Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Global Warming and Ward 5

NOTE: I almost didn't want to post today, just in case someone coming here hadn't yet heard the news about John Odum and Green Mountain Daily. However, instead, I will only ask that you take a moment to read yesterday's post on the subject. It's an important topic.

In my on-going quest to say less and learn more (not easy for me, to be sure) I attended my Neighborhood Planning Assembly Meeting last night.

In particular because I wanted to hear the two Candidates for Burlington Ward 5's city council seat state their cases.

As often is the case, the conversation turned to the transportation infrastructure of Burlington.

It struck me, that, until pushed in that direction, neither candidate was REALLY thinking about the LONG term...30 years out...and trying to move us beyond automobile-based solutions.

One candidate pointed out that many of our problems stem from the Historical Accident of Burlington geography: Our Enterprise Zone happens to be located on the Waterfront, while our major road (Route 7) runs through the heart of town. There are neighborhoods between the two.

This happened because, when the Enterprise zone was originally set up, it was meant to be serviced by the rail corridor and the waterfront, not Route 7.

Then, with the coming of the car culture, this dynamic changed; and now, trucks and cars race through and ravage our neighborhoods.

Over at Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria wrote a piece that puts forth the argument that we've already missed the chance to stop global warming, and that our current challenge is to slow it, and to learn how to cope with it's now inevitable effects.

I'm no greenie, but it seems clear that it's time to radically change our focus as we tackle problems at the local level. If Zakaria is correct, then it is more important than ever that we start changing our thinking. The debate about building Southern Connector vs. Enhancing the Existing Road Beds seems to miss the larger point.

Given the unforeseen outcome of Burlington's geography, it also seems that we truly need to begin re-shaping our city in such a way that the place of the car and the truck in it becomes radically smaller.

PS-- Oddly enough, She's Right also has a post on Global Warming today...in which she rakes Al Gore over the coals. I'm prepared to give Gore much more of a break than she is (if great deeds ALWAYS had to match great words, then we'd have had to toss Thomas Jefferson out on his ass a long time ago), but it's still a funny little piece.


Freyne has a good entry about this meeting in his blog today...a little bit of a look back at famous Ward 5 Democrats, and a nice account of the Mayor candidates grading Mayor Bupkiss...oops...BOB Kiss.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Damn...really sad, bad news.
Odum leaves Green Mountain Daily

If you drop in at Rip and Read, oh my dearest five readers, you will have noticed that I have often linked to a blog called Green Mountain Daily. It is an odd little political community, where the left meets the far left and which is occasionally visited by whack-jobs from the fringes. GMD is a Vermont answer to Daily Kos.

In other words: it's a fun place to hang out if you are interested in Vermont Politics.

I don't always (or even often) agree with what I read over there, and my screen name, "goDLC", ruffled a few feathers when I arrived. (In case you don't know, when Howard Dean made all that noise about the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, it was the Bill Clinton Democratic Leadership Council he was sounding off about. These people LIVE for Howard Dean, so my pro-Clinton stance was …out of the ordinary) On the whole, however, I've enjoyed the interchanges I’ve had on Green Mountain Daily.

Recently, the left, the far left, and whack-jobs have been involved in a bitter, bitter fight over supposed "neo-confederate" ties of the Second Vermont Republic group.

I have to admit, I haven't followed the debate too closely. In my personal opinion, a prolonged discussion of Vermont session is a slightly less profitable use of time than engaging in a debate with the flat-earth society. It's a fun parlor trick, but anybody who takes the topic seriously has been spending WAY too much time locked in the outhouse breathing their own fumes.

But today, that all changed. Don't get me wrong, the topic is still just as full of Bullshit as a flying saucer convention, but in their fury, the whack-jobs have reached out and done real damage to intelligent political discussion in the Green Mountian state.

Green Mountain Daily is a blog maintained by many; but the dominant voice there, and the "referee", is a guy by the name of Odum. Odum announced today that he was leaving GMD and the blog-o-sphere because people who disagree with him have been targeting him at work...the public nature of his day-job apparently leaves him vulnerable to this kind of attack (-Thanks to J.D.Ryan for correcting me here) .

I think this is both sad, and frightening.

I have found that my knowledge of, and interest in, Vermont Politics has grown a great deal, in part because sites like GMD exist: Bloggers there write about what interests them, not about what will sell papers; and, ironically, they manage to make local politics more dramatic, and fun to follow than many of the state’s mainstream media outlets.

It is sad to know that a few well placed hits can threaten the freedom of those who promote this kind of public service. And it's a little frightening, too, that someone’s political voice can be silenced in such a fashion.

So, while I'm sure that other people will be continue the good work at GMD, Mr. Odum will be missed, and I'm very sorry to see him go.

A little piece of intelligent political discussion goes with him.

Other Vermont Blog Reactions

Odum: It's Been Real

Vermont Daily Briefing: Serial Dismemberment of the Blogosphere Continues Apace: Odum Says Goodbye

She's Right: Odum Says Goodbye to Blogging (opts to keep job, feed family)

Five Before Chaos: Odum steps back from GMD

802 Online:Tuesday Deadline Linkdump: the secessionists strike back edition

And, over at Green Mountain Daily, there are, of course, many posts and comments on this subject. Here is my favorite:
GMD is a spare-time project of a father, husband and person who toils at a day job like the rest of us. This story [Second Vermont Republic] has stirred the emotions of a few on the fringe, but like every outliner dustup, it will soon be forgotten...I hope we readers of GMD will receive a signal from VNRC that they are not tampering with John's spare time citizenship activities.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

So...What Happened In February?
Henry Waxman Follows the Missing Money...

Cross Posted at Green Mountain Daily

The question sort of just hangs out there...what happened to the TONS of cash that the U.S. shipped to Iraq?

That's right...TONS of cash. According to a Denver Post Article, 363 tons, to be exact. In true better late than never fashion, I started following this February story just as March was rolling over the horizon...oh, but what interesting reading it is...if only you can find it.

I'm going to post a link to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform here at Rip and Read.

That way, I might remember to check it out from time to time- if I rely on the "Liberal Media" to keep me informed, I'll grow old.

In the meantime, here's part of an opening statement by Chairman Waxman. As you may recall, his congressional committee is looking into the billions of dollars that has simply disappeared in Iraq.

You can find more committee documents at: http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1175, if you can stand to read more:

Opening Statement of Rep. Henry A. Waxman
Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing on "Iraq Reconstruction: An Overview"
February 15, 2007

Last week, our Committee focused on the $12 billion in cash that our government sent to Iraq.

We learned that no one knows what really happened to that money or even whether it ended up in the hands of terrorists. All we know is that the cash is gone and billions were wasted.

Today we get more bad news. The Director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency is going to testify that there are more than $10 billion in questioned and unsupported costs relating to Iraq reconstruction and troop support contracts.

This estimate is three times higher than the $3.5 billion in questionable charges that the Government Accountability Office warned us about last year. And in this new report, $2.7 billion in suspect billings are attributed to just one contractor: Halliburton...

Even worse, the actual amount of waste is likely even higher. The Defense Contract Audit Agency arrived at its $10 billion estimate after reviewing only $57 billion of Iraq contract spending.

But American taxpayers have already spent over $350 billion for the war in Iraq. There's $300 billion still to audit. The total amount of waste, fraud, and abuse could be astronomical.

Let's add it up. Last weekÂ’s $12 billion in cash and today's $10 billion in questionable charges combines for $22 billion. And there's still the potential for tens of billions more in waste.

It's no wonder that taxpayers all across our country are fed up and demanding that we bring real oversight to the "anything goes" world of Iraq reconstruction.

Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, will tell us about a particularly egregious example of wasteful spending. It involves the State DepartmentÂ’s contract with DynCorp to train and equip the Iraqi police.

...the government could not demonstrate that it had actually received tens of millions of dollars in critical equipment, including armored vehicles, body armor, and weapons.

This is the equipment that is supposed to be going to the Iraqis so they can take up the fight and allow our U.S. service members to come home.

... I want to assure the American people that we aren't going let a handful of corporations walk away with enormous windfalls while thousands of American soldiers are sacrificing everything to defend their country.

...To Be Continued.

Made You Look
Barack Obama is Worth Watching

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: It’s too early and I just don’t want to start thinking about 2008 yet. I want to settle in, watch newly empowered Democrats start asking embarrassing questions (Like: What the hell happened to the 363 tons of cash that has gone missing in Iraq, Mr. President?)

But, like it or not, the next Presidential Election has already started, and, once again, that Obama fellow keeps saying and doing stuff I really like.

Yesterday, after Vice-President Darth Va--, oops, sorry, Dick Cheney—claimed that the British were leaving Iraq, not because they’d followed us into a quagmire, but because they were clearly winning and could afford to leave, Barack Obama spoke up:

(From AP Reports, via the Boston Globe)

Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.

"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, then why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?...In fact, Dick Cheney said this is all part of the plan (and) it was a good thing that Tony Blair was withdrawing, even as the administration is preparing to put 20,000 more of our young men and women in.

"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today…When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."

It’s just contagious.

Earlier, in a spat with Hillary Clinton over who got to be David Geffen’s friend, Obama took a really nice “Damn the Torpedoes” approach. Geffen said something nasty about Bill Clinton (what the HELL is it about Democrats? Shut Up, people…there are plenty of Republicans to pick on), the Hillary camp demanded that Obama apologize, and Obama basically answered: why should I apologize for what somebody else said?

Other Democrats would have engaged in a lot of hand-wringing and soul searching: Obama just told it like it is. Actually, it’s a lot like the way Bill Clinton himself would have played it- I like that in a Democrat- it smells like victory.

Meanwhile, Hillary’s role in the spat seems to be that of nasty political operative. We get this glimpse of her threatening and cajoling and bullying the money when ever it looks like it might jump ship. It shows her for what I think she is: a particularly tough and ruthless operative… a perfect campaign manager…but not such an attractive candidate.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at the Euro-Café in Burlington on a Saturday morning to watch Barack Obama announce (officially) that he was seeking the nomination of my party for the Presidency.

This is what I heard:

Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation.

Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. … Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.

And as our economy changes, let's be the generation that ensures our nation's workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let's protect the hard-earned benefits their companies have promised. Let's make it possible for hardworking Americans to save for retirement. And let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle-class again.

Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this.

Let's be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let's be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president's first term.

Let's be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world. Let's be the generation that makes future generations proud of what we did here.

Most of all, let's be the generation that never forgets what happened on that September day and confront the terrorists with everything we've got. Politics doesn't have to divide us on this anymore - we can work together to keep our country safe. I've worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law that will secure and destroy some of the world's deadliest, unguarded weapons. We can work together to track terrorists down with a stronger military, we can tighten the net around their finances, and we can improve our intelligence capabilities. But let us also understand that ultimate victory against our enemies will come only by rebuilding

It was a an inspiring speech…and as I watched this young man standing on the same steps where Abraham Lincoln stood, all I could think was: It's a lot Like Looking At Someone who is going to be President.

Friday, February 23, 2007

So...What Happened In February?
Henry Waxman Follows the Missing Money

the Great American I don't knowFebruary is almost over...what happened this month?

Well...Anna Nicole Smith died.

And, some astronaut put on a pair of diapers and raced crazily across the south to do something horrible to somebody in some lover's quarrel.

And Henry Waxman began holding hearings.


About what?

If you don't know, I'm sure you are not alone.

I mean, I didn't know until recently. I've been busy this month, and the only news I was seeing was the news that was easy to find (the headlines I see in the newspaper box on my way to work, or as I open my email program)

...My Dad had to point it out to me...and it still took me a week to go searching for it...

Here's the scoop:

According to the Denver Post :

House Democrats on Tuesday [2/6] grilled the former U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, demanding that he account for billions of dollars distributed in Iraq that no one seems able to trace.

Much of the questioning focused on $12 billion - mostly in $100 bills packed in huge bundles, 363 tons of cash in all - from Iraqi oil sales and frozen assets of Saddam Hussein's regime. The U.S. shipped the money to Iraq for Bremer's organization to disburse to Iraqi ministries.

Okay- granted, the audit was done back in 2005, and we did hear something about this then- but with the D.O.P. (that would be: Damned Old Party)firmly in control...we sure didn't hear much about it.

Now, it's finally being looked into-- and what are the headlines that are catching my eye? Bush Administration questioned about missing Billions? No...that's not it. Instead, we are captivated by a diaper-wearing astronaut and the death of Smith.

This is a big deal, of course, because it is quite possible that the missing money has found it's way directly into the hands of some VERY BAD PEOPLE and that many of the wounded soldiers languishing in hospitals today were put there with U.S. Taxpayer funded bullets*.

Again, From the Denver Post:

Oversight committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that with no clear standards, it was possible that some of the money ended up in enemy hands.

But are we hearing about any of this? Bush Bankrolls The Terrorists? for example? Nope...hardly a peep...at least, not ABOVE the fold.

That damned old Liberal Media...they sure don't give those Republicans a fair shake, do they?

Yes... I KNOW it's my responsibility to stay informed...but, then, I might have looked more deeply into the news if I'd been given some indication that I would find something more valuable than the contents of Lisa Nowak's diaper.


Note: Administration apologists, like L. Paul Bremmer, are quick to point out that these are "funds belonging to the Iraqi people …these are not appropriated American funds." But this simply obscures the issue...it was held by the Federal Reserve, shipped to the war zone on our planes, and may well have fallen into the hands of the enemies of our soldiers. So, I don't feel the phrase "Taxpayer funded bullets" is all that inaccurate.

Not only that, but according to Waxman's opening statement in these hearings, in addition to sending more troops, the President also wants 1.2 billion dollars...but if these guys can loose 12 billion dollars, a mere 1.2 billion should go in record time...and, in this case, it IS our money.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Funning with the Right Wing

A Liberal Received this email from A Right-Winger last night:



The Liberal Sent this email back:
Upon hearing that the Secret Service gave Hillary Clinton a Muslim name to protect her from Terrorists, President George W. Bush demanded his own Islamic Name. The Secret Service wasn't quite sure which name fit best, so they suggested three:

Beck Onde Bottle,
Kant Katch Osama,
Iz-en-tee Adum Azz.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bitter Partisanship
The End of Elizabeth Dole

I’ve just finished my lunch, and while I ate, I read an article in the New Republic about Elizabeth Dole.

Following her stint as chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (where it was theortically her job to keep the U.S. Senate in the same grubby little hands), it seems that Ms. Dole’s Republican Brethren are none too happy with her. According to the article by Michelle Cottle , the party's leaders blame the loss of the Senate on her (lack of) leadership in the recent electoral fight.


Ha, ha, ha.


I think I’m supposed to feel just a little sorry for Dole, as she sits, presiding over a defeat, and watching Hillary Clinton usurp Dole's minor little place in history as the first SERIOUS female contender for the Presidency.

And it’s not like I have anything against Elizabeth Dole, but I don’t have anything particularly positive either…it’s nice that she invented those little red lights in your back window that go off when you step on the breaks…but, other than that, I just can’t find it in my heart to feel anything but glee…watching Republican’s eviscerate each other over the loss of the election…

…like there was anything they could have done about it! More money, more strategy, more …what? More Wars? Nothing was going to help in 2006.

The American people have finally had enough of the DOP (that would be: Dammed Old Party) and it’s costly, deadly brand of malarkey…and no amount of political smoke and mirrors by a former Transportation Secretary was going to change that one jot.

So...Good Riddance to Dole, and the Party she rode in on.



Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Time to Go
The United States In Iraq

I’ve hemmed and hawed, but today, I read a piece that has helped make my mind up. It is time to leave Iraq. It is awful, it is largely as result of American action that a terrible situation (life under Saddam Hussein) has become a horrific one.

While I never subscribed to the war in Iraq, never thought it was a good idea, I have always believed in the “You Break It- You Bought It” argument. Because we had plunged the people of Iraq into chaos, I thought, we were honor bound to remain until order and civilization was restored.

I have dismissed the “End the War” now cries as those of the well-intentioned peace-niks who live in a world of wonderful ideals, unhampered by ugly reality.

However, as time has gone by, it has seemed that we have less and less chance of fixing what we have broken. (I do not doubt our obligation to the Iraqi people, only our ability to fulfill it.)

I’ve been vacillating for some time now, but today, I read a short piece in the New Republic that helped me make up my mind.

In a piece entitled, Twilight Zone, (which also appeared in the L.A. Times) Jonathan Chait argues that the arguments of Bush’s supporters, as exemplified by Senator Joe Lieberman, are completely out of touch with reality.

Reality, according to Chiat, is that Maliki is owned, heart and soul, by the Shiite faction. The Iraqi Government is riddled with Shiites who are waiting for final revenge against the Sunni’s.

And, at present, our best plan is to train the Iraqi army to take over for us when we leave the country. This means, of course, that we'd be training Maliki’s army of Shiites.

Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi army. We're equipping and training the bad guys. The Shiite militia members who haven't joined the army lay low when our troops patrol Baghdad, so that we fight the Sunnis and leave them standing. As Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers reported a week and a half ago, "The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq's security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia."

That's why Maliki supports the surge. To the extent it succeeds, the surge will do a faster and better job of driving Sunnis out of Baghdad. But why should we want to help him do that?

… If we stop cooperating with one party to a civil war, we can't make things much worse. We might possibly make them better: If we're no longer doing the Shiites' fighting for them, perhaps they'll have to bargain with the Sunnis.

The argument in favor of staying in force is devoid of any actually relation to what is happening on the ground, and boils down to three points: Trust the President; Don’t Backstab the troops by second guessing the mission; and Leaving Equals Failure, according to Chait's piece.

Chait writes:
These aren't arguments to support Bush's strategy, they're generic pro-war arguments. Change a few details and these lines could support Napoleon's invasion of Russia or the Crusader occupation of Jerusalem or almost any war. Generic pro-war arguments may be trite, but that's what you turn to when you've given up on reality.

However, in my belief that we could do any good at all by remaining to restore order, it seems increasingly true that I, as well, need to adjust my perception of reality.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Good Words.

In the last post, I talked about finding some historic words, spoken in the heat of a political battle long since over, that still can impart courage.

Today, in honor of "President's Week", I offer one of my favorite quotes of all. I hate to say this, but I did not find this quote through an industrious reading of historical texts.

Instead, I learned it from a Disney record I had when I was a boy...an audio tour of the Magic Kingdom...complete with this quote from the hall of Presidents...

However, the fact that I learned it from Disney doesn't diminish it's reality, nor in an uncertain world, does that rob it of its therapeutic power.

I liked the quote so much in fact, that I have joined it with the Jefferson quote which decorates the right column of my blog page:

From Abraham Lincoln:

Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No. No, man was made for immortality.

Friday, February 09, 2007

William Jennings Bryan

Liberal From the Past
I came across a great quote tonight and wanted to share it.

"Society has become accustomed to some very nice distinctions. A poor man is called a socialist if he believes that the wealth of the rich should be divided among the poor, but the rich man is called a financier if he devises a plan by which the pittance of the poor can be converted to his use. The poor man who takes property by force is called a thief, but the creditor who can, by legislation, make a debtor pay a dollar twice as large as he borrowed is lauded as the friend of sound currency. The man who wants the people to destroy the Government is an anarchist, but the man who wants the Government to destroy the people is a patriot."

- William Jennings Bryan.

Remembered today, when remembered at all, as the lampooned creationist champion in Inherit the Wind, Byran was also the great champion of the common man in the late 1800s, when Republicanism ran rampant. I am being treated to a new and very different view of the "Boy Orator of the Platte" by the authors of The Growth of the American Republic.

Published in 1932, for a time, this work was a standard American History text. It is fascinating to go back and read of this Great Crusader for the Common Man, as presented by two old-fashioned 1930s Liberals and to hear the words of Populism ringing in your ears once again...

"On the one hand, stand the corporate interests of the United States, the moneyed interests, aggregated wealth and capital, imperious, arrogant, compassionless...On the other side stand an unnumbered throng, those who gave to the Democratic party a name [this is exactly why Republicans like to drop the "ic" from the end of the name: Bryan haunts them to this day-AB] and for whom it has assumed to speak. Work-worn and dust begrimed, they make their mute appeal, and too often find their cry for help beat in vain against the outer walls, while others, less deserving, gain ready access to legislative halls."

And here, from the "Cross of Gold Speech" which was the question you missed on the test in eighth grade history class, is another fine quotation...

"When you come before us and tell us that we are about to disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your course.

We say to you that you have made the definition of a business man too limited in its application. The man who is employed for wages is as much a business man as his employer; the attorney in a country town is as much a business man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis; the merchant at the cross-roads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York; the farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, who begins in the spring and toils all summer, and who by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of the country creates wealth, is as much a business man as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain; the miners who go down a thousand feet into the earth, or climb two thousand feet upon the cliffs, and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured into the channels of trade are as much business men as the few financial magnates who, in a back room, corner the money of the world. We come to speak of this broader class of business men. "

The Cross of Gold
When the modern world seems bereft of stirring voices, it never hurts to open up a book and harken to the words left by those who have partaken in history's great pageant- those words are often more prescient than one might expect.

The Plane Truth
Nancy Pelosi and her Plane

There are some blogs to which you turn to find breaking news. This is not one of them....like you, dear reader, I learn about the news, sometimes as it happens, but more often after it has been happening for a while.
Therefore, I missed the little story of The Speaker's Jet Plane as it unfolded yesterday.

But oh, what fun it is!

Really, the whole thing is a merry little game of "Hypocrite, Hypocrite, Who Is the Hypocrite".

Here's what happened, at least, here is what happened according to the AP story:

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went before the House Science committee to testify about the need to take action on Global Warming. (I think now that Democrats are back in Congress, it is legal again to refer to it as "Global Warming" rather than "Climate Change" - which is the term Republicans prefer... I personally like the term "Malignant Climate Change" ... but I digress.)

The Irony was just tooooooo delicious to pass up for the embittered losers (whoops, I'm not sure that came out right...I meant the Republicans) on the other side of the aisle.

You see, THEY had just noted that a request had been made that the Speaker of the U.S. House (that's Pelosi) be granted access to a much bigger (or, as Bernie Sanders might put it: "A [h ]'Uuuge ") plane.

The AP actually uses the term "swanky" to describe the aircraft.

The AP quotes Rep. Patrick McHenry, Republican of North Carolina: "The jet that Pelosi has produces 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide an hour, far more than the previous speaker used," (This puts good old Former Speaker Dennis "Don't-think-about-what-he-is-doing-to-that-boy-or-what-Jack-Abramoff-is-doing-to-the-taxpayer-and-maybe-it-will-all-just-go-away" Hastert in the highly unusual position of FRIEND to the ENVIRONMENT...but I digress...again.)

So there was Nancy, forced to defend herself from the charge of Hypocrisy..."By commandeering a huge government plane for her personal transport to California, this is totally contradictory to the alarm bells we heard her ringing in the Science Committee just a few hours ago," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. was quoted in the AP story.

" I have never asked for any larger plane," was the substance of the Speaker's argument, "I have said that I am happy to ride commercial if the plane they have doesn't go coast to coast."

....No, I requested the plane...quoth House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood (if you read this line in your best Dudley Dooright voice, this story starts to get EVEN funnier.) It was a matter of SECURITY! The only problem with taking that one at face value is that the Sergeant At Arms is elected by the members of Congress (and with a Democratic majority lead by Speaker Pelosi...well, you do the math. Of course, as a loyal Democrat, I am suggesting NOTHING! Still, it is just possible that Livingood request the plane because...well, you're a grownup, you figure it out.)

And this is where it gets really good-- because once the SECURITY card got played the cavalry rode over the Hill (so to speak) to rescue the "San Francisco Liberal" Speaker from the clutches of the nasty Republicans. And who was this masked hero...it was...now hold your breath....none other than....drum roll, please......


White House Spokesman. Yes, that White House, the George W. Bush White house...because, while fun is fun and all, when those nasty little Republican congressmen criticize the speaker on the question of SECURITY...that's when somebody looses an eye. You see, if you question the Speaker's SECURITY (she is, after all, second in line for the Presidency after Dick Cheney) then you question the validity of the WAR ON TERROR, and, if you assert that there is not that much need for SECURITY for the Speaker, then you begin to see that the people might start to wonder about the WAR ON TERROR and that would be BAD...because of course, if we don't have a WAR....then we can't have a WAR PRESIDENT....

and that's why the White House came to the rescue of Nancy Pelosi.....

Isn't that a good story?



Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Neat Little Site

Here is a neat little Vermont site that could get a lot neater with user participation and advertising dollars.

Check it out:

Friday, February 02, 2007

With No Intended Irony...

It was without apparent irony (in fact, it was probably without intention at all, it was probably simply done by a computerized aggregator) that the following two headlines appeared back-to-back on My Yahoo homepage this morning:

Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring


Global warming man-made, will continue

Now God knows, I'm not the guy to be overly preachy about this...I drove my own car to work yesterday rather than get up twenty minutes early so I could walk....but still...

The Feingold Bill
What Will Peter Welch Do?

“By passing my legislation, Congress can respond to the will of the American people and force the President to safely bring our forces out of Iraq. “With the President set on pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its power to stop him. If Congress doesn’t stop this war, it’s not because it doesn’t have the power -- it’s because it doesn’t have the will.”

The above quote is from Senator Russ Feingold’s explination of his recently introduced Senate Bill. The purpose of this bill is explicit: Use the Congressional power of the purse, and bring our troops safely out of Iraq within six months following passage of the bill.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, and I still have not come up with the answer. The deepest feeling part of me says: End it now. Bring them home.

It goes without saying that I feel that George W. Bush should go down in posterity as the President who committed the single worst strategic blunder in all of our history.

At the same time, now that he has gotten us there, what is the best way to exit the field? I’m not going to go in to my thought process now…if you want to know more, you can read a blog entry called “Checkmate” and the comments that followed the next day…I posted that back in October, and I still haven’t found any answers.

But that’s not really the point right now…the point is…what we should do? J.D. Ryan, author of the blog “Five Before Chaos” knows what he is going to do. And he knows what he’d like you to do.

Senator Leahy (our Vermont Senator, for any of you reading out of Vermont) is already on board. I haven’t heard the news yet, but I’d bet a quarter that Senator Sanders will be along any minute now. So the Vermont delegation to the U.S. Senate is covered.

A similar resolution has been introduced in the U.S. house…the question is…what will our new U.S. Congressman Peter Welch do?

Here’s J.D. Ryan:

Anyways, as we hear all the talk of Welch not going far enough, etc. , here's how to put him to the test. Call his VT office at 888-605-7270 or his Washington office at 202 225-4115 and tell them that you want Welch to publicly express support of Feingold's bill, and that 'symbolic resolutions' are meaningless, and don't go far enough. And remember, be nice.

I’ve enjoyed sparring with J.D Ryan over at Green Mountain Daily and on his own blog. I encourage you to check out Five Before Chaos and look for him over on GMD.

I think that I’m leaning toward calling Welch myself…and if, unlike me, you are unburdened with the “Hamlet Syndrome of the Centrist” and KNOW what you should do…then by all means, DO IT. Call or email your Senators and Congressmen.

What to know how? Here’s a great place to start:
A Handy Little Tool, built at taxpayer expense, just for you.

The Senate is here: