sound”?

Assuming you could consider any reporting sound from a network that brought us this exercise in fiction (which a certain B. Tierney of a certain Philadelphia daily newspaper endorsed wholeheartedly, let’s not forget), I think this hurts even more seriously the credibility of Walt’s TV channel. And no amount of pixie dust can be sprinkled over it to put things right again.

Faux News Gives Us The Business

So how exactly is the Faux Business Channel holding up after a little more than one week on the air?

Well, here is how New York Times business writer Joe Nocera summed it up in this column from last Saturday (I hope to be out of catch-up mode soon)…

It was Thursday around 4:30, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

All week long, I’d been sporadically watching Rupert Murdoch’s new Fox Business Network, which made its debut on Monday. I was trying to figure out what, exactly, it was trying to do — and who its audience was supposed to be. It wasn’t an easy task.

One minute Fox was doing a segment that included a $1 million diamond; the next it was giving tips on how to avoid foreclosure. It would home in on the stock market and then report on the death of a teenager in Virginia from a staph infection, reports that included several truly silly efforts to frame the tragedy as a business story. On Tuesday afternoon, while CNBC was dissecting Intel’s earnings, Fox was running its “Happy Hour” show, which is set in a bar. A co-host named Cody, a dude so hip he doesn’t tuck his shirt in, was interviewing a random customer about his plans for Christmas spending. “Expensive chocolates,” was the man’s reply.

The only commonality was tone. In a week when Countrywide’s chief executive was discovered to be under S.E.C. investigation, when the market lost about 4 percent of its value, when evidence emerged that the housing slump was deepening, the tone at Fox Business was upbeat. Relentlessly, incorrigibly, unapologetically upbeat.
Nocera correctly points out that it’s unfair to judge a new TV network, among other things, based on only its first week on the air (his statement that “start-ups are never pretty” couldn’t be more true).

But the product of Roger Ailes, the head of the “Fox Business Network,” didn’t “hit the ground running” with a ready-made audience of people eager to easily digest his bilious propaganda disguised as actual reporting this time; this is very much unlike the advantage Ailes enjoyed when he launched the Fox network (of everything besides business) in 1986.

No, this time Ailes has to cut into the audience share of CNBC, the television network watched by industry professionals who care first, last and in between about how the markets are doing and don’t really care a whole lot about headline “stories” such as “Coca-Cola Is A Great Business” and “Buying On Margin Is Crazy.”

So we’ll see what happens, though given the fact that we’re talking about a project of Roger Ailes here, I’m not expecting to see anything of worth when all is said and done, particularly given the following typical piece of Ailes agit-prop from Nocera’s column…

When I spoke to him, he was no less inflammatory. “They’ve (CNBC) decided recently that America is not such a terrible place and capitalism isn’t so bad”—another reaction, he seemed to be saying, to the prospect of some new pro-America competition. “They used to get really excited if a C.E.O. was going to jail and they got depressed if a company announced a profit. They are offended by rich people unless it’s them.” He paused before delivering the punch line. “That’s because they all went to journalism school.”
Oh, what a cutup you are, Roger old boy!

I’m not surprised to read such about such an arrogant, dismissive attitude towards a network that actually knows how to do business reporting professionally, especially after witnessing the following type of “journalism” in this area from your network…

I’ll have a good laugh if your much-hyped “business” channel ends up going the way of this misguided little experiment.

Driving The Debate On Illegals

I’ve tried to stay out of the fray regarding the plan of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in New York state. I even passed on a chance to say something the end of last month when Rudy! jumped into the fray and criticized Spitzer’s plan, even though the “mayor of 9/11” supported Proposition 187 in California in 1994 which approved benefits to illegals (here).

And I’d like to call your attention to this paragraph in the Times story from September 29th…

“The reality is there is so much traffic in false documents that creates part of this problem,” (Giuliani) said. “It is the reason I am so much in favor of a tamper-proof ID card for people who come in from foreign countries and want to work here.”
Well, guess what, Rudy? Richard Clarke, the former chief counterterrorism adviser to the State Department under President Clinton, is in favor of ID cards also. He also agrees with Gov. Spitzer and not with you; as noted here…

The United States needs a reliable and secure personal identification system, with appropriate civil liberties protections, to insure that we know who it is that is being allowed in to sensitive facilities and who is engaging in other controlled activities. Such a system will also reduce the billions of dollars of loss annually in identity theft and related fraud. The Real ID Act passed by Congress, if implemented, will form a basis for such a system based on drivers’ licenses.

(The Act has not yet passed, but)…in the interim, states should act to register immigrants, legal and illegal, who use our roadways as New York is doing. From a law enforcement and security perspective, it is far preferable for the state to know who is living in it and driving on its roads, and to have their photograph and their address on file than to have large numbers of people living in our cities whose identity is totally unknown to the government.
Also, another of Rudy’s former allies in New York, William J. Bratton, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, favors Spitzer’s plan, as noted here…

As former Commissioner of the New York City Police Department and now Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I support efforts that have the potential to solve crimes and improve traffic safety. That’s why I backed legislation in California that would give undocumented immigrants the ability to get a driver’s license once they have provided proof of their identification. It is my belief that by doing that you would reduce the number of hit and runs and increase the number of insured motorists on the road. We would also now have undocumented immigrants’ identifying information on record such as photographs and addresses which could prove helpful in the fight against crime and terrorism.
So let’s see – it turns out that what Spitzer is proposing here is already in place in California (which, truth be told, usually is the state that drives this country in terms of political policy innovation anyway for better or worse; no pun intended, by the way), it would help law enforcement to get a better estimation on how many illegals are residing in New York state and thus would help in fighting terrorism (knowledge is good, as somebody said), it would likely have the benefit of allowing insurers to lower rates with more people paying for coverage, it would put in place a network in New York to track illegals in the event that Congress ever passes the Real ID act…I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to see a whole bunch of benefits here in what Spitzer is trying to accomplish.

And once again, the Repugs fail to acknowledge the reality of the underground economy in this country; if the illegals are denied licenses, I can guarantee you that many will find a reason and a method to operate a vehicle anyway. And if I get into an auto accident with one of these people, I’m not going to care if they’re legal or not; I’m only going to care if they have insurance.

I have to admit that I don’t see much of a reason for anyone to oppose Spitzer here, including Rudy (and Repug State Senate head Joe Bruno).

That is unless, of course, the “mayor of 9/11” is trying only here to demagogue for no good reason and not actually attempt to solve anything.

If that’s Rudy’s true plan, then it’s working to perfection.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Videos

Velvet Revolver ("The Last Fight" - quality is a bit rough)...

...Happy Birthday to Leslie West of Mountain (kind of a goofed-up version of their Top 40 hit "Mississippi Queen" from 1970; no clue as to the guy doing the promo at the end)...

...Happy Birthday also to Shelby Lynne ("Wall In Your Heart"; skirting dangerously close to country on this one, and I usually detest vids with the artist performing and move clips mixed in, but I have to admit that I like this song)...

...and finally, Lou Reed tells us that "There Is No Time" (how right he is, though the "Pelosi for President '07" bumper sticker is laughable at this moment).

The "Hotline" To Legislative Hell

I came across a story in Parade magazine about a practice called “hotlining,” which to me sounds like some kind of a buddy-buddy arrangement between Sens. Harry Reid and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao (why Reid would consent to a sham of an arrangement like this is something I cannot fathom; it is as mystifying as his behavior towards Chris Dodd).

This link provides more information, notably the following (according to Repug Jeff Sessions of Alabama)…

"In each Senate office there are three telephones with hotline buttons on them. Most evenings, sometimes after business hours, these phones begin to ring. The calls are from the Republican and the Democratic leaders to each of their Members, asking consent to pass this or that bill--not consider the bill or have debate on the bill but to pass it. Those calls will normally give a deadline. If the staff do(es) not call back in 30 minutes, the bill passes. Boom. It can be 500 pages. In many offices, when staffers do not know anything about the bill, they usually ignore the hotline and let the bill pass without even informing their Senators. If the staff (member) miss(es) the hotline, or do(es) not know about it or (is) were not around, the Senator is deemed to have consented to the passage of some bill which might be quite an important piece of information." Source: Sessions' website
The one reason that comes to my mind right away as to why this is a bad practice is because it gives the Repugs more ammunition to attack the Democratic “leadership” over passing legislation without truly understanding what the legislation represents (even though both parties are culpable, the Dems are allegedly in charge here).

And how ridiculous is it anyway to pass a bill on the basis of whether or not someone is able to answer a phone call?

Do you or I leave important decisions affecting our families and our kids, for example, up to chance like this? Do we just assume that our son and daughter received a phone call that their school bus is going to pick them up later if they don’t tell us themselves that they know that?

Well then, why should it be any different with legislation?

I and many others have been beating the drum for hardcopy verification of electronic voting records, but all the while, our senators have apparently been voting on bills in such a manner that no one can verify with total certainty that they really supported what they consented to. It’s hard for me to fathom how truly ridiculous this is. So while we press for ballot box paper records, they apparently have no discernable method for tallying their own votes.

I’d love to be wrong about this – I know I’m relying on some Repug-friendly sources here, so I’m automatically suspicious – but I can’t come up with any other conclusion other than that our Senators have tried to pull another fast one on us, but they were nailed for it.

Monday Bucks County Dem Roundup

The following also appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on Saturday (in addition to John Wible’s great letter – this was a “Thumbs Up”)…

…to Lower Makefield Supervisor Steve Santarsiero for pushing for a township law that would open up access to township documents.

Santarsiero, Democratic candidate for county commissioner, recently outlined his “Open And Fair Government Ordinance,” which would require residents to be able to review any record (except for specified exemptions) within 24 hours of requesting it and for the township to provide a copy of some documents related to litigation and personnel records within five days.

The ordinance also requires township employees to resign before running for public office, prohibits any township employee from participating in political activities and bars political literature from being displayed or distributed in township offices.

Some residents say the ordinance isn’t necessary because the township already has a very open government, but Santarsiero replied that an official ordinance would be stronger and more difficult for future officials to ignore or avoid – and that’s a real good point. Open records make government more answerable to citizens and getting something concrete on the books ensures accountability for future generations. State law should have mandated this from the beginning, but we appreciate Santarsiero addressing it now.
To support Steve and Diane, click here.

Also, this letter appearing in today’s Courier Times from Jason Simon, chairman of the Lower Makefield Democratic Club, describes the tortuous route to the debate this Thursday between incumbent Republican supervisors Pete Stainthorpe and Grace Godshalk and Democratic challengers Matt Maloney and Deb Wachspress (made so by apparent intransigence on the part of Stainthorpe and Godshalk, based on Simon’s letter).

To support Matt and Deb, click here.

Dick Still Wants To Lick Iran

I guess I should take a minute to note the recent appearance once more of Mr. “Fourth Branch” himself, “Deadeye Dick” Cheney, even though I really don’t want to.

So he gave another speech in front of a gaggle of conservative idiots. So he’s threatening war with Iran for the umpteenth time.

So he’s letting the entire world know yet again that he’s a reactionary old fool because his words have proven to be nothing but lying propaganda.

Well, just for the record, I’d like to present this Think Progress link which explains how an air strike against Iran would actually accelerate their nuclear development, as well as generating sympathy from nations which (I would guess) are just about fed up with us anyway.

And not to be outdone, President Stupid Head asked for $42 billion more for war today (I guess he thinks we’ve forgotten about the SCHIP fiasco by now and it’s safe for him to say this; just keep it up, Dubya, and watch your party go down in flames even more next year).

Update 10/23: For someone who supposedly "gradiated" from Harvard with an MBA, this guy doesn't seem to have the first clue about the financial cost of this war, as witnessed again here.

With all of this in mind, here is my wish.

God willing, the Democrat who is elected president next year will be inaugurated on January 21, 2009, making a wonderful, rousing speech about how we need to work together to renew and rebuild our country and learn how, as a nation, to act like citizens of the world once more (to say nothing of restoring the liberties bestowed upon us in the Constitution). That evening, there will be a gala celebration for the new chief executive, and the next day, the hard work will all begin.

And the very first act performed by John Edwards should be the issuance of an executive order proclaiming George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as enemy combatants.

Update: By the way, the Cuban Missile Crisis began 45 years ago today; thank God JFK was president instead of Billion Dollar Cheney, or else the entire hemisphere would have been vaporized.

"Humanizing" The Inhuman

This letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on Saturday (some "catch-up" stuff to do for your humble narrator)…

Conservative columnist Suzanne Fields attacked Hillary Clinton’s “cackle” in her Oct. 8 column. She also attacked the aspect of humor in our politicians, mentioning Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Gerald Ford and President George W. Bush.

Fields wrote, “Because most of us demand a sense of humor to humanize presidents, unfunny things can pass for humor in Washington. That’s why presidents (with good script writers) go out of their way to laugh at themselves once or twice. George W. Bush entertained one press dinner a few years ago with a slide of himself looking under the furniture in the Oval Office, saying: ‘Those weapons of mass destruction have to be here somewhere’.”

I would pose a question to Fields: If she asked the loved ones of the American troops who died or were maimed for life in Iraq because of the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, would those loved ones have more concern over Hillary’s cackle or Bush’s outrageous, completely insensitive attempt at humor? A pox on all the journalists who laughed at this disgraceful act.

Bush sure “humanized” himself with that, didn’t he, Suzanne?

The right is engaged in this utterly surreal dance where the morally blind are leading the ignorant.

John Wible
Bensalem, PA
I couldn’t agree more, John.

I purposely stayed away from the whole business of “the laugh” because I’m trying to avoid that which is truly trivial in our discourse, even though I know I’ll fail on occasion. But as long as this has come up, I should note a great column by Gene Lyons on this (available from here from the Arkansas Democrat online – sorry, but I’m not paying for more online content...I think the column is dated 9/26, but I'm not positive).

Since I don’t have what Lyons said verbatim at the moment, I’ll just recall that the “the laugh” was something that came up when Hillary Clinton appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows a couple of weeks ago (performing what has been called “a full Ginsburg” to commemorate the time Monica Whatsername attorney William Ginsburg did the same thing to defend his client, a sleazy home-wrecking opportunist young woman painted by right-wing media as a victim of a predatory chief executive (I’ll leave the irony in that up to your interpretation, by the way).

As Lyons tells us, the first person to take note of HRC’s laugh was Brit Hume of Faux TV, who considered it to be no big deal, believe it or not. However, sometime later that day, the RNC decided that “the laugh” was worthy of a GOP talking point, so the edict went out to all like-minded pols and media acolytes to say something (as always, the more derogatory, the better). And that is how another chapter of our ever-more-ridiculous-discourse in this country began.

Mark Twain, in “Pudd’nhead Wilson” said “the secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow” because “Everything human is pathetic.”

Had Fields lived to write in Twain’s day, I have no doubt that he would have been referring to her.

Update: And in response to John's comment (this combination is worth more words than I can come up with at the moment)...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Like This Anyway

This is how Dem Rep. Pete Stark of California earned the wrath of Nancy The Nag and Sellout Steny a day or so ago.

I knew impeachment was off the table, but I didn't know righteous anger and showing a spine while standing up to Repug intimidation was also.

I guess Steny and Nancy had no trouble giving up their lunch money to the school bullies when they were little kids many years ago.

More Proof That David Broder Is An Idiot

In today's WaPo, the "Dean of Beltway Journalism" offers us this...

For most of the American public, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt is best defined by his role defending President Bush's controversial veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Leavitt, along with the president, has argued that the bipartisan bill is too ambitious and too expensive, encroaching on the private insurance market. For his pains, he has been characterized as an ogre, standing in the way of better treatment for millions of youngsters in cash-strapped families.

That is not the man I got to know and admire in his years as governor of Utah and a leader in the National Governors Association. And it is not the man I heard address a conference of health-care insurers and providers here last week.
Part of the reason why Leavitt has been characterized as an ogre on kids' health is because he is an ogre on kids' health - as noted here (Question #10 - from his days as Utah governor, when Broder supposedly got to know him so well)...

There is only one way to describe the condition of Utah's Division of Child and Family Services during Leavitt's tenure as governor: reprehensible. From 1993-1996, ten children who were under DCFS care died. Ultimately, the case came to head when the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, Calif., filed a class-action lawsuit "on behalf of 17 children who had been horribly abused and neglected in Utah's foster care system." The court eventually ruled that "the state had violated the constitutional rights of every child in custody." Though Leavitt's supporters defend him by saying that he had simply been unfortunate enough to inherit the quagmire, the near decade-long period that it took for the state to fall in line with the court settlement – which demanded an overhaul of foster care and an increase in training and case oversight – fell squarely during Leavitt's time as governor. The state's child protection service continues to be monitored to this day (as of January 2005).
Atrios has more here.