Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Two Interesting Articles...well...three, really.

Unfortunately, I just don't have time today to blog at length, but there are two interesting articles up today that I just CAN'T let go completely by the boards.

"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole
decider," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said during a hearing on Congress' war
powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. "The decider is a
shared and joint responsibility," Specter said.

Despite the bad English ("The decider is a shared and joint responsibility" ???! But then, hell, who am I to throw stones. I can't spell. )
I must applaud the sentiment. You can read the rest of the AP Story here, at Kare 11-TV, or use Google news.

It is amazing how that old constitution seems to start swinging back into balance eventually, no matter what happens...the House overreaches (Clinton's Impeachment) it gets knocked back into line...the executive branch gobbles up more than it's fair share...(Dubya) and the legislative starts pushing back.

We ain't out of the woods, but that's a kind of bipartisanship that gives me hope.

The other article that's worth taking a gander at is over at New Donkey dot Com, where Ed Kilgore discusses the third article I haven't had time to read yet today. THAT one appears in the New Republic.

From New Donkey...

Peter Beinert has an article up on
the New Republic site examining the Powell parallel in detail, suggesting that
Obama represents an implicit repudiation of other, more "authentic"
African-American politicians, which could create a backlash among black voters

Kilgore wonders, however, if Obama's appeal might be better framed in terms of his broad message rather than by his race.

New Donkey writes:

What is that message? It could be described as "The New American Patriotism," or "The Politics of Higher Common Purpose," or "Towards One America," or even "Meeting the Big Challenges." But whatever the precise rhetoric, its core is to suggest that Democrats can and will lift politics and government out of the slough of polarization, culture wars, smears and sheer pettiness characterized by the Bush-Rove era, transcending party and ideology to unite the country around an agenda that really matters.

As I've noted, I'm trying really, really hard not to even start thinking about 2008 until 2008...but Obama does have a way of catching my attention, I must admit.

Speaking of Obama, there's a very funny Obama parody posted on Neil "More Al Gore Than Al Gore" Jensen's blog...worth checking out.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rip And Read: Walter Wrenchall Reports.
Cats in the Big House, Duck in the Cooler, Granny in the Clink

alt egoGood Day, and welcome to this week's edition of Rip and Read with Walter Wrenchall. This week: Animals Everywhere. Cats In Prison. Ducks in the Refrigerator, Granny’s in Trouble.

If the player on this site doesn't work, you can also hear Walter by clicking this link: Rip and Read Audio

Look for Walter back again Soon!

Hartford Courant

North Country Times

WOAI- San Antonio

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Central Florida Blues
or A Teaspoon Deep Newsmedia.

Sometimes a short sentence can speak volumes.

I've written here about my love/hate relationship with my native state of Florida. Today, I ran into one of those tiny incidents that seem to bring a big picture into sharp focus.

According to various new sources, the mystery of missing guard dogs in a Malaysian village was solved with the discovery of 23 foot python.

You can read that story here.

Now, because giant dog-devouring snakes tend to exert a strong fascination on people (As in: "Don't go away, because, after the break, we'll bring you the story of the snake that ate eleven dogs."), the story seems to have received a bit of play over the weekend. From newspapers in London to local TV stations around the U.S. many news outlets ran the account.

One of the features of the story was that the villagers, after capturing the snake, did not kill it, but turned it over to wildlife authorities.

And, here's where the story brings us back to the central Florida cultural mentality.

When Florida's "Local Six" reported the story, the anchor put it this way: "You may be surprised to find out the villagers did not kill it, they gave it to a wild life official to release it back into the wild....not exactly sure why."

And there it is...a deep, almost unbridgeable cultural divide...that such a nightmarish ambassador from the world of undeveloped, unpaved nature would not be slaughtered immediately as a matter of course leaves the Florida reporter speechless.

To me, it is assumed as a matter of course that the wild animal would NOT be harmed unless it's continued existence posed an immediate threat. If the problem can be dealt with in a more humane way, then that is the way the problem should be dealt with.

Apparently, this is not something that occurs to that most mainstream of mainstream currents of American Thought....the Central Florida Media.

But then, this is the same power structure that delivered us into the hands of George W. Bush, after all.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Decider and The Decision
Bush Chides Democrats For refusing NOT to Face Reality

The AP story (via ABC) opens like this:

"There's hardly a topic these days on which President Bush isn't asking the
Democratic-controlled Congress to avoid "a reflexive partisan response."

The President has decided that, since he is the decider, his decision will be to send more troops to Iraq no matter what better advice he receives...at home, he is has put forth a proposal to change the tax system to allow a credit to people who pay for their health insurance. The fact that this will not help the people who are so poor that they already pay little or no taxes is not really part of the equation, as far as the Decider is concerned.

Some people have thought that most of these proposals are "A BAD IDEA"...but, not to worry, the President has shown a willingness to "talk tough".....

"We've set important goals, and now Republicans and Democrats must work together to make them a reality," says the Decider of the United States... it seems not to have dawned on him yet that, as of 2006, the American people aren't playing along with his (bad) Decisions anymore.

"There's hardly a topic these days on which President Bush isn't asking the Democratic-controlled Congress to avoid "a reflexive partisan response."

Yes. That is because there is hardly a topic on which we share the same opinion with the President. We believe him wrong on almost every single issue. Time and Events have added validity to those beleifs. If to call a man on the fact that he is about to drive us all over a cliff is partisan, well, then, I suppose I am partisan. What's the freaking problem?

"They're just dismissing things because of pure politics," Bush whines...toughly.

Absolutely...politics, and common sense....us pesky Democrats keep raining on the Decider's parade...in a purely partisan manner, we refuse to STOP FACING THE FACTS.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Under Seige
The Middle Class At Bay

mountrushmoreI tend to think of myself as fairly liberal, and, when placed against those who still blindly support the President…I suppose I am.

But, when you spend a lot of time exchanging thoughts with the kind of people who bill themselves as radical, progressive, and cutting edge…and find that, in (their) reality, you and your ilk are really just the “republican-lite” …I have to admit…it’s sobering.

So…I’ve found myself musing a lot lately about just what I believe politically; where I’d like to see this country go, and what I’m willing to do to get there.

I think, I hope, that throughout the months leading up to the presidential election in 2008, I will come back to this theme from time to time, and adding to the tapestry.

As a start, I am finally getting a chance to catch up on my reading…just tonight, I sat down and read something from 2003…it’s a piece on Grover Norquist written by then New-Democrat strategist, Ed Kilgore (who’s blog, New Donkey, is listed at right).

I’ve blogged on this subject before, but I’m going to revisit it, because, while it lacks the drama of the war in Iraq, it is one of the issues I believe most likely to change, radically, the way we live in this country…and not for the better.

A few excerpts from Kilgore’s argument follow:

“… the Bush administration has launched pre-emptive attacks on the national treasury designed to leave the U.S. government so deep in debt it poses no threat to the conservative status quo. Its motto is: Stop government before it can help again... (emphasis added) "

"...privately, [this] rationale is often cited by conservatives as the genuine motive for serial tax cuts, regardless of the fiscal and economic condition of the country: Tax cuts are good in themselves because they will ultimately force a shrinkage of government -- without the pain or controversy of identifying specific cuts in popular government programs. Limiting government in the long run, moreover, justifies such immediate negative effects as large budget deficits, burgeoning public debt, higher long-term interest rates, and the inability of government to deal with national challenges…"

"…This rationale -- once referred to as "starving the beast" by Reagan Budget Director David Stockman -- is obviously one that most Republicans are a bit reluctant to articulate, representing as it does a kind of gutless Gingrichism…”

“… Whenever he talks about taxes and government, Norquist sounds little different from the tens of thousands of American libertarians whose intellectual development ended with their first adolescent reading of Atlas Shrugged, and who go through life expressing contempt for the "parasites" who "confiscate" their earnings through taxes. As such, he represents the ultimate Washington role model for countless young libertarian Internet bloggers living with their parents in suburbs all over America"

A certain ingrained distrust of government seems to me to have always defined the American character…and that lack of trust is just as common on the left as it is on the right—libertarians come in all flavors….but at the same time, government can also be the deciding weapon that the oppressed use to challenge the balance of the scales against them.

The Civil Rights struggle is, perhaps, a case in point…although we could also easily point to the labor movement as well. The impetus for change began at the grassroots level, with marches, and sit-ins, protests….but those events, in and of themselves, did not force the change.

Rather, those acts of protest caught the attention of the people at large and helped build the political will to support the federal government in forcing change. It was not, in the end, marchers who integrated schools, but federalized troops.

It is preciously that ultimate power, the use of the government on the side of the angels (to enforce workplace safety, to enforce some measure of racial fairness, and, yes, even to prevent wealth and power from accruing in the hands of the few) these bad men fear.

That is the “beast” they wish to starve. After eight years of the Bush Presidency coupled with a complacent, partisan congress, these libertarians are close to success.

In his response to the 2007 State of the Union Address, Senator Webb said it very well….

When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day…

…In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

Senator Web also said…

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other."

I thought Webb’s warning about the middle class was very much to the point, because, in the end, the power of Government (or at least the positive power of American Government in the Twentieth Century) springs from the middle class. If you drown one, you drown the other…and I think, with the exception of Liberty and Freedom itself, the safety of the middle class is probably my driving political imperative.

The job of some citizens is to march, lobby, protest, and shriek for change. The job of others, disposed to a colder moderation, I suppose, is to watch, and to wait, and to work as hard as possible to make sure that the power of the government still exists to be called upon when needed to serve the interests of justice.

For better or worse, I suppose those are the people with whom I must claim political kinship.

I wasn't gonna do it, but I did.

I was born in 1969. I cannot get over the fact that it is now 2007- I'm stunned. And I am in NO hurry to rush 2008 into existence before it is necessary. Think about it...People born in 1990! may well be voting in the next Presidential Election.

So..I have not been touching the mania that has already started among Democrats about who will succeed George W. Idiot. I haven't even started thinking about the question, and I've decided I just WON'T until AT LEAST next fall.

But sometimes, you just gotta change your mind. Vermont Daily Briefing has an interesting guest column today offering a different perspective on the Barack-Hillary debate (VDB is hands down an Obama man).

I was gonna try to ignore it, according to my principles...but sometimes, a really good cartoon will just sucker you right in!

Good Stuff, guys.

Fox will be the Death of Me Yet.

I really should stop reading What The Right Wing Did Today, otherwise known as Media Matters. I mean holy moth*4 freaking godd*mn ipsofactor pileofcrap HELL!

Did you see what FOX did last night? (I sure as hell didn't, because I don't WATCH Faux News.) They ran a REBUTTAL to the REBUTTAL of the President's State Of the Union!

I mean, the whole purpose of running a response from the Party Out of Power is so that all sides of the issue get aired...so that the American People don't get so blinded by the Pomp and Circumstance and Trappings of Office that come with the Presidency that they forget that there is another side to the issue.

And yet last night, Fox, apparently thought it was "only fair" to let the "other side" have a say after the other side had had it's say after the big dipshit had had his say.

I really am gonna loose my mind before this period of American History is over...it simply feels like everybody (meaning mostly everybody right of center) has gone absolutely completely frickin bananas!

It really does. In fact, I think that must be the new Radical Right strategy: to just drive those of us given to logical thinking out of our gourd with rage, confusion, frustration and shear stupidity...the hell of it is...it's working.

I need to rest my head for a moment....

PS- Oh yeah. Rudy Giuliani did the honors.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It’s the Little Things That Matter
George W. Bush’s State of the Union

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but was last night’s State of the Union Address a crock of crap or what?

We have heard from the media all about his "plea for unity" but you didn’t have to listen very far into the president’s speech to hear the message he was really sending- about 2 minutes and 57 seconds to be exact. A nice, subtle "up yours" to the good folks across the asile.

If you READ New York Times transcript, the President says:
We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors under way and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies, and the wisdom to face them together.
Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate, and I congratulate the Democratic majority.

But if you LISTEN to the NPR recording, (there is a link on this page the President says:
We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors under way and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies, and the wisdom to face them together.
Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate, and I congratulate the Democrat majority.

If you are not a political junkie, you probably missed it, it was that subtle…just one little part of one little word. DemocratIC vs. Democrat. But it spoke VOLUMES. And what it said...wasn't very nice.

What did it say? Well, here’s a quote from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Party_%28phrase%29)
Democrat Party is a political epithet used by some conservative commentators and by some past and present leaders of the Republican Party (including the Republican National Committee, the White House, and President George W. Bush) in speeches and press releases instead of the name (or more precisely, the proper noun) Democratic Party.

Many members of the Democratic Party object to the term. Liberal commentator Hendrik Hertzberg writes, "There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. 'Democrat Party' is a slur, or intended to be - a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but 'Democrat Party' is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams 'rat'."

One Republican to use this term widely was Joe McCarthy, according to the Wikipedia article, others have included Tome DeLay, and, of course, Rush Limbaugh fires it off quite often.

So, even while the President- the well known Uniter not Divider- stood on the Rostrum last night, pleading for Unity, he shot a very definite, but subtle bird at the new DEMOCRATIC Majority. Using the word "Democrat" was just a nasty little gesture made when the teacher wasn't looking.

So, all the talk of unity was, in the end, just more smoke and mirrors…but then, you knew that already, didn’t you?

PS- Afer I finished writing, I noticed that I was not the only one to catch this. Go to Media Matters for more on this:
"Democrat" as an adjective, which New Yorker magazine senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg identified as an attempt to deny the opposing party the claim to being "democratic," or as Hertzberg wrote, "to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I've Been Workin' on the Railroad
The League of Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen


Well, I've been having fun with politics lately, but I haven't been blogging. Instead, I've been up in the laboratory whipping up a political confection, The League of Extraordinary Republican Gentlemen. The recipe comes from the mind of Vermont Daily Briefing's Philip Baruth- I've just been lucky enough to been invited to assemble the ingredients.

We've been joined by What's the Point's, Neil Jensen-- you won't want to miss his brilliant voice-work in this piece.

Our Story follows the adventures of Governor Jim Douglas and Boy Wonder Brian Dubie as they navigate the labyrinth of Vermont Politics...

Visit Vermont Daily Briefing to hear their latest adventure...If you missed the first installment, it is here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire Burn and cauldron bubble

O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

The Scottish Play Act 4, Scene 1

So here's a bit of trouble. Over at Gourmet Knitting Disaster, Crafty Crafters and all around pain-in-the-#$ss (and of course, dear friends, but I won't quibble)Heather and Kate have joined forces to create twice as much pain for the same amount of surfing...good luck on the new team!


And see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"The Budget Fight" &"Big Brother"

There are two interesting articles in the Washington Post this morning. The first concerns the upcoming budget battle. In his State of the Union Address, President Bush is expected to call for a balanced budget.

Lest you think that the president was visited by the ghosts of three fiscally responsible spirits over the Christmas hiatus, fear not. This is just another piece of Republican political jujitsu, as the Post explains:

Politically, analysts say, the president is calling the bluff of Democrats, who won control of Congress in part by accusing Bush of reckless fiscal policies. While Bush now shares the Democrats' goal to erase the deficit by 2012, the politically perilous work of making that happen -- cutting spending or raising taxes -- falls to the Democratic-run Congress.
"The Democrats have assailed deficits under President Bush. The White House is telling Democrats to walk the walk," said Brian M. Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Budget experts and economists from across the political spectrum, including some who worked in the Bush White House, say that Bush is unlikely to offer real concessions toward a balanced budget in the plan he delivers to Congress next month.

After all, as Dick Cheney was quoted as saying back in 2002, “Deficits Don’t Matter”.

And, if your party’s not-so-secret secret plan is to “drown the Federal Government in the bathtub” , then you’d be right, “Deficits Don’t Matter”….in fact, deficits are your friend.

Up until now, the deficit’s existence hasn’t been all that worrisome in our daily lives…

Since then, an unexpected gusher of tax revenue has flooded the Treasury, driven largely by stratospheric corporate profits. Bush credits his tax cuts with spurring the economy and producing more tax receipts, an argument that has been refuted by many conservative economists and Bush's own Treasury Department.

(The fact that this recovery has, unlike the boom times of the Clinton years, not been beneficial to ALL has been a fact of some concern to Centralist Democrats.)

But, the Fiddler’s bill comes due in 2009 (just in time, I might note with some bitterness, for a Democrat to enter the White House and be handed a leaking garbage bag full of rotting trouble by the departing President Bush…however, I digress.)

From the Post:

the Social Security surplus will begin to shrink in 2009, as the baby boomers start to retire. It is it estimated that the fund will dry up completely in 2017. At that point, the nation's rosy fiscal picture will darken rapidly. Costs for entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare -- will explode. Without radical changes in tax policy and retirement spending, the deficit will make up more than 24 percent of the economy by 2050, Walker said.

In other words, if we don’t fix it NOW- we are in really deep shit. Because if we don’t fix it now, we will be headed straight back to the days of the Robber Barons of the late 19th Century (you remember, the big dog capitalists who authorized their police minions to shoot men who were striking for an eight hour workday, or an end to Child Labor?)- the good old days when there was no Income Tax or OSHA to slow them down, and no Medicare or social security to help alleviate the mind numbing fear of their workers.

And consider this: When we “go back”, there won’t be the option that was open to many Americans: “Go West…buy a farm, escape Big Business!” The frontier is closed…if you’d care to read the second article I’ve linked to…you’ll see that Big Business is watching your every move.




Monday, January 15, 2007

"I Have A Dream" :
Hearing Martin Luther King for the First Time

Dr King
Twentieth Century America heard its share of Great Speeches. From Franklin Roosevelt’s “Fear Itself” inaugural to John F. Kennedy’s exhortation to “Ask Not”, there is much to hear, and to drink in.

But Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech surpasses them all. Rather than a great Twentieth Century Document, Dr. King’s speech is part of the American Testament- it stands with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

It reminds us of what this country stands for, at our very core, and what we hope to show the world.

But there is one thing which is unique about King’s Dream speech. Unlike Jefferson’s written document, or Lincoln’s address, Martin Luther King’s speech was recorded…it is possible to hear it again today in his own words.

FDR’s voice and speeches remain to us as well, but there is a difference. Because of the quality of the recording equipment, one important character has been left out of the 1930s audio. We hear the President's words, but the immediate and visceral reaction of the listeners has been lost to history.

The Dream speech is different. 1960s recording technology allows us to experience this speech as all speeches are meant to be experienced: as a dialogue between speaker and listener. As we play back the recording of King's address, it is possible to hear the audience murmur in pleased surprise, to feel their breath catch in their throats as they realize that King is adding an immortal page to the book of the American Soul.

The ability to listen with the rest of the audience makes this speach unique. And, when time is devoted to careful listening, that ability, to hear Martin Luther King again for the first time, makes it one of the most emotional patriotic experiences possible.

Size limits prevent me from posting the entire speech, but here is the peroration. If you stumble across this page today, I hope you’ll take five minutes to listen, and a few more to reflect.

If you’d like, you can download the speech for yourself- so, when you need have your faith in American renewed, you can pull it out from time to time…its great medicine.

To Download the speach, right click (Mac Users "Alt Click")the link below, and chose "Save Target As".

"I Have A Dream"

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Checking Up:
Dick Cheney Looks at Your Credit Rating

F*@k You!
Have you seen it yet? Of course you have. According to the AP, Dick Cheney, interviewed on Fox News, said today that:

"[T]he Pentagon and CIA are not violating people's rights by examining the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage in the United States."

Mr. Cheney also mentioned that: "The Department of Defense has a legitimate authorty in this area. This is an authority that goes back thee or four decades."

Let's see, three or four decades. That makes it sound VERY historical, a deep part of the American Tradtion, doesn't it? But just how long ago WAS three or four decades...let's see, now, three would have been....uhm...Watergate? Four would have been...oh, yes, the high of J. Edgar Hoover's power in the FBI....hmmm. I feel like my Constitutional American Liberties, not to mention those unalienable rights endowed me by my creator, are in GREAT hands...don't you.?

Mr. Cheney went on to remind us that there was a war on, and then pointed out that this was all quite legal (which I am actually quite sure that it is), mentioning that this "perfectly legitimate" activity was "was reaffirmed in the Patriot Act."

Gosh, Mr. Dick, I feel better already.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

More Fun than a Mouse at An Elephant Convention

I try to keep up a friendly correspondence with a few people who are far to the right of me.

I do this because, if I didn't, I'd always only listen to people I agreed with, and my brain would rot.

Here is an exchange between a liberal and a conservative. The names have been withheld (What the hell? If Newsweek can do it, so can I.)


Attention drivers who travel in PA -
There is a new Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle law.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that a new law, which goes
into effect in January 2007, will require motorists to turn on their headlights
anytime their vehicles wipers are in continuous or intermittent use due to
weather or other atmospheric conditions such as fog or mist.

who do not comply with the law could face a fine of $25, but with fees and other
associated costs, the penalty would approach $100.

[And their Governor
is] good ol' ultra-liberal mouthpiece of the Clintonion Democrats.....Ed
Rendell. [
Good God, if my friends over at Green
Mountian Daily could see that "ultra-liberal and Clintonian" in the same
sentance- they'd puke!

Just another example of how the more
liberal side wants to fleece America and protect us from.....ourselves. And
another valid reason to avoid traveling in Pa.

You damn right wing radicals will bitch about pretty much
anything, won't you? :)
Yep, we sure

But we won't bitch about supporting our

But we will bitch about those who put them in harm's way by
playing to the media.

Or about welfare reform.

But we
will be the first to help those in need.

Or about saying marriage
is between a man and woman.

But we will about organizations that
support love between a man and boy, or a woman and a girl.

Or about
prayer in school.

But we will about the ACLU trying to make their
will law.

Or about recognizing God and even honoring

But we will fight to our death defending those who

We won't bitch about Christmas.

We will bitch
about "Happy Holiday".

We won't bitch about "The People's

But we will bitch about too big a Federal

We won't bitch about saving the life of an unborn

But we will bitch about taking a life with murder before
it's born.

And, if you like I can go on for another half an hour or

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and may God bless you
throughout this blessed year.


[Now, I tried....whooops.... I mean the LIBERAL
tried to take the high road after this, but temptation was too

..........OK, OK, I can't stand it.... I WILL take the bait (damn,
I've got a book I wanted to read tonight, too.)

Yep, we sure will.

But we won't bitch about supporting
our troops.
(Well, not unless you actually have
to PAY TAXES to buy them body armor- then you might start to bitch a

But we will bitch about those who put them
in harm's way by playing to the media.
(Oh, you
mean like sending them after the WRONG villain- and exposing them to harm's way
just so you can dress up like a solider and say "Mission Accomplished" from the
Deck of Aircraft Carrier while all the reporters take pretty pictures?)

Or about welfare
(No you don't really bitch too much about
Welfare Reform-- Haliburton seems to be getting everything it needs. And
the Tax breaks on "SECOND HOMES" still seems to be in full force,

But we will be the first to help those in
(Yes, working side by side with your
Liberal cousins, siblings, friends and colleagues- many on both sides of
the ideological divide DO follow the courage of their convictions to make
the world a better place- that can be

Or about saying marriage is between a
man and woman.

(And so is Divorce, and so is "Wife Beating")

But we will about organizations that support love
between a man and boy, or a woman and a girl.
(Like the Republican House Leadership under Denny Hastart?)

Or about prayer in school.
(In my town the Christian teachers don't make the kids say
Christians prayers and the Muslim teachers don't make the kids say Muslim
prayers. Those who pray hope that other praying parents pray with the kids
before and after school and while the attend, without fear of persecution or
violence the worship hall of their choice...what a GREAT country this is...you'd
like it here.)

But we will about the ACLU trying to
make their will law.
(Yes, all those nasty things
the ACLU is so willful about- like the right to freedom of speech and freedom of
thought and the freedom to dissent from the opinion of the majority. I
know that Freedom is a popular word describing a much "bitched" concept over
there on the Right Side.)

Or about recognizing God
and even honoring him.
(Perhaps even making a
quick buck by putting "His" slogans- hardly ever "HIs Word" I've
noticed- on cheep Chinese crap and selling it for a buck or

But we will fight to our death defending
those who don't.
(By enforcing prayer in schools?
Or by risking getting shot by police while trying to blow up a health clinic or
a federal building?)

We won't bitch about
(At least, most of you who are
Christians won't...aren't there ANY minorities on the right at

We will bitch about "Happy
(What part makes you the most mad? The
"holiday"? or the "happy?"

Here's how we do it where I live. My home and my
Church celebrate Christmas- my town, in which dwell Christians (both Protestants
and Catholics), Jews, Hindu's, Buddhists, and Muslims, celebrates
"Holidays"- everybody except for really pushy people seem to be happy with
the arrangement.)

We won't bitch about "The People's Rights".
(Damn right you won't)

But we
will bitch about too big a Federal Government.
(Yes, too big a Federal government can afford to
investigate irregularities in the savings and loan biz, double check on it's
contractors to make sure that nobody is profiting by the death of American
soldiers and make sure that employers- like Walmart, for example- have to share
the profits of EVERYONE's hard work...at least to the tune of a limited
wage. A big government has the muscle to prevent trusts and
monopoly's...gosh, we can't have that, can we?)

We won't bitch about saving the life of an unborn fetus.
(But you'll execute a born fetus at the drop of a hat- even after
we find out that some of the executed post-fetuses weren't even guilty.)
But we will bitch about taking a life with murder before it's born.
(Yes, then,
and ONLY THEN- a couple of Doctors in a health clinic are fair game,
And, if you like I can go on for another half an
hour or so....

So can I, my friend, so
can I......

Of course, nothing was proved in this little display, but what the hell? It passed the time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Would You Have Done?
Democrats And Iraq.

I've been having a discussion over at Green Mountain Daily for the last few days. One of the joys of being a self-described "centrist" is that you find yourself battling with both left AND right.

A blogger with the handle "Monday Morning Clacker" had written an essay blaming the Democrats in Congress for backing off on their opposition to the war. ("Clacker" is of Republican Sympathy, and his point is, Democrats were elected to stop the war; but now that they are in power they are finding it harder to govern than it was to criticize.)

Quite a few people, including Rip and Read, pointed out that, it was only Congress's 2nd day, after all. And, by the third day, came a deluge of articles that are already still pouring in. Democrats are on the move.

Today, we see that:

In a blunt challenge to President Bush, the leader of the Senate's new Democratic majority said Monday he will ``look at everything'' within his power to wind down the war in Iraq, short of cutting off funding for troops already deployed.

From: The Manchester Guardian: Democrats May Deny Funds for Surge

In the debate, I placed the blame for Iraq firmly at the feet of the Bush Administration. But "Clacker" had different ideas, writing:

I'm sorry... (0.00 / 0)
What percentage of the Democratic Party voted to give the President authority to go to war back in 2003?
Its Washington's War. Bush started it. The Congress went along for the ride. They all will suffer for it. And should.

And, of course, I had to answer. I had to remember John Kerry who was against the war before he was for it before he was against it, or some damn thing.

I responded this way:

It's tough to argue with you there, but I will. (0.00 / 0)
I was, and still am, disappointed that the Democratic Party didn't show more courage in opposing the war.
Of course, the argument can be made that the war Democrats THOUGHT they were voting for- one to root out WMD- and the war they actually got were very different.

Still...given the Republican Party's well known tolerance and respect for honest dissent and willingness to play fair when it comes to opposing views, the options open to Democrats were somewhat limited at the time.

( I was just reminded today about this Republican legacy of openness as I listened to a speech by a Burlington businessman, and an acquaintance, who recounted how his father, a State Department Employee, had been pushed out of his job and rendered unemployable for TEN YEARS by a well known Republican named Joe McCarthy. )

Given the fever pitch to which the American people had been wound by the lies and propaganda of the Bush administration, there was little chance of being able to maintain a viable opposition party AND oppose the war in 2003.

It's a thorny moral problem: I'd LIKE to think that I would have handled it differently...but I'm not so sure I would have let Karl Rove shoot me in the back, either. I'd be more interested in staying in office and waiting for a chance to bring the madness to an end.

And with Reid and Pelosi pushing hard now against Bush, that answer seems somewhat justified. But it still doesn't sit quite right, I must admit.

What would you do?

PS-The whole exchange - including another good debate between J.D. Ryan and "Clacker" can be found at: http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=807

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ah, The Most Wonderful Thing

...About Tiggers is that, just as you feel you are about to drown in a sea of insanity; say, waiting for the President to change course on Iraq by doing one of three things:

1) Send 4,000 more troops
2) Send 9,000 more troops
3) Send 20,000 more troops

That bouncy wouncy founcy fun, fun, fun, fun, stuffed animal does something to make it all go away for a few minutes.

From the AP:

Walt Disney World employee dressed as the character "Tigger" was accused of hitting a child while posing for a photo, a spokeswoman for the theme park said Saturday.

Park officials temporarily suspended Michael J. Fedelem while they investigate the accusations, Disney spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez said.

"Naturally, physical altercations between cast members and guests are not tolerated," Suarez said.

What a great country this is!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Good News in the Post Today & Fun At Green Mountain Daily

Couple of good stories in the Washington Post this morning.

House Adopts Pay-as-You-Go Rules
Changes Aim to Curb Deficit Spending, Shed Light on Earmarks

On its second day under Democratic management, the House yesterday
overwhelmingly approved new rules aimed at reining in deficit spending and
shedding more light on the murky world of special-interest projects known as
Under the new provisions, the House will for the first time in
years be required to pay for any proposal to cut taxes or increase spending on
the most expensive federal programs by raising taxes or cutting spending
elsewhere. And lawmakers will be required to disclose the sponsors of earmarks,
which are attached in virtual secrecy to legislation to direct money to favored
interests or home-district projects.


"The one thing we can say about George Bush and his economic policy is: 'We are forever in your debt,' " Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) told his colleagues on the House floor. "On day number two, Democrats have said, 'Enough is enough with running up the debt of this country. We're going to put our fiscal house in order.' "


So far, fiscal restraint appears to be gaining the upper hand. As he left the House chamber yesterday, Rangel said he is scouring the tax code for tax breaks that benefit special interests. If the beneficiaries "don't put their hands up, it's out," he said, suggesting that the money saved could go toward paying for the repeal of the alternative minimum tax.

"It's not good for me to have pay-go, but it's good for the country," Rangel said. "At this point, nobody . . . has convinced me that there should be exemptions from pay-go."

This is encouraging, and I hope we can keep to it.

The other interesting Post Story is headlined:

Pelosi, Reid Urge Bush To Begin Iraq Pullout
President Considering Three 'Surge' Options

At a time when America is questioning the wisdom, or even the possibility of staying in Iraq- President Bush has listened, and he has responded.

He has come up with three options for us to consider:
1) Send 4,000 more troops
2) Send 9,000 more troops
3) Send 20,000 more troops

I suppose in their own way, these are "progressive" ideas (at least the numbers keep progressing upwards).

Yesterday, Conservative Vermont blogger "Monday Morning Clacker" posted a diary on Green Mountain Daily in which the argument was advanced that the new Democratic controlled Congress is finding DOING something about Iraq, harder than COMPLAINING about it.

The post is entitled: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq! All People Want To Do Is Talk About Iraq! Where Has All The 06' Love Gone?
Rip and Read had some fun helping to advance the argument that perhaps two days isn't quite long enough to expect results. You can read my response on GMD or on Clacker's blog.

At any rate, when I was finished responding, I came across the above mentioned Post Article:

Pelosi, Reid Urge Bush To Begin Iraq Pullout
President Considering Three 'Surge' Options

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared yesterday that "it is time to bring the war to a close" and warned President Bush that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq would be unacceptable to the Democratic majorities that have just taken over Congress.

Directly challenging Bush's wartime leadership on their second day in charge on Capitol Hill, Democrats Pelosi (Calif.) and Reid (Nev.) sent Bush a letter suggesting that, instead of starting a short-term escalation, he begin a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces in the next four to six months. The mission of remaining troops, they said, should be shifted away from combat toward more training, logistics and counterterrorism.

I guess two days wasn't so long to wait for results after all.

PS- Speaking of Fun over at Green Mountain Daily- I HIGHLY RECOMMEND taking a look at Ed Garcia's New Lyrics for "Me & Julio Down By the School Yard" I LOVE the pictures of BUSH IN CHAINS!

As a responsible, moderate,level-headed DLC kind of Democrat, I cannot, in good faith, support impeachment yet...but DAMN it sure is nice to dream!

Friday, January 05, 2007

PAYGO back on the menu

The AP ran a story this morning on the efforts of Congress to put some teeth back into the PAYGO measure. This law requires the Federal Government to Pay for Things As and when It Spends the Money.

I know, this sounds like old fashioned Eisenhower Republicanism. So why am I (a rabid Democrat) so happy to see it back on the table? Well...

While PAYGO might be opposed by those who are seeking to expand entitlement programs for the poor, there is another group in Congress who will not be happy to see it enacted:

...most Republicans were likely to resist the Democrats' move to reimpose the PAYGO rule requiring tax cuts or spending increases in entitlement programs such as Medicare or farm subsidies to be "paid for" with tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

The PAYGO stuff wreaks havoc on tax cuts," Flake [R-Arizona]said.

Those on the left might be tempted to oppose this type of thinking. Instead, they may insist that we begin to put needed entitlement programs in place immediately. But as far as I am concerned, the number one priority should be the restoration of the health of the Federal Government. To me, this is more important that welfare, education, infrastructure rebuilding...anything.

Another quote:

Democratic budget hawks, especially the moderate-to-conservative "Blue Dogs," say that restoring the rule is crucial to curbing the budget deficit. Various forms of PAYGO were in place from 1990-2002, however, and Congress often found ways around it.

Why do I think that restoring the health of the Federal Government is the first priority?

Because Republicans like Grover Norquest have made the "drowning" of the Federal Government their number one priority. (Republicans? Hardly...in name only...right wing wack jobs, really). Knowing that the American People would never approve of an outright attempt on the life of their Government- the strategy of the wack-job right has been to force feed the Federal Government into spending itself to death (Tax Cuts and Missiles during the Reagan Era, Tax Cuts and War during the Bush Administration).

Eventually, there will be no money left for We the People to pay for things like Social Security, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and, of course, the I.R.S. The Federal Government will, in effect, be "dead".

With the Federal Government "dead", there will be no instrument which ordinary Americans can use to counter act the drive to power by the wealthy. This will leave the nation free to function according the most basic and brutal of natural laws. Call this law what you will, "Social Darwinism", the "Law of the Jungle", or "laissez faire": it all amounts to the same thing: Might (money, power) Makes Right.

With the death of the Federal Government, there will be no force which demands that everyone contribute to society. With the "death" of the Federal Government, there will be no more "referee" to impose at least some small modicum of fairness on American Society.

So, I for one, applaud Congress, and especially the "Blue Dogs" for realizing that THIS is job number one, and that if we ever hope to build (or rebuild- Democrats build well in during the Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy years) an American society that combines the efficiency of Capitalism with a sprinkling of social justice, this is the place we must start.

AP: Paygo Debate (from the Houston Chronicle)
Wikipedia: Grover Norquist

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kind of a Link Dump Sort of a Day.

Hi. I'm feeling like I'm running really hard these last few weeks, and not getting very far. I've had very little time to read the news, and that is a shame, because there is a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to keep up with.

During lunch today, however, a couple of things came to my attention. In the New Republic On Line, there is an interesting article by Rick Perlstein. It tells the story of a concerted effort on the part of American industry to use company propaganda to begin to instill a spirit of conservatism in their employees which would, ultimately, culminate in the Reagan/W.Bush agenda of undoing the New Deal.

I am looking forward to reading the book Mr. Perlstein reviews, and am very much looking forward to Perlstein's own forthcoming "Nixonland". He seems to have his eyes fixed on an obscure but important part of history- that period when America began to turn away from the New Deal of FDR, and began to RETURN to a policy of Social Darwinism and laissez faire economics.

This shift has long fascinated me, since it seems so obviously not in the interest of any of us who are not incredibly wealthy, but which, nevertheless, seems to hold a powerful attraction for the American character despite their "class interest".

The article can be found at: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w070101&s=perlstein010407 However, you may have to subscribe to read it.

And Green Mountain Daily has an interesting post by "Odum" today: Bush Administration "Brushes Off" Leahy, Draws the First Constitutional Showdown of 2007

Pat Leahy is moving toward a very important constitutional battle with the Bush administration. Here are two quotes from the UPI article:

Last November, Leahy requested two documents concerning CIA interrogation methods, the existence of which officials recently acknowledged for the first time in a lawsuit.

"The department's decision to brush off my request for information about the administration's troubling interrogation policies is not the constructive step toward bipartisanship that I had hoped for," said Leahy in a statement.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Off To A Bad Start?


I haven't finished the article yet, so I don't know how it ends. BUT, it doesn't sound so hot. According to the Washington Post, the first plan of action for the Democratic Party's first 100 hours in power is to power through their legislation without consulting the opposition party.

As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.

House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.

But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.

From The Washington Post

Don't get me wrong, I love throwing mud in Republican eyes as much, if not more, than anybody. Still...democracy is democracy...and this, no matter how satisfying and convenient, is not right.

The Republicans have been governing like greedy, spoiled children for the past 6 years. We, as Democrats, MUST take the high road and show the nation that we play fair. As important as it is to solve practical problems as soon as possible, it is even more important to steady our wobbling democratic form of government.