Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Daily Ponderance

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) thinks the NFL is treatingTerrell Owens unfairly and that the league's actions may constitute restraint of trade. Seems to me that there are several million people in this nation who need the U.S. government to speak out on their behalf, and Terrell Owens is NOT one of them. But, seeing as how Specter is a Republican and Owens is a millionaire, it all makes perfect sense... the GOP is always looking out for the best interests of millionaires while turning their backs on everyone else.

Is it just me, or should Specter be concentrating on more important things... like the confirmation hearing of 'Sc'Alito and the falling-apart of his own party?


Narrowmindedness is alive, but not so well...

If high school is a place for learning some of life’s lessons that will stick with you for years and years, then the students of Tennessee’s Oak Ridge High School are getting a civics lesson in spades.

School administrators last week seized copies of the student newspaper….all 1,800 copies. The issue, two articles, one of which talked about the success rates for various birth control methods to avoid teen pregnancy. The second article was about student tattoos and body piercings.

The school has said that they will reprint the newspaper minus the story on birth control and with an edited tattoo story. At a Monday night meeting of the school board, the large attendance included students who wore tape with the word “censored” across their mouths, as well as shirts printed with the statement “Ignorance isn’t bliss.”

The article on birth control said that contraceptives were available to students from doctors and the local health department. School Superintendent, Tom Bailey, said that the article would need to edited so that it was acceptable for the entire student population. The author, Krystal Meyers, stated that her article was meant to inform students of their right to obtain birth control without parental permission. She further stated that “A lot of kids don’t know that it is their right.”

One parent, Jackie Moreno, stated that parents should be the ones to give their children information about sex. Another parent, Joseph Oswald, said that the “article talks about subverting parental authority”.

(News flash for Ms. Moreno: GET TO IT. If parents were doing their job then articles like the one in question would not be needed… And as for Mr. Oswald, hate to tell you but you‘re kids are going to do the ‘things that kids do‘ and it has nothing to do with subverting authority, and if you are referring to the fact that your kids can get birth control without needing your permission, I think you need to take that up with the state government, so zip it…)

Many of the students as well as some parents are obviously upset with the school’s action and are talking with attorneys about next steps. Being that a school board is an elected body and therefore a part of the local government, the action of seizure raises some very touchy issues. David Stuart, a local attorney who met with a group of students on Monday evening said, “It’s not a small thing for a government to confiscate a newspaper.” The ACLU and the Student Press Law Center are also talking with students concerning legal representation.

The article on birth control said that contraceptives were available to students from doctors and the local health department. School Superintendent, Tom Bailey, said that the article would need to edited so that it was acceptable for the entire student population. He also said that many of the students are only 14 and that language in the article was inappropriate. Ms. Meyers responded that she used medical terminology in her article to keep it informative and professional.

The schools principle, Becky Ervin, also advised that she wanted the tattoo story changed because four of the students pictured in the article are underage for tattoos or body piercings. One of the students pictured had not told her parents about having gotten a tattoo.

Ok, give me a break. A state where you can get contraceptives at age 14 but you cannot get a tattoo? I would rather have my son go and pick up some contraceptives after getting a tattoo (both of which come packaged and sterilized) then have him sneak behind my back and get a tattoo after telling me that his girlfriend is pregnant because he could not obtain any contraception.

But I digress, there are many issues here, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and right to privacy to name a few. Not to mention that Oak Ridge Tennessee, just like a lot of other towns, is evidently full of narrow minded people who still believe that if you do not talk to their kids about sex and preventing pregnancy that kids will never think of sex on their own.


According to studies, approximately 25% of 15 year olds have had sexual intercourse, and by age 17 more than 50% have had intercourse, and I am sure that most of those teens parents didn’t talk to them about sex. Also of note is that at these same ages the number of teens who have had oral sex is even higher than those who have had intercourse.

Wake up folks, as the students of Oak Ridge High School stated, “Ignorance isn’t bliss”, and message to the school board: Big mistake guys and gals, censorship is a serious issue with legal repercussions even when it involves a student newspaper. Next time think before you act, then think again....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Guest Post about Pensions & Unions

We at TBWA are proud to present our first-ever guest poster. Please give a BWA welcome to Chris, a final-year law student in Chicago.

She’s liberal, she’s pro-union, and she’s gonna be a lawyer… you can already hear conservatives quaking in their tasseled-shoes can't ya?

Read her post, comment on her post, and vote in our poll… it’s a moral imperative.

And now… here’s the post:

Someday the pension you save may be your own.

Bush and his cronies may view with suspicion, or outright contempt: Democrats, liberals of all colors, Europe, women, minorities, the poor, the middle-class, lawyers, judges, grammarians, the United States Congress, and the parts of the Constitution that aren't the Second Amendment… but what do they hate most of all?


Unionized workers are a close second. So what are the Republicans in Congress going to do about it?

Crush them slowly (or quickly if no one pays attention)

You ask yourself, what have these insidious unions done now? They negotiated fair pension deals for decades. (The nerve)

Well, the Republicans aren't going to stand for this sort of chicanery. Read on:

The Senate passed a new pension bill (S. 1783) on Thursday, November 16.

The House is scheduled to take up its pension bill (H.R. 2830) on December 7th or 8th.

If the House passes its bill, there will then have to be a House-Senate conference to iron out differences between the two pension bills. The House pension bill (H.R. 2830) has two major problems:

It would freeze pension credits and benefits in many pension plans negotiated by unions.
Second, it would outlaw plant shutdown pension benefits that have been negotiated by unions.

If pension credits were frozen, this would mean that nobody could earn any more credited service, no matter how much longer they worked.

For example, a worker with 15, 20 or 29 years of service would be frozen at those levels. They would not earn any more pension credits for future years of work, it would also mean their pensions would not grow as they continue to work. It also indicates they might never become eligible for certain types of pension benefits; I.E. they would never qualify for a 30-and-out pension.

If pension benefits are frozen, this would mean that benefit levels could never be improved. Thus, the benefit levels for active workers could never be adjusted to keep pace with the growth in wages. And benefit levels for retirees could never be adjusted to reflect inflation.

The sponsors of the House pension bill claim these limits on pension credits and benefits only apply to poorly funded pension plans. Is this true?


Because of a phony “credit balance” subtraction requirement, the House pension bill would also limit pension credits and benefits in plans that are well funded, including the GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler pension plans…

Okay, okay. I'll stop there. The main point is this: they want to freeze the pension plans. Under ERISA (the Federal law that governs pension plans like this) ceasing a pension plan will be much easier if it's frozen for a time. Why should you care if you work/don't work for an auto company, or you're not a member of a union? Why care if you don't have a pension plan at all?
First off, because you have a heart and you don't want to see people who've been working hard, dangerous, demanding jobs thrown to the wolves. Not that altruistic? How about the economic repercussions in your community of hundreds of thousands of people who suddenly find themselves with inadequate income and health insurance?

The proponents will tell you this is just a "technical rule" designed to improve the system.

(I'm only a student, but I can tell you this: The bulk of the law is "technical rules". Corporate tax rates go down? That's just a "technical rule" change that involves changing two numbers in a huge law. Letting the FBI access your computer files? Change the "probable cause" to "discretion" and it's done. Constitutional protections like the 4th Amendment are often referred to as "technicalities" when they prevent people from being railroaded.)

Tell your Congressman that you would prefer they not "fix" the problem of workers having fair pensions that they bargained for in good faith, then worked to earn.

Well, if these bills pass, it'll be a good thing the White House hasn't done something crazy like try to privatize Social Sec—….oh, wait...

Well, it's at least a good thing they've made sure everyone has good health ins—…. Hmm...

Okay, okay…at least they haven't cut back on aid to senior cit—…

Wait, I've got it. At least the next generation will be in good shape because of good school fund—… crud

- written by Chris

Monday, November 28, 2005

Poll Position

It’s Monday, so that must mean it’s time for a new poll… and also time to let loose of last week’s results…

This past week’s question was – “Do you believe that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will ask for indictments against other members of the Bush Administration?

  • 40% said that you hope there are more indictments and would hate to think that Libby was the only one (come on, we all know you can’t stop at one)
  • 32% of you think Scooter was the first of many more (Scooter needs a cell-mate doesn’t he?)
  • 16% of respondents don’t give a rat’s behind (good to see you’re taking an interest in politics)
  • 8% thinks there will be no more indictments (Why do you have to burst our bubble like that?)
  • 4% of you answered with a question of ‘what indictment?’ (Seriously, put the X-Box controller down and open a newspaper…)

It’s been a few weeks since the new Grand Jury was impaneled, and nothing has been leaked, much less announced… so it is entirely possible that the indictments are done and now Fitz is just wasting time like Kenneth Starr did. Or, Mr. Fitzgerald could be waiting for a more opportune time to make the announcement… but everything said here is just conjecture because, as I’ve said on this site many, many times…

… only time will tell.

Be sure to check out and vote in this week’s poll up top. This week, the question is “What do you think of Michael Brown’s announcement that he is starting-up a disaster-preparedness consulting firm?"

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Weekly Rewind

Well it's the end of the week and you all know what that means, right? Yep, it's time for a look back at the happenings of the past week, it's a little thing we like to call 'The Weekly Rewind'.

(It's a holiday weekend and since I am recovering from a couple of days of sleep inducing turkey meals this may be a little more subdued than usual...)

HECKLE: to former FEMA chief Michael Brown. Announced he is starting his own disaster preparedness consulting firm. Why? According to him, officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster so they can answer questions and avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is... insert your own smart-ass comment here.

APPLAUD: to Asian doors. Anything that can make the leader of the free world look like a schmuck, has to be applauded doesn't it?

HECKLE: to “President” Bush. As always, on general principles alone.

APPLAUD: to a nice guy. Pat (Mr. Miyagi) Morita who gave us the phrase “Wax on, Wax off” who died this week at the age of 73.

HECKLE: to Pat Robertson. For being a constant putz. Can someone tell this guy to just shut-up already?

HECKLE: to FEMA. After previously announcing that they would be ending the hotel housing program for hurricane victims at the beginning of December, the agency, under much public outcry has extended the deadline until January 7th. So why not an Applaud for the extension? Because while the extension is a temporary reprieve for thousands of families, the agency is still not addressing the housing needs of those who will be without a place to live after January 7th.

HECKLE: to new taxes. Hybrid vehicles not only save their owners money with increased gas mileage, but are costing states money as less fuel purchased equals less fuel taxes being collected. As a result many states are looking at adopting ‘road use’ taxes, or tolls, as a way to make up the difference. One way of tracking miles is equipping vehicles with a GPS type of device that would then report not only distances traveled but also times of travel. Does anyone else think big brother?

HECKLE: to Tom DeLay. In court earlier this week defense attorneys asked for charges against Delay to be dropped on technicalities. They also asked for a change of venue as they claim they cannot get a fair trial in the liberal-leaning city of Austin. (You know Tom, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear….)

APPLAUD: to prudent thought. Senior Judge Pat Priest advised attorneys in the DeLay case that he would need at least two weeks to seriously consider the motions by both sides before rendering a decision on dropping charges or changing venue.

HECKLE: to U.S. Retailers. After all the hoopla surrounding ‘Black Friday’ including deeper discounts and earlier openings than previous years, sales came in 0.9 lower than last year. Next year give us all a break, let your employees sleep in, people will still be stupid enough to line up at 9 a.m. (Except me, I didn’t shop this year on Black Friday and I don’t plan to start next year either…)

HECKLE: to jumping on the bandwagon. Under political pressure to change the administrations stand on Iraq, the President, in his weekly radio address paid tribute to the more tan 2,100 U.S. Troops who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Note to the President- Thanks for joining the rest of us.

HECKLE: to Senator Joseph Lieberman for stating the obvious. On his fourth trip to Iraq, the senator commented that failure in Iraq would be “catastrophic” for the U.S. and the entire Middle East, and that the U.S. should not immediately withdraw from Iraq.

APPLAUD: to Senator Barack Obama. The junior Senator from Illinois this week called on the President to admit mistakes in the plan to go to war in Iraq. The Senator stated that while U.S. troops in Iraq should be reduced, the troops are necessary and would remain “part of a solution” in the war torn country for the near future.

HECKLE: to Tom DeLay part 2. A continuing investigation of the dealings of Jack Abramoff by the Justice Department has turned up the names of at least half a dozen members of Congress. More specifically the wives and aides of some of these lawmakers. Whose name is among the half-dozen….yep, our old friend Tom DeLay. When it rains it pours…..

APPLAUD/HECKLE: to the Congress. APPLAUD: In it’s massive budget cutting bill, the House has included a major restructuring of the nation’s welfare system. It would require those receiving assistance to increase the number of hours worked, hours receiving training and hours performing community service for the poor. Let’s face it, you shouldn’t get something for nothing. However (here is where the HECKLE comes in) these same changes do not increase assistance with child care. If you are going to require people to put in more hours away from the home where are they going to find the money to pay for more child care?

HECKLE: to putting both feet in your mouth. Freshman Representative Jean Schmidt (R-Oh) tossed the word ’Coward’ at Congressman John P. Murtha (D-Pa) for previously suggesting that the U.S. should immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq. Oh yeah, she used this word while on the House floor. In her defense she stated that she was passing on the words of a conversation she had with Colonel Danny Bubp, who is himself a GOP state legislator. (Col. Bubp stated that he had said no such thing.) Within minutes of her statement she chose to have her comments stricken from the official record. Maybe next time she wants to say something stupid she will think about it and chose not to say anything.

Ok, as if it was a total surprise, once again we notice more heckles than applauds. Remember, you are still living in George W. Bush's America.

Be good, stay informed.....Later.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Directions: Open mouth, insert foot

What makes someone say something?

Is it a need to be noticed?

Is it a need to get something off their chest because they think it is for the greater good?

Or is it simply to gain points with a few shallow-minded constituents?

For those of you who chose the latter, you’re right.

Of whom am I speaking? Why, Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt of course…

You know who she is, right? She’s the one who uttered… no wait, change that, the one who shouted the word ‘coward’ towards a war veteran, a highly-decorated war veteran at that, last week.

Did I mention she was on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time?


She tossed the word “coward” at Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). BTW, Murtha suggested in a speech last week that the U.S. should immediately withdraw its troops from Iraq. Murtha, it should be known, is a 31-year House veteran and longtime military hawk. He’s also a retired Marine who valiantly fought in Vietnam and Korea.

Her words from that day: “A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

(Bubp is a GOP state legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer who campaigned for Schmidt in the August special election)

After the declaration that Murtha was a coward, the House chamber exploded into a chorus of boos and catcalls from Democrats and, while witness accounts vary on this, some Republicans. Within minutes of her declaration, Schmidt chose to have her words stricken from the official record and then sent an apology to Murtha.

Last Saturday (the start of a 2-week recess for Congress) she went home to her district where she discovered that tensions were still high and the calm water she had encountered when she left for D.C. had begun churning, with some supporters skulking away as she rushes to explain what she actually meant (I don’t know about you, but I think it is pretty hard to redefine the word ‘coward’… but that’s just me)

News and media outlets were not shying away from ridiculing her as “Saturday Night Live” satirized her (isn’t that what millions of Americans are getting ready to do to turkeys tomorrow?)

The Cincinnati Enquirer, (which, it should be mentioned, endorsed her congressional bid earlier this year) printed that she was “way out of line.” Add to that the fact the “friend” she had claimed to be quoting on the House floor last week declared that he had said no such thing. (Wait a minute… a Republican lied about something… about a conversation? Well, I am shocked… shocked to find gambling in this establishment. Shocked and appalled)

It should also be noted however that Schmidt recalls the Friday phone conversation a tad differently. “I wrote down what he was saying. He did ask me to send a message to Congress, and he also said send a message to ‘that congressman.’ He did not know that congressman's name, but I did. Neither one of us knew he was a Marine.”

Bubp released his own statement that stated: “The comments and concerns I shared with Congresswoman Schmidt were never meant as a personal reference to Mr. Murtha. We never discussed anyone by name and there was no intent to ever disparage the congressman or his distinguished record of service for our nation.”

Seemingly, Schmidt also does not understand what all the fuss is about and even sees herself as a victim, not a villain. (Come on… a Republican refusing to admit they were wrong and also refusing to be held accountable… I don’t believe it… do you?) In a statement released to the press, Schmidt remarked “I am amazed at what a national story this has become. I have been attacked very personally, continuously since Friday evening.”

Schmidt said she had not noticed the numerous references to Murtha's military background in the newspaper, radio and TV accounts of his troop-withdrawal proposal, made Thursday, saying that they are kept pretty busy in Congress. (That’s understandable, right? I mean no one wants their U.S. Representative to be aware of current events, do they? That’s something I constantly press on; get the facts before you speak)

The question then is this; if she had read some of the information that was flying through the cosmos about Murtha, would she still have spouted off? Well, when a reporter asked if she would change anything from her speech if she could, she replied: “I wouldn't have used Congressman Murtha's name.” (Hard to figure out if she learned anything from this little snag, isn’t it?)

Her congressional opponents had labeled her “Mean Jean” for the acidic tongue she possesses and brandished in the August campaign. Though now she is probably hoping that the din from this fracas will have faded by next month when Congress reconvenes.

I certainly hope it doesn’t… it makes for some good theater.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

We at TBWA wish everyone (yes, even Conservatives), a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. See you on Friday...

Kemp & Scott

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dr. StrangeBush

In the ever-growing Pandora’s box of examples of just how moronic and shortsighted our current President and his crony-led administration is; it was revealed the other day that the Bush administration wanted to bomb the headquarters of Arab-language television channel al-Jazeera, which the Bush administration has frequently accused of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments. (You think Judith Miller at the NY Times is nervous about that concept... I would be)

The headquarters are in Qatar.

Qatar is a U.S. ally.

Nice… I mean, with friends like these, who needs enemas…I mean enemies. (Sorry, I was thinking about the high colonic that a good majority of the world’s population wants to give President Bush)

(Ok, hold on, before everyone starts the name calling, which if we deserve at times we gladly accept, let's be clear that while we know that al-Jazeera is used as a conduit for the garbage that spews from Osama and his freakish minions, it is not the purpose of the station, it is a media enterprise. While we wouldn't mind if they would 'shut-up' at many times, overall this comes down to a freedom of the media issue and once you start to censor the media ('Even one from another country' interjects Kemp) out... Also don't overlook that fact again that the headquarters is in the middle of a country that is an ally of the U.S. and has played a huge part in all U.S. miltary operations in the Gulf region.... but I digress, sorry for the interuption folks, Scott)

It turns out that a British civil servant (those British… always so civil…) is being charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo to The Daily Mirror, the memo is being described as a transcript of a conversation between the two leaders from a White House summit on April 16, 2004 (oh to be a fly on the wall for that conversation) In the conversation, the "President" revelaed the plan for 'military action' against the network. The memo even (seems to) suggest that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to dissuade President Bush from implementing a plan to not only bomb the Qatar headquarters, but also other bureaus of the channel.

Granted, some inside the office of the Prime Minister are being quoted as saying that the alleged threat was “humorous…” But, the newspaper (which is sort of a cross between the New York Times and The National Enquirer - ewwwwww) quoted another source though as saying that “Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan (who I still think is slowly losing what’s left of his mind) sent an email to the Associated Press stating “We (the White House) are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response.” Blair's office declined comment as well, stating that they never discuss documents that may have been leaked. (Uh, sure they don't...)

What is Al-Jazeera’s reaction to this? Well, they said in a statement that they are investigating the report. (What that exactly means I am not sure… but there ya go… they’re investigating it…)

What the network did say was that if the reports are found to be true, it would “cast serious doubts” on the Bush administration and their explanations of earlier incidents involving al-Jazeera and the U.S. military.

This is in reference to the fact that, in the last few years, U.S. bombs or missiles have hit offices of al-Jazeera in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In April 2003, an Al-Jazeera journalist was killed when its Baghdad office was struck during a U.S. bombing campaign. A State Department spokesman said the strike was a mistake.

In November 2002, Al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. missile. No one was in the office at the time and U.S. officials maintained that they thought the target was a terrorist site and did not know it was al-Jazeera's office.

So there you go, both times the U.S. military stated that they were not intentionally targeted...

In related news (and by related I mean it contains info on the al-Jazeera network & absolutlety nothing about the subject at hand) the network has announced plans to begin airing an English-language version of its channel sometime in early 2006. The channel hired former U.S. Marine Captain Josh Rushing, who was a coalition spokesman during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He than resigned and became a critic of the war itself and the coverage the war got from the U.S. media.

What will come of this little tidbit? Probably not much as I am sure one of two things will happen. It will be proven that it’s not true, or the Bush Administration will do what it always done when there is danger lurking in the shadows… create another controversy that will make everyone forget about this one…

Monday, November 21, 2005

Poll time, Poll time....

Ok everyone, it’s Monday which means it’s time for a new poll question. Since no one has submitted a question it’s once again our choice, and we are asking your thoughts on the continuing grand jury investigation surrounding PlameGate.

As for last weeks poll, we asked if you thought that the President would have enough time to snap out of his run of bad luck/setbacks before the end of his term of office (which at the time of this writing is 1,155 days, 9 hours and 25 minutes….)

The responses were:

  • 54%- I hope not, I’m hungry for some ‘lame duck’
  • 32%- No. Two words: Richard Nixon
  • 11%- Yes. Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton came back
  • 3%- What back luck

Ok, overall 86% of you are of the opinion that Bush will essentially be ineffective for the remainder of his time in office. (Assuming that he has been effective up to this point, which is another debatable topic.)

There are 11% who hold out hope that Bush has the charisma and ability of Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton. Ok those of you who are thinking that need to seriously take another look at the 3 former presidents and then look at our current president and once again tell me that there is any comparison…..nuff said.

As for the remaining 3% of you who are saying’ What bad luck?’, let’s just say Kemp and I are seriously worried about you. Do your families know that you are running around loose?

Also, interestingly enough 1/3 of you feel that Bush will be remembered in the same breath as Richard Nixon. Let’s see, Nixon was known as ‘Tricky Dick’, and now we have ‘Clueless George’.

That’s it….I am calling author credit on the new, official, nationally recognized, universal nickname for this president …. ‘Clueless George’. Spread the word, tell your friends, hang banners from highway overpasses and tall buildings (no I will not post bail if you get caught)..

We just had off year elections a few weeks back where the republicans had some seriously week results, we have republican members of congress now calling on the ‘President’ to come up with a plan for withdrawing from Iraq, and we have the continuing investigation into the events surrounding PlameGate. Things do not look good for the remainder of Bush’s term in office. Nor do they look any better for a ‘positive’ legacy of his time in office. I wonder if ‘Lame Duck’ comes with orange sauce?

Don’t forget to participate in this week’s poll, believe it or not we do listen…

Be good, stay informed…..later

The Week Ahead

On Fridays we at TBWA have ‘The Weekly Rewind.’ So it only makes sense that on Monday’s we have… ‘The Weekly Forward.’

(That sounds incredibly lame doesn’t it? ‘Forward Thinking?’ Nah.

What’s Ahead? I don’t think so…

‘Whacking Day?’ No, that sounds sort of dirty doesn’t it?

I got it: ‘The Week Ahead’— brilliant!)

Here’s ‘The Week Ahead’, a few tasty tidbits that we should keep an eye on during this (hopefully) short workweek:

  • Will “President” Bush be able to keep tempers/opinions over Iraq at bay for the next week? Talk from both parties seems to be taking a toll on his mental well being… if there was such a thing.
  • Will Bob “trying-to-get-some-of-my-past-glory-back-by-getting-my-name-in-the-news-now” Woodward be employed by the Washington Post by week’s end? Who knows, but all bets are off.
  • Will the questions about the U.S.’s suspected torturing get softer or louder?
  • Not to pull a Frist (meaning not to whine and pout) but will the ‘stunt’ by House Republicans to vote on immediate Iraqi withdrawal come back to bite them on the ass?
  • How will history remember President Bush’s Asian trip?
  • Is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi really dead?
  • What lies in wait for the Samuel “don’t-call-me-Scalito” Alito nomination? I smell a filibuster
  • With an article about him in the Chicago Tribune (and picked up by the L.A. Times), will Illinois’ Junior Senator Barack Obama’s stock rise with each passing week? Seems like it…but only time will tell...

There ya go, a few small things to keep an eye on as we start this holiday-shortened week.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Weekly Rewind

Well, well, well… It’s Friday, another end of another week, and we all know what that means don’t we? Yep, another exciting, stupendous, thought-provoking edition of BWA’s Weekly Rewind is due.

Will there be more applauds or more heckles this week? Only one way to find out isn’t there?

So, without further ado… awayyyyyy weeeeee gooooooo….

APPLAUD: to former President Bill “Bubba” Clinton for stating, in a speech to Arab students in the U.A.E., that the war in Iraq was a ‘big mistake.’

HECKLE: to “President” Bush. As always, on general principles alone.

APPLAUD: to Democrat Bill Nelson for having a nice, sizable lead over Kathryn "I gave the 2000 election to Dubya" Harris for the US Senate seat in Florida. Nelson has 55% and Harris has 31%. Is it wrong for an educated, married man in his early 30's to giggle like a school-girl after hearing this news? I hope not, cuz I can’t contain myself.

HECKLE: to White House Press Secretary; Scott “I wish Ari was still here’ McClellan. The man is a mental fur-ball, plain and simple. All Americans are traitors? How much longer until he’s jettisoned, or “resigns”, in the “Great GOP Comeback Attempt of 2005?”

APPLAUD: to the Pentagon’s inspector general who is going to probe (“You using the whole fist there Doc?”) U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas Feith, who was a chief architect of the Iraq war. Why? They are going to review if he gave unconfirmed intelligence to the White House about Iraq. “Turn and cough Mr. Feith.”

HECKLE: to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for his audio taped threat to cut off the head of Jordan’s King Abdullah II. That doesn’t seem particularly smart to me…

APPLAUD: to the Senate Banking Committee who, this past Wednesday, approved the nomination of Ben S. Bernanke to be chairman of the Federal Reserve. One of the few real, non-crony choices in Bush’s administration, it’s good to see him get approved quickly. Too bad the news got overshadowed by other acts of stupidity and banality by both parties this past week.

HECKLE: to Karl Rove. For being the egotistical, megalomaniac that he is. Judging by what has transpired this past week, (Dick and Bush calling out their critics for example), it seems as though he is charge of the White House again.

APPLAUD: to the FCC for agreeing that blogs (or web-logs for you non-in-the-know types) are just as much "press" as everyone else. Good news indeed.

HECKLE: for being a bad loser. Doug Forrester, the Republican candidate on the losing end in the race for New Jersey governor, explained to the Newark Star Ledger that he blames the “President” for his losing his bid for office. A heckle for the pouting, but a retro-applaud for him losing in the first place.

APPLAUD: to push-backs as “President” Bush saw a few of his ‘pet’ second-term projects get severed this past week, ANWR and the extension of deep tax cuts on capital gains & dividends, among them.

HECKLE: to former Illinois Governor George Ryan for whining for the cameras. When asked about former U.S. Senator Phill Gramm (R-TX) and his testimony, Ryan sniffed that maybe investigators should probe what role, if any, Gramm and his wife played in the Enron collapse. (For a better idea of what this is all about, check out two prior posts I wrote early on in this blog’s life, Part 1 and Part 2)

HECKLE: to the former Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Kenneth Tomlinson, who e-mailed White House strategist Karl Rove and bragged about a push for conservative programming on U.S. public television. What a putz. However;

APPLAUD: for Tomlinson resigning and for the Inspector General of CPB probing (again, there’s that word) Tomlinson and his incredibly short-sighted views.

HECKLE: to SCOTUS nominee Samuel “Don’t call me ScAlito” Alito. For no other reason than to make sure we remember his name.

APPLAUD: to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz (I-FL) for easily wining a second term. The election was non-partisan and pushed back two weeks due to Hurricane Wilma.

HECKLE: to The National Legal and Policy Center for filing a complaint against Sean "Diddy" Combs, saying the hip-hop mogul violated election law in his 2004 "Vote or Die" campaign by promoting Democrat John Kerry and opposing President Bush. Uh, sure…whatever you say. I seem to recall Combs saying that Kerry wasn’t smart enough to be President… how that’s a promotion of Kerry is beyond my scope.

(note to self- Supporting one candidate and opposing another is evidently a 'bad' thing....must keep that in mind.....yeah right!.....Sorry to interrupt folks, Scott)

APPLAUD: to the State Department for allowing the Red Cross to have access to its Guantanamo Bay site. But…

HECKLE: for not allowing U.N. Human Rights experts the right to visit. How can the U.S. state they are against China and Cuba’s human rights violations when we won’t even allow ourselves to be probed? (There's that word again.)

APPLAUD:? HECKLE? You decide. FEMA has announced that it will stop paying for evacuee’s hotels after December 1st. Is this a move to ease the budget? Or just another example of this administration’s incredible lack of common sense.

APPLAUD: for ICANN getting a reprieve. Earlier this week, a U.N. Technology summit was being held in Tunisia (Tatooine?) with the big issue being control over the internet. Many nations had wanted oversight turned over to a U.N. agency (which always run smoothly), Control will stay, for now at least, with ICANN and the U.S. Next year ICANN will be independent of the U.S. Government, which when all is said and done probably is what helped to sway things in favor of keeping the control with ICANN.

HECKLE: to the U.S. Media. Hello??? Reading news items from overseas one can read many articles about the accusations flying around that the U.S. used white phosphorus in Iraq as a weapon. Is anything being mentioned here at home???? Not really. Come on fourth estate, do your duty!!!

APPLAUD: to Fidel Castro for laughing off CIA reports that he has Parkinson’s. The applaud is not so much for the news itself (the man is a tyrant) but for him making the CIA even more of a laughing stock by, literally, laughing at them. I mean, can we trust anything the CIA says right now? Though the self-reference of him being El Cid, draws a HECKLE.

HECKLE: to Fox News’ Bill “Wanna see my microphone” O’Reilly. Because we can. Actually, it’s because we can’t choose just one from his many, and recent, boneheaded comments to heckle him on (blow up San Francisco, his creation of an enemies list – though I so badly want to be included on it –, his sexual exploits, or more correctly his attempts in sexual exploits). So we’ll just go for a trifecta and say… all of them.

Once again we notice more heckles than applauds (what else is new) and as we always say, welcome to George W. Bush's America...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Questions to Ponder

In an effort to provoke thought and discussion, I thought it would be a good idea to throw out some questions to the reading audience tonight. A few questions to ponder on as you drift off to sleep tonight... or tomorrow morning before your first cup of coffee:

  • Has Scott McClellan completely lost his mind? Some people think so, read this excellent post from Daily Kos and judge for yourslef.
  • Should the U.S. listen to Representative John Murtha (D-PA)? The conservative Democrat (huh?) and decorated Vietnam war veteran, who said Thursday, when speaking about the U.S. military, that "It's time for them to come home" from Iraq.
  • What happened to Bob Woodward?
  • Has Cindy Sheehan's 15-minutes passed yet?
  • Can anyone throw a tantrum like former Illinois Governor George Ryan? Read the article and watch the video here.
  • Will relations between the U.S. and China be better or worse after the weekend is over? (I know it was at a Japanese State Dinner, but as long as Dubya doesn't throw-up on anyone, he'll do better than his dad ever did on ANY of his Asian trips)
  • What is the U.S. House and Senate doing with the Patriot Act? What's that? You say you don't know... that's ok, it doesn't sound as though Congress knows what they are doing about it either.
  • Does anyone know that Ben Bernanke's nomination for Fed Chair was approved by the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, thus sending it to the full Senate for a final confirming vote? Sort of gotten buried this week, didn't it?

That's all for tonight; ponder them, question them, learn about them, discuss them.

Come on... you know you would rather talk politics with people than go catch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at midnight... right... right?

Hello... is anyone out there?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Did we dodge a bullet..!...?

Ok folks, quick post.....

For those of you who may not be aware, the way that we all use and view the internet was under fire this week. Oh, and it wasn't in the Senate or the House, it was over in Tunisia.

(If you don't know what Tunisia looks like, picture the deserts of Tatooine, the home planet of Luke Skywalker....guess where that was filmed....yep...Tunisia...)

For the past 4 days a U.N. Technology summit was being held in Tunisia and the big issue for debate was control over the internet. Many nations (including Chile, China, Pakistan to name a few) had wanted oversight turned over to a U.N. agency. (And we all know how well the U.N. manages things...!)

Have no fear, for now anyway, control will remain with ICANN and the United States. Next year ICANN will be independent of the U.S. Government which is probably what in the end helped to sway things in favor of ICANN.

Like I said, we dodged a bullet....for now...


The Day Ahead

Let's keep an eye on some potentially big issues for the day...

Just a few things we should be keeping an eye on as the day progresses.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Has Hell Frozen Over?

Stop the presses!

Stop the blogging!

Stop the insanity! (sorry, couldn’t resist that last one)

A Bush administration official has admitted that they were wrong.

Yes, you read that right; a Bush administration official has admitted that they were wrong.

You are NOT dreaming, a Bush administration official DID admit that they were wrong.

Concentrate, read these words: a Bush administration official has admitted that they were wrong.

Why am I repeating myself?

Because I love the sight of the words; ‘a Bush administration official has admitted that they were wrong.’

(Quick, someone call hell and find out if they have frozen over...)

Turns out that the administration has decided to join the chorus of others who have finally made the realization that the administration did not have everything accurate and in proper order when making the case for the supposed plethora of WMD’s that ‘he-who-can’t-keep-an-attorney-alive-to-save-his-life’ had in Iraq.

But, it should also be pointed our that, while admitting “we were wrong” about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, President Bush's national security adviser straightforwardly rejected all assertions that President Bush and others in the administration manipulated intelligence and misled the American people in any way.

On Sunday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told CNN’s Late Edition (which, oddly enough, is on fairly early in the day) that Bush relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community (cuz that always works) when he determined that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

“Turns out, we were wrong.” Said Hadley. (Now, if that is not a nominee for the Understatement of the Year award, then I don’t know what is…)

Hadley continued though by adding: “But I think the point that needs to be emphasized ... allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong.”

Hadley said that Bush received dissenting views about the accuracy of intelligence and relied on the ‘collective’ judgment of the intelligence community as conveyed by the CIA director (can YOU say ‘blame-shift’?)

The national security adviser continued to criticize those who maintain that Bush manipulated the intelligence and made misleading statements.

Republican lawmakers and other officials who appeared on Sunday news shows repeated Bush's Veterans Day speech in which he defended his decision to invade Iraq in which he stated that Democrats in Congress had the same intelligence about Iraq, and he argued that many now claiming that the information had been manipulated had supported going to war. The president also accused his critics of making false charges and playing politics with the war.

(Unlike him playing politics with Veteran’s Day and ranting about it on a day when only the memories of those that have died protecting our freedom should have been remembered… schmuck)

Democratic Party chairman Howard “Old Yeller” Dean, in a Sunday appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press,” rejected the criticism and said that the manner in which the administration handled the intelligence it received has yet to be determined by a Senate committee.

Further pushing the Democrat’s cause was former Senator/Presidential candidate/Vice-Presidential candidate and possible 2008 Presidential candidate John Edwards who, in a column for The Washington Post, said he was wrong to have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war and called the intelligence on which he made that decision “deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.”

Hadley said issues about the accuracy of U.S. intelligence have not impaired the administration's ability to pursue its policies regarding the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea… and those two are going so well, right?

Asked why people should believe U.S. claims about the nuclear plans of Iran given the failure of intelligence about Iraq, Hadley said there has been international consensus about Iran.

(Now wait a minute, if that is the case, why didn’t the US wait until there was an international consensus about Iraq before we invaded?

Wouldn’t that have lessened the animosity that the U.S. now has from other countries?

Wouldn’t that have lessened the animosity that the American public has for the administration?

Am I missing something here? Or, as my good friend Scott would say, maybe that is just too simple..)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday's Poll Position

It’s Monday, the start of another work week… only 10 days until Thanksgiving...

... and only 41 days until Christmas… feeling rushed yet?

If it’s Monday, you all know what that means…

[waits for response]

That's right, you got it, it’s time for a new poll from your buddies, Kemp and Scott. I am once again opening up the floor for feedback. Any special questions that you, our loyal readers, would like to see us poll on? Let us know and you just might see your question placed on one of the most popular political blog sites around.

Last week we asked the question, “Do you believe the "President's" assertion that "We (the U.S.) do not torture?"

The votes have been tabulated, the kickbacks have been received, and the results are in (and posted below):

  • I don't believe him at all - 59%
  • Who cares! They torture ours; we should torture theirs - 23%
  • I believe him 100%- 10%
  • He's confused again; he thought he was being asked about The Jackson's 1984 song of the same name. – 8%
  • Half believe and half don't believe - 0%
  • Not sure - 0%

Based on the results 59% of you feel that Mr. Bush is not being entirely truthful about the revelation that the U.S. has torture prisons around the globe. 23% feel that turn about is fair play and if they torture our military, then we should be able to torture theirs.

A few of you, 10%, have unconditional and unequivocal belief in our current President. (If you are one of those that does, indeed have unconditional and unequivocal belief in anything the President says, then Scott and I want you to seek some serious psychiatric help)

Even fewer, 8%, thought that the President was confused and was speaking about the Jackson’s song; Torture (extra credit if you have a copy of this song at home… I’m sorry, I meant extra credit taken AWAY if you have a copy of this song at home)

Thanks to all who participated in the poll, we truly and sincerely appreciate the response; and remember, there is a new poll posted periodically pertaining (to) politics (how’s that for alliteration?)

Thank you.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Political Backpedaling: The Weekly Rewind

It’s the weekend, time to look back at the past week and say ‘hey, hi and howdy’ to those trying to do the right thing, and a ‘what the hell are you smoking?’ to those who are just plain stupid. For those of you playing along with the home version this is a spot we like to call ‘Applaud and Heckle’…

And away we go….

HECKLE: to President Bush for forcing his people in the White House to take a class in "ethics." The first 30 minutes are spent learning how to spell the word. To little, to late guys.

APPLAUD: to California voters for NOT following the rest of the herd off the cliff. They came out in droves to defeat all the ballot initiatives that Governor Schwarzenneggar was pushing.

HECKLE: to the same old, same old. FEMA is still fouling things up as it turns out they've only delivered 15 percent of the trailer homes they purchased for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

APPLAUD: to universal loathing. Matching other polls, Fox News (you know them: the 'fair and balanced' people) has new numbers that have President Bush's approval rating at a paltry 36 percent, with only 72% of Republicans and 26% of independents support him. Ouch, that could scar you might want to put a bigger band-aid on that….

HECKLE: to cowardess. Once again the group of ‘thugs’ known as Al Qaeda have decided to reduce their number of followers by having 4 of them blow themselves up, this time at 3 different hotels in Amman, Jordan. Fortunately 1 of the ‘bombers’ survived as her belt of explosives failed to detonate and is being questioned and will be tried. Unfortunately 57 innocent people were killed in the blasts, including many at a wedding reception.

APPLAUD: to standing up for what is right. Jordan’ King Abdullah II made a statement following the bombings and the arrest of the failed bomber. “Obviously, the tragedies that happened in Jordan have happened in many parts of the world, from Asia to Georgia to all Muslim Arab countries to Europe and America. This is a phenomenon that brings us closer together, because we know this is the only way that we will be able to overcome these extremists, is if we are united and one.”

HECKLE: to dishonor. Instead of simply honoring our nations veterans on a day of remembrance, President Bush used Veterans Day Ceremonies to try and once again put a spin on the war in Iraq. Ok, we are there fighting, we all know that we need to win and we support our troops, but stop trying to justify the questionable reasons for sending our sons and daughters there in the first place.

APPLAUD: to hitting the brakes. On Thursday, after moderate Republicans decided they could not get behind it, voting was called off on a bill that would have trimmed $50 billion in federal spending from a range of social programs including Medicaid, Student Loans and Food Stamps.

HECKLE: to failing miserably. The Bush administration has failed to act to resolve the issues surrounding the medical and mental health care needs of our soldiers returning from duty in the Middle East. Retired Marine Corp General Joseph P. Hoar, former U.S. Military Commander in the Middle East stated that he has seen first hand the needs of our men and women serving in the Middle East, and regarding the federal budget in relation to veterans affairs, “President Bush has consistently refused to provide enough money for veteran’s health care.”

APPLAUD: to common sense. (Dare we use that term??) On Wednesday night, House Leaders bowed to pressure from two dozen moderate Republicans and removed from the above noted spending bill a provision that would have allowed oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Two dozen, hmmm we did say that there appeared to be a change in the wind.

HECKLE: to being in denial. In a speech before the Federalist Society (that group is a whole story in itself) Karl (Heir Rove) Rove stated that conservatives ‘are winning the battle of ideas on almost every front”. Ok, Karl evidently does not get out much, or watch the news, read newspapers, or even talk to people.

APPLAUD: to the hope of better things to come. Democrats won the Governorship’s of New Jersey and Virginia this past week, and ALL of the propositions in California that were backed by Governor Schwarzenneggar were soundly defeated.

HECKLE: for confusing seniors. With the upcoming official launch of the sign-up period for the new Medicare Prescription Drug plan, a survey of seniors by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that only 2 in 10 seniors were planning on signing up for the benefit. Why only a 1/5 participation? For most seniors it can be summed up very simply, it’s too complicated. Most say that they would have preferred a single plan similar to the current Medicare Plans medical benefit. Instead, depending on where they live there can be as many as 50 different plans offered by 15 or more different plan providers. And which plan do they choose? Seniors also complain that the information is too hard to get and if you can get it, it is too difficult to understand. (I seem to remember Kemp and I saying this a month or so ago..) Seniors can call an automated help line set up by Medicare, which many seniors find confusing, or they can go online, which also presents confusion. We tend to forget that having computers in the home is still a relatively recent concept and many seniors retired before computers were a household necessity like a refrigerator. The survey showed that 76% of the responding seniors have NEVER been online. My grandparents are in their 80’s and the do not own a computer, nor would they have the first idea how to even use one.

(Sorry folks, but we did tell you this was going to happen!)

HECKLE: to President Bush. As usual, on general principles alone. (Although there are a lot of substantive issues to Heckle him for)

HECKLE: to a potentially good idea backfiring. In another stroke of genius the President visited Howard University, a traditionally black university, on the same day that the Congress paid tribute to Rosa Parks. Now this visit would be a good move by Bush, however as usual, someone thought this through part way and then stopped. Bush’s visit shut down the Blackburn Center, which is where the dining hall is located, and it was on one of the most popular dining hall meal days of the year, Soul Food day. So on a day when Rosa Parks was being honored for being one of the most important figures in the Civil Rights movement black students were being told to go to the back of the kitchen for their food.

As if we have to say it, noticing more heckles than applauds, we still live in the Twilight Zone, aka: Bush’s America….

Be good, stay informed……Later.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Today is Veterans' Day, and while we could post about our brave men and women who have been fighting and dying for our freedom, we won't. Instead; Scott (a veteran himself) and I will give a great big shout out with a very, very, very, very big:

And special shout outs to Veterans in our own families: Kemp's Uncles Jimmy, Eladio, Henry & Warren. Kemp's cousin Tom. Kemp's father-in-law Bill and Kemp's brother-in-law Frank. Scott's Uncles Don, Bill, Joe and Frank. Scott's Cousins Marcia, Patrick (serving now in Iraq) & Tom and Scott's brother-in-law Steve.

We lift our glassees to you all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


There it stands… bruised, battered, weathered, tired.

What am I speaking of?

The GOP of course. It stands there, looking as if it got screwed with its pants on. Their fire has been doused (by indictments, poor planning and cronyism) and the agenda of their leader is in shambles as everything that he earmarked to tackle in his second term is slowly flittering away.

Now comes word that the most integral of his agenda items (and the one he was hoping would be his legacy) Social Security Reform, is (most likely) dead in the water.

On Tuesday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R – PA), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee announced (following a meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington) that Social Security system reforms may have to wait until 2009. Not even taking into account Democratic opposition, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee have not been able to reach an agreement on proposed changes; Senator Grassley even stated, “I can't even get a consensus among Republicans.” The senator went on to say that he will attempt to get his fellow committee members to act before 2009, but he also sees those efforts being hampered by next year's midterm congressional elections and the following presidential election in 2008.

“President” Bush proposed Social Security reforms in his State of the Union address earlier this year and encouraged the creation of individual (and private) investment accounts that he said would help boost the program's solvency. Many critics have said that private accounts by themselves will not help Social Security. (Many of you may be asking why social security is such a concern at this moment. Well, in the coming decade, Social Security is going to be facing the expected retirement of millions of Baby Boomers, an event that some have said will stretch Social Security to the breaking point)

In case you missed it, another Bush-Administration second-term agenda objective was also ‘bushwhacked’ this week (sorry, couldn’t resist) as Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives abandoned (for the moment) a drive to open Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil drilling. Why? Apparently the GOP does have a brain after all and concluded on Wednesday that the initiative was likely going to threaten the passage of a huge spending cut bill. Representative Jim Nussle (R-IA), the House Budget Committee Chairman stated “ANWR and OCS (outer-continental shelf) will be out” of the legislation.

(What is outer-continental shelf you are asking; it was a plan to allow for offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts regions -- regions that are currently under a drilling moratorium)

The drilling proposals had drawn opposition from Democrats and two-dozen (24 for all you mathematically-challenged folk out there) or so Republicans in the House.

This minor little setback occurs almost a week after the Senate approved the controversial ANWR proposal. That measure estimates the U.S. government would raise about $2.4 billion in leasing fees if industry was allowed to develop the refuge's 10.4 billion barrels of crude. Environmentalists though have opposed expanding oil drilling to the sensitive area in Alaska while some Florida congressmen have been at work trying to kill the offshore oil and gas-drilling plan. (Should be said that both projects have been a high priority of U.S. oil companies… as if we should be listening to them right now)

With a much more ambitious, $54 billion spending-reduction bill getting bogged down in the House, Republican leaders ditched the oil drilling plans (for now) as negotiations on the budget bill continued in the House. (It should also be said though that even without these two energy initiatives, the fate of the budget bill was still uncertain, as no House Democrats were expected to vote for it and several moderate Republicans might defy their leaders and use their own brains to make up their own minds… there’s a radical concept for you)

The oil and gas drilling legislation is not dead as supporters are hoping for one more chance this year to win passage as Senate Republicans could insist the ANWR drilling proposal be reinserted into the House bill, thus forcing a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Is this an omen for the Bush Administration? Should they, and the GOP as a whole, be worried?

All together now: Only time will tell…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More Post-Election Day

While my esteemed colleague posted and postulated about the Virginia and New Jersey governors races… I will be focusing on the plethora of ballot initiatives that appeared on the California ballot, and on a few other races of note.

Complete results can be found here, all results are with 100% of Precincts Reporting.

Prop 73 – will require that all physicians notify the parent(s) of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion. Results: YES: 47.4% - NO: 52.6%.

Prop 74 – 74 extends the probationary period for new teachers from 2 years to 5 years, and makes it easier to dismiss teachers with unsatisfactory performance evaluations. Results: YES: 44.9% - NO: 55.1%.

Prop 75 – prohibits public employee unions from using union dues for political purposes without the written consent of union members. Results: YES: 46.5% - NO: 53.5%.

Prop 76 – limits growth in state spending so that it does not exceed recent growth in state revenues. The Governor would be granted new authority to reduce state spending, [including school funding,] during certain fiscal situations. Results: YES: 37.9% - NO: 62.1%. A fairly large (and embarrassing) margin of defeat

Prop 77 – changes the way California draws boundaries for Congressional and legislative districts. District boundaries would be drawn by a panel of retired judges and approved by voters in a statewide election. Results: YES: 40.5% - NO: 59.5%

Prop 78 – discounts on prescription drugs that would establish a discount prescription drug program to be overseen by California Department of Health Services. Results: YES: 41.5% - NO: 58.5%

Prop 79 – prescription drug discounts that would provide drug discounts to Californians who qualify based on income-related standards. Results: YES: 38.9% – NO: 61.1%

Prop 80 – electric service providers regulation that would subject electric service providers, as defined, to control and regulation by California Public Utilities commission. The larger consumer impact would be that it would impose restrictions on electricity customers’ ability to switch from private utilities to other electric providers. Results: YES: 34.3% - NO: 65.7%

(Yes - you are reading that correctly; all, every single one, of Governor Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives failed to pass. Creating embarrassment to his administration and also dealing what could be a fatal body blow to his re-election next year. Do you hear any Republicans speaking about repealing the 22nd amendment anymore? I sure as hell don’t)

Another interesting race was the Mayoral race in New York City between Republican incumbent (and millionaire) Michael Bloomberg and Democratic challenger and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, supported Mayor Bloomberg and stated in an interview that Ferrer is “not ready for prime time.”
Who won this race? Well, many pundits have been stating that this race was actually closer than the result, but in the end the vote went Bloomberg’s way as he won with 58% of the votes versus 39% for the challenger. (Bloomberg is a long-time Democrat, having switched parties in 2001 to run in the less-crowded Republican field. His views have stayed along more liberal lines since winning office, which is seen as an asset in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one)

Results from other cities in the U.S. didn’t have as much national exposure but many metropolitan areas had Mayoral elections that may have some omen as to next year’s midterms, though I think it is still too early to really get an accurate reading on what will happen in 2006.


Boston. Democratic incumbent Mayor Thomas M. Menino was looking to set a record for the longest serving mayor in city history while Republican challenger Maura Hennigan wanted to become Boston's first elected female mayor. Menino got his wish. Results: Menino won re-election with % of the vote.

Detroit. Democratic incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick was seeking another Mayoral term (and taking his earring out of his ear) while fending off allegations of misspending and fiscal problems that Kilpatrick blames Republican predecessor, Dennis Archer, for whom Republican challenger Freman Hendrix worked. In addition to the misspending allegations, there are also allegations of ballot improprieties that have surfaced. Kilpatrick pulled off a bit of a squeaker and won re-election for a second term with 53% of the vote to Hendrix’ 47%.

San Diego. Donna Frye, a surf-shop owner and Democrat, was staging an uphill battle against Republican (and former Police Chief) Jerry Sanders, who enjoys strong backing from the city's business establishment. Results: Sanders won, easily defeating Frye who, besides being a surf-shop operator was also a one time city councilwoman. This is San Diego’s fourth mayor in 4 years amid waves of political turmoil.

Atlanta: The city's first female mayor, Shirley Franklin, trounced two little-known challengers to win a second term.

Chicopee, Mass.: Attorney Michael Bissonnette easily defeated Mayor Richard Goyette, who was charged with extorting campaign contributions from two businessmen. Goyette dropped out of the race a week ago. .

Cincinnati: State Rep. Mark Mallory, a member of a prominent political family, beat City Councilman David Peppers. Mallory becomes the cities first African-American Mayor, four years after race riots tore the city apart.

Cleveland: Popular City Council President Frank Jackson, whose hard-luck life growing up in the nation's 12th-poorest city endeared him to voters, edged out incumbent Jane Campbell, the first woman to lead Cleveland.

Houston: Mayor Bill White was re-elected with an astounding 91 percent of the vote. White saw his popularity soar after the city took people from Hurricane Katrina while also taking strong measures to protect residents from Hurricane Rita.

Minneapolis: Democratic Mayor R.T. Rybak won a second term despite a challenge from fellow Democrat Peter McLaughlin, a county commissioner and union favorite who accused Rybak of failing to protect the city's poorer neighborhoods. The accusations didn’t work.

Pittsburgh: Former City Councilman Bob O'Connor, a Democrat, defeated GOP lawyer Joe Weinroth in a city that has not elected a Republican mayor since the Depression era.

Seattle: Mayor Greg Nickels easily won a second term. Nickels has his critics that accused him of being heavy-handed in his leadership while disregarding neighborhood concerns in favor of property developers. His critics were unable to recruit a high-profile challenger, finally settling on former professor Al Runte.

St. Paul, Minn.: Randy Kelly was voted out after one term in this heavily Democratic city. Why? Largely because he endorsed President Bush last year. Challenger Chris Coleman, a former City Council member, had led 2-to-1 in polls with most voters saying they wanted to punish Kelly for backing Bush. A sign of things to come in one of the twin cities? Only time will tell.

More interesting election results from yesterday; in Dover, Pennsylvania, voters ousted eight (you read that right: 8) GOP school board members who backed a controversial plan to introduce high school students to "intelligent design," and replaced them with a slate of Democratic candidates opposed to the requirement. (Awe-inspiring, isn’t it? Kicking out 8 people in one election; that’s unheard of)

For information on a few other election results, click on constitutional amendments for information on the Ohio results. For information on the defeat of the repeal of the Maine Gay Rights Amendment, click here. And to find out how a similar measure fared in Texas (though I am sure most of you could probably figure it out), click here.

As I stated in this entry already, it is still WAY to early to use yesterday’s results as a barometer of how the midterms will end next year. It’s a year away, and many, many things can happen in 12 months time.

As I’ve said on this site quite a few times before; only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Seems like the wind is blowing in a different direction....

Well it’s Tuesday night and the end of election day in many states including New Jersey and Virginia. (Which I talked about last night)

So does anyone know where I can send the chairman of the RNC a big bottle of Tylenol? It is 10:30 in the central time zone and the projections are showing a Democratic win in both states. Ouch, that has to hurt!

The ‘Bush’-Whacked Administration would like to extend our congratulations to Governor Elect Tim Kaine of Virginia and Governor Elect Jon Corzine of New Jersey.

The races in these states were tight up to the eleventh hour and were fraught with charges of dirty ad campaigns on all sides. In a calculated attack on Kaine by his republican opponent, one ad had the father of a murder victim state that Kaine would not have sought the death penalty for Adolf Hitler (due to his religious convictions). Kaine promptly replied saying that the ad was an unfair attack on his faith and that if elected he would carry out his oath of office and enforce the death penalty law of Virginia.

The RNC was worried enough about losing this stronghold of conservatism that they even sent in a number of heavy hitters (Mary Matalin, Sara Taylor). Another example is that after initially rejecting offers of help from the President, a last ditch effort by state republicans in Virginia tried to increase voter turnout by having Bush make a ‘get out the vote’ appearance on Monday night in Richmond. Not sure if that was a smart move with all that is coming out of the Washington recently. But you make a decision and you have to live with it….

Are today’s election results a harbinger of doom on the horizon for the GOP? It may be too soon to tell, but the so-called ’majority’ have got to be squirming.

And the PR machine continues to sputter...

In a time where “President” Bush's popularity has reached an all-time low point, I think it's appropriate to figure out why. Our “Puppet-in-Chief”, who has the wisdom and common sense of a blow-up doll, decided he'd make nice-nice with African-Americans (a segment of the population where his approval rating is lower than his IQ – if that is indeed possible) by visiting Howard University, a traditionally black university, for a "youth summit."

That sounds nice… doesn’t it?

Well, what someone in the Bush administration forgot to do was to check to make sure the timing was not going to inconvenience anyones work. Instead, Bush and the Misses shut down the Blackburn Center.

Did I mention that this is where the dining hall is located.

Did I mention it was right at meal time and that it was soul food day, one of the most popular dining hall attactions all year long. Can you guess what happened?

Protests ensued.

Were the protest only about the food? Of course not. The protests were about the war in Iraq, the 2000 soldiers who have died in the conflict, and the fact that the students of the university were not allowed to attend the event.

During the protest, dozens of students locked arms around a flagpole in the Quad (which at that time had been designated forbidden zone at the center of the campus) and refused to move despite warnings from campus security that… wait for it…

… that Secret Service rooftop snipers might open fire on them.

Nice. Smart guys. Real smart.

So… something that should have been a much-needed Bush Administration public relations coup (a visit to a historically black college to show concern for at-risk youths) instead ended up as yet another Katrina-like moment, with the president appearing spaced-out, waving and smiling for television cameras while students were trying to break through campus security to get to the cordoned-off cafeteria so they could eat.

Sounds bad doesn’t it? Well, it gets so much worse than this…

Well, maybe not so much worse, but ironic.

I know, I'll say it gets ‘ironically’ worse? You all like that? Good.

On a day when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that called for paying tribute to civil rights icon/hero/legend Rosa Parks, who died last week, campus security guards were telling students that if they wanted to eat they'd have to come back when the president and first lady were gone, go to a service door at the rear of the dining hall and ask for a chicken plate to go.


By the way, according to the Howard University website, a student meal plan at the school can cost as much as $2,500 a semester.

So there you have it. On the very same day that Congress paid tribute to one of the most important Civil Rights figure in history who protested against Jim Crow laws requring blacks to sit at the back of the bus and forbade them from eating at lunch counters, Bush's minions push hundreds of African-American students to the back of the proverbial ‘lunch-counter bus line.’

Irony has never been served up on a bigger platter. Personally, I think this also goes to show just how nervous Karl Rove is in trying to save his own ass; allowing the President to run amok on his own without a guardian or parent around.

And then there was the nice reception the “President” got in Argentina (hell all of South America), but that’s for another day…

Monday, November 07, 2005

Who's afraid of Virginia..

no not Virginia Wolfe, Virginia the State.....

It’s Monday night, and for most of us it’s time to sit back after enduring the first day of a new work week. However in the State of Virgina it’s election eve.

That’s right, tomorrow voters in Virginia (as well as other states) will go to the polls and cast their votes, and the most closely watched contest in the state will be the race for Governor. While this is not the only race for Governor that will be decided tomorrow it is the one that Republicans are watching closely.

In tomorrow’s election former State Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) goes head to head with Lieutenant Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D).

Virginia is usually considered to be a republican party stronghold, except this year the party is not so confident. The recent indictment of ‘Scooter’ Libby is one of a long line of setbacks to the republicans and they are looking at the off-year gubernatorial elections as an indication of the parties strength , and Virginia is the test case.

If the republicans can win in Virginia, then they believe they will stand a chance in 2006 and 2008. However if they can’t win in one of their most dependable strongholds then conventional wisdom states that the Republicans are on the verge of a massive meltdown of the party. They are worried enough to bring in Mary Matalin, and even White House Political Director Sara Taylor.

Currently the two candidates have been neck and neck in the polls. The faithful of each party have been working the phones diligently. Party leaders have been traveling the state as well. What about the candidates?

After being kept out of his own ads because of the ‘mountain twang’ in his voice, Kilgore has been out making the rounds and shaking hands.

Not one to be outdone, Kaine appeared with a former Republican Governor of Virginia, A Linwood Holton, Governor from 1970 to 1974, who just happens to be his father in law.
Kaine has also tied himself to his friend and running mate from 2001, current Virginia Governor Mark Warner, a Democrat with an approval rating of 70 to 75 percent.

On Monday, the President is scheduled to stop in Richmond on his way back from South America to participate in a voter rally for Kilgore. The Democrats are taking his visit in stride. Kaine’s communications director, Mo Elleithee welcomes the appearance of Bush to Virginia and says that you can sum up the Governors race by asking “Do you want someone who’s going to govern like Mark Warner, or someone who’s going to govern like George Bush?”

So are the Democrats correct in their assumption that the problems in the Bush administration will help them win the State House in Virginia, as well as springboard them to other victories in 2006 and beyond? It may be too soon to tell, but tomorrow will be a good indication.

Out with the old poll and in with the new..

Well folks it’s Monday and what does that mean? Yes you guessed it that means it’s time for a new poll from your buddies, Kemp and Scott.

This week we are using a drop down format for the poll answers. In the past few weeks we have changed poll providers and tried to vary the format. So how about letting us know what works for you the loyal reader. Is there a style that you prefer? And since I am opening up for feedback, how about questions that you would like to see us poll on? Let us know and you just might see your question placed on one of the most popular political blog sites around.

Last week we asked the question, ‘What do you think of the nomination of Samuel Alito for Supreme Court Justice?” I give you the results in percentage of response order:

  • Bush is so out of touch it’s scary - 38%
  • Great nominee, I fully support him- 28%
  • Bush went from bad to worse- 18%
  • I’m waiting for information about him- 8%
  • The Supremes got back together?- 8%

Based on the results 56% of you feel that the nomination of Judge Alito was a bad move by the White House. Less than 30% feel that this was a good choice. A few of you, 8%, want to have more information before making a decision. Kemp and I respect you for keeping an open mind and wanting to educate yourself as opposed to making a rush to judgement.

The remaining 8%, well we worry about you and would like you to occasionally watch not one, but a few different news programs and catch up with the rest of us.

Now we enjoy the process of debate and educating yourself to the facts of an issue before coming to an opinion. However we can’t help but be a little worried when reading what a friend of Judge Alito had to say upon hearing of his nomination:

"I don't think there can be any question that Alito's ideology is a conservative one. While I don't think he's the kind of guy, because of his respect for the institution of the judiciary, who would seek to overturn precedent in a radical sort of way, I think he has the creativity and indeed the intelligence that chip away at existing precedents in a way I think some of us will regret over the years."-- Lawrence Lustberg, criminal defense attorney and friend of Alito

That’s right he said “..that some of us will regret over the years” , and this is a friend, what does that tell you!

Enjoy the new poll folks.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Political Backpedaling: The Weekly Rewind

APPLAUD: William F. Buckley, you know him, the conservative political columnist that is just this side of the Kaiser, said that the ‘outing’ of Valerie Brown (or Valerie Plame, or Valerie Plame Brown, or Valerie P. Brown… whatever) is a serious thing. Although that could also fall into the category of a…

HECKLE: for taking this long to come to the evident, logical point many people (mostly liberal I dare say?) made months and months ago.

APPLAUD: to Patrick Fitzgerald. I think we all know why.

APPLAUD: to Harry Reid. Smack-down! Let that be fair warning to you slow-as-molasses GOP’ers: Quit stonewalling over policing your own house or next time you'll wake up laying next to Arianna Huffington… eewwww.

HECKLE: to Bill Frist. Nice tantrum Bill… really nice.

APPLAUD: The American people. A brand new CBS News poll has President Bush's approval rating at another record low of 35%...just 8 points above where Nixon was during the blackest days of Watergate. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney crawls to the finish line at 19%. (Ooooo, that’s gotta hoit)

(And before all of you say "Kemp what does one poll prove?"...well, an ABC News /Washington Post poll has almost identical results. Coincidence, I think not.....sorry to interrupt folks, Scott)

HECKLE: to “President” Bush for sidestepping questions he received in Argentina Friday morning about whether or not he needs to apologize to the American people for the roles that key members of his administration have played in the CIA Leak fiasco.

APPLAUD: to the smell of blood in the water. U.S. News & World Report tells Democrats not to jump off the cliff just yet, as there is a gleam of light at the end of the tunnel. The full article is here:

HECKLE: (and thanks to Daily Kos for this one) to the laziest Supreme Court Justice ever. On November 1, 1991, Clarence Thomas took his place as associate justice on the Supreme Court. 14 years later, the man has never asked a question from the bench. (What does he do up there all day? What does he think about… on second thought scratch that… I don’t wanna know what goes through his head)

APPLAUD: Scooter in Court. On Thursday, Dick Cheney's human shield made his first appearance in front of a federal judge. He will have to swear to tell "...the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work with HIM.

HECKLE: to ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown. Not to jump up and down on him while he’s already being ripped a new one, but, come on ‘Brownie’, you can NOT be that stupid. Well… maybe you could. Making flippant remarks while people are dying… believe me when I say this is going to bite you in the end. Little thing called Karma, baby! (See Tom DeLay and his Karma-lesson below)

APPLAUD: to Bill Maher. I don’t normally like him, but sometimes, he just gets it SO right that you have to throw an applaud out there. Like this exchange between him and ‘Living Legend’ Helen Thomas on his Real Time show:

Bill Maher: Two years ago you said to the president's press secretary in the press room, "Why doesn't he just call in all his aides and ask, who leaked the [Plame] story?"
Helen Thomas: Exactly.
Maher: You didn't get an answer that day...
Thomas: It took two years... All roads led to the White House in the first place. All the president had to do is call them in and say, ‘Who did it?’ or "Whodunit?"
Maher: How come that question was never re-asked? Why didn't your colleagues---it's such a fundamental question---why didn't your colleagues...
Thomas: Too simple.
Maher: The question or your colleagues?
Priceless stuff. While Maher is not as consistently funny and dead-on as Jon Stewart, every once in a while he says something that makes you NOT ashamed of being on the same planet as he is.

HECKLE: to the ‘Clone Wars’. Did I miss something… did the country suffer a dramatic shift to the right? President Bush chooses Antonin Scalia's “Mini Me” to replace the moderate Sandra Day O’Connor. If you're not female, gay, black, a child, a helpless kitten or puppy, or believe in the radical notion of "innocent until proven guilty"...this is your wet dream.

APPLAUD: to Paul Begala. For putting the Libby indictment into the proper, don’t-hold-anything-back perspective. Complete article can be seen here but here’s a nice sampling:
“In the first year of George W. Bush's presidency, one major media figure told my wife and me to our faces that the difference between the Clinton crowd and the Bush team was that, ‘They're just better people than you are. They're more loyal to their President, more patriotic, less self-interested and ambitious. They're just better people.’ Now we learn that these Better People have turned the White House into a criminal enterprise. And that the purpose of that enterprise was to mislead the country into going to war. 2,000 Americans killed. 15,000 horribly wounded. $200 billion gone. And a Muslim world---and a non-Muslim world, for that matter---that hates our guts. Al Qaeda is recruiting terrorists faster than we can kill them. And there is no end in sight. But thank God there were no blow jobs. They really are Better People.”

(I am sure that there are plenty of BJ's going on in Washington every week ...we just haven't heard about them.....yet. The conservatives are embarrased about thier BJ's as that would upset the 18th century puritan support base also known as the stiff-assed Christian coalition. What about the liberals?, we are proud of every one we get.....sorry to interrupt again folks, Scott)

HECKLE: President Bush. As always, just on general principles alone.

APPLAUD: to Karma. Tom DeLay whines about the judge presiding over his case having donated to and requests a new judge. His request is granted. And the new judge? Also a democrat… Karma, baby!

HECKLE: to Prince Charles and ‘Lady’ Camilla. Does anyone really care?

APPLAUD: to the fact that Ken Tomlinson resigned. Who is Ken Tomlinson you ask? He's the Bush-crony who attempted to turn the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (you know: PBS) into some Fox News clone because of PBS’s ‘liberal bias’… you know those Sesame Street folks, you don’t’ join the block party they’ll come and get ya.

HECKLE: to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman for stating on television that individuals who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs severed off… little excessive there, isn’t it? (Hint to Mayor Goodman; try de-caf)

APPLAUD: Let’s just say it’s an ESP-derived Applaud. Who wants to make wagers that Al Franken's book “The Truth (with jokes)” debuts at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list this weekend and Michelle Malkin's new book, “Mom! Liberals Are Being Mean to Me!!” doesn't.

APPLAUD: to Senator and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Arlen Specter (R-PA) (What? TBWA applauding a Republican? Has the world gone topsy-turvy?) Why? For not kowtowing to White House pressure to hold confirmation hearings on SCOTUS nominee ‘Sc’Alito before the end of the year. “We have to do it right. We can’t do it fast,” the good Mr. Specter said in announcing that the hearings would start January 9, 2006. Way to go Senator!

… and one final APPLAUD: to the newly disclosed emails from GOP Lobbyist-in-Peril Jack Abramoff that seemingly implicate Tom DeLay in even MORE financial/money-raising wrongdoings… this just keeps getting more and more surreal.

(Quick question before we close out this week’s Rewind. Wasn’t it like a year ago this week that Bush stood in front of the American people and stated, rather smugly, that he “earned capital in the (2004) campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” And where is that capital now Mr. President? Can we, as a nation, have it back?)

(Also, be sure to catch the live debate episode of
The West Wing this Sunday on NBC with Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits. Should be interesting television.)

Does it seem like the Applauds and Heckles are evening out? Hmmmm… suppose that means the country is evening out and about to shift a little more to the left?

Only time will tell…