It is Time to Leave Bristol Palin Alone

It has long bothered me the way we feel free to talk about Bristol Palin merely because of choices she made. As I now parent an adopted child whose birth mother made some difficult emotional decisions, not unlike those Bristol Palin made, my attitude towards Bristol have changed. Blast Sarah all you wish, but leave Bristol alone.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The bottom line is that Bristol Palin is now a mother, a teen mother, and that will make it tough for her. It is time for Greta Van Susteren to leave Bristol Palin alone, it is time for Rebecca Traister of Salon Magazine to leave Bristol Palin alone, and it is time for bloggers to leave Bristol Palin alone. Go ahead and comment, if you please, on Sarah Palin and her new tax problems, but it is time for us all to let Bristol Palin make decisions about her life and that of her son.

There. I said it. I said it not as a political commentator but as a father of an adopted son whose birth mother also had to make some very difficult decisions about pregnancy, childbirth, and whether to keep the baby or make an adoption plan. I’m personally grateful that my son’s birth mother made that adoption plan, as he lights up my life even as I write this short piece. (That’s my pride and joy right there on the left.) I just can’t imagine the difficulty of making a decision about an unexpected pregnancy, and that’s what Bristol Palin’s was. It just isn’t in me anymore to judge her. What we should do instead is try to understand the very difficult decisions young women, women of all ages, for that matter, go through when they find themselves unprepared for a pregnancy.

Today’s issue of Philadelphia Weekly gives us some insight into just this matter. The article is written by Jennifer Merrill, and she describes herself as follows. From Philadelphia Weekly:

I’m 18 years old. I recently graduated high school in the top 10 percent of my class with a 97 percent GPA. I was Student Council co-president and co-editor of the school newspaper, as well as a member of the National Honor Society, Student Advisory Council, National Latin Honor Society, Quill and Scroll Honorary Society for High School Journalists and the yearbook staff. I was even on the homecoming court and was named “Friendliest” in the senior class Who’s Who. As a freshman at Temple University, I’m majoring in magazine journalism. I’m just your average teenager–well, except for one thing: I’m pregnant.

Jennifer Merrill’s article is the cover story this week in Philadelphia Weekly, and surely deserves the cover. It is very much a first-person account, even moving through a narrative form through much of the article as she leads the reader through the difficult moments she lived through since finding she was pregnant last August. We find what happens when she found out she was prenant, and how both her mother and boyfriend handled it. We also find that while Jennifer Merril is pro-choice, she could not make the decision of abortion concerning the baby in her own body. To me, that’s truly pro-choice, that she chose, and had the freedom to do so.

Jennifer ends her article leaving us in the air. She’s evidently not decided whether to make an adoption plan or to raise the baby and try at the same time to continue her schooling. To that end I would just like to say that both decisions can have joyous results, and that many open adoptions will mean she has contact with her baby throughout the baby’s life. I might talk about the joys adoption has brought to my wife and myself, and how we imagine that adoption has set Jack’s birth mother’s heart to rest. I might let her knwo that an adoptive family will likely be more ready materially to care for her baby than she will, though I would continue to stress that I can’t hope to understand the mother love she is developing as she carries the child to term. But mostly I would tell Jennifer Merrill that whatever decision she makes from here on out it should be the interest of the baby and herself that she should be focused on, and not the expectations of those outside her immediate situation. But, you know, I think Jennifer Merrill truly understands all that, and I think she’s a remarkable young woman. Here are the words with which she closes the article in Philadelphia Weekly:

Regardless of what I choose, I know I’m making the decision out of love. I feel confident in saying that no matter which option I go with, the baby will have a good life. She will be given opportunities. She will have parents she can look up to. Most important, she will be loved. This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I can only hope that one day she will understand.

Yeah, Jennifer Merrill has her act together, and she’s going to make a fine decision in this very difficult time of life, and I’m happy she has the room to make that decision. That’s where we have all gone wrong when discussing Bristol Palin. We have not treated her as a woman, though very young, coming to grips with some of the most important and emotional decisions of her life. Oh, Rebecca Traister surely implies that those decisions are actually guided strongly by Sarah Palin herself, but even that I find to be distasteful to critique. Let’s leave Bristol Palin alone. Let’s let her choose how to live her life, and let’s also hope she has the support she needs for her choices.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

More GOP Fracturing and Stupidity

In the former Republican stronghold of Delaware County, PA there are defections from the Republican Party. Seems some Repubs want to think for themselves. Meanwhile, another Repub whack job has surfaced in Utah, like that’s a surprise, and Aerosmith is rebuking the House Repubs and taking their “saddle” away.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Delaware County, Pa has been reliably Republican for a long time, but that’s been shifting of late. Curt Weldon fell to a scandal and Joe Sestak, and the county even elected a Democrat to the PA House in Bryan Lentz. But the Republicans have still held a tight grip on local offices, such as the County Commission and particularly in Newtown. That strong local Republican leadership is now fracturing. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

John “Jack” DiPompeo, a Newtown Township supervisor and lifelong Republican, took an emotional trip to the Delaware County Bureau of Elections in Media last Friday.
Fed up with what he considers bullying by county Republicans, DiPompeo switched parties, making him the first Democrat in recent memory to sit on the Board of Supervisors in Newtown.

“It’s a very hard thing personally to do,” DiPompeo said. “I’m walking away from stuff I’ve believed in all my life. But my feeling is, really, I didn’t desert the party. The party deserted me.”

DiPompeo and John Custer, a former Republican supervisor who says the Delco GOP forced him off the board two years ago, are now running for two open supervisor seats as Democrats. They also want to convince like-minded Newtown Republicans to jump ship and follow them to the Democratic Party.

“We have hundreds who say they’re just dying to do it,” said John Battista, 62, another new Democrat who has been involved in Newtown local politics for decades and who plans to run Custer and DiPompeo’s campaign. “None of us have anything to gain from what we’re doing. If we didn’t think the people were behind us, we wouldn’t do it.”

It is important for Democrats, of course, to make headway both with national elections and with local elections, so this is good news. What’s interesting is the response of the Republican bigwigs in the area. Michael Gillen leads the Newtown Republicans, and he had this to say:

“It doesn’t sound like they’re really committed to the Republican philosophy they claim they were,” Gillin said.

If the Republican philosophy is that Custer and DiPompeo should not be allowed to think as they wish, to back candidates they agree with, but must instead follow the exact party line, even if that means backing the corrupt Curt Weldon, then the Republican “philosophy” out there is going to cause a lot more losses than these two minor officials. Heck, that philosophy has cost a whole bunch of voters in the county as well.

In other news, there’s a Utah GOP whack job on the loose. This time it is Utah state senator Chris Buttars, who thinks gay activists are the biggest scourge our country has to face. Forget Al Qaeda, forget a dismal economy, and forget anything else. Buttars is afraid of the gay, and he wants to make sure that’s the focus of his constituency. Yes, he’s a whack job. Here’s the lead from in Salt Lake:

Utah state senator Chris Buttars is now comparing some in the gay community to radical Muslims.

Buttars makes this strong comment in an upcoming documentary about Prop 8.

And they come just a year after remarks by Buttars greatly offended many African-Americans.

In late January of this year, Senator Buttars sat down for an interview with documentary maker and former ABC 4 reporter Reed Cowan.

Cowan’s documentary is called, “8: The Mormon Proposition. “

In it, Buttars not only makes the comparison to radical Muslims, but also suggests that gays could pose the greatest threat to America.

I remember reading the recent Rolling Stone interview with Sean Penn and how the interviewer tried to tie the present to the past of Harvey Milk, where he battled such dimwits as Anita Bryant. Bryant was always saying that gay and lesbian citizens were a monstrous threat to our society. This kind of hyperbole and rabvid hate is exactly what ruined Bryant’s career. We can hope decent people in Utah, if there are enough of them, will bring Chris Buttars to the same end. Heck, the guy is old and looks like a frog, though, so maybe he’ll retire before they vote him out. That seems to me the fate of opposition to gay and lesbian civil rights – it is going to age itself out of business. It is a matter of time. Let’s just hope the party of hate goes the same direction.

Finally, it seems that Eric Cantor wanted to celebrate GOP solidarity against the stimulus package, so he put together a video. The tune in the background is Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle.” As reported on Huffington Post, Aerosmith is asking the Republican Whip Cantor to cease and desist. From Talking Points Memo:

Aerosmith wasn’t feeling the love. Cantor’s clip has been pulled from YouTube after a copyright infringement claim made by Stage Three Music, which owns the rights to “Back in the Saddle.”

The GOP’s use of the tune “was something we, as the publishers, didn’t approve and would not have approved without going to the writers,” Connie Ashton, director of copyright and licensing at Stage Three, told me. “Aerosmith did not approve of its use and also wanted to have it taken down,” she added.

Ashton added that House Republicans never contacted Stage Three to put in a request for use of “Back in the Saddle.”

The whack job Cantor didn’t even bother to get permission to use the song. Republicans feel such an entitlement that they think they can use the product of anyone’s labor. Watch your house and car, folks. They voted against a middle class tax cut, they now stole the intellectual product of Aerosmith, and they could be after your property next.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Bryan Lentz and the Coffin Flag Controversy

Bryan Lentz is a veteran and a young Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Today the right wing Philadelphia Inquirer asked Lentz to defend the policy of nt allowing press photographs of the flag draped coffins of servicemen on their return to the US. Lentz failed logically in presenting his arguments.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Barack Obama recently said his people would be reviewing the policy of not allowing photographs of soldiers coffins, draped in American flags, to be photographed by the press as they return to Dover from wherever that soldier died. As the proud owner of the flag that draped my father’s coffin, I believe we should honor all of our soldiers, their commitment and their service, by noting, with solemnity. I just don’t see how photographing the coffins impedes that goal. But the Philadelphia Inquirer, in its neverending pursuit of defending George Bush’s policies, has brought in Bryan Lentz, a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, to defend that policy. Lentz shows just how weak he is at structuring an argument in said defense when he discusses the notion of free speech and how it impacts the ruling.

Here’s the offending paragraph from Bryan Lentz in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

For those who say the First Amendment requires unfettered public access, I say – in this limited case – the First Amendment be damned. Free-speech protections don’t encompass yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and they shouldn’t include intruding on mourning military families.

There’s a world of nonsense in Lentz’s words here. First, the yelling “Fire” example is an example of one area where we may limit speech because yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater can be a major safety hazard. There is no safety hazard to taking press photos of flag draped coffins. Lentz’s analogy is simply stupid. If Lentz can find precedent where free speech is inhibited in order to spare the feelings of mourners, then he might find the proper precedent, but there’s no evidence in these cases that photographs of flaf draped coffins harms anyone’s ability to mourn. Indeed, there are no names on the coffins, and thus there is no privacy violated when photos are taken of those coffins.

Bryan Lentz has put up some straw men arguments to defend a Bush policy that helped sanitize a war where Bush asked for no sacrifice from the American people, then tried to shield our view from the ultimate sacrifices he did require. Americans in general were impeded under the Bush Administration, through a limitation of free speech, to take part in a national mouring in a significant way. We were not required by Bush to sacrifice, and we were limited by Bush in experiencing the sacrifice of others.

I respect Bryan Lentz’s service to our country. Indeed, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have touted his campaigning in the past, for instance here, where I touted his plan to challenge Curt Weldon a few years ago. Bryan Lentz may have heartfelt reasons to want the coverage of flag draped coffins of servicemen to be stifled, and I can respect those heartfelt reasons. I just can’t respect his use of faulty logic in defense of those policies.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Upon Further Review: Excessive Whackjobbery and Whining By GOP

Sometimes you’ve got to stop and chronicle the GOP whackjobbery, which has hit a high point since the Republicans tried to vote down the largest middle class tax cut in history. From the Washington Times to the FoxNews whack jobs to Rush Limbaugh, the GOP whackjobbery is as ripe as a landfill full of diapers. Smells like Republicans.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Every once in a while you’ve got to stop and smell the manure the Republicans are spreading and just wonder if anyone on their side believes any of their crap. It’s insane. Here’s a party that has fought for every single tax cut since Reagan was in office. We’re talking just under thirty years that the Republicans have identified themselves as the party of tax cuts. Indeed, under Presidnt George W. Bush the Republicans fought for income tax cuts and captial gains tax cuts, largely benefiting the biggest wage earners in the country.

As thereisnospoon at DailyKos notes, The Republicans recently showed what they really think of tax cuts when faced with the biggest middle class tax cut in history. Get it straight. They supported tax cuts for the wealthiest in our society, but only three Republicans in all of the Congress and Senate stuck to their guns and supposed beliefs and supported the Obama tax cut. It appears the GOP has replaced tax cutting with obstruction as the core of its value system. That is clear, perfectly clear, when you see the articles all over the place about how the GOP is planning to punish those Senators, Specter, Snowe and Collins, who voted for the largest middle class tax cut in history. Their crime was supporting a Democrat. That was their only crime, but it is the only crime important to Republicans anymore.

More whackjobbery? How about from the right wing newspaper the Washington Times. Sadly No, as stylish as ever, has the scoop. Seems the Times decided to go all Godwin on its readers and compare Democratic plans for healthcare to Hitler. I know, that sounds completely whack, and it is, but here’s the editorial from the Washington Times, complete with the photo of Hitler. You be the judge.

You want more whackjobbery? Will it satisfy you if I note that the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, newly elected and making the Republicans proud, recently said that, and I quote, from RawStory:

“I’m not going to soft pedal this with you,” Steele said. “The reality of it is, you are absolutely right. You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point.”

Oh, sure, there’s more context. The guy said it on the Glenn Beck Show. Glenn Beck kept pitching batting practice, trying to entice Micheal Steele to play Home Run Derby, slam the Dems, and instead Steele slams the ball into the dugout striking the GOP and injuring it. He said his own team isn’t to be trusted. The big shock here, I suppose, is a Republican uttering the truth.

Want even more GOP whackjobbery? We’ll close this segment of GOP Whackjobbery with Glenn Beck. Evidently he was frustrated at dealing with Michael Steele, so he took out his frustrations on his audience. The video is here, where Beck predicts the end of the world as we know it, all caused by the Obama tax cuts combined with the Obama stimulus spending. It’s funny to see such desperate right wing pundits as Beck. Almost as funny as reading Ann Coulter’s desperate screeds, or hearing Rush Limbaugh whine while at the same time showing his utter stupidity. But that’s the way GOP whackjobbery goes. Whether it is from GOP office holders, GOP supporters, their media supporters, GOP pundits, it’s all good, for the Dems in 2010.

Sunday, February 15th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The CEO of Comcast is TALENTED! Even in Death

The CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts, earned millions in salary and bonuses last year. He’s talented and effective, so much so that the Board had contracted to pay salary and even performance-based bonuses to Roberts even after he dies. Yes, they expected him to perform at a high level after death. He’s VERY TALENTED!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’m sure if Brian Roberts makes a couple million a year in salary and maybe ten or fifteen million a year in bonus there are those out there who think that’s extravagant. But Comcast isn’t a bank, and they’re not going to get bailouts, so why should we worry about their compensation for executives? I suppose we might worry if we thought that compensation structures for all executives had gotten so far out of hand that they didn’t reflect company or executive performance anymore, but I’m no financial wizard. What do I know?

Brian Roberts of Comcast makes good money, over $2MM in salary, which the company decided to freeze. Evidently Comcast is sensitive to the massive public outcry over executive perks and compensation concerning other industries. More importantly, Comcast has decided to cut the salary and bonus Brian Roberts is eligible to be paid for the five years after his death. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. will forgo an increase to his base salary for 2009, along with other top executives. In a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, CEO Brian Roberts also gave up his right to a base salary and annual cash bonus for up to five years after his death.

If I’m reading this correctly, Brian Roberts’ contract called for him to be paid for five years after he died. Indeed, his performance-based bonuses would potentially be paid for five years after his death as well. Yes, the Board of Comcast, in its infinite wisdom, thought Brian Roberts so talented that they foresaw paying him bonuses based on his performance even after he was dead.

That’s talented, to die and still perform at a high level, isn’t it?

Saturday, February 14th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Creative Budgeting: Girard College Manages Scotland School

Scotland School is an anachronism, a state boarding school for the children of veterans. It is slated to be shut down because of the fiscal crisis in Pennsylvania. Girard College is also an anachronism, but a successful private school with an endowment reportedly larger than they can spend. Sounds like a partnership could be arranged?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

This might seem like a very local issue, but it should have resonance as one possible solution to budgeting problems that are happening across the country at the state and local level. In this case, it is a school run by the Commonwealth of PA, the Scotland School, which is at risk. The Scotland School is a remnant of another time, surely, when the state ran schools for, in this case, the children of veterans. It is due to close this year, because of the fiscal crisis here in PA and at order of Governor Rendell. It is sort of a shame, an historic place that educated so many in PA, successfully, is headed to the scrap heap. Here’s a bit about the school from

The Scotland School for Veterans’ Children formally opened on June 1, 1895, to serve orphans of soldiers. Over the years it grew to a residential school for children of veterans and military personnel on active duty.

. . .

About 10,000 students have attended Scotland School for Veterans’ Children since its founding.

The students come from diverse geographic, ethnic and social backgrounds, according to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. All of the students are being prepared for post-secondary education and/or military service – 84 percent of graduates continue their education and 22 percent enlist in the National Guard or Reserves.

Most of the students are refugees from Philadelphia public schools, where the graduation rates, and rates of kids going on to college, are far, far lower. Yes, this school is valuable, despite being an anachronism. But the Scotland School is an expensive anachronism, soaking up nearly four times the dollars per student as much as is spent for other students in the state. The students at Scotland School are rallying to try to save it, focusing on preserving the funds of the Commonwealth that have kept it going for so long, but it might just be there is a solution in the private sector. Enter Girard College, another anachronism serving Philadelphia students.

Girard College is funded by the estate of Stephen Girard, who died in 1831 as perhaps the richest man in America. Stephen Girard gave all of his fortune to found the school, originally for white orphan boys from Philadelphia. No, it is not a college, but a cschool serving children from kindergarten through 12th grade. The school evolved to serve kids of all genders and races, though there is still a restriction that the kids must have just one parent. Girard College’s funds are now managed by the Board of Directors of City Trusts here in Philadelphia. They provide the administration of the endowment that supports Girard College. and that endowment is large. And there have been arguments over whether the enormous estate, grown because of coal mines of Girard property in central, PA, is being adequately spent for the support of Girard College and its students. Stephen Girard’s heirs contested the money in the distant past, and the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an expose on the huge sums administered by the Board of City Trusts for the support of Girard College in 1997. The conclusion then was that Girard College was not getting the benefit of all the sums it could have received, that the estate was producing far more funds than Girard College could spend. It is not clear that is still the case 12 years later, perhaps because of the secretive nature that has always been the operating strategy of the Board of City Trusts.

So here’s the question. Is the Stephen Girard Estate still producing far more money than Girard College needs to operate? If so, then saving Scotland School seems an entrepreneurial project along the lines of Girard College’s mission. Well, it may be that Girard College doesn’t have the funds to accomplish this task, though the funds from which they draw are hard to figure in scope. The Board of City Trusts is composed of some of the most important leaders in Philadelphia, including Mayor Nutter, Council Chair Anna Verna, and soon to be convicted former State Senator Vince Fumo. It seems to me there is an opportunity to transform Scotland School here, and that Girard College could play a huge role in that transformation. Helping preserve an institution that is serving so many Philadelphia students so well is a goal worth pursuing, even if these officials have a whole bunch of other fiscal priotrities on their slate.

OK, a bit of a creative solution. We’ve got a state institution, Scotland School, which will close soon. We’ve got a private institution, Girard College, which has a whole pile load of money. The missions of the schools are similar and they both perform their tasks of educating students fr better than does the Philadelphia School system. So, would someone besides me mention it to anybody in power over there at the Board of City Trusts?

Friday, February 13th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Rick Santorum Goes All “Crusades” Again

Rick Santorum is at it again, this time defending the anti-Islamic ideas of Geert Wilders, the extremist right wing Dutch Parlimentarian. It is becoming clear that Rick Santorum is not the token liberal on the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but their representative from the 15th Century. He’s a Republican Pundit Gone Wild.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Rick Santorum has been crying “Islamofascist” since well before his humiliating and much deserved defeat for Senate a couple years ago. The guy is basically a one-trick pony. He whines when Christianity is supposedly persecuted, but Rick is all about distorting the Muslim faith. Today’s Santorum column in the Philadelphia Inquirer combines both halves of Santorum’s twisted ovsession. First he defends Geert Wilders, the extremist right wing Dutch politician whose movie “Fitna” has been banned in the Netherlands. (Wilders heads his own political Party in the Netherlands, and its main focus is to make the Netherlands an explicitly Christian country – maybe that’s why Santorum is so attracted to Wilders’ ideas.)

As is usual, Santorum’s column is breathless with dire whines and predictions. The world is going soft on terror, at least as Santorum sees it. Of course Santorum’s notion of “going soft on terror” is when duly elected democracies promote policies of tolerance. But Santorum is positively over the edge in congratulating himself in this article. He’s whined and predicted for a long time now that Islamofascists are the greatest threat to humanity since, since, un, the greatest threat ever. To that end, all of Islam is a target. And in this column Santorum congratulates himself for being proven right, with more breathless dire warnings:

The gathering storm I have been warning of for years has now formed over the West. Yet instead of fighting the gradual incursion of Sharia and the demands of an intolerant, even militant Islam, Westerners are cowering and fatalistic. Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that acceptance of some parts of Sharia in Britain seemed “unavoidable.”

Bullcrap. Santorum is waiting in the wings to be the hero, no doubt. Meanwhile thinking people of the world are helping battle for the hearts and minds of those who follow Islam, calling for the capture and destruction of Islamic terrorists, surely, but allowing that Muslims should be encouraged to follow their religion peacefully as full members of the international community.

Santorum and Wilders are examples of precisely what is wrong in this world. They wish to combat extremism with their own brand of ugly extremism. Santorum earned much infamy, well-deserved, in this country with his extremist stances on gay and lesbian citizens, showing that his stance is one of contempt rather than of the love his religion teaches him. Yup, one-trick pony that he is, his stance towards Islam is of contempt rather than the love his religion teaches him. Heck, I’m thinking Rick Santorum would only be happy if the entire West were ruled by his brand of Sharia, one that employed the Inquisition, and one that ran Crusades. The West long ago evolved from such base notions, but Santorum doesn’t believe in evolution, either.

Once again the Philadelphia Inquirer should be ashamed for publishing this man’s desperate whiney screeds. Surely Santorum’s is a call for help, not necessarily against the IslamoFascists he is fixated on, but from the extremism that grips his own heart.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Eric Cantor is a Saucy Wench!

Stupid Republicans. Eric Cantor, who has campaigned against profanity in the past, even to the point of being captured by the Congressional Record, has published a filthy and profanity laden screed against AFSME. Nevermind the hypocrisy, the guy is attacking workers in a time when layoffs are rampant. Republican stupidity at its best.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Eric Cantor is a Republican Representative from Virginia, representing parts of Richmond’s suburbs and the Shenandoah Valley. (Man, I am listening to folk music now, Stan Rogers to be specific, and I love that Shenandoah song.) Eric Cantor campaigned as a religious conservative, and he’s currently the Republican Whip in the House, and the only Jewish Republican out there in the House. Eric Cantor has been a crusador against dirty language on the airwaves. He’s part of the Republican “virtue squad,” though yesterday his people sent out a missive that is so full of expletives that it belies Eric Cantor’s supposed principles. Poor boy can’t be very consistent, I suppose, just like most Republicans.

The story is from Think Progress. Those guys are great, aren’t they? They’ve got the audio and video of Cantor’s response to an ad by AFSME, which is so laden that it certainly would not pass muster with Eric Cantor’s own bill, which he argued for thusly, according to the Congressional Record:

This important legislation calls for tougher fines and enforcement penalties for obscene broadcasts. Shameless acts are inexcusable and should be disciplined to ensure that they will not continue and will not be tolerated.

I have received over one thousand letters, emails and phone calls from outraged constituents regarding obscene TV and radio broadcasts in recent months. We cannot accept anything less than an effective solution to this problem; we will not be satisfied until those who are responsible have been reprimanded, and we can be assured this kind of behavior will not continue.

We must give parents the peace of mind that the programming available to their children on television and radio today is appropriate.

I urge all members to support this legislation.

Yeah, this is another example of ludicrous hypocrisy on the part of the Republican leadership. According to Think Progress’s count, there are six uses of the F Bomb in Canotr’s screed against AFSME, which is merely an organization representing workers, mind you. Why in the world would anyone want to attack workers? I’m thinking in this time when there are layoffs right and left the Republicans haven’t figured out that workers are voters. That’s not just hypocrisy, but also stupidity.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Pete Sessions (R-TX) Learns from the Taliban

Pete Sessions compares the Republican obstructionist position concerning the stimulus bill to the insurgency of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Really, he did! Well, we successfully pinned the “culture of corruption” tag on the GOP a few years ago, and Sessions opens us up to coining another tag. How about “The American Talibanskis?”

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Pete Sessions is a a Representative from Texas. Waco. Maybe that explains it. He’s also Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The other day he likened the House resistance to the stimulus plan to Taliban insurgency. I’m thinking there are no lessons one wants to learn from the Taliban, but Sessions went there, really he did. From Hotline:

Frustrated by a lack of bipartisan outreach from House Democratic leaders, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said House Republicans – who voted unanimously last week against the economic plan pushed by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – will pitch a “positive, loyal opposition” to the proposal. The group, he added, should also “understand insurgency” in implementing efforts to offer alternatives.

“Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban,” Sessions said during a meeting yesterday with Hotline editors. “And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes. And these Taliban – I’m not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that’s not what we’re saying. I’m saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.”

What this is is a pouty Republican whine gone wrong. No, I don’t think Sessions means that the Republican Party is just like the Taliban, but it is clear he has learned the lessons of the Taliban, lessons the Bush Administration did not learn, thus failing to wipe them out. Maybe Sessions sees himself as a glorious freedom fighter who when he takes charge will force women into bhurkas. Heck, I don’t know. The guy really pulled a stupid one here.

But this really is just a whine. His poor party was not invited to control the legislation. Barack Obama invited all sorts of Republican leaders to the White House, travelled to and made unprecedented trips to the House and Senate to consult with Republicans, and Sessions is whining that he and his fellow insurgents couldn’t control the election. Hey, maybe if they hadn’t supported Bush as he trashed the constitution, ran up record budget deficits, ruined the economy (I could go on), then Sessions and his cohorts wouldn’t have lost so many seats in the House and Senate. After all, that’s the real reason they aren’t controlling the legislative agenda. That’s how it works in our democracy, after all, the ones who got the votes run things. Hey, Pete – tough!

But let’s be clear. Sessions’ statements about running his Party as if it were the Afghanistan-based Taliban insurgency is in fact the new core value of the Republican Party. Obstruction is the word of the day, and has become the core ethic for the GOP. As Eric Cantor describes it, it is the political strategy of “Just say NO!” Here it is from the Washington Post:

Three months after their Election Day drubbing, Republican leaders see glimmers of rebirth in the party’s liberation from an unpopular president, its selection of its first African American chairman and, most of all, its stand against a stimulus package that they are increasingly confident will provide little economic jolt but will pay off politically for those who oppose it.

After giving the package zero votes in the House, and 0with their counterparts in the Senate likely to provide in a crucial procedural vote today only the handful of votes needed to avoid a filibuster, Republicans are relishing the opportunity to make a big statement. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) suggested last week that the party is learning from the disruptive tactics of the Taliban, and the GOP these days does have the bravado of an insurgent band that has pulled together after a big defeat to carry off a quick, if not particularly damaging, raid on the powers that be.

“We’re so far ahead of where we thought we’d be at this time,” said Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), one of several younger congressmen seeking to lead the party’s renewal. “It’s not a sign that we’re back to where we need to be, but it’s a sign that we’re beginning to find our voice. We’re standing on our core principles, and the core principle that suffered the most in recent years was fiscal conservatism and economic liberty. That was the tallest pole in our tent, and we took an ax to it, but now we’re building it back.”

The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), put it more bluntly. “What transpired . . . and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no,” he said.

We succeeded in the last several years in attaching the phrase “culture of corruption” to the GOP brand. Now it is time to find a new phrase. The “Architects of Obstruction?” There’s a good one. But I’m thinking you all can do better. Think of it as thinking up a band name for a punk rock group. It has to be offensive and descriptive at the same time. “The American Talibanskis” might be a good name. But I’m never any good at this. You all feel free to come up with some suggestions, willya?

Monday, February 9th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

“Journalist” Needs an Editor: Writes About Obama Fantasies

The New York Times hits a new low. Columnist Judith Warner writes about the fantasies she and her friends have involving the Obama family. Yes, that is journalism today. This isn’t about Obama working on our economy, sparring with Putin, or even about him christening a new Aircraft Carrier. She wrote about Obama fantasies.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

OK, some will claim that a blogger employed by the New York Times is still a blogger, not a journalist. I don’t agree. The woman is a professional writer published by the New York Times web site, and evidently has a contract to write one blog a week, but since Judith Warner’s called a blogger I guess it’s all OK that she writes about her fantasies of Barack Obama. OK, I don’t want to come off as a prude or something, but spare me!

OK, here’s the scenario. Judith Warner, the writer in question, had a friend. They both fantasized about Barack Obama. As Warner notes, “two anecdotes are just one short of a national trend,” so she emailed all her friends in search of a third anecdote. It all seems like a story out of Sex in the City or something, and thankfully Warner doesn’t give us the graphic details of her own fantasy, except for the shower scene. . .

I’m trying to wonder what in the world would make a manufactured trend about people fantasizing about Barack Obama a trend. Sure, the feminist movement taught us that “the personal is political,” but that says nothing about journalism, does it? And, sure, Judith Warner chronicles some fantasies that just aren’t sexual, like a woman wanting to invite Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia over for tea and cookies. (No, none of that’s euphemistic.) So the fantasies here are not exactly sexual. Warner’s point is that people in general think of Barack and Michelle Obama as approachable, someone they could be friends with. Gosh, there’s a journalistic hook, eh?

Let me get one thing straight. From 2000 through 2008 we had a President selected because he was supposedly someone you could drink a beer with. It was good old boy leadership. I don’t want that anymore. George Bush brought with him too much incompetence, corruption and mismanagement, and we’re paying for it now. I want a man who knows more than I do, who can dissect complicated issues far better than I, who can be decisive and who people listen to. I don’t have any room there for a guy who shows up in my shower in my dreams. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as they say. And I want serious journalism out of my New York Times!

Look, NYTimes editors, I can do you a flavor. I promise to write you three columns a week for the price Judith Warner is charging you for one column. I promise two of them will include my deepest fantasies. I’m thinking right now of the diaper elf who will sweep into my bedroom at 4:30 in the morning and change my son, feed and burp him, and return him sleeping whilst I continue sleeping. Hey, that’s a fantasy, isn’t it? There are a few million parents who have the same freaking fantasy, I GUARANTEE, so by Judith Warner’s logic that makes a story, right?

Good God, I’m thinking the New York Times needs to go under. That troubles me more than I can express. I’ve been reading newspapers daily for 41 years, ever since I started that newspaper route when I was 11. I have bought the Sunday Times every week for nearly thrity years, enthralled by the entertainment section, entrapped by the commentaries, and puzzled by the Sunday crossword. Even through the Judith Miller Fiasco I was not one to call for the dismantling of the New York Times. Hey, even great old gray ladies make mistakes. But I am sure saddened today, when the New York Times actually pays someone to chronicle her friends’ fantasies about rubbing elbows with the Obama family. Man! I just want to tear my eyeballs out or something.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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