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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mitt's legacy

With Kerry Healey accepting the mantle of the Republican gubernatorial nomination (and the whole bleeding, virtually moribund Massachusetts GOP) it's probably a worthwhile time to a look at the legacy she inherits from her predecessors -- Weld, Cellucci, Swift and Romney.

Let's start with the obvious -- the inherent political and moral dishonesty of Willard Mitt Romney. As the hagiographic tribute delivered at the Lowell convention showed, the man is running hard for president on image and rhetoric that can't be matched by results.

When the GOP took the keys to the corner office in 1991, they promised to restore Massachusetts to the luster it had before being tarnished by another Bush. Having pooh-poohed the Massachusetts Miracle, Weld and those who followed offered promises of a return to economic growth (good jobs at good wages), educational excellence, a place of tolerance and openness where you would be proud to raise a family.

Despite protestations that Healey would be her own person, it's fair to say she represents a continuation of Romney-Healey administration. A quick look shows why she's running away.

Instead of growing, Massachusetts is shrinking. Jobs are disappearing, while housing costs are forcing young people out of the state. The economic promises were unkept.

Then there's the social promises, either unkept or subject to massive flip-flops. And of course, there's the national "leadership" in opposing gay marriage, a civil rights advance that has not brought the Commonwealth crashing to its knees in moral anarchy.

To be sure Romney actually did play a role in the health care debate, but was hardly the leader being touted by national pundits.

So as Mitt exists stage right, it's only fair to ask Ronald Reagan's favorite question: Are you better off now than you were four (or 16 years) ago?

Or to reverse the English on a 1946 Massachusetts Republican campaign slogan and ask: Had Enough? (sub required)

I'm the law around here

George Bush is setting new standards for lawbreaking, according to the Boston Globe.

In an in-depth look at the quality and quantity of the "signing statements," the Globe hits on little (if-ever) discussed reason why George Bush has never vetoes a bill. He doesn't have to. If he doesn't like it, he ignores it.

Bush's reasoning -- that he is best suited to interpret the Constitution -- flies in the face of the basic American democracy: President proposes, Congress disposes and the courts interpret. I is one more reason that the Congress should hang its collective head in shame for the abdication of its own constitutional perogatives.

Complaints about government arrogance and the abuse of power are a frequent campaign ploy from the right. In fact, they are among the most prolific power abusers.

Is this what they have in mind for Iraq and the rest of the Mideast?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rush to judgment

Interesting choice of a charge that Rush Limbaugh copped to: fraud.

The mouth of the hate-filled right -- the one who railed against drug dealers and drug users struck a deal with prosecutors (using the same high-priced defense lawyer who represented William Kennedy Smith) -- copped a plea to avoid jail time for being a drug addict.

Of course in today's America, when you are white, have money and are hooked on pain meds like OxyContin, you have a different set of rules than when you are black, poor and hooked on crack.

And when you are privileged, you get to do probation and have the charges dropped if you promise to be good. And you get to keep your job.

No word yet if Tony Snow will serve as a fill-in for that sentence. Snow is doing harder time actually -- almost three years.

Same old song and dance

Some idle thoughts prior to Kerry "Sherry Murph" Healey's annointment as Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Dysfunctional is a word that springs to mind in describing the Massachusetts version of the Grand Old Party. It's only reinforced by Healey's every woman for herself campaign philosophy.

The saddest thing is the song is the same one that has been played for two decades. Party chairs going back to Andrew Natsios and Ray Shamie promised that the party was on its way to building at the grassroots and a revival was just around the corner.

So where is the GOP today, under the direction of the business partner of Healey's husband? A lot worse off than when Mitt Romney promised to put Republican seats in the Legislature's chairs -- before actually losing ground.

Healey tops a ticket that includes Reed Hillman as lieutenant governor and who else? Unknowns vie for the right to be Ted Kennedy's sacrificial lamb. No names have their hats in the race for auditor and attorney general (an OPEN attorney general's seat, no less). Healey didn't even know about the last-second recruit for treasurer and Billy Galvin gets a free pass for another term as secretary of state,

The party's only lifeline is the remarkable 16-year hold on the Corner Office, a feat made all the more remarkable by the revolving door used by Weld, Cellucci and Romney to get out if there.

That said, Healey has a better-than-decent chance at making it 20 years. Why? Because she's running against a Democrat, a party that manages to duplicate its national persona at the local level. You know: refuse to take a stand, savage each other instead of the opposition.

Enjoy your day in the sun Massachusetts GOP. Unlike the old British Empire, the sun is heading below the horizon

T is for tone deaf

Green Line commuters, get ready for the eight-hour homebound commute. You may as well stay at work.

Avoiding a discussion about what the MBTA has or has not done to upgrade the system into a reliable mode of transportation, let's focus on what the decision to charge outbound fares along streets will do for speeding up the homebound commute. The word improve does not immediately jump to mind.

The odd system in place today reflects the reality of streetcar service. More people get off the trains going out, so you need to open more doors. To accomplish that, once upon a time the MBTA charged a double fare on the Green Line inbound. One fare was for the surface, the other for the subway. Travel along the street only, pay only one fare.

A corollary to that was the lack of fare outbound on the street. The reason? All the doors could be opened if you didn't have to collect a fare.

The system being proposed by T general manager Dan Grabauskas (who doesn't ride commuter rail because it's not convenient) reflects what happens when people who don't use whatever system for which they are designing "solutions." It is, in a word, unworkable.

Collecting outbound fares mean only the front doors will open on the sardine cans that pass for vehicles. That means passengers must climb up and down the stairs along the narrow clogged aisles of the Breda cars, shoving past backpacks and hoping the itchy fingered operators, desperate to keep something close to a schedule (hah!) don't close the doors in the faces.

The MBTA is an antiquated and incompetent system that fails to provide service on any of its lines. Trolley and subways cars are jammed beyond belief. Buses are also so poorly designed that getting out the door is a challenge. Schedules are non-existent and T employees are for the most part surly and insulting. Why? After all, they have a place to sit.

Promises were made before the last fare increase that things will get better. The T has put together a glossy PDF talking about all the wonderful things they have done.

What executives have not done is ride the system. Red, Green, Blue, Orange. Silver or bus. That reality does not match the brochures. Schedules are a fantasy. Trains arrive one after the other, then nothing for 15 minutes, stacking up bodies on platforms like firewood. Until something approaching service is provided, commuters are better off paying outrageous gasoline prices.

Fight the fare increase. Get Danny off the MTA.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Snow job

There's certainly nothing unusual in today's world of revolving door journalism in the decision of Tony Snow to move from "journalist" to political spokesman. Just don't expect a "fair and balanced" pressroom where "we report and you decide."

It's been awhile since a member of the media moved directly from the pressroom peanut gallery to the podium -- Ford spokesman Ron Nessen was the last. It's also instructive that Nessen actually delivered straight news reports rather than commentary and punditry, a Snow vocation since he left the White House of Bush One.

There are certainly a bunch of partisans who moved in the other direction -- Democrats Tim Russert and George Stephanopuolos top that list. And there's something inherently "fair" in a partisan pundit going to work for someone he has supported more times than not.

But the revolving door between journalism and government is spinning madly -- and its bad for both institutions. Journalism has lost its most important claim from years gone by -- an equal opportunity institution that goes after power no matter the party. Today, the dizzying pace of moving between partisan and "journalist" and back -- has robbed the institution of its credibility.

I'd say the same about the damage done to the institution of government but those practitioners only have to look in the mirror.

The Bush administration is cynically betting the media will treat it better because it likes the man behind the microphone better -- that he is one of them. That didn't work for Mike McCurry (who wasn't one of them, except in the minds of Republicans who assume all reporters are Democrats). And it won't work now.

Why? Because the media love controversy and the scent of blood in the water. Just ask Bill Clinton if he thinks the media have a liberal bias. They have a bias toward controversy and weakness, something this administration exudes from every pore.

We're in for some stormy weather.

Gas price gouging

So George Bush and the GOP Congress has finally woken up to the fact that gas prices are rising faster than their credibility is sinking.

What do you think was their first clue? Lee Raymond's retirement package? (I'm sure they were jealous they haven't been able to arrange similar pay days).

Why has the price of gasoline risen even faster than the price of a barrel of oil? Iran saber rattling? The failure to bring the Gulf Coast refineries on line quickly enough? Or just plain old-fashioned greed, the kind of which the oil companies invented?

Inquiring minds want to know that -- and what Bush and the GOP's grandstanding will accomplish.

Bet you the price of a fill-up the answer is nothing -- except higher profits for the gougers.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pander-monium

Let's see, Massachusetts can restore local aid, increase funding for K-12 and higher education, finance health care reforms AND cut the income tax rate to 5 percent.

Tom Reilly -- meet George Bush.

The attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate continues to run a textbook campaign -- if the textbook is how to mess it up. His performance in the CBS 4 debate shows there's still no one running strategy for this campaign.

Not content to sit on his laurels with two grand gaffes, include the St. Fleur affair -- Reilly decided to be the aggressor yet again, without thinking through the potential responses.

For example, he called Deval Patrick on his relationship with Ameriquest and its shady lending practices, without necessarily anticipating the response.

Yes, Patrick should disclose what he's earned as a board member and hopefully his Statement of Financial Interest filing will be revealing. But with his response to Reilly's challenge I think he came out ahead on points:
''Ameriquest blew it. I know it, you know it, and more importantly, they know it, which is precisely why they invited me to come on their board, to help straighten them out. I've been involved in predatory lending issues for 20 years, starting here in Massachusetts. And that's a very, very good and important settlement, Tom. You had a role in it, and so did I."
But it's on taxes where Reilly fell the hardest. There may not be two more ingrained fallacies in politics that Taxachusetts and the Liberal Media. Any candidate who thinks he or she can win but saying taxes are just right or too low has a tough row ahead.

And Patrick certainly faces that challenge given Reilly's adoption of the Taxachusetts argument. But once again, Patrick was well-armed to fight off the Reilly charge, based on this exchange:

Thomas F. Reilly: ''Voters have made it very clear in Massachusetts. They want their income tax rolled back to 5.0 [percent]. That's real money in people's pockets. That's $200 for the average family here in Massachusetts . . . "

Deval L. Patrick: ''You're right that the impact on all of us -- but particularly folks in the middle class and the working poor -- of the cost of living is high. But the fact is that rolling back the income tax from 5.3 to 5 percent is fiscally irresponsible. We can't afford it. The tax to cut is the property tax. And we can't cut the property tax if we don't restore local aid and we can't restore local aid if we roll back the income tax." (Emphasis added)

As the Globe noted, Patrick's position is where Reilly was a year ago. I believe Paul Tsongas had a symbol for Reilly's tactics: pander bear.

So Tom, what's going to go to pay for the roll back -- local aid, health care or education?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Jail bait

Mighty thoughtful of (former) Gov. Mitt Romney to share his correction expertise with the U.S. military.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom helpfully noted the Defense Department rang Mitt up because they were in a quandary about how to fix conditions at Guantanamo.

..."governors run correction facilities and probably know more than most people about the challenges posed by detention and incarceration," Fehrnstrom told the Boston Globe.
Yeah, I'm sure Mitt has spent a lot of time working out the kinks at Shirley and Walpole. And under his watch he insured justice for pedophile priest John Geoghan.

Mitt was one of the louder voices in 2004 calling for John Kerry to step down because he was spending so much time running for president. Maybe you should listen to your own words, oh, absentee (former) governor?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Beam me out, Scottie

A few more chairs rearranged on the deck of the GWB Titanic. Scott McLellan, the long-suffering press secretary is headed for a nose job to bob the schnozz that has grown considerably as he's defended the indefensible.

McLellan has already been described in some quarters as the worst White House flak since Ron Ziegler. The comparison is apt, given the current White House resident is the biggest prevaricator and unindicted felon since Richard Nixon.

But does anyone think that the new arrangement represents any lessening of the corrupt influence of Karl Rove?

And despite all the sturm und drang surrounding Rummy, who in their right mind thinks the Iraqi war master is going anywhere?

I thought not.

I can't answer that...

It's not often that political watchdog groups make, well, common cause, with the people they watch over. So this may be a day when you check the thermometer in Hell.

The State Ethics Commission new advisory on political speech is, like most things from the commission, well-intentioned. But the reality is it is impractical and unenforceable. And it really does give politicians an easy out when they want to sidestep tough questions.

The incident that triggered the ruling was egregious (but hardly unusual). Mitt Romney stepped out of his office and laid into the selection of John Edwards and John Kerry's running mate. To say it was impromptu would be to invite a huge belly laugh.

Time was when the outer door to the Corner Office was the single best place to engage a governor in an impromptu press conference. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis once met the press (along with Corner Office visitor Mick Jagger) outside the door in one of the more memorable Dukakis appearances.

The exchanges there were more free-wheeling (OK, that one include the very practiced but poorly delivered line where Dukakis said, unconvincingly that "it's only rock 'n' roll but I like it"). There was little time to plan any comment beyond a broad outline and there was no guarantee what questions would be.

Often it would be the only opportunity to "ambush" a governor or legislative leader about a topic they did not want to address -- taxes and budgets for example -- two highly charged topics where the line between policy and politics was blurred if not invisible.

Any time a chief executive used the press briefing room two flights down, the event could be (and was) stage managed. Many times the room could be packed with more political supporters than reporters.

Clearly political events have always been held outside "the building," sometimes on the steps, others at nearby venues. A simple rule was that Statehouse reporters didn't like to travel far so accommodate them.

This Ethics Commission advisory changes much of that and instead of "cleaning up" government as the commission is supposed to do, it has the potential for "clamming up" instead.

Tough questions (involving budgets and taxes) can now be answered with "That's a political question and I can't talk about that here." And how do you draw a distinction between a clearly political speech delivered at the House podium or on the Senate floor from one delivered on the steps.

Common Cause executive director Pam Wilmot, a long-time (and laudable) thorn in the side of Bay State politicians had it right when she questioned the impact in comments in The Globe:
''It could imply that holding a charity golf tournament during work hours is acceptable and would not be prohibited," said Wilmot, who said removing politics from the State House is ''like baking cake without flour. The separation between governing and politics isn't a natural one for politicians," she said. ''Where rules can be defined up front, the easier it is for candidates themselves and the public to know what is expected."
There are many, many things wrong with politics today, from financing to hateful speech to corruption. Cleaning that up is far more important than giving politicians another opportunity to dodge the handful of tough questions they receive.

PS -- Nice to agree with Jon Keller for a change.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Make mine decaf

Tom Reilly and Kerry Healey are at loggerheads over where their kids went to school (his went public, hers private). Obvious issue in a state that spends millions on public education.

What's unusual about the story in today's Globe is the ludicrously overheated rhetoric, triggered by Healey's assertion that private schools provide her children with better "values" than they can get in Beverly (well, they did consider Pride's Crossing a "blighted area")

That produced this retort from Reilly, who takes pride in the fact he's a renter in Watertown.

''She's completely out of touch with the lives of regular people," he said in an interview with the Globe. ''Somehow the perception is that the kids in public schools are not learning the values that they should be learning. . . .Public schools reinforced the values of our home -- hard work and respect for differences, teamwork. It was a wonderful experience and certainly they came out of public schools with even stronger values."
Far comment though a bit over the top, this early, in his quest to nail down the "regular people" vote.

But Reilly was positive sanguine compared to Healey flak Tim O'Brien, who went ballistic, calling the AG:

''an old, tired politician who believes his mean-spirited attacks are going to help him get his edge back in this election. . . .There are thousands of parents across the Commonwealth who make these decisions, and he's attacking every single one of them who decides to make a choice with their child's education."
Dial down the rhetoric folks. If not, next thing you know one of them will be leading the bombers over Tehran.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Appealing to the base

It's as predictable as the season change. Republicans facing an electoral challenge have a tried and tested method that, sadly, works almost every time -- appealing to the base. In this case, we're talking about the base instincts that most of us try to suppress.

Our "uniter, not a divider" president (one of his more forgotten lies at this point) will be looking to the Rove playbook once again this fall. The model being trotted out this time will feature heavy doses of greed, nativism, homophobia and religious fundamentalism.

There are some early signs that things may not necessarily be turning the GOP's way. The outrage over Iraq lies, the racially-tinged neglect represented by Katrina and most surprisingly, the unexpected boomeranging of the immigration debate, suggest this will not be a normal year.

But before making any plans to check in with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid (a frightening thought as well) let's never forget the power of fear, a power W and his boys have exploited at every turn since 9-11.

The Armies of the Right are definitely whipping up their troops to rage against gays and immigrants -- images of gay couples turning over our social mores (you know, like a 50 percent heterosexual divorce rate), fretting over immigration rates that will turn this country "minority majority" in the not-so-distant future.

Sadly, fear usually triumphs over common sense. So don't get too comfortable with the thought of electoral changes come November. The one thing Bush knows how to do better (and more successfully) than anything else is pander to fear.

And don't look over your shoulder.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"These guys are nuts"

Finally got this week's New Yorker and Sy Hersh's terrifying look at administration planning to deal with Iran. The nutbag quotient here is sky high -- and so are the stakes.

Start with a statement of fact: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one frightening religious zealot. A Holocaust denier, he is a religious demagogue who believes he is on a mission from Allah to rid the world of infidels. The thought of an Iran, led by him, with nuclear weapons, is a scary one.

But, based on a five-year track record, the same statement applies to George W. Bush (minus the Holocaust denial and his mission is from a different god.) And George Bush has a track record of never letting facts stand in the way of his Messianic zeal.

The planning efforts reported by Hersh bear an all-too-familiar feel, as he notes, quoting a recent essay on the Foreign Policy Web site, entitled "Fool Me Twice." Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted several parallels:

The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.
A certain "been there, done that" quality, don't you think?

Bush's search for a legacy other than Iraq, Katrina and the fiscal ruin of the United States of America for future generations certainly plays a role. But the sheer folly of the idea makes those failures seem staggeringly small.

Attacking Iraq, with or without nukes, will insure the emnity of Muslims -- zealot or otherwise -- until the end of time (which of course may not be that far off in this scenario). Just as al Qaeda took new strength when given a base of operations in Iraq, so too will it and Hezobollah -- Iranian-grown terrorists, let us remember -- grow after a U.S. attack on Iran.

Ahmadinejad's vow to wipe Israel off the face of the earth would come one step closer to reality with a US attack. So why are we at this point?

Because two very stubborn religious zealots are playing a game of nuclear chicken to insure their place in history. Hey, that makes as much sense as anything else that George Bush has done in the White House.

The stark, raving lunacy of this exercise could even be a factor in the decision by a growing number of generals to call for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Those who planned wars see the utter foolishness of the machinations of those who have not fought them -- and have decided the future of the United States hangs in the balance if this out-of-control group stays in charge.

Regime change -- on both sides -- sounds like a wise move. There are peaceful ways to accomplish that, through diplomacy and elections. And this scenario offers another reason to take the talk of impeachment seriously.

Get him before he kills us all.

You sure he's not a Democrat?

George Bush's mule-like stubbornness in refusing to concede that maybe, possibly someone else might have a correct and valid opinion is once again on display with his last-man standing defense of Donald Rumsfeld.

And his timing might have been better, given the evidence emerging that our know-it-all defense secretary may have indeed known about the interrogations taking placed at Guantanamo Bay that have been described as somewhat more than abuse but less than torture (now there's a standard to be proud of).

The proliferation of generals speaking out against Rumsfeld is astounding. The military is the last bastion of reverence to chain of command, to following orders at all costs. It is especially true in terms of the military pledging obedience to the civilian commanders to avoid the possibility of being accused of staging a coup. (Forget the fact the Bushies and their ilk pulled off a bloodless coup in 2000).

And while it gets tiresome to apply the word hypocritical to these incompetents, it's hard to ignore the fact that a commander-in-chief who went AWOL from the National Guard and a vice president who had better things to do than serve are now lecturing the generals.

Bananas anyone?

Equality?

Why should anyone be surprised that an oil company executive $144,573 a DAY during the same year that gasoline prices rolled over the $3 a gallon mark thanks to the impact of the war launched by a couple of former oil bidness guys named Bush and Cheney.

Or that the very same Richard B. Cheney, R-Halliburton, should be eligible for a $1.9 million tax refund, in part for exercising Halliburton stock options.

Gonna funnel that refund back to the war effort, Deadeye? I thought not.

Health care for some

Catching up, somewhat belatedly, on the fine campaign commercial staged by Mitt Romney to take credit for health care legislation that he was attempting to gut at the very same time.

Romney's Faneuil Hall stagecraft was totally reminiscent of the scene almost 18 years ago when a presidential hopeful tried to ride the work of the Legislature into the White House. Then, as now, the political press corps that only looks at broad brush strokes and not the fine line details, proclaimed the Mittser an A-tier candidate because of the law that will require both employers and individuals to purchase health insurance.

One small problem: Romney, playing to the right wing base, vetoed the provision that would require businesses that don't provide coverage to pay a $295 per person assessment to enable the state to do so.

It was presidential all right -- just like Texas Gov. George Bush vetoing a patient's bill of rights only to take credit later in the 2000 campaign.

So was the political grandstanding of the scene -- bring Kennedy, DiMasi and Travaglini into his political commercial. The only thing missing was the Mission Accomplished banner.

And of course, the ultimate cheap shot here -- Romney has been AWOL from leadership in Massachusetts just like... oh never mind.

But the hard work lies ahead. There are serious issues with the law's ability to extend coverage to the promised groups: issues of affordability of policies (both by individuals and the commonwealth) and what would be included in this policies; issues of making sure this time around that the business community does not work to sink the law they way it did in the 1980s.

The Massachusetts law is definitely a worthwhile experiment. It is far from certain of success. Already its is being swallowed up in the vast maw of presidential politics, with pundits on the left and right oversimplifying its provisions to suit their own needs. It deserves a chance to work without being swallowed up in rhetoric.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wow, more lies

So it appears W., Deadeye Dick and Scooter knew they were lying when they outed Valerie Plame over her husband's op-ed that made that fact clear to the world.

The latest document dump from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald paints an extremely unflattering picture of our leaders' veracity. Why even George Tenet knew that Iraq did not buy yellowcake from Niger when the administration tried to peddle that trash to the world. And when Joe Wilson called them on it, these brave patriots responded by declassifying documents to discredit him and expose his wife's covert job.

I guess that's just par for the course for chickenhawks like W and Cheney.

That darned media

Apparently that media negativity about Iraq has gotten to our embassy and military affairs staff in Baghdad.

How else can you explain this report, that flies in the face of Deadeye Dick's assessment that "... the statements we've made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality," blaming America's disenchantment with ..."the fact that there's a constant sort of perception, if you will, that's created because what's newsworthy is the car bomb in Baghdad."

Looks like there's no TV for our embassy staff any more.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Had enough yet?

I don't even know where to start: Scott McClellan's pathetic flip-flopping on when George Bush declassified a National Intelligence Estimate and for what purpose? The internecine warfare that uses immigration as a pawn for destructive pandering to the hard right base? Or the mindless name-calling of soon-to-be convicted felon Tom Delay and his erstwhile "colleagues?"

I know -- I'll look at the shameless syncophony of the right wing blogosphere, ignoring facts and their own history in protecting Bush for the same sort of "crimes" they trumped up against Bill Clinton. Nah, too easy. Others have been there already.

I got it -- I'll retreat to celebrity trash (accent on trash). (Are you surprised it is the Rupert Murdoch-Fox News-Bill O'Reilly-New York Post orbit?)

The overreach of the ayatollahs of the right -- polluting politics, journalism and plain old civic discourse has reached intolerable levels. Al Franken was correct in talking about the lying liars, whether they go by the name of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, McClellan, Cheney or Bush.

Yes, there are Democrats who should be left in a curbside can on pickup day, and those who probably should make reservations. But none of this comes close to matching the misdeeds of Abramoff, DeLay and his acolytes or Rummy, Deadeye Dick, Scooter or W.

What's significant is not that Bush's ratings have fallen into the 30s. It's the fact that 30-something percent of the American public is either too corrupt or too stupid to appreciate how far we have fallen since 9-11, when the world sympathized and respected America.

What's the solution? Beats me. So I suppose I'll just get away from it all by taking in a baseball game. No controversy there. No politics. Right?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Arrogant hypocrisy

Should anyone really doubt that W. authorized Scooter to slime Joe Wilson -- and out Valerie Plame?

I wish I could say the release of Scooter Libby's grand jury testimony comes as a shock. While it's not a smoking gun, Scooter told a federal grand jury that W authorized him to disclose classified intelligence information about Iraq as a way of rebutting criticism from the agent's husband.

There is no direct allegation that Bush said that Libby should reveal that Plame was an undercover CIA agent. Even W is too smart for that.

But the testimony -- given under oath -- shows that Bush once again considered himself above the law. In a 2003 executive order he authorized himself to declassify and disclose secret information. Deadeye Dick, Scooter's erstwhile boss, claims the same right.

The reasons are not specified The high-minded could claim that it would allow them to reveal, for example, the sins of Saddam -- as Colin Powell purported to do before the United Nations.

But let's be serious. In this administration, the wielding of that sort of power falls into the category of "because I can." Sliming an opponent would be exactly the sort of reason the Bushies would consider valid.

Bush apologists will come up with a thousand and one contortions to justify how this was a vital act to save the Republic from the threat of the Sunni Menace. But let's be very clear.

How would they react if the Clinton administration had done something similar? The impeachment resolution would have already been filed.

A good start

Massachusetts lawmakers deserve credit for finally putting together a plan to try and close the health insurance gap. The real test is about to come though.

The national headlines are justified for the long, hard slog to try to do the right thing. (Even if Mitt Romney now gets to try and take credit for something for which he had minimal responsibility in the end).

But as we are already learning, the bill has understandable compromises that guarantee that it will be difficult to implement.

And no one should ever forget we've been through this already. A governor looking to burnish a reputation as he set out on the national campaign trail held an elaborate signing ceremony/celebration for a health care law that was hammered out by the Legislature. Bold promises were made about universal coverage.

The time was 1988. The governor was Michael Dukakis. He was joined by legislative leaders in saying the landmark law was affordable.

Within three years he was gone. Shortly after that, so was the law, done in by a newly elected governor, mounting expenses and a promise to cut taxes.

Will history repeat itself? Stay tuned.

Delayed reaction

How could I possibly not find the time to gloat?

Smarmy and dishonest to the end, Tommy the Termite did what every failed pol does when confronted with reality -- blamed someone else. Sure Tommy, it was my fault that crimes took place in your office under nose (ever-growing I might add with this whopper). And shame on us for not seeing what a wonderful meeting you took for five minutes during a week-long, all expense-paid golf trip paid for by a convicted felon.

In the end, this won't be about Ronnie Earle either. Face it Tommy Boy, you are a raging hypocrite who professes to be a god-fearing compassionate man but who, in reality, is a two-bit thief who ripped off taxpayers.

Enjoy the time I'm sure you will be spending at the public's expense. Hope it's not in a Club Fed facility but someplace you can mingle with the pests you used to kill for a living.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The noose tightens

Tom DeLay may soon not be wearing that same grin he brought to his mug shot. The noose is tightening around his neck.

The latest drip in the water torture test for the former House Majority Leader is a guilty plea from yet another person who knows where Termite Tommy buried the proverbial bodies.

But even more intriguing is the moral values of this self-proclaimed moral values crowd. The fall of the House of DeLay may very well be linked to the wrath of a jilted fiancee, a saga first reported By the Raw Story and Wonkette but brought to a broader audience yesterday by the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Hypocrites are started to be ashamed of these people because they give hypocrisy a REALLY bad name.

The Know Nothing Party

The vicious screeds emanating from the right about Jill Carroll's first interview upon her release are a fitting reminder about the total lack of compassion from these moral arbiters of right and wrong.

Carroll, still wearing an abaya and other Muslim dress -- and speaking from the office of a Sunni political party -- declared he captors treated her well and never threatened to harm her. That's all the moral-less minority needed, jumping on her as another Patty Hearst, as someone who identifies with and defends her captors.

Ignoring one obviously glaring problem -- Carroll committed no crimes in captivity unlike Hearst -- would the reaction on the right be the same if the person released was an evangelical in Iraq to spread the word of Christianity? Or is the right so blind as to see all reporters as one evil profession.

Howie Kurtz, often accused by some as a tool of the right, rises justifiably to her defense -- and her erstwhile employer, The Christian Science Monitor, reported the tape, a condition of her release, was made with machine guns trained on her.

There was a reason a movement based on intolerance (ironically, toward Catholics and all to appropriately anti-immigrant) was called The Know Nothing Party. Alas, they are back. But hopefully, the will have the same fate as their predecessor.