Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's the economy?  No, it's the politicians, stupid!

The near disastrous meltdown of the world's financial markets isn't just "one of those things
that happens."  It was and is the inevitable end result of the Reagan-inspired decision to "deregulate,
deregulate, deregulate, baby!"  Of course, using the world "inspired" and Reagan in the same
sentence can create some cognitive dissonance, but so be it.

Reagan was a populous boob who wanted to feather his nest, be liked and make sure that the
elite, moneyed-class of America got what they assumed (and have always assumed) was their due.
It boiled down to "the rich get richer."

Lots of subsequent pols took the baton and ran with it.  They built entire campaigns and careers on
the idea that government is, by and large, bad and stupid.  That the government is the root of all evil
and should be constrained at every turn.  Now, just pause for a moment and look out across the great
caverns of lower Manhattan, the bastion of the American financial system...and ask yourself this;  if
the "private sector" is so darned good at things...why are we facing (and it ain't over yet...) the 
potential collapse of the worlds economic system? This isn't some fantasy financial game you play on
your computer, kids, this is the real thing! And what's really real about it is just how culpable the
neocon GOP political philosophy and all its adherents are.

They are the problem.  Not the greedy pigs on Wall Street.  There has always been greed and always
will be.  It is a basic human condition, exhibited across the centuries.  But what is supposed to make
us different in the year 2008 is our ability to diminish the effects of such things.  Yet we can't and we
didn't, because the Republicans want unfettered markets which will "self-correct," except, like now,
when they won't.

They don't want government interference, except now, when their portfolios are nosing diving into the
deep end of the pool like Joseph Cotton with a bullet in his back.
Come November, I think, instead of McCain, it will be Barack Obama who will be ready for his close up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there, We're as happy as can be....
So kids, Obama's solid support, and not the ludicrous "Palin Bounce" seems to be ruling the day.
New poll numbers show Obama's strength in several key states and show that Palin was, probably,
nothing more than a media-inspired poll quirk.
Or was it Wall Street...and the nation's flagging retirement funds which got the attention of the
seemingly fickle American public?  Were they finally able to put 2 and 2 together and add up what has
been happening to them?  Maybe.  The wild swings on the trading floors of lower Manhattan are difficult
to parse for anyone who doesn't spend their days with a Bloomberg ticker within arms length...but when
your 401k tanks and your house loses half it's value...well, that may be a wake-up call.
Democrats across the board are breathing a bit easier, but this is far from over.
Obama, I have noticed, has taken the advice of many Progressives and has sharpened his tone a bit.
He is more willing to go for the jugular...and that is a good thing.  The beauty for him is this;  he can
say things that are more pointed and acidic...but his verbal tone remains one of reason and temperance.
McCain, on the other hand, sounds like a whiny warmonger when he gets his hackles up....just like the
man who hopes to emulate, George W. Bush.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Larry Craig is still in the Senate.
David Vitter is still in the Senate.
Just didn't want you to forget just how corrupt and dishonorable that august body is....
Charles Barkley may be right when he said "I'm no role model," but I don't want my kids emulating anyone in government, either.

I predict that CIA TapeGate will unravel quickly, and will give Bush another chance (ala Irv Libby) to pardon someone in his employ, who, it seems, did the Prez a favor by destroying evidence of high-level malfeasance.  

Isn't it amazing just how often torture is being discussed and parsed?  What's wrong with that picture?  Mukasey fiddled and fussed and obfuscated and the Senate gave him a pass.  Makes me proud.

In Pittsburgh, new taxes are welcoming revelers at holiday time.  Seeing few other options, and without a solid, dependable source of funding for mass transit, Allegheny County instituted a 10% tax on poured drinks and an additional tax on rental cars...just to help keep the buses running.  Onorato, who is clearly on the Governor Track, probably didn't want to do this, as it will be used against him ("Tax and spend") when the time comes for TV ads.  Someone has to explain to me why we can't find a way to pay for the Port Authority, but we can build three new sports arenas over the course of ten years.    I can't wait for gas to go to $5.00 a gallon....that'll change a lot of minds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blackwater Black Marks

The fact that Blackwater mercenaries may have lost control and fired indiscriminently at citizens in Iraq is not surprising.  They are, after all, hired killers.  It's what they were trained to do.  It's what, no doubt, a lot of them look forward to doing.  After all, training is one thing, but unleashing a hail of automatic gunfire on live targets is quite another.

But, for a moment, put all that aside.  For the real shame lies elsewhere.

The shame and the sin is with a U.S. government which feels compelled to hire mercenaries to protect its own.  Can someone explain this to me?  Can someone tell me why we can't use our own trained military personnel to protect State Department officials?  

What's that you say?  It's because they would be culpable and would be responsible under the rule of law that governs both citizens and the military...even under the Bush administration?  Well, right you are.  Sorry I asked.

Sorry things have gotten to this point.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Larry Craig Stiffens His Resolve

OK.  Cheap shot.

But by going back on his word and failing to resign from that once-august body known as the U.S. Senate,
Larry Craig deserves our derision.

Craig is guilty.  He admitted it.  There is no wiggle room.  OK.  Sorry.  Another cheap shot.

Now he seeks absolution from a Senate ethics committee.  Wow, Larry.  That would really clear things up.
It'll have the legal weight and bearing of those commercials in which a bunch of guys debate "Man Rules."

Of course, if you're a Democrat, you gotta love this.  One more in an ongoing parade of bizzare, dysfunctional
Republicans in public-meltdown mode.

The sad part in all this is that the U.S. electorate is now so ennured to these sorts of scandals that
they hardly carry any weight.  "Ho hum" may be the meta-reaction.  So while the United States has been
systematically stripped of its international moral authority through the actions of the Bush administration
abroad, we have, concurrently, lost the moral authority which the House and Senate once held.

Like I said.  It's sad.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Didn't any of you ever see Elmer Gantry?

Al Franken, the comedian-cum-candidate said it best;  Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot.

This flabby man-mountain has made a mountain of money appealing to the baser instincts of our nation's citizenry.  And now, when he trashes "phony soldiers" who might dare think a thought that hasn't been predigested and spewn forth from the rapidly reeling right wing, his corporate enablers come to his rescue.

Clear Channel (a antithetical name if there ever was one) CEO Mark Mays stands up and tells us what a fine and noble citizen Rush is. Yea, no kidding, Markie old boy. Fat ass Rush is your major (and I almost hate to use the obvious metaphor, 'cause it's too easy...) cash cow...and you don't want nothin' to bring him down!  So go Rush!  Love me some soldiers!

And I'm serious. Didn't anyone ever see Elmer Gantry? Don't you understand how you're being played for fools?  Rush is the worst of us.  He is the anti-American.  He is a modern-day McCarthy.  He is a greedy, drug-addled idealogue with about as much heart and soul as, say, George Bush.

Now back to NASCAR.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's very hard to see clearly when you're peering into Blackwater....

I don't blame this company for what they've done. They hire and train killers and thugs. Hell, that's probably on their "Vision Statement."

No, what's pathetic is that we've out-sourced our security to third-party mercenaries. And, unlike Verizon call centers in Bangalore, this isn't about cost. It's about accountability.

This Administration loves freelancing. Let the hot shots from Blackwater shoot and kill and main... and let the blood trail end...when Rambo gets fired. Not indicted or court martialed. Fired. I mean, man, that's some tough love there!

The Bushistas and the GOP in general love this sort of hands-off, "We didn't know" crap. If we have the "best trained military in the world," can someone tell me why the hell we need to pay people 5-6 times as much to guard our diplomats?

The GOP have buckets of blood on thier hands, and yes, there is a special place in hell for them.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Long Time Gone

It's been a long time since I've said "Hi." It's not that I haven't had something to say, it's just that elements of the real world have interceded and left me without the time necessary to post anything I thought was cogent enough.

Now, not much has changed. I'm still very busy, but I figured; "Who needs cogent?"

So here are a few tidbits, just to get us started again...

Preident Bush has decided it's okay to give billions PER MONTH to the Iraqi's, but not to our children. How can the Democrats lose on this issue? If they need advice in framing it, refer back to the first sentence in this paragraph. That's it in a nutshell. Of course, what Bush is really attempting to do is to give the GOP some minor bit of street cred when it comes to their long-lost position as "financially fiscal." Personally, I can't wait to see the Republicans run on this veto next fall....

There are inklings that former Senator Rick Santorum might run for the Governor's mansion in PA. If he does, at least we'll know where he actually lives! And does he really think that living in Leesburg,VA for several more years...while still maintaining the Penn Hills fiction, will be forgotten? In case you're wondering, there is a website domain registed for "santorum2010." Of course, he could be running for President....

I like John Edwards, but his campaign is relying far too much on Elizabeth to be a proxy for her husband. I get emails almost daily that bear her signature. Honestly, I'm sure she's a nice lady, but she's not running for President. I think this hurts John and makes him look like a wimp. Politics is a bare-knuckled sport and American's don't like it when husbands let their wives do their fighting for them....

Monday, April 16, 2007

Edwards and Blacksburg

Got an email tonight from the Edwards campaign.

From where I sit, he might as well have slipped on a helmet and gone off to drive a tank. His race for President, if it didn't end on "60 Minutes," is surely over now.

The email was related to the VT shootings...and I found it deeply troubling. It included a snippet from a prayer of some sort. Not being the praying type, I skimmed it.

What is troubling is that John Edwards felt the need to spam me on a night like this. To attempt, and that's all it can be, to curry poltical favor out of a massive tragedy.

The funny thing is, I was an Edwards supporter from the get go. I liked the guy. Thought he was right-minded about a lot of issues.

But this is simply stupid. Prayer is a deeply personal thing. If John wanted to pray tonight, then bully. I wish you luck. I hope it works. But don't send me some smarmy missive. Keep it in your family. Or between you and your God. To fracture Dash Hammett, "It isn't the stuff emails are made of...."

There is wisdom in knowing when to shut the hell up...and Edwards, clearly doesn't have it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Edwards, Cancer and Politics

The John and Elizabeth Edwards Show on "60 Minutes" was, to my mind, a bit odd.

It was half confessional, half evangelical. And not in a religious, right-wing sense. Both husband and wife seemed determined to turn this human tragedy into some sort of odd political "opportunity." The way gigantic problems are term "challenges" in this politically-correct world.

And I like Edwards. I like what he stands for and they positions he's taken, mostly.

Is he a bit too glib? Maybe. But I'm an old fart, so that might figure in. Funny thing is; I started out not trusting anyone over 30...and now it's the other way around.

Will Ms. Edward's disease be the death of his campaign? Yes, I think so. Hard core supporters will hang tough, but others will shift to Obama or Clintor or....Gore.

Truth is. I think Gore is the new front runner. You heard it here first.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Micro Manage

It's the latest hot GOP talking point. John McCain is particularly fond of it. Problem is - it's both wrong and wrong.

If the Dems were attempting to micro-manage the war in Iraq, they'd be making decisions about what zones to patrol and what number of troops should be deployed tonight in Fallujah. That's what micro managing means.

No, what the Dems are doing is attempting to macro-manage a war that has clearly been mis-managed on every level from day one.

While the President may indeed be the "Commander in Cheif," the House and the Senate are truly the Representatives of the people of the United States. Clearly and unequivocally, they have every right to question the President and to reign in his power...particularly when he has proven, time and again, that he is a fool.

Any questions?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ugly Ann

Ann Coulter knows how to get attention in our ADHD world; just be outrageous. Say whatever comes into your mind. Use whatever epithet will get the biggest laugh. It's a simple formula that works every time.

It certainly worked at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where she used what she called "a joke" to refer to John Edwards as a "faggot." Yea, it worked well. She got big laughs. Got wild applause. She gave 'em what they came for, that potty-mouth mindless drivel that has kept Ugly Ann in the spotlight for the past several years. Bravo Ann.

And the problem, my friends, is not with Ann Coulter. The problem is with those you pay her to speak, who buy her books, who listen to her on the radio. The problem is that people actually eat this stuff up!

Don't be fooled by Coulter's remarks. This wasn't some ill-thought-out "macaca moment," this was a win-win from the perspective of her supporters. It allows Ugly Ann to be a Greek chorus for them, publicaly spewing the kind of hate-filled rhetoric they normally only use when they are amongst themselves or in hushed tones on the golf course.

The second part of the win-win equation is that Coulter and her enablers have smeared John Edwards. It may or may not get any traction, but it certainly will not be forgotten. THAT is the big story here. The GOP knows that Edwards is a strong candidate running a smart campaign and this was the first volley in what will most certainly be a full court press against him by the regular cast of conservative character assassins.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rick Santorum is like Donald Trump; no matter how much we might beg and plead, he just won't go away.

Just days after the swearing-in of the new, improved Congress, while frosh legislators bumble around the Longworth building looking for suitable potties and Coke machines, Santorum has already moved on! Yup, Rick is a doer. No standing around and bemoaning his lost position in the halls of power. And none of that wimpy "I want to spend more time with Karen and the kids" stuff, either! What's Rick up to? Just this.

According to published reports, The Rickster is signing on as a "fellow" at a think tank! The mind reels! The comedic possibilities are endless and rather too easy.

I mean, all you have to do to get a laugh is to repeat after me...

Rick Santorum at a think tank?

...and watch the fun begin! Only Mr. Microphone could make it better.

Yup. That's the deal. But the fun is only beginning. Rick will be the latest loser on the block at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. As a fellow, Rick will "...establish and direct an anti-terror program called "America's Enemies."

Santorum said that "without a clear definition and precise understanding of our enemies, we cannot fight effectively and our own citizens become divided."

So now it all becomes clear. When Rick started in on the Islamic Facists rhetoric during his '06 campaign, he wasn't trying to connect with voters, he was already doing the bidding of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Got it.

All kidding aside, the idea of Santorum directing a group focusing on "America's Enemies" is frightening. Rick is not a stupid man, but he is a single-minded iconoclast. Just the sort to help us figure out who the "bad guys" are and what we should do about it. Sort of like the guy in the WH right now...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Something Rotten in

In the classic sports movie "Hoosiers," the coach, played by Gene Hackman says, "It's way past big speech time" as his unlikely small town athletes prepare for their final game.

And so it goes with the Bush administration. We're all past big speech time. Nothing more GWB can say will sway the way the American public perceives him. He is yesterday's news. A Presidential fish wrapper, on the verge of rotting.

But (and you can call me paranoid if you like...'cause everyone else is :-) the odiferous attack on New York City today has the stink of Bush/Cheney/Rove written all over it. One day prior to a "major policy speech," in which everyone expects POTUS to call for an escalation of the Iraq War, we get a smelly little reminder of just how vulnerable NY is.

It was a slick move. No one gets hurt, but the message is clear: "IF WANTED TO USE VX GAS AGAINST YOU, WE COULD!"

Am I giving this cadre more credit than they are due? Perhaps. If they were such Machiavellian geniuses, perhaps the GOP would still be in charge on Capitol Hill -- and we know they're not.

But I can't help thinking that the timing is just a little too...Rovian....for me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iraq and Roll

I just heard over the Christmas holiday that a relative of my wife is being dragged off to Iraq. By all accounts, this young man is not happy. He was one of those tweeners who could have either, a) ended up in jail or b) entered the military to "get his act together." I'm not sure his act is any better, but he did join the Army and served two tours in Afghanistan, a long ways away from the combat zones. And, he's not in jail.

Now, however, this gung-ho 20-something isn't calling his own shots any more. All the misty talk about education and postings in Hawaii are long gone. Now, he's heading to hell and he has no choice.

As we wait with hope for a New Year, it's depressing to imagine just what POTUS is thinking, but I tend to believe it will involve the lives of many other young men and women just like my wife's relative, who will be put in harms way to protect nothing more than a failed political strategy.

For those of us old enough to remember Viet Nam, there is a good deal of head-shaking going on. We've seen this before, and it ended badly. If I close my eyes, I can see Huey's hovering over the Green it quickly turns red.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Family Retainers

A recent article in the New York Times noted that Speaker Pelosi and others were working hard to help retain freshman Democratic legislators, even though they haven't yet been officially sworn in! This is a wonderful move, and though Rahm Emmanuel is no longer head of the D-triple-C, it has his politically smart impramateur on it. In particular, the Dems will focus on lawmakers who may have squeaked in with narrow victory margins, including Space (replacing disgraced Bob Ney) and Tim Mahoney (took Foley's old FLA seat)

This is a simple and obvious move, but it is something many Democrats came late to. As the Times article noted, the Members have been alerted that "you are already running for Congress, again" and that they'll need to raise upwards of a million dollars just to hold their seats in two years.

Now, I'll be the first to question the two-year terms of House Members, particularly in a day an age when politicking is done mainly via expensive televison advertising, but the fact remains; it's the way the system is today and the new members have to play the game by the current rules of engagement. And that means they'll have to start making those dreaded fundraising calls ASAP.

One other aspect of this "retainment" program is to get these frosh Members some plum committee assignments, so their names can be tied to high-profile lesgislation, and (perhaps more importantly) they can bring home some pork right away. It will give them some real strong bullet points for the TV spots they'll begin running a year from now. Again. Excellent idea. It ignores the conventional wisdom about giving top committee posts to those who have survived and played the game well...but it clearly shows that the Democrats are playing as a team; ignoring individual stats so that they can get to the Super Bowl of American politics; The Presidency in '08.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Iraq Shake and Bake

The Iraq Study Group was just the beginning. At nearly every office, commission and think tank in DC, someone is "rethinking" the situation in Iraq. Georgie Boy promises fresh ideas and a big announcement after Christmas. In perhaps the only smart decision of his abyssmal reign, President Grinch decided not to spoil our collective holidays by giving one more inane speech to the 'murican public. At least not yet. Yes, there is a Santa. And at least his mission will be accomplished.

However, under the surface, the depression remains. Bush is determined to go down swinging; and he'll take us all down with him if it comes to that. With the Right Wing think tanks working overtime to justify sending more troops into harms ways, look for Bush to warm up your January with a Rush To Reinforce. More troops will march off to Iraq, or will be forced to endure another rotation and that, the neocons conclude, will stop the insurgency which is tearing Iraq apart.

Not gonna work. If there was ever a case in which "more is less," this is it. The only solution in Iraq is for the Sunnis and the Shia to get their acts together and set aside decades of religious one-upsmanship. Do I think that will happen? Do you?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Study This!

The Iraq Study Group, which sounds all the world like a "break out" group from the last "Middle East and You" Conference, is a total and complete sham. Like most blue-ribbon panels, its intent is not to clarify issues and solve problems, but to quiet the rabble and give political cover to the Administration. I just hope most American's can see through the window dressing and into the smoky back room.

The concept is this; The ISG is bipartisan. They will agree that some sort of phased withdrawl from the quagmire is necessary. This will happen, in some manner, before the 2008 election cycle kicks into high gear.

So...GOP candidates and their lame ass, er, duck President, will be able to say; "We wanted to stay the course, but the will of the people and of the ISG had to be heeded. We didn't cut and run, we only agreed to the terms set out in this (did we mention?) BIPARTISAN group." At least that's their hope. When the Senate and House candidates start running TV ads 18 months from now, the ISG will (they hope) let them avoid another wave. Will it work? Nope. Don't think so. This war will hang around their necks like a 20-ton albatross, as well it should. No amount of stage-managing will help them.

Their goose is cooked. So is the albatross

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Truth Hurts

I was recently taken to task by a reader who noted that, as the lefty-child-hating-scum that I am, I couldn't possible understand why Rick Santorum wanted his kids on the dias the night of his recent defeat. This was just one in a series of affronts to my honor, but it is the one I will address here.

How to begin?

How 'bout this. In my world (left-leaning, CBC dipshit that I am) I believe it's wrong to subject children to pain and humiliation if it isn't necessary. Isn't that just part of the Judeo-Christian ethic? Wouldn't most people agree with that? There are times, of course, when a little pain or a little loss is important for kids. Like when the pet rabbit dies or you can't buy them the Super Elmo. It builds character. It presages what they'll face later in life. But that wasn't what happened on Election Night 2006. Santorum, in fact and deed, forced his children to face public humiliation. From where I sit, and I think most of you who subscribe to a nominal sense of Christian ethics would agree, Rick should have taken his lumps alone, or at best, with his wife at his side. Not with his brood crying in the background.

If Santorum's Election Night display is your idea of normal, then yes, I'm not part of the mainstream. And you know what? I'm proud of if!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Incredible Lightness of Winning

The much-heralded "Gingrich Revolution" is over. The neocon onslaught is DOA. It's morning over America II...and it feels really good!

For those of us who have been inpatient with the US electorate, here's a tip of the hat. It may have taken them a lot longer than we hoped for, but they did finally, "get it." Even some of the dimmest bulbs figured out, "Hey, these guys are usin' me!"

And while the political pundits talked on about Bush, the War, terrorism and the housing market, I think the most enlightening poll result was the one which showed that a wide majority of American's are simply fed up with "how things are going." They are sick and tired of feeling, well, sick and tired!

And they have had it with the devisive "War on Moderation" which has been the hallmark of the Bush Years. They want to feel positive again. Starting today, they can.

Now, to a couple of my least favorite pols. First, Rick Santorum. The long, dark, depressing and bizarre tenure of Rick is over. Having spent millions and millions on some of the least-effective TV adversiting in years, Santorum never moved a number. His support started at around 40% and he ended up with about that, when all was said and done. It seems he could have run hemmeroid ads and had just as much success.

Rick's final hurrah came at a hotel in Pittsburgh last night, where he did the usual gracious concession speech. However, I did find if mildly upsetting that he dragged his entire family up on the stage, so that they could suffer his humliation with him. Son Johnny and youngest daughter Sarah Marie were crying rivers. It might be the final time Rick gets to use the kids as props...and I guess he wasn't going to let the opportunity pass.

Also in Western PA, there was Missy Hart, a Bush acolyte, who wasn't nearly so sanguine about her loss. After first claiming that "We have no votes" from Beaver County (long after the Altmire campaign and the media did) she finally admitted defeat. But, in a show of classlessness, she couldn't resist a final swipe at Altmire, saying "People told me to cut his legs off, but I didn't want to run a campaign like that. Of course, he's new and he did do that. I just hope he learns not to in the future." (all paraphrased)

Hart was visibly stunned and pissed, but she knew (or should have) that this was a very real possibility. And Altmire's "negative ads" were mild...and mostly recounted Missy's connections to Bush, et al.

She should have left the stage like a pro, but perhaps, in that final moment, she revealed herself for what she really is; an oafish, manipulative, arrogant pol. Ex-pol, I mean.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fear and Self Loathing; The Santorum Campaign Spins Out of Control

When all is said and done next week, the much-lauded campaign skills of Rick Santorum and the marketing skills of his personal media maven, John Brabender may have to be seriously rethought, for this has been a campaign that has done little right. In many ways, it resembles the season the Pittsburgh Steelers are having, full of fumbles, missteps, penalties and just flat out bad play. Like the Steelers, and despite a rather large "red zone" in the middle of the Commenwealth, it appears Rick will come up just a little short.

I raised this issue some months ago. At that point I imagined the campaign would muster its forces and start finding a way to dismantle Bob Casey piece by piece. But it just didn't happen. Their TV ads were typically wacky and expansively produced. But voters didn't seem to notice. In fact, it may have been that supposed "creativity" which turned them off. Each ad seemed to raise questions rather than quell them; Was the polka ad shot on green screen? Did Rick bump into that woman? Was the ad with his kids shot at the Penn Hills faux home? Did Rick really agree to have his kids lie for him?

More recently questions arose about the desperate use of terrorists and mushrooms clouds, as well as a "Wrestling" ad in which Rick tried to show his bipartisan, liberal-loving bona fides by talking about his work across-the-aisle with Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton. To my ears, that ad was a replay of Santorum's Toomey vs. Spector gaffe, when he turned his back on his religious right-wing base to help keep Arlen in office.

Oh, and there was the negative ad which featured a dead guy. That reminded me a lot of the failed campaign which BrabenderCox cooked up for Mike Fisher, when he ran for Governor. In that campaign, Brabender used a fake Philly cab driver in one ad...and was later hoisted on his own air freshener when Oxman, et al pulled out the real deal and slapped back.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that Rick is no ones idea of the ideal candidate. He's clearly not a pliable pol who you can plop in front of the prompter and say, "Read this!" Rick has attitude and it's unlikely that Brabender could have changed his mind about much. But, with that said, it should be understood how close to guys are; Brabender is the godfather of one of Rick's children...and last year he moved his main office to Leesburg, VA - the same town that Santorum lives in. They are inexorably tied together, and Brabender has no excuse for not understanding the hand he was dealt.

Santorum needed, but did not get, a campaign that was new and fresh. TV commercials that were pointed and smart, not flabby reruns from other campaigns. He needed something new on TV, so that viewers would see him in a new light. He needed a fresh take. He didn't get it. This is why companies often change advertising agencies; after a while, the one you have is just too inbred to give you the kick in the butt you need to succeed.

After next Tuesday, it's likely that both the client and the agency will be looking for work.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stay the Course.

The Winston Smith in me is always on alert when the government starts to parse its "truth" too carefully. So it goes with the startling revelation by Prez Mouthpiece Tony Snow that "stay the course" really means, "change and be adaptive!" It is a wholly laughable bit of twisted PR-speak, which would have been skewered and ripped to shreds by the media in that earlier era which I shall now call BC; Before Couric.

Perhaps only this President could attempt to cover his gross negligence with such a brazen bastardization of the language. George wanted this war and he wanted the glory and fame he thought would flow from it. The fame is a lock. The glory will be much more elusive.

Santorum Wrestles With His Demons

Santorum, desperate to prove "he's a fighter," is out with a new TV spot revolving around a wrestling match. It is much like the earlier "Polka" ad, except a lot more violent. But put the setting aside and listen to Rick the Uniter tell us how he has or is working with Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton! Wow! Can you say those names without the snippy, snarky recrimination you're so well known for, Rick?

The effort here is to appeal to women and liberals or to libertarians or to undecideds. Show them how, despite the Liberal Media's mischaracterization of poor SnipeTorum, he really is someone who reaches across the aisle in a constant effort to be bipartisan. Yea.

And of course, as we all know, liberal women are always attracked to thuggish wrestlers, so this a fine choice of scenarios for this commercial...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hartless, We Hope

Melissa Hart is fighting to hold her own against up-and-comer Jason Altmire. This likable and smart challenger is making Melissa's life miserable right now. A recent visit by Al Franken helped raise much-needed campaign cash and now John Kerry will come to Pittsburgh to do the same. The Almire juggernaut is hoping they can "stay up" on TV as much as Melissa is.

And that's a funny thing. Call me crazy, but was that first commercial of her's the weakest, wimpiest, most dour bit of flotsam you've seen this year? I mean, after years in Congress, she recycles her "brownfield" claims (and used the same footage) as one of her major achievements? Yep Missy, Western PA is just a hotbed of business growth and opportunity....

But what's even funnier is her touting of the "I-376" corridor as a major victory for the area. While no one will argue that the mish-mash of road names and numbers leading into downtown Pittsburgh (are we on 22/30 or 60 or what?) was needed, this is one of the most minor accomplishments I've ever heard anyone claim...let alone use in a TV spot.

Perhaps she didn't want to tout her ongoing, unbending support for the disaster that is the Iraq War? Or the continued loss of jobs and population in the area? Or the fact that health care costs are rising unabated...and she, and all her cronies just sat on their hands?

Nope. But she was darn proud of those new interstate signs....

Sunday, October 15, 2006

If Santorm Loses, He Wins

I raised this issue some months ago, when Rick seemed to be doing everything possible to scutttle his chances for re-election.

The issue? Does Rick really want to lose? The answer? Highly possible.

Like fellow Pennsylvanian Tom Ridge, Rick has a very lucrative career awaiting him the moment he hits the bricks. Having feathered his nest on K Street, Santorum will have the ultimate soft (and profitable) landing.

Think about it in the most practical of terms; Rick and Karen, as much as they might want to, will probably not be able to home school their huge brood through college. Someone is going to have to pay for them to attend "the colleges of their choice," whether that's Bob Jones University or Berkeley or Bard. (isn't that a fun thought?)

So, while you're thinking "just how nutty can Rick get," think about how his continued and vehement support for every single radical right wing religious agenda point might help him when he is no longer just a powerful visitor on K Street, but he he "officially" moves his office there.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sound and Fury, Signifying Rage

Rick Santorum raged against Bob Casey last night. He practically called him out. If you watched the debate, you had to be a little uneasy, as the two men were physically close to each other...and at times it seemed way too close.

So yes, Rick was pumped up, in the same way that someone with "anger management issues" gets pumped. He sputtered, he raised his voice, he put a lot of pressure on his seals and gaskets. He wanted to be heard and he wanted to be the loudest voice in the room. Not hard when Bob Casey is your debate opponent, as he is a mild-mannered, quiet sort, who is never going to dazzle you with his bloviating like RhetoRick. The bottom line? The public is tired of the whiny brat and is ready for the strong silent type. If last night's debate was a metaphorical boxing match, then Casey was "The Quiet Man."

I do take issue, however, with Casey's responses here and there. I thought he had the opportunity to put Santorum down for the count...and instead swung wide, without landing the knockout blow. For instance...

When questioned about his work ethic, Casey might have said, "Rick, how much of that time you spend in Washington was on Capitol Hill...and how much was on K Street where you were the lead dealer in the biggest insider lobbyist game in town?"

And when Santorum started to go on about his monumental "puppy mill" legislation, could Bob have simply said; "Ya know, Rick. That's all you've got to show for 12 years in the US Senate?"

I know Casey ain't a great debater, but his people need to sharpen his responses a bit. None of the stuff that Santorum brought up was a surprise...and Casey needed to be better prepared. I mean, after all, is there any easier target in the world than Rick?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hastert Has To Go

Hastest actually is gone. His malingering is merely an election year effort to avoid a total and complete GOP Congressional meltdown. At least that's what the wags say.

But if you parse both options; Leave while pleading nolo contendre...or stay on, get redder in the face and dominate every news cycle from now 'til Novemeber one has to wonder. If I were the king of the forest, I'd tell Denny to beat it. It would quiet the scandal, at least a few dB.

Remember that Hastert was an absolute nobody when he got this job. He was a blank slate which the Leadership installed so they could control him...and guarantee an easy installation. WIth that in mind, I just can't imagine, other than sheer conservative "we're never, ever wrong" mindset, why the big bag of adipose won't move on.

Of course, I'm still wondering why Rick Santorum didn't squelch his cyberschool issue 12 months ago. It could very well be the number one reason why he'll lose this year.

But back to Denny and "Fruit of the Loom" Foley.

Perhaps the real problem is that there are so many "overly friendly" and "creepy" guys in DC that it really would be hard to figure out which ones are truly depraved and which ones are merely "odd."

My favorite quote in all this (so far) came from a guy who has to be considered a creep, Newt "Hey Honey, I'm leaving you...sorry about the cancer" Gingrich, who said, and I paraphrase here, "The Democrats have had a lot worse sex scandals."

Bravo Newt! And "my dog's better than yours" too! With that sort of prepubescent mindset at work, you should definitely get back into Congress. There is a seat in Florida you could slide into very nicely.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Here's a picture of me wait...

Photo ops are a time-tested free-media bonus in DC. The top party suckups are often invited to tuck in close to the Prez when he's signing something or saying something. The "something: usually isn't that important. What's important is that picture which hits the national wire. If you're lucky and can lean in far enough, you won't be cropped by some nasty photo editor.

So it is with Rick Santorum, who's made a career of appearing on the dias to get his picture took. This is easy for Rick, since he spends so little time actually working on legislation.

But photos such as these have their downsides too, such as the one which appeared on Page 1, above the fold, of the New York Times the other day; showing Rick, the Prez and Representative "Fruit of the Loom" Foley, all grinning.

Now, far be it from me to say that there is any guilt by association, but it shows just how closely allied all the GOP neo-freaks are in DC.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Greens Gone. Santorum Camp Turns a Lovely Shade of Autumn Red

The PA Green Party, which takes its name from the color of money which the GOP larded on it this year, will not have a candidate on the fall Senate ballot. A court has ruled that Carl Romanelli didn't have enough valid signatures to give him that much-vaunted spot. Another court could potentially give him a reprieve, but for now, the Casey campaign can cheer and the Santorum campaign can flush with anger. Their sleazy gambit did not pay off.

In the meantime, a new Q-University poll shows Casey holding onto essentially the same lead he's had for months. After spending millions on media, including some of the most specious and blatantly false ads ever to run in PA, Santorum has hardly moved any numbers. From here out, it is likely that Casey will be able to match Santorum dollar-for-dollar.

But....I still await the "swiftboating." My hunch is that Santorum and his media hacks still have something in their back pocket. It may be totally untrue, it may be an outright lie, but Rick must figure, "That's what Confession is for. I'll fib now...and ask for forgiveness later...."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Children, My Shills

Maybe Rick Santorum had all those children because he knew he'd eventually need them to be players in his TV commercials.

I refer specifically to the Junior Senator's latest bit of video venality, a TV spot which stars (I think) every one of Rick's numerous sprogs. In it, each child spouts some blather about why Daddy moved to Virginia and why having the taxpayers of Penn Hills pay for their narrow-minded home schooling was a GOOD THING!

This has the ham hand of John Brabender all over it, from its lame pretense to the vacuous script. And it shows, I believe, just how completely desperate the Santorum campaign is.

I suppose you can say "no harm, no foul" if you use kids as props or to say "cute things" in political ads. It's been done forever. But when you push them in front of the camera in an effort to refute (lie about, would be a more accurate description) real and important issues, you've crossed the line in my book.

Of course, crossng the line has never much bothered Santorum. He'll cross whatever line he has to in an effort to maintain his position in the DC power structure. USE Terri Shaivo for political gain? No problem. Cross the line. USE a specious claim about WMDs for political gain? No problem. Cross the line with abandon! The list is even longer than the "50 Things You Should Know About Rick."

This ad amounts to a subtle form of child abuse. No one got whipped or beaten or bloodied, (nor were they once again exposed to a deceased fetus) but the children have been manipulated by their parents in a way that I find, and I think many others would fine, offensive. The kids, all of whom are below the legal age of consent, had lies and prevarications put in their mouths. They were, essenntially, forced to be unwitting tools in an ongoing campaign of deceit and disinformation.

A real Christian would not stage manage his children. He would, in fact, protect them. Hide them. Cloister them. Think about it for a moment; here's the Senator and Wife who made a faux stink about people walking up the driveway of their faux home. The Wife who called the Capitol Police. The Senator who feigned shock. Yet they are both willing participants in the misuse and abuse of their children for political gain.

If that's part of the Catholic catechism, it's a part I never learned.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Political Potpourri; Though is doesn't smell as nice

It's clear now why Katherine Harris, she of the "Here George, take this election" fame in Florida has been shunned by the GOP in her run for Senate. She made the unpardonable sin of broadcasting the Red State Mantra directly, without any of the gauzy frou-frou which usually hides its actual menaing. I refer to her blatant statement that, if you vote for anyone who isn't a Christian, you are voting for sin and degradation. Yea, she said that. I guess somewhere along the line she missed the whole "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" lesson. Though in my book, which I admit hasn't sold as nearly as well as the Bible, there is a line which reads, "It takes one to know one."

President Bush, revisiting the site of another of his hand made disasters this week, is warning Gulf Coast residents that they shouldn't expect continued handouts of money and aid, "After all," he said, "We got a lotta rebuildin' that needs to be done in Iraq...and they were in line first."

In Pennsylvania, there's been a turn in the Senate race; Rick Santorum has stopped talking directly to the public and (finally!) is letting his media hack do all his communicating. After all, TV commercials are, as John Braindender promised, where we'll learn what the real Rick is all about. Of course, TV commercials are also where Miss Cleo promised to tell your forture for just $19.99 and where Big Pharma promised that all their miracles drugs are "safe and effective," until people start dying from them. Yup, the truth comes to you in 30 second snippets. Maybe this is why the Santorum clan stayed at home for school! They were watching TV all day long and learning from the ads! That $100,000 debt Rick ownes Penn Hills was just for a the Really Super Bonus Plus Big Honking Platinum™ cable package! Finally, it all makes sense to me!

Later this week, we'll take a look at the growing library of anti-Rick ads on YouTube. Maybe we'll learn something!