Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Good ol’ Rush

I try not to take delight in other’s travails, I really do, but sometimes people make it difficult.

Given that you are not in jail for using prescription drugs illegally, having cut a deal with prosecutors that wouldn’t be available to less renowned figures, wouldn’t you be particularly careful in that regard? So is it pure hubris, or stupidity, when Rush Limbaugh gets caught, again, with prescription drugs not in his name? Found when searching his private plane, returning from overseas, no less.

The fact that the drug in question was viagra just adds to the humor. I suppose for him they are a medical necessity. Given the portion of the body affected, he probably couldn’t stand up, lift his head, or walk around without them.

From “Talking Points Memo”

This from Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, one of the best political blogs:

So on exporting democracy …

1. President encourages supporters to accuse newspaper reporters of treason: check.

2. President mandates systematic use of torture: check.

3. President routinely asserts right to ignore laws passed by Congress: check.

What am I missing?

Actually, I think it’s more one of those trick questions. Like, we’re not exporting ‘democracy’ but our democracy. So, as we send it to them, we lose ours.

William Jefferson is a democrat representative from Lousiana. What is particularly telling is that William Jefferson is also a crook, having taken bribes and otherwise disgraced his office.

Given that, let’s do a comparison.

When this information became overwhelmingly convincing, Nacy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader of Congress, formally and publicly requested that Jefferson resign his leadership posts.

In contrast, when it became more and more obvious that Tom Delay was a crook, the Republican leadership attempted to change their own rules, so that an indicted member of Congress in the Republican Party did not need to resign his leadership positions.

Two crooks, two different responses.

Oh. One more thing: our own Mike Fitzpatrick, freshman representative in congress, cast his very first vote ever for the Delay rule, so that the Hammer would not have to step down from his positition upon indictment.

Independent my ass.

Some people just have a more direct link to God…

From the AP:

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Rev. Pat Robertson says God has told him that storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America’s coastline this year.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network has told viewers of “The 700 Club” that the revelations came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

“If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms,” Robertson said May 8.

In a related revelation, the Lord has revealed to Robertson that near the future the sun will actually be rising in the east, at least on days ending in a ‘y’.

Primary election post-mortem

This is a letter sent to the Bucks County Intelligencer on May 17th. I doubt they will publish it.

To the Editor:

Well. The primary election is over, and incumbents across the state have been thrown out of office. Here in Bucks County, Patrick Murphy has won the Democratic primary by a two to one margin over Andy Warren, despite the Intelligencer’s ill-considered endorsement.

What is more telling, though, is the reaction from Mike Fitzpatrick published in the Intelligencer the very morning after the election. Not the usual “congratulations” and “looking forward to a good debate”, instead Mike immediately launches into the usual name-calling and labeling which have become the standard of the republican national party. Mr. Fitzpatrick likes to consider himself independent – it would be good to see him be independent of his party’s national attack politics. A “Cut-and-Run Liberal”? Please, Mr Fitzpatrick, I will value the opinions of someone who served in Iraq, training the Iraqi’s to run their own military and government and earning a bronze star in the process, over someone went over there on the government’s money for a weekend photo-op, and only after learning who his election opponent might be.

“Immoderate liberalism”? There are many of us who believe that “liberal” is not a dirty word. It means care for our community and nation rather than executives of ExxonMobil. It means not only mouthing words about educational reform, but actually making it possible by funding whatever programs you mandate. It means caring that our country has the fourth-worst infant mortality rate in the developed world, rather trying to repeal a woman’s right to control her own body.

The simple truth is that Mr. Fitzpatrick’s support of the current president, when he has really required it, has made him complicit in the unnecessary deaths of 2447 brave Americans like Patrick Murphy who actually have the courage of their convictions, and the maiming of 18,000 more. While the republicans don’t seem to notice, we should also mention the deaths of 40,000 or so innocent Iraq civilians, all someone’s mother, brother, son, daughter, or father. When Mr. Fitzpatrick chooses to put his life on the line for this country, I will give some weight to his use of the term “Cut and Run Liberal.” In the meantime, the honest citizens of this county, at least, will not allow the Swift-Boating of a true American.

In the run-up to the general election, Mr. Fitzpatrick might take the opportunity to learn of our constitution from someone chosen to teach it to our West Point cadets. He might also take the time to study with Miss Manners to learn courtesy. Mr. Fitzpatrick likes to attend Boy Scout Eagle ceremonies. I would remind him that the fifth and tenth points of the scout law have not been rescinded.

Cafferty quote.

Jack Cafferty, as quoted on “Crooks and Liars”

Cafferty: We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He’s vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans.

Shortly after 9/11, AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens, all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don’t you go find Osama bin Laden, and seal the country’s borders, and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?

The President rushed out this morning in the wake of this front page story in USA Today and declared the government is doing nothing wrong, and all this is just fine. Is it? Is it legal? Then why did the Justice Department suddenly drop its investigation of the warrantless spying on citizens because the NSA said Justice Department lawyers didn’t have the necessary security clearance to do the investigation. Read that sentence again. A secret government agency has told our Justice Department that it’s not allowed to investigate it. And the Justice Department just says ok and drops the whole thing. We’re in some serious trouble, boys and girls”

I guess the republican congress is just so much more involved in the really important issues, such as whether the national anthem should be sung in Spanish, That they can’t be concerned about little issues, like the constitution, or the 30+ indicted from the GOP, or two of the top three political appointees in the CIA resigning as they are implicated in bribery and prostitution.

Oh, and in case anyone is keeping count, there are now 2,431 american dead serviceman and women, 17,648 officially listed as wounded, approximately 330 dead american civilian contractors, approximately 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and precisely 0 weapons of mass destruction, or means of delivering them to the US if they had existed.

What do these states have in common?

What do these states have in common?

  • North Dakota
  • Georgia
  • Arizona
  • Tennessee
  • Montana
  • South Dakota
  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Arkansas
  • Virginia
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Iowa
  • Ohio
  • Nevada

Give up?

All of these states went to Bush in the last election. The all also have current net approval ratings (postive% – negative%) for Bush of -10% or less. The figures range from -10% in North Dakota, to -31% in Nevada. There are six more states that voted for Bush where the net approval is negative but less than 10%. There are only four states — the intellectual and population centers of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska — where Bush receives a positive net approval. These results are as of April in the monthly nationwide survey by SurveyUSA. (Did you know that if the District of Columbus were made a state, Wyoming would rank 51st in population?)

All I can say to the citizens of the twenty states listed above is “Told you so.”

Wait, there’s one more thing I can say:

Thanks a bunch, a**holes.

That silver tongued devil…

Once again demonstrating his mastery of the English language, our president today said:

“I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.”

“I’m the decider”? Can you imagine anyone past the fourth grade using that phraseology? Maybe the CEO of GM, arguing his point with the board, saying “I’m the decider”?

God help us all.

Some thoughts on immigration

  1. Why is immigration such a hot topic all of a sudden? A few weeks ago (before the administration’s polls took a steep nose-dive) this was not even a minor issue. How much are we as a nation being manipulated to divert attention from the continuing failures in Iraq, in New Orleans, in the economy, and elsewhere?
  2. Number of people who died attempting to cross the Berlin Wall: 171
    Number of people who died crossing the US/Mexican border from 1996-2001: 1700
    Why are we so quick to laud those fleeing political oppression for a better life, and so quick to blame those fleeing economic oppression for a better life?
  3. Why are the politicians so quick to seek to enforce illegal immigrant laws, but are unwilling to prosecute the companies that hire them? Both are illegal.
  4. The vast majority of illegal immigrants have earnings that would put them below the US definition of poverty. The last time the minimum wage was increased was in 1997, a worker earning the minimum wage woul earn a total of $10,712 (compared to the $25,000 increase in congressional salaries over that time). The inflation rate over the same period of time has been 24.64%. Perhaps if they could earn a living wage, Americans would be willing to take these jobs.

Oh, and in case anyone forgets:

American Service Personnel killed in Iraq: 2332
American Service Personnel wounded in Iraq: 17239 (officially)
Iraqi Casualties since the start of the Iraq War: ~40,000-100,000
Cost of the war to date: >$ 270,000,000,000
How long global anti-hunger efforts could
have been funded for that amount:
11 years
Weapons of Mass Destruction Found: 0
Ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda Found: 0
Ties between pre-war Iraq and the 9/11 Attacks: 0

This I Believe

My wife and I recently saw the play Trying at the Walnut Street Theater. Now, we have season tickets to two theaters in Philadelphia, the Wilma which is avant-garde, thought-provoking, and intellectual. The Walnut, on the other hand, while the productions are often excellent, tends to produce a lot of light-weight chestnuts: Finian’s Rainbow, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, and a plethora of Neil Simon. Given that, I wasn’t expecting the impact of Trying, which deals with the last year of Judge Francis Biddle’s life, seen through the eyes of his young secretary. For those who don’t know (as I didn’t), Francis Biddle was the Chief United States Judge at the Nuremberg trials, after serving on the US Court of Appeals, as Solictor General and then Attorney General of the United States, and as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. under Roosevelt and Truman. A member of a historic Philadelphia patrician family, he was rich, eloquent, and liberal.

The following quote was from Edward R. Murrow’s “This I believe” radio series.

It speaks to my condition.


I believe in the value of the individual human being – his integrity, his need for diversity, even his chance at happiness. Some men and women have enjoyed creative and satisfactory lives; but they have been few compared to the average lot of the millions who have been the victims of poverty, disease and oppression. I believe that such a disproportion is not necessary. A normally decent way of living for all men is not beyond the range of the possible.

In the thousands of years of our tortured history we have learned many things – but not yet how to live together. It has been said that human nature does not change, that you cannot improve people by passing laws. But surely change runs at the root of all life; and if laws do not alter man, laws can modify some of those conditions which make it hard for men to live peacefully, perhaps even joyfully together.

Laws, after all, are but the expression of the common purpose. They implement and articulate the needs and aspirations of the community, changing as the community changes.

In the beginning of our history we declared to a skeptical world the proposition that all men are created equal, with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Gradually we have come to understand and to insist that these rights mean more than a magnificent declaration; and that our government, instituted among men, must derive its continuing reality by promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty. Today eternal vigilance demands not only that we prevent our instrument, the State, from trampling on our liberties, but that we insist that it shall protect and secure them.

I too believe that Liberty is an end in itself; and that, as Sophocles once said, “The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is a brave heart.”

But now our freedom – our chance to live life as we see it, to choose it and to enjoy it – is threatened. I do not believe that the totalitarian menace to what we like to call the American way of life – which is deeply rooted in European culture, European democracy, and European religion – I do not believe that this external brutality and imperialism is the only menace to that kind of living. Our weakness in our fundamental beliefs; and particularly in our faith in the individual human being. This frustrating doubt under the pressure of fear leads us to all the dark and violent absurdities and injustices that have characterized these last few years – the loyalty oaths and loyalty tests; the investigations of the way certain Americans choose to think; the hunting out on the college campuses of teacher who will not accept the orthodox point of view of the multitude; the suspicion, the nervous hysteria.

I still believe in the American traditions that Thomas Jefferson so nobly expressed a hundred and fifty years ago – the traditional American decencies – free speech and free press, due process for all persons before the law, equality of opportunity.

But this is not all of our American Faith. Tolerance, which is at the root of it, is akin to the scientific spirit, rational, not without skepticism, experimental, and above all, open-minded. We must keep open the travel to the heart. But we must never close the approaches to the mind.”