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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Phillips Factor

Reporters are not paid to operate in retrospect. Because when news begins to solidify into current events and finally harden into history, it is the stories we didn’t write, the questions we didn’t ask that prove far, far more damaging than the ones we did.
Anna Quindlen (b. 1952), U.S. journalist, columnist, author.

Why should all of the mediums and psychics work for the District Attorney’s office as they do on television? Why shouldn’t they also go into reporting?

The embarrassing gaffe of reporter Phillips has become an instant legend. Rather than listen to the Presidential speech she was covering and would be reporting upon, she instead went to the Ladies’ Necessary with an open microphone and after performing her functions, began to gossip about how great her husband is and how distasteful she finds her sister-in-law as she no doubt primped for her upcoming camera spot, where she would read to us all from her teleprompter, doubtless using small words, to tell us bumpkins what the President had said.

Her remarks were superimposed over the President’s speech and her open mike prompted her co-worker to make this transition on her behalf:

Daryn Kagan: "Alright, we've been listening in to President Bush as he speaks in, uh, New Orleans today. This is the one year anniversary of Katrina making land shore there. President Bush saying if another natural disaster hits, our country. We must, uh, react better than that. Let's listen in once again to President ."

Actually, Porcupine thinks she can be very grateful that she was praising her passionate husband instead of complaining about an unfortunate inadequacy. Her sister-in-law, she won’t have to face until Thanksgiving.

Ms. Phillips conduct reminded Porcupine of another prominent reporter with the same surname – our own Frank Phillips from the . Porcupine particularly remembers his conduct during the Republican Convention last spring, as he stood with his back resolutely to the stage, short-sleeved black shirt and arms akimbo, chatting madly with a buddy, occasionally glancing up at the funny folks in the seats, as they made all that noise applauding, while Senator Edward Brooke delivered a genuinely great speech. Mr. Phillips couldn’t be bothered to watch much of Andy Card’s speech, either – just long enough to get a ‘money quote’ so he could pan the speech and convention as boring.

Yes, the Phillips Reporters don’t need to watch events or speeches unfold. With their uncanny psychic abilities, they can tell us what was said and what happened without going to the trouble of actually listening to the speakers. Especially those who are associated in any way with the Bush/Cheney/War for Oil/Axis of Iniquity/Halliburton/Neocon/Texian Speak/Cyborg Party.

After all, we ALL know what THEY’RE going to say. So different from Howard Dean.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Batten Down The Hatches?

But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
The Apostle Peter - New Testament, Matthew 14:30.

Porcupine purchased fifty percent of all the disposable face masks in his local Cape drug store the other night, but charitably left the other box for somebody else.

Today, August 29th, is first anniversary of Hurricane which ravaged the entire area. Porcupine mentions that, as gets a disportionate amount of the coverage about this, but communities like Mobile, Alabama were devastated too. It’s rather like the Pentagon getting lost in New York 9/11 memorials.

Porcupine freely admits that he is little better prepared for disaster than a year ago. We are threatened with so many - , blizzards, bird flu, Triple-E, nuclear accident, terrorist incident – all of us on Cape Cod and the Islands know that whether the disaster in question is howling winds or a pandemic, our reality will be the same. We will be stranded here.

Our various newspapers, our Red Cross, our police and fire – all have tried to get us into a more prepared frame of mind. We continue to whistle past the various graveyards. So – we must issue a different call to arms on this anniversary!

Democrats – do you want to trust in government with George Bush in the White House?

Republicans – do you want to trust in government EVER?

Independents – do you want to live up to your name?

The odd thing is, the instructions are the same for ALL these varied disasters. In essence, we all need to be ready to be cut off from normal life for 30 to 45 days.

Months ago, Gov. Romney suggested that when we go food shopping, we include one extra article and use it to begin to have a store of food. Porcupine has done this, and it works, right up until he runs out of peanut butter or tuna fish. Porcupine speaks feelingly as somebody who tried cooking macaroni and cheese on a wood stove after Hurricane Bob, and who knows how impossible that is. Food that only needs to be warmed is essential. In exploring a web site that sells MRE’s - the government K-rations that last five years - he learned that SOMEBODY is doing a better job of preparing, because their stores are 2/3 sold out.

Porcupine also found KI, potassium iodide pills - a 100 day supply for a single adult for $12 including shipping, and bought two, rather than wait another five years for the state to distribute them why they squabble with the towns who do not want to accept responsibility for distribution, and querulously want to know if the state wants summer or winter population numbers.

We should all have a few hundred dollars in cash for emergencies, but that hoard suffers the same fate as the tuna fish. Porcupine wishes he COULD get the extra medications needed in a disaster, but that is just about impossible as insurance companies won’t allow you to fill your prescription more than once. There is an extra bag of dog chow, but he’ll be awfully hungry after a week or so.

Porcupine has camping gear, and so has jugs capable of storing 30 gallons of water, and he knows about filling the bathtub as soon as disaster strikes for washing water. There are also candles, lights and a generator – in Maine. Porcupine can go live in the cellar again, like during Bob, but after a few days he will be hard up.

When – not if – disaster strikes, there will be hundreds of seniors and others who will be utterly helpless. The Lord helps those who help themselves, so please, as a Katrina anniversary observance – begin to make a disaster hoard, no matter how rudimentary.

Porcupine is going to get some tomato soup to go with his sterilizing hand gel, packets of flavored oatmeal, KI pills and face masks. It’s not much, but it might be very much better than noting at all.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Part Eight

“After [4 1/2] hours of debate, a majority of lawmakers determined that we would not be able to get through the full calendar today. And with only two weeks left in the legislative session, they are anxious to resume their work finalizing the budget, taking up overrides, and acting on important legislation and other initiatives."
Statement by the Office of Sen. President Traviglini as to why he the Constitutional Convention without a vote on the Citizen Petition

Since the 2003-2004 Session passed 680 laws, 508 of them in the second year, Porcupine was certain that the 2005-2006 Session must have been exceptionally meaty, since it passed only 465 laws, and only 275 in the second year. An examination of the exhaustive body of new laws passed has inspired this song, Let's Vote on Favorite Things, sung to the tune of 'My Favorite Things' as an examination of the work ethic and priorities of the Legislature.

The Session Has Come To Its Close, And We Ducked Tons
Some Laws Have Been Passed, But Mostly The Small Ones
'Complex' is Known For The Headache It Brings,
So We'll Just Work On Our Favorite Things!

Let’s Honor Basketball, Ditch Ocean Zoning,
Mail Order Wine - Yes, and Cellular Phoning,
Connected Hack Sick Leave Banks Happiness Brings
DiMasi’s House Just Works On Favorite Things!

Mike Ruane’s Pension And Stalking Awareness
Hearings To Find If Baseball Bats Are Careless
Enshrine Taj Mahal For the Song That He Sings,
These are a Few of Our Favorite Things!

Vote Gay Marriage?
Nurses Staffing?
Where We’d Take a Stand?
We Simply Keep Working On Favorite Things
Now November Won’t See Us Canned!

Next week's Grand Finale - Bulger's Lament!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Judicial Indiscretion

The right the of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Fourth Amandment to the United States Constitution

Like so many other legal decisions, the ruling of Federal Circuit Judge Diggs Taylor depends upon a definition of a word - in this case, the word 'unreasonable'. Is it unreasonable for the government, in the form of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, to monitor cell phone and Internet communications of suspected Muslim activists in the United States in order to learn of and thwart terrorist plots, much in the way Great Britain recently discovered twenty suicide bombers planning to board airplanes and blow them over populated areas with liquid explosives? Judge Diggs Taylor thinks it is’.

The defendants – the government - "are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrant less wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III," she wrote. Press Secretary Tony Snow rebutted, "The program is carefully administered and targets only international phone calls coming into or out of the United States where one of the parties on the call is a suspected al Qaeda or affiliated terrorist. The whole point is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks before they can be carried out," said the White House statement. Despite blazing headlines that the program was deemed ‘illegal’, it is important to note that Judge Diggs Taylor is a single Federal judge, and that the decision has already been appealed by the Attorney General. To put this in perspective, she has the same authority as the California Federal judge who rued that the words ‘Under God’ should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Interestingly, one of the precedents cited was Clinton vs. Jones, which compelled former President Clinton to respond to charges by the woman he assaulted, Paula Jones, while he was still in office. Judge Diggs Taylor wrote, “…the separation of powers doctrine is again discussed and, again, some overlap of the authorities of two branches is permitted. In that case, although Article III jurisdiction of the federal courts is found intrusive and burdensome to the Chief Executive it did not follow, the court held, that separation of powers principles would be violated by allowing a lawsuit against the Chief Executive to proceed.” In other words, Judge Diggs finds equivalent the refusal of a Chief Executive to provide salacious information that might be personally embarrassing to the refusal of a Chief Executive to provide specific information that might compromise national security.

Porcupine is a great believer in allowing people to make up their own minds, so a link to the text of Judge Diggs Taylor's decision is provided

The Judge’s finale reads, “As Justice Warren wrote in U.S. v. Robel, 389 U.S. 258 (1967): Implicit in the term ‘national defense’ is the notion of defending those values and ideas which set this Nation apart. . . . It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of . . . those liberties . . . which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile.” Porcupine thinks it would be equally ironic if we are able to momentarily reflect upon our strong resistance to the conservative subversion of our liberties in the very moment we are blown to smithereens by a suitcase nuke.

Naturally enough, the decision had its fans. "Today's ruling is a landmark victory against the abuse of power that has become the hallmark of the Bush Administration," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director. Interestingly, Judicial Watch has revealed that the relationship between the ACLU and the Judge may be more than one of ideological agreement. It seems that Judge Diggs Taylor served as a decision-making Trustee for the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan (CFSEM). The official CFSEM website states that the foundation made a “recent grant” of $45,000 over two years to the American Civil Liberties Union () of Michigan, a plaintiff in the wiretapping case. Judge Diggs Taylor sided with the ACLU of Michigan in her recent decision. The group also made a grant of $180,000 to an Arab rights group which is also appearing in her courtroom.

Even the sere Gray Lady, the New York Times, condemns this activity HERE. Porcupine wonders what Justice Earl Warren would have thought of a judge who felt that her activities were so morally superior that mere conflict of interest considerations should not intrude upon her rulings or activities.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Carnival of Liberty - LVIIII

Porcupine is proud to host the 59th consecutive Carnival of Liberty.

We will begin with Fearless Pholosophy for Free Minds - the blog rather than the mindset, although they are not mutually exclusive. Steve has written extensively about Collateral Damage of the War at Home, and this is the second part of his essay. Please click
HERE to enjoy thoughtful analysis of a complex problem.

Next, Critical Mastiff writes A New Paradigm for Medical Insurance. As Mastiff wrote, "Our medical system encourages the wrong behaviors. If insurance companies paid out cash instead of guaranteeing treatment, the system would be more free-market." Please click
HERE to read an excellent imagination of solutions.

Rennyopolis is concerned about our free Republic and writes What Does Defense Spending Mean for Democracy? Please read
HERE for a well thought out warning.

Property is very much upon the minds of the Life, Liberty and Property Community. The estimable Mr. Ogre has written about North Carolina Property Rights. Please read
HERE, to answer his clarion call for the Old Dominion. The London Fog has written Fiscal Balance: The Great Game. Please read HERE for an exposure of the victimhood of governments, lamenting how those bad taxpayers are holding out on them. Scatterbox by Steve Silver writes about "a perfect storm" of financial and poltical discontent in Forecast. Please read HERE for this grim weather assessment.

But indeed, the Community does more than just warn, it offers philosophy as well. Eidelblog writes an Analysis of the Socialist Mindset, which can be found
HERE. His fellow member, Principled Discovery, writes about the detritus of history in a report called What To Do With Karl Marx. His imaginative suggestion appears HERE .

Porcupine, however, is more concerned with Liberty, and perhaps Life, this week. In Another County Heard From, Porcupine writes of how difficult it is to adhere to the principles of free speech and expression when confronted with a new blog written by the President of Iran, in an essay

Yes, we still have our freedom of expression, and weekly we come together to exchange ideas and put the dictators of the world to shame in out Pursuit of Happiness.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Part Seven

So Mr. has moved on. What will he do now? In addition to Dig and Turnpike Executive, we have all learned that he can claim some slightly more unusual credits on his resume - amateur videographer, failed tunnel concert promoter, semi-professional corporate apologist. However, Porcupine has an idea what he will wind up doing, and this Sunday's offering, Amorello's Swan Song, is sung to the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse tune 'Who Can I Turn To?'.

Who Can I Turn To
Since the Pike Doesn’t Need Me?
My Wallet Must Know,
And So I Must Go Where Destiny Leads Me…
With No Aides Beside Me
No Drivers To Guide Me
“Hey, Just Get A Job”
Like Any Old Slob
The Private Sector Will Chide Me...

But Maybe Tomorrow
I Can Score What I’m After
The Senate To Lobby,
Get PAID For My Hobby
Embrace Their Warm Laughter...
My Contacts To Parlay
Into A Lobbyist's Pay Day,
But Who Can I Turn To
If Traaav Turns…Away?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another County Heard From!

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Voltaire [François Marie Arouet] (1694–1778), French philosopher

As you all know, Porcupine feels a real affection for the New Fleet Street of the Blogosphere, so akin to the pamphleteers and punditry of his own day. Today, Porcupine feels rather like Thomas Jefferson or some other worthless Francophile had opened up a printing press directly across from his own estimable establishment.

President Mahmood of has a blog.

A link is provided
HERE, and Porcupine is bound to state that it is well done and attractive, available in English, Arabic, Farsi (aha! Pakistan!) and French (aha! again?). It even has polling software on it! The question of whether or not the U.S. and Israel are trying to precipitate World War Three with their actions in Lebanon is running at about a 52% - 48% difference right now, indicating that the President is allowing the poll software to actually function - not the 90% - 10% spread that might be expected. While Porcupine has voted ‘No!’, he also urges others to do the same.

The first post is quite long, and Ahmadinejad promises that subsequent posts will be shorter; Porcupine sympathizes with this, as he tends to ramble on a bit himself.

The man called ‘attractive’ by the tottering Mike Wallace has done something to demonstrate why that quality seems apparent. Porcupine cannot remember any other dictator who has taken this step. Indeed, it is that plausibility that makes him so dangerous. Before you become overly impressed with him, however, please visit the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute (MEMRI – click HERE) and view some clips, especially #906 and #908, which epitomizes the sort of propaganda espoused by his regime. Indeed, explore the entire site for what is news in the Middle East. But, if we can dish it out, we must also take it – even as the Danish Mohammed cartoons have spawned a contest of Muslim drawn Holocaust cartoons, so does a charismatic dictator, reminiscent in some ways of a young Fidel Castro, get to express his distinctive point of view.

Grimacing, Porcupine steps into the gutter and extends a cold and distant hand. This is a blog which will bear checking out, and it will remain an interesting experiment.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Part Six

Porcupine has always been pleased to serve as an inspiration to others. Recently, on Blue Mass Group, the distinguished Publius (well I remember him from my own day!) was moved to post a ballad for his Democrat cronies. With his permission, Porcupine offers it here - and while the words may ring one way on a Progressive site, they read rather differently here.

To the Van Morrison song - It's a Marvelous Night for a Moondance:
Well, it’s a marvelous year for us moonbats
With the stars shinin’ bright in our eyes
A fantabulous time for the Democrats
’neath the cover of November skies
All our volunteers are out walking
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And on your door they’ll be knocking
So that off to the polls you will go
Because Deval’s magic is abundantly clear
And ol’ Frank Phillips will just cry -- in his beer

Can I just find one more moonbat for you, my love?
Can I just make some more Kool Aid for you, my love?

Well, I just wanna canvass you tonight
I have lists that I have to complete
And I know that the time is just right
And that Kerry Healey we’ll beat
When you commit our team will be waiting
To make sure that you’re never alone
There and then our e-mails will come through, dear
There and then we will make you our own
And every time I call you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want to vote -- you can't hide

Repeat 1st verse

One more moonbat with you in the moonlight
On a magic night
La, la, la, la in the moonlight
On election night
Cant I just have one more moonbat from you, my love?
Next week: Bulger's Lament

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Primary True Colors

We mean then by the “good” those whose actions and lives leave no question as to their honour, purity, equity, and liberality; who are free from greed, lust, and violence; and who have the courage of their convictions.
Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.).

There was no trick to low, no turn to scurvy to be utilized in the primary campaign against Sen. Joe of Connecticut by his challanger, millionaire Ned Lamont, a self styled Progressive. Mr. reportedly spent over $3 million of his own money to demonstrate just how much of a populist he is.

Earlier this week, on the Huffington Post, a Democrat activist named Jane sunk to a new low in political rudeness by portryaing Sen. Lieberman in blackface. Today, on primary day, Sen. Lieberman's web site was hacked, preventing his supporteds from getting information, rides to the polls, etc. His opponent, Mr. Lamont, airly says that it's all nothing to do with him, even though Ms. Hamsher is a long time campaign volunteer and media worker. Even if a crazed fan hacked the Lieberman web site, Mr. Lamont never actually condemened that action; he simply said the Lieberman campaign attributing it to him was another 'scurrilous attack'. Perhaps he was waiting for Karl Rove to confess.

***Update - Porcupine's loyal opposition at the web site Blue Mass Group have stated that Mr. Lamont DID properly acknowledge the hacking incident, and have provided the following quote as a demonstration : If Senator Lieberman's website was indeed hacked, we had absolutely no part in it, denounce the action, and urge whoever is responsible cease and desist immediately. It is our sincerest wish that everyone planning to vote for Ned Lamont or Joe Lieberman does so today. Porcupine does not have a source for the quote, but does not doubt that this is a statement made by the campaign. However, to Porcupine, it smells of the lamp. It is not a spontaneous statement, as was the charge of scurrility which Porcupine saw proceed from Mr. Lamont's mouth with his own eyes. Also, the 'If' at the beginning renders it a rather less than full expression of sympathy. Porcupine has also promised to mention that the Lamont campaign did offer technical assistance in getting the site up. If Mr. Lamont made such an offer, it was unreported by mainstream media, at least at the time of posting.*****

Porcupine is genuinely troubled by the treatment of Sen. Lieberman in tbis primary race. Ned Lamont, by not *vigorously* rejecting his smarmy proxies like Ms. Hamsher, has proven himself unfit to hold public office. This mindless bile reminds Porcupine uncomfortably of the treatment that another Senate moderate faces, tis time from the far right. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine is often the subject of similar attacks, but she has no GOP challanger this year. The extremes of the parties have really taken hold as primary participation plummets. Seriously, thinking back to the heated debates on the Equal Rights Amanedment, Porcupine never thought he'd live to see the day when Sen. Arlen Specter was accused of being too liberal!

In his concession speech, Sen. Lieberman said, "I am of course disappointed by the results...For the sake of my country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result [of Lamont winning] stand. I expect that my opponent will continue to do in the general election what he has done in the primary: partisan polarizing instead of talking about how we can solve the people's problems."

At the end of the day, what was Lieberman's great sin? He is just as liberal as he ever was. He votes with the Democrat Minority 90% of the time. He supported the war in . He cannot be forgiven because he is alarmed and angry over images like this - the flag of flying side by side with the UN flag. Porcupine is equally disturbed by the accusation by Kofi Annan that Israel deliberately targeted UN Forces, but of course, when the two groups are sharing water and other resources since Israel left 11 years ago, it makes it hard to be sure that UN soldiers aren't hit. Porcupine is annoyed that all the reporting of this conflict focuses upon the casualties in - why is there no reporting of the effect of 130 missile per day being lobbbed into Haifa? Porcupine first noticed a new and virulent strain of anti-Semitism in the Democrat Progressive wing last summer, when Cindy Sheehan was protesting in Crawford, Texas (see web site HERE). With the outbreak of hostility between Isreal and the terrorists bombing them from within Lebanon, it has only gotten worse. Sen. Lieberman is the first casualty of this new trend, and Ned Lamont is the first beneficiary.

As unfit as Mr. Lamont is, it is not his potential victory that is most disturbing. Rather, it is the death knell of moderation. How can compromise be reached - a necessary function of government - when only those who adhere to the most extreme positions can be elected? A person who held to certain ideas, while espousing others which did not fit with the prescribed template, has become an enemy, a person to be eliminated. The defeat of Joe Lieberman was nothing less than a victory for political zealotry, and continuing and deepening schism.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Summer Sing Along - Part Five

Well,the two-year long 2005-6 Session of the Massachusetts General Court has come to its formal end once again. As ususal, the legislators - who hadn't convened for months on end - tried to cram weeks of work into a couple of days, like kids cramming the night before a test. This year, Speaker DiMasi announced that while there would be a supper provided, the roll call votes would not cease, and the legislators should plan on leaving behind their pasta and shells (Di Masi has it catered by Italian restaurants from his North end district) and run like lemmings to push the red or green buttons when the Sergeant at Arms in the top hat and tails raises his baritone in a bellow, 'ROLL Call in the HOUSE of Rep-Re-SENT-A-Tives...ROLLLLL Call...' In honor of their dutiful scuffling, Porcupine has a summer-themed ditty, to the tune of 'Under the Boardwalk'.

Oh When the Session Ends and the Hot Air Melts Gold Up On Roof
And You Have Special Bill, but Know Your Votes Not Veto-Proof
Into the Budget Outside Section It Goes
So You Can Sneak into Law Past All Your Foes.

From the Lounge, You Hear Yet Another ‘Roll Call’ Cry,
And You Have No Idea What Vote Is On As They Flit By,
When We Do the Budget, We Vote Speaker’s Waaay -
And if Something Sneak Thru, well, He Said O.K.!

Into the Budget (No Hearings at All!)
Into the Budget (Silly Questions and Calls!)
Into tbe Budget (We Put the Bills We Can’t Vote)
Into the Budget (Outside Sections Hide Bloat)
Into the Budget – BUD-GETT!

Into the Budget, as the Session Now Ends.
Where We Can Cut Happy Deals with Our Good Friends!

Into the Budget (We Can Keep Out of Sight)
Into the Budget (We Can Vote Late at Night!)
Into the Budget (Let Mitt Use Veto Pen…)
Into the Budget (…We Override Him Again!)
Into the Budget – Bud-GET!
Next Week -Bulger's Lament!

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