The Net Neutrality Battle’s “Philly” Flavor

Net Neutrality is an issue I know little about, but it’™s a Philly issue when Comcast and its Executive VP David Cohen is involved. The FCC hearing at Harvard is the subject of controversy, with Comcast blowing it with a sophomoric strategy that backfired bigtime.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Oh, I suppose hijinks like Comcast’™s blocking opposition by monopolizing seats at the FCC net neutrality hearing in Cambridge the other day aren’™t just Philly-style hijinks. The whole brouhaha is sure getting a lot of press, though, and Comcast is getting the short end of it. Let’™s give a little background.

The FCC planned a hearing at Harvard on the issue of net neutrality. They planned it for a room that held 290 people, and Comcast paid people off the streets to take seats in the front rows. Petty tactic, but Comcast is claiming the guys off the streets were saving seats for Comcast employees, a claim that would work if the Comcast employees actually showed up to replace the shills off the streets who slept through the meeting. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Attention was called to Comcast’™s tactic by Free Press officials who attended the hearing. One photographed two seat-warmers sleeping during the hearing.

‘œWe spent time educating the public about the event and the issue,’ said Free Press spokeswoman Jen Howard, ‘œand we did not have to pay anyone to attend.’

Bracy, of the Berkman Center, said the group of seat-warmers caught her attention when she showed up at the Ames Courtroom at 7:15 a.m. Monday to prepare for the hearing.

About 35 people – mostly men dressed in jeans and baseball caps and one in a camouflage jacket – were parked in the first three rows of the auditorium drinking coffee and reading the Boston Globe, she said.

They were ‘œregular Joes’ who looked like they could have come from Dunkin’™ Donuts, Bracy said. She was surprised to find them there several hours before the late-morning event. ‘œI thought, great, we’™re reaching out to new communities.’

But Bracy’™s suspicions of the Internet activists grew when none of them appeared to know about wireless Internet capabilities and two in the front row fell asleep during the hearing.

Why would Comcast do such a thing. OK, I know net neutrality is a contentious issue, and I know that Comcast is the wrong side of it, but I’™m no expert on the issue. Indeed, I’™ve always wondered why net usage hasn’™t, at least somewhat, been priced by bandwidth usage. Comcast sure would love that, wouldn’™t they? No, I’™m not all that up on the issue of net neutrality, so this article isn’™t about that subject, really. If you want to read about net neutrality, go check out the wikipedia article, or go to No, I won’™t talk much about net neutrality. I’™ll write here about Comcast, their dirty little tricks, how they were incompetent at pulling those dirty tricks off, and how now they’™re going to have to go into the belly of the beast, Silicon Valley, and argue their case. Of course, the Comcast story here probably starts with David Cohen.

David Cohen has a big rep here in Philly. He was a monster presence at Ballard Spahr, a large national law firm with its headquarters here in Philly. During the 90′™s David Cohen worked for the Ed Rendell Mayoral Administration here in the city as Chief of Staff. I remember hearing a speech David Cohen gave to the local American Red Cross chapter about ten years ago. He had the wife and kids up on the stage, and he told a story that is also told in Buzz Bissinger’™s book ‘œA Prayer for the City,’ a moving look at the challenges the Ed Rendell administration faced in Philly in the 90′™s. The story was of an officer who had been shot, and of the intimate exchange that happened at the hospital between Mayor Rendell and the young son of the officer who died. No, not a dry eye in the house. To me, David Cohen will always be the man who told that story and moved me, though he is also now the Executive Vice President of Comcast, a company that has long thrown its monopolistic weight around here in the Philly area and across the country.

I’™m not a Comcast fan. When I first lived in Philly I paid for their services, which went up and up and up seemingly every year. They had no competition, so they charged whatever they pleased, or so it seemed. Heck, that’™s why I’™m with Direct TV now. But I’™ve been a David Cohen fan in the past. And this silly stunt Comcast pulled at the hearing in Cambridge is not something I would expect of Cohen. It is not that I think Cohen is above playing a little hardball on the issues that effect his company. It is that David Cohen has never been so clumsy and incompetent as Comcast has shown themselves with this incident. Let’™s make sure to focus on the issue. One of Comcast’™s most important tasks is to LOOK like it is a good corporate citizen, even if it is on the wrong side of such a populist issue as net neutrality. Comcast’™s tactics blew that fiction apart. Indeed, Comcast will be rewarded with that with a hearing at Stanford, a place where Comcast critics are sure to have a crowd far more energized than the one in Cambridge.

Yeah, Comcast screwed up trying to protect David Cohen by filling the front rows of the auditorium in Cambridge with docile bodies of shills off the street. They should have left well enough alone, for they’™ve gotten bad publicity and an even worse forum, from their viewpoint, for the next hearing. This is simple incompetence on the scale of a George Bush. David Cohen used to be a Democrat, but I’™m beginning to wonder given this incompetent performance.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

So a whole bunch of bipartisn politicans are going to meet in Oklahoma to talk about how the next leader of our country should be a real uniter. So which of the current candidates will they pick? I’€™m thinking the decision will narrow to McCain and Obama. Let’€™s hope McCain’€™s pandering to special interests moves that choice to Obama.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’€™s a whole bunch of talk out there about the meeting on January 7th at the University of Oklahoma, hosted by their President, former Senator David Boren. (One of the members of our local Drinking Liberally Chapter this last year is there in Norman, and I’€™d love to hear from him.) The meeting is being attended by a whole bunch of retired political folks who have real bipartisan credibility. William Cohne, for instance, a former Republican Senator, served under Bill Clinton. Others include Sam Nunn (D), Michael Bloomberg (R), Charles Robb (D), Chuck Hagel (R), Bill Brock (R), Gary Hart (D), Christy Whitman (R), etc. This is a high-powered bunch, though I’€™m not hyping it here as a bunch that could possibly start a third party, as David Broder seems to be hyping. Still, I recently read Orson Scott Card’€™s book Empire, which gives us a dystopic view concerning our very partisan nation. Oh, sure, I have arguments with Card, but his warning about how ugly our partisan politics have become rings true.

The point of the conference at OU is to push the current Presidential candidates to commit to a bipartisan approach to running this country, and I think what they’€™re saying is that they need to see a commitment by the current presidential candidates to appointing bipartisan cabinets. I’€™ll take David Boren at his word that this is not a Michael Bloomberg for President convention. As reported by the Norman Transcript:

‘€œOur political system is, at the least, badly bent and many are concluding that it is broken at a time where America must lead boldly at home and abroad,’€ according to the invitation letter signed by Boren and Nunn. ‘€œPartisan polarization is preventing us from uniting to meet the challenges that we must face if we are to prevent further erosion of America’€™s power of leadership and example.

‘€œThe next president of the United States will be faced with what has been described as a gathering storm both at home and abroad. Serious near term challenges include the lack of a national strategy to deal with our fiscal challenges, our educational challenges, our energy challenges, our environmental challenges, as well as the dangerous turbulence triggered by the current financial crisis,’€ the letter states.

Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, is among the invitees. However, Boren said the meeting was not an attempt to bring attention to a potential Bloomberg candidacy.

‘€œBloomberg is just an invitee,’€ Boren said Sunday afternoon. ‘€œIt’€™s not a Bloomberg for president meeting.’€

I might just now speak with a bit of pride about my Okie background. My parents met in Oklahoma, and we lived there for a time when I was very young. I remember them campaigning for a Republican when I was young, a former football coach, the legendary Bud Wilkinson. (I’€™m a big football fan, and an Oklahoma fan as a result.) I also am a collector of the art of Oklahoma artist Charles Banks Wilson (Hey, there’€™s one of my pieces on this site!) And I continually tell my wife about how the Broadway play Oklahoma was all about liberal values, of folks trying to get along even with class differences in the way. Enough about my Oklahoma roots, though. This post is about how the conference where a bunch of folks in the political center want to sway this year’€™s election, and about how they’€™ve got a litmus test ‘€” this year’€™s candidates, in order to get the support of this group of bipartisan politicans, must commit to a plan for a bipartisan administration. So which of the candidates can do so? Which of these candidates among both parties might best suit the standards of this bipartian group? I’€™ll go through a list of a few candidates and see. First the Republican side:

Mitt Romney: Here’€™s a guy who has switched positions on almost every cause held dear by liberals. Choice, immigration, the War in Iraq, civil right for gay citizens. The list of flip flopping by Mitt Romney is long. I can find complaining about those flip flops from both the rabid conservative and the liberal sides of the aisle. No, Mitt Romney will not be the choice of the Oklahoma conference, not by a long shot.

Mike Huckabee: Can anyone really believe that Huckabee will appoint Democrats to key positions. Yeah, Romney accuses Huckabee of being liberal, in a ‘€œtax and spend’€ sense, but Huckabee has a history of demonizing the Clinton Administration in order to climb the political ladder, by pardoning a murderer, in this case. No, Mike Huckabee will not be the choice here.

Rudy Giuliani: Rudy might seem to be a good candidate for bipartisn government, but it just ain’€™t going to happen. Everyone on the Democrat side has seen Rudy for what he is, a shrill spokesperson whose only message is 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. For a real Democrat to join his administration he or she would have to agree to torture, and that just ain’€™t going to happen.

John McCain: Here’€™s the only man among the Republican candidates who might be able to attract Democrats to serve in his Administration. After all, McCain allied with Democrats on the immigration issue, and his stances are a whole lot like Chuck Hagel’€™s. Still, the most important issue on which John McCain has allied with Democrats is turning sour, that of campaign finance reform, as revealed by a Washington Post article today. No, McCain is not to be trusted in the ‘€œstraight talk’€ arena, not anymore.

The Democrats:

Hillary Clinton: It is possible that Hillary Clinton could appoint Republicans to her cabinet, but it just is not likely that she could garner support from the whacked out folks in this country who think she is the center of a whole bunch of really crazy conspiracy theories. Come on, folks, do you really think Hillary Clinton can garner support from the brainwashed folks who think she had Vince Foster killed. Please understand I do NOT think Hillary had any role in that incident, but there’€™s enough whack jobs on the right who do. Scratch Hillary from this list for sure.

John Edwards: Mr. Edwards is the endorsed candidate of Allspinzone. That does not make him the candidate of the Oklahoma bipartisan group, that’€™s for sure. John Edwards is far too liberal for the guys meeting in Norman. John Edwards is a trial lawyer. I’€™ll stick by my lovely wife on this one, a centrist Republican. She’€™s not about to go for a plaintiff’€™s lawyer, and I’€™ll go with most Republicans not going to a plaintiff’€™s lawyer, certainly not those meeting in Norman, OK.

Barack Obama: Here’€™s the guy on the Democratic side who fits the mold of a bipartisn uniter. At the very least, he has talked that game all along. Sure, he’€™s garnered support of the woman who Rush Limbaugh sees as the epitome of liberal values, Oprah Winfrey, but Obama has shown that he’€™s bipartisan, though that stance has not been tested in any real sense. We’€™ll need to see him get some support of Republicans for him to be the choice of the group in Oklahoma.

Hmm. This could be exciting.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Rudy Fiddled And Diddled On Gotham City’s Dime?

It looks like Rudy Giuliani, the ever morphing mayor, has got some splainin’™ to do.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

New York’™s semi-smarmy super hero, the drag queen wannabe who no doubt wishes he could campaign wearing Annie Oakley-esque outfits complete with a pair of precious plaid holsters sporting a set of sassy squirt guns, apparently left some rather large loose ends in his winsome wake’¦and I’™m not talking about the backsides of his bevy of former Frauleins. It appears that Rudy made a number of trips to the Hamptons to shack up with Judy ‘œMake Room For My Vuitton’ Nathan on Gotham City’™s dime.

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’™s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor’™s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing ‘œsecurity.’

The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani’™s New York Police Department security detail.

Now one can speculate what America’™s mayor meant by ‘œsecurity’ when deflecting questions about these rather suspect expenditures’¦perhaps his psyche was subconsciously pondering the problems he might encounter if the woman holed up in Gracie Mansion had the goods on her cousin kissin’™ diddly dallying husband?

I could include additional excerpts but I’™m having way more fun sharing my silly and snide snark. When I read about Rudy’™s amorphous accounting, I couldn’™t help but harken to the head-scratching that followed his loquacious telephone interludes with wifey number three while standing at the podium to deliver a speech. Perhaps the current Mrs. Giuliani wants to keep account of her hubby’¦after all, she knows all too well about her hubby’™s clandestine capabilities.

Truth be told, I doubt Rudy could afford the crown wife number four might require should he elect to discard his current tiara topped trysterina. Besides, can the leader of the free world be found out to be kitty kaptured? I think not. Anyway, I suspect he will have to keep his untrustworthy tallywhacker in toe for the time being.

In the meantime, it looks like Rudy Rudolpho, the ever morphing mayor, has got some splainin’™ to do’¦and I’™m not sure he’™s all that capable of selling his version of ‘œvitameatavegamin’.

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Bailout Imbroglio: Politics, Power, Pulpits, & Profit

The failure to pass bailout legislation is a symptom of a larger issue’¦one that percolates in the background. Good governance must promote a social structure that insists the nation be neutral while accepting the soul’™s autonomy. Preserving our American identity hangs in the balance.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

We’™re in uncharted waters with a leaky boat and a storm on the horizon’¦but the GOP wants us to know that Nancy Pelosi is a mean-spirited partisan.

Let me see if I can get this straight. The Republican president of the United States sends the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Chairman to Capital Hill with a message of impending economic doom’¦asking the party in power to put aside partisanship and pass necessary legislation.

The party in power (Democrats) holds its nose and puts together a bill premised upon the gravity of the situation, endures John McCain’™s grandstanding at the eleventh hour, allows him to characterize his involvement as critical to the success of the process, spends hours meeting with those in the GOP who want to amend the bill, comes to an agreement on a bill the GOP leadership can support, and then brings the bill to a vote.

In that vote, over sixty percent of Democrats support legislation that was requested by the head of the opposition party, two thirds of the presidents fellow Republicans jump ship and oppose the bill, and the GOP house leadership wants Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to shoulder the blame?! Well there you have it’¦nothing illogical about that, right?

Frankly, I’™ve personally reached the point at which I’™m opposed to any attempt to glue what remains of our failed government back together. Unless and until politicians are held accountable for the consequences of their actions, I’™m in favor of pulling the rest of the metaphorical china from the cupboard and smashing it all on the floor. I say as much because I don’™t think anything will change until the American public is forced to face reality’¦even if that means standing in line for a loaf of bread and a bowl of soup.

Look, let’™s be honest as to what all of this GOP partisanship is about. From their self-serving perspective, it’™s power and money’¦and they’™re willing to do whatever it takes to obtain both. Voters, on the other hand, have allowed themselves to be drawn into an ideological struggle to define morality. Taken together, this is the underlying formula for the disaster we’™re witnessing.

Instead of a candid discussion on the merits of rescuing our financial structure, the political combatants have spent years defining our differences in terms of good versus evil; right versus wrong. While voters blindly engage in this theoretical tug of war, the real battle for dominance is waged in the trenches’¦replete with lobbyists looking to commit larceny in tandem with their trusted troopers’¦the political elite.

The unseen metrics of today’™s maelstrom center upon the pursuit of profit. Those house Republicans who opposed today’™s legislation tell us they are concerned about main street. In truth they, in concert with their corporate benefactors who want the government to insure their success without foregoing the profits that may eventually result from the government’™s intervention, see main street as a peripheral player.

Let me explain. If the bail out takes the current form, the companies that avail themselves of it will have to forego the upside of the very assets that have made them a ton of money during the housing bubble and now leads them to the edge of financial ruin. Conversely, if the legislation is structured as an insurance mechanism, they receive the financial assist they need without foregoing the future profits that may ensue with the passage of time and an improved economy.

In other words, house Republicans are carrying the water of Wall Street while telling us they’™re looking out for the interests of taxpayers. You see, one need only look at the proposal that came from the Bush administration’¦a virtual blank check to assi

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

A Conservative Leaves the Nest — Not Far Enough, Though

Michael Smerconish is Philly’™s big conservative radio talk show host, and yesterday’™s column by him in the Philadelphia Inquirer asks some tough questions, even condemns the Bush Administration, though he is careful not to even use the words ‘œBush’ or ‘œCheney’ in his piece. I suppose he’™s a big wimp and using Rumsfeld as [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Michael Smerconish is Philly’™s big conservative radio talk show host, and yesterday’™s column by him in the Philadelphia Inquirer asks some tough questions, even condemns the Bush Administration, though he is careful not to even use the words ‘œBush’ or ‘œCheney’ in his piece. I suppose he’™s a big wimp and using Rumsfeld as a scapegoat.

Instead, I suspect we are completely reliant on Musharraf, who is willing to do only as much as guarantees him the continued support of America, but not enough to undermine his tenuous hold over his nation’™s tribal leaders. During my trip, I questioned senior military leaders about my suspicion.

One was quick to use the word sovereignty in his reply before describing the search as ‘œdifficult and nuanced.’ Another told me the hunt was the equivalent of finding one man in the Rockies. Several asked me what would happen if they did find him, insinuating that support for the war in Iraq would further dissipate if that were to occur.

I’™m not blaming our military. But if I am correct

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Palin Celebrityhood? Montel, Springer, Tyra Don’t Help Ambitions

The Sarah Palin hopes for national office officially ended yesterday not when Levi Johnston went on the Tyra Banks Show and displayed his ‘œBristol’ tattoo and talked about condoms. No, the Sarah Palin response, which reads as if someone is spitting it out before closing the screen door of the double wide, sinks Sarah Palin’™s ambitions.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I remember this Ad from the McCain campaign last Fall, wherte the implication is that Barack Obama’™s celebrity was waning and Sarah Palin was going to take over. (McCain hasn’™t gained any more sense lately, calling hispanics ‘œyou people’ and frothing at the mouth in a recent meeting.) Well, since then she’™s not exactly become an ‘œA’ list celebrity, but more appropriately a candidate for the Montel Williams Show, or Cops. OK, so she can’™t control her sister-in-law breaking into a neighbor’™s house to steal some cash. That’™s not on Palin, is it?

The fun part is that the Palin family is being revealed for the trailer trash sensibilities that are its foundation. Sure, Palin can’™t control Levi Johnston going on the Tyra Banks Show, showing off his ‘œBristol’ tattoo, and admitting to wardrobe malfunctions, er, ah, sometimes forgetting to use a condom when screwing making love with Bristol. Heck, she can’™t control the video of that appearance, due out Monday but with a sneak peek here. But Sarah Palin can control the reactions of her staff.

Sarah Palin, if she had class at all, would react to this little episode with resounding silence. But, no. Class doesn’™t enter into it. Here’™s the scoop on the Sarah Palin reaction from that celebrity gossip magazine People:

‘œBristol did not even know Levi was going on the show. We’™re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship,’ says the statement from the Palin family rep.

‘œBristol’™s focus will remain on raising Tripp, completing her education, and advocating abstinence,’ the statement continues. ‘œIt is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well being of the child.’

The statement ends, saying, ‘œBristol realizes now that she made a mistake in her relationship and is the one taking responsibility for their actions.’

When I read Palin lashing out like this I think of one thing. I think of someone playing the Church Lady in an opposition political commercial and using Sarah Palin’™s exact words over and over and over again. Maybe splice in some scenes of a hair-pulling, chair-throwing fight just to spice up the ad. The celebrity Sarah Palin sought is now at the level of Montel and Springer and Tyra Banks. That’™s called finding its true place. Meanwhile, Barack Obama is being feted in Strasbourg.

Saturday, April 4th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

“I’m John McCain, and I Never Approved of Squat”

John McCain is denying responsibility for an ad run by the RNC on his behalf last fall. Evidently he did not approve of that commercial, though the judge is not buying it, and is allowing Jackson Browne’™s suit for infringing on his song ‘œRunning on Empty.’ The GOP wankers should have tried using Browne’™s ‘œRosie.’

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In last fall’™s election campaign the GOP used an ad in Ohio that ripped off the Jackson Browne golden oldie, ‘œRunning on Empty.’ The point they were trying to get across was that the Obama campaign energy policy would leave us without gas, or something like that. Jackson Browne was offended by the ad, and has sued all of the above, John McCain, the RNC, and etc. Turns out John McCain’™s defense is that he never approved the use of the song. The man helped write the campaign laws, for Christ’™s sake, and he can’™t take personal responsibility for this kind of bungling? Here’™s his defense, from

I was not involved at all in any way in the writing, creation, production, distribution or dissemination of the video, nor do I have any knowledge whatsoever of how this video was written, created, produced or disseminated or who was involved in any aspect of the writing, creation, production, distribution or dissemination of the video. I was completely unaware that this video even existed until I was informed of it after this lawsuit was filed.

The judge didn’™t buy it.

Despite McCain’™s claims of being a hapless dupe for his party, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner said (.pdf) the RNC and McCain were so intertwined ‘” what the judge called an ‘œagency relationship’ ‘” that McCain stays in the case. The judge wrote that, even if McCain’™s statement were true, ‘œonce an agency relationship is established, the principal is liable for the acts of her agent, even if the principal does not expressly authorize or instruct her agent to take any action.’

The judge also did not agree with the Republicans and McCain that Browne’™s lawsuit was bogus. Among other things, the judge kept the lawsuit alive to give the defendants a chance to demonstrate how using about 20 seconds of the song in the commercial was a fair use.

Yes, persons running for political office are responsible, just like we are, for using and paying for the artistic products they want to emply to back their own ambitions.

In the interest of full disclosure, my son goes to sleep quite well to Jackson Browne’™s ‘œJamaica Say You Will.’ I have not played ‘œRosie’ for him.

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Yo Repubs? How’s that “Do Nothing” Strategery Working Out?

The polls are in and the Republican strategery of doing nothing about the economy is proving to be wildly unpopular with the people, while Obama remains popular. Hey, and bipartisanship is something the public seems to want as well. Gosh, that means a total of three Republicans are going to get some credit! Massive GOP FAIL!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I just can’™t get over this New York Times poll this morning. Obama is getting the backing of the people of America in far higher numbers than just those who voted for him, and by far they are optimistic about the stimulus. How do they favor the Repubs and their ‘œdo nothing‘ and ‘œknow nothing‘ strategeries? Not so much. From the New York Times:

A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most faulted Republicans for their response to the president, saying the party had objected to the $787 billion economic stimulus plan for political reasons. Most said Mr. Obama should pursue the priorities he campaigned on, the poll found, rather than seek middle ground with Republicans.

. . .

Americans are under no illusions that the country’™s problems will be resolved quickly, but the poll suggested that they will be patient when it comes to the economy, with most saying it would be years before significant improvement.

A month into Mr. Obama’™s term, with his first big accomplishments, setbacks and political battles behind him, more than three-quarters of the people polled said they were optimistic about the next four years with him as president. Similar percentages said that they thought he was bringing real change to the way things were done in Washington and that they had confidence in his ability to make the right decisions about the economy.

The aura of good will surrounding Mr. Obama at this stage of his presidency is similar to the one that benefited Ronald Reagan as he led the nation out of economic gloom.

With a job approval rating of 63 percent, Mr. Obama is in a strong position to sell his economic policies. Yet the poll also captured skepticism about how effective his plans will prove to be in addressing the deep recession, as well as a strain of populism that could test his ability to retain public support for efforts to prop up key sectors of the economy.

I’™m thinking there is a bandwagon concerning bipartisanship that the Republicans would do well to get aboard. I do not expect them to do so, though. I think they are hard wired right now to oppose anything a Democrat proposes, whether that is the Democratic Congress or Barack Obama. They ignore Obama’™s popularity at their peril.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Next Right Wing Conspiracy Theory: Obama’s Hitler Oath

The latest conspiracy is forming in Right Blogistan, combining Hitler and Obama. They say Obama is forcing soldiers to take an oath that swears allegiance to him rather than to the constitution, just like Hitler forced on the Wehrmacht. They didn’™t notice the oath already swears obedience to the President, and has for a long, long time.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The Freepers are freeping about it, and they are talking about it all over the right wing whack job side of the blogzome. Here, here, here and here, for instance. Supposedly the story begins with a writer named Michele Chang at Jumping in Pools, but it is an awfully tangled web of whackjobbery to untangle.

The gist of the whole whacked out story is, and let’™s remember this is pure fiction, that Barack Obama has proposed that soldiers take an oath to him, not to the constitution. Yikes! Watch out for the black helicopters! Get your wives and sisters and daughters in the house and bar the door! Here’™s the alarming text from Ms. Chang, or a segment of it:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is extremely frustrated with orders that the White House is contemplating. According to sources at the Pentagon, including all branches of the armed forces, the Obama Administration may break with a centuries-old tradition.

A spokesman for General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that the Obama Administration wants to have soldiers and officers pledge a loyalty oath directly to the office of the President, and no longer to the Constitution.

‘œThe oath to the Constitution is as old as the document itself.’ the spokesman said, ‘œAt no time in American history, not even in the Civil War, did the oath change or the subject of the oath differ. It has always been to the Constitution.’

Chang later calls the action equivalent to the oath the Wehrmacht took to Adolf Hitler. My, my, that’™s scary. Well, it would be if Michelle Chang had bothered to give us a source here, name a spokesman, or give any facts that could be followed up. Particularly odd is her quote saying the soldier’™s oath has never been changed in our history. Gosh, the US Army’™s own web page about the history of that oath mentions how it has evolved. You’™d think they’™d know, wouldn’™t you? Or maybe they are in on the conspiracy, eh? Yeah, that’™s it, the US Army is in on the conspiracy headed by Barack Obama, a conspiracy whereby all soldiers are forced to take this oath:

‘œI, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.’ (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Look, look! Obama didn’™t even have to argue with Secretary Gates! The military is already required to take an oath to obey the President! It was George Washington who started this conspiracy, knowing all about how the Wehrmacht would steal the oath and also knowing that Barack Obama, a Kenyan or Indonesian or Manchurian or something, would come along and, just like all the other Presidents in our history, have regular soldiers take this oath.

Man, the right wingers are stupid.

Friday, January 30th, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Pet “Value” Returns After Being Missing for Eight Years!

The Republicans are opposing the Obama fiscal stimulus package, pretending they have been for fiscal sanity all along, ignoring they played vital roles in George Bush’™s destruction of our economy. Now they want to use opposition to the plan as a political weapon, caring more for political power, once again, than for the good of the country.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I remember the story of the Incredible Journey from my youth. Two dogs and a cat, mistfits of sorts, got lost, and their journey was to find their family. It was made into a Disney movie, all sweetness and happy endings. A fable really, of the tender values of a pet, the neglecting of those values, and then the values themselves coming home. There were dangers along the way for those animals, but the story ended as all fables do, with a happy reunion and love all around. Kumbaya, kumbaya, kumbaya!

GOP values of fiscal responsibility have been lost through neglect for lo these eight years of the disaster that was the Bush Presidency. While Mitch McConnell might want to blame President Bush for all the GOP troubles, there is no disputing that McConnell and his fellow GOP Congressional and Senate leaders have led the way in neglecting fiscal responsibility. The result is a US economy torn by GOP incompetence, a credit crisis, rising unemployment, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc. But wait, here’™s the news. Republicans are once again claiming they are the party of small government and fiscal responsibility, just days after the man they aided and abetted in neglecting those values has helicoptered off to Crawford, TX.

I’™m here to tell you, obstructionism is not a value. And there’™s no sign that the pet values of the Republican Party have actually come returned. Still, those Republicans, on a fantasy trip of their own, are planning on claiming those values once again, without once referring to their own orgy of excess over the last eight years. From the Washington Post:

‘œHow about those House Republicans?’ cheered Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a vocal small-government advocate, at a Heritage Foundation appearance yesterday.

‘œHouse Republicans said we would stand up for American taxpayers at this time of economic hardship for our nation. And last night, standing together, that’™s exactly what we did,’ House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote yesterday in a memo to his colleagues that was released to reporters. ‘œI am proud of our team.’

Republicans credited their leadership team for keeping them united in the demand for more tax cuts and less spending in the bill, providing a boost for Boehner, who three months ago faced questions about whether he could retain his position as House Republicans were headed for another election marked by heavy losses.

As the vote on the bill neared, Republicans expected overwhelming opposition, but party leaders also anticipated at least a handful of defections.

Conservative talk show hosts whipped up opposition to the bill, and Republicans said they received dozens of e-mails and phone calls about it, almost all voicing opposition. In a meeting with congressional leaders, Obama warned against following the lead of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. But on the day of the vote, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was on Limbaugh’™s show, laughing as the host referred to the ‘œporkulus’ bill.

To allow these Republicans to have any say in righting our financial condition in this country, to have any say in fiscal policy, when they can’™t even acknowledge their own major role in the fiscal disaster before us, is akin to allowing the schoolyard bully to be made hall monitor. That these men who have lost their fiscal bvalues can go on Rush Limbaugh’™s show and laugh at the only ones attempting to right this sinking economic ship is far more shameful than CEOs getting bonuses. These folks are now trying to use the economy for their own political gain. That much is clear. From the Associated Press:

Republicans began pushing back Thursday. The two concessions were mighty small, they said, and Democrats ignored the GOP’™s alternative package that included more tax cuts and less spending, especially for programs with no obvious promise for stimulating the economy quickly.

Having Congress do nothing is not an option, ‘œalthough sometimes our Democratic friends would like to present the false choice,’ Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told reporters.

If a Democratic measure fails to improve the economy, Kyl said, then in about six months Republicans will ‘œbe in the position to say, ‘We didn’™t have the input into this that we needed, and that’™s why it hasn’™t worked.’™’

We need to be very clear here. The American people will not put up with the likes of Jon Kyl and his Republican co-conspirators playing politics with out money, with our jobs, and with our economy. Certainly the press cannot be counted on to call the GOP on such a mendacious political posture, so the word needs to start from here, from the blogzome, where reality is far more real than are the fractured fables by which the Republicans seem to live.

Meanwhile, the fiscal values Republicans once cherished are still wandering int he wildreness. What really returned to the GOP stable was Bill the Cat in Rovian drag. Ack!

Friday, January 30th, 2009 by Richard Blair |
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