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Friday, August 31, 2007

Two Class Acts

Leahy_2Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont's comments on today's announcement by Republican Sen. John Warner, 80, of Virginia, that he will not seek reelection in 2008: 


“John Warner is one of my best friends.

"The Senate will be diminished by his leaving, and his steady, solid leadership has served the Senate, the nation and Virginia well.

“Senator Warner understands and values the Senate’s special role in our system. 

"At its best, the Senate has acted as the conscience of the nation.  Too few like Senator Warner are left in the Senate who understand that Senators must put country ahead of politics.”

Two guys who believe the country and the Constitution come before any administration, eh?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Shopper's Paradise

Yours truly was the only press to show up this morning at Shaw’s on Shelburne Road in South Burlap to catch Congressman Peter Welch in action. Welchie and aide Jon Copans manned the folding table at the supermarket’s front door from 10-to-noon.

Welchfreed Even former Republican House Speaker Walt Freed [right] showed up! Freed of Dorset was docked down at Shelburne Yacht Club and picking up cold medicine for his lovely wife. We had a great chat. Honest. He's been reading the blog.

Not too busy for Welchie, but I’d say Vermont’s congressman got an earful from about 30 "shoppers" - one a familiar face from a past life of mine as a Leunig’s bartender in the early 1980s - Nancy Gerwig.

Nancy waitressed there for her four years at UVM [1982-86] while picking up a political science degree. Now a wife and mother of four living in Shelburne, she came to the supermarket with her youngest - four-year-old Greta to grocery shop and to ask her congressman a few questions.

Welchnancy “I thought the answers were not really what I wanted to hear,” she told me afterwards pushing her cart to her car. “I really feel that the Democrats are afraid to stand up and stop all the stretch of power that Bush has done.”

After living through the sanctimonious impeachment of Bill Clinton by the GOP majority, Nancy, like many Americans, has had a hard time understanding the Democrats’ argument against impeaching our disgraceful Liar-in-Chief - that it would detract from their other Democrat investigations and give the Republicans an issue to rally around.

Yes, indeed, it's a strange, strange world.

Peter_welchshaws James Mullowney, a facilities manager at Vermont Gas Systems biked over to have a personal one-on-one with his congressman. Abortion, he told us afterward, is his #1 issue. He opposes it. What he expressed to Welch, however, was his objection to all the political partisanship and bickering. He said a bumper-sticker he’d seen "calling President Bush a terrorist” was way over the line.

“I appreciate that I made a point," he told Freyne Land. "I may not always agree with him, but I do appreciate him being out here and talking to people and listening to them.”

Said Welchie when it was over:

People are really engaged. I heard from everybody from people who are for impeachment to against impeachment. Folks who want us to do more on the environment. People who want us to focus on problems and not what they call partisan bickering. People are watching pretty closely.

What’s the top issue?

A lot of concern about the war, I think. A lot of concern about Congress trying to do something on health care. You really hear the most heart-wrenching stories about health care....More and more people who have been working hard can’t afford health care. They get it that our system isn’t working.

Media Notes

Dennison So I'm sitting at the top of Church Street last evening. Taking it all in and appreciating the magnificent changes my eyes have seen on Church since the "ancient" 1970s.

And a familiar face - a flash from the past - walks by. Meg Dennison was a reporter at The Associated Press' Montpeculiar bureau (1984-93). Grew up in Hinesburg. Married reporter Tim Peek [Addison Independent and Vermont Times]. With her are daughters Alison [13], in the middle, and Molly [11]. Home these days is South Orange, New Jersey.

Meg's parents still live in Hinesburg, and they ski Killington a lot in the winter, but she told me she hadn't visited downtown Burlington in years and was amazed  by how much it's changed.

Tim and Meg departed Vermont at the end of 1993 when he took a job as a producer with Inside Edition. Tabloid TV was just coming in. But Peek got fed up with Inside Edition and moved onwards and upwards to Dateline NBC.

Now, says Meg, he's directing some new digital gig at NBC called Channel One.

Stay tuned.

Never, ever, will I forget that phone call I got from Tim, then Vermont Times editor, in 1992, asking if I'd be interested in reviving my Ol' 1980s Vanguard Press "Inside Track" column after a three-year absence?

Are you kidding?

Music to the ears of Blacklisted & Penniless Pete, who the very next morning was going to officially abandon his writer/journalist quest and start a brand new job selling life insurance. Honest to god.

You have no idea how good it felt to call the insurance guy and tell him I wasn't going to take the job!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Change is in the air...

Flower_box Love this window-box around the corner. Flowers have made such a comeback in Burlap. Heck, the whole city’s made a comeback as those who were around for the Burlington of the 1970s know well. A treeless City Hall Park. A waterfront under rubble. Patrick Leahy the state’s attorney.

Speaking of St. Patrick, just got an email from one of his crew regarding my description in this morning’s “Inside Track” column of the Senator as “one-eyed.”

He noted the senior senator from Vermont actually has two eyes in his head, but is “legally blind” in one of them.

Relax. “One-eyed” was merely a slang way of saying such. C’mon, it’s a column.

Hey, how about those headlines in today's papers:

Persistent Fear Drives Down Stock Market

A Scandal-Scared G.O.P. Asks ‘What’s Next’

A lot of folks are asking what's next, eh?

What else?

Last night, I was a 20-minute “guest” on NewsTalk 93 FM in Kingston, Jamaica. [Never been to Jamaica; love those accents!] Two female hosts, very articulate,  and some other American political science professor-type on the phone. The topic: Alberto Gonzales.

The other Yank was of a mind the choice of the next AG is George “WMD” Bush’s alone.


In fact, I’ve seen little in the national political press coverage that reflects any comprehension whatsoever about how the U.S. Constitution actually works.

This lame-duck president is really no King George, folks. The Age of Karl Rove has passed! Democracy is back. The required public process begins with a Bush nominee’s appearance before the Judiciary Committee. That will not happen until George "WMD" Bush AND Chairman Leahy and Co-Chair Arlen Specter have agreed on precisely who the next AG will be - ahead of time.

EnoughLet's be real. What’s happening now before our eyes is the collapse of the most crooked and corrupt U.S.  Executive Branch we have ever witnessed. Once so invincible it could fabricate phony evidence and mount a media propaganda campaign that led us into a totally senseless war it cannot/will-not end, the Bush Regime rats are fleeing their sinking ship quickly, eh?

That's what the loss of that iron-fisted majority control of Congress can do to you.

Donald Rumsfeld.

Scooter Libby.

Karl Rove.

Alberto Gonzalez.

And now, "Bathroom" Larry Craig of Idaho?
Larry “Family Values” Craig!

And I caught these patriotic Americans exercising our precious "freedom of speech" rights on the Church Street Marketplace Tuesday, during the dinner hour. There were 30 of them. From grandmas and grandpas to moms and dads and their little ones.

According to there were 600 similar protests across the nation yesterday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

Alberto_resigns_2 See, the tide is turning. The truth will make us free.

First, Scooter the Liar gets convicted.

Then Rove the Liar quits.

And now Alberto the Liar finally pulls the chute!

Why, just 10 days ago, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont wrote the Inspector General requesting an investigation of the blatant untruths and contradictions in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' ridiculous testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

This, minutes ago from St. Patrick:

Senator_leahy_aug_2707 “Under this Attorney General and this President, the Department of Justice suffered a severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence.  It is a shame, and it is the Justice Department, the American people and the dedicated professionals of our law enforcement community who have suffered most from it. 

“The obligations of the Justice Department and its leaders are to the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people, not to the political considerations of this or any White House.  The Attorney General’s resignation reinforces what Congress and the American people already know -- that no Justice Department should be allowed to become a political arm of the White House, whether occupied by a Republican or a Democrat.

“The troubling evidence revealed about this massive breach is a lesson to those in the future who hold these high offices, so that law enforcement is never subverted in this way again.  I hope the Attorney General’s decision will be a step toward getting to the truth about the level of political influence this White House wields over the Department of Justice and toward reconstituting its leadership so that the American people can renew their faith in its role as our leading law enforcement agency.”

Well said, eh?

This from Senator Bernie Sanders:

“It was past time for him to go. He had not been honest with Congress.  His credibility was shot. He has not respected the Constitution,” Sanders said.

Sanders added that the confirmation process could be a healthy refresher course in constitutional values.

“I think it’s time for the Congress to tell the president that we have a Constitution in this country which protects the basic rights of the American people.  He cannot do anything he wants whenever he wants.  Let’s get an attorney general in this country who can be effective in helping to protect the American people from terrorism while at the same time understands what the Constitution is about and respects basic civil liberties of the American people.”


And finally, this from Congressman Peter Welch:

"Alberto Gonzales will go down in history as one of the nation's worst Attorneys General. His legacy will be one of reckless politicization of the Justice Department, lying to Congress, and undermining our nation's cherished civil liberties. Vigorous congressional oversight, particularly under the principled leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy, is holding this Administration accountable and producing results."

Senator Health Care?

Lots on Bernie's plate these days. The freshman from Vermont, the only Independent in the prestigious upper body, has his butt parked on several key committees. One is "Health, Education, Labor & Pensions" chaired by Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. And that's got health-care reform at the top of his agenda when the Senate goes back into action after Labor Day.

82207_bernie America’s healthcare system is "disintegrating," says Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The sad fact is we’re the only country in the industrialized world without a national healthcare program. And he told us the other day that he's got serious plans to end that embarassment.

"What we’re going to do is introduce legislation which will allow 10 separate states to get federal funding and all kinds of federal waivers, so that they can move forward in providing universal healthcare to every man, woman and child in their states."

Ol' Bernardo tells yours truly he's teamed up with Rep. John Tierney [D. Mass], who will introduce similar legislation in the House.

"I hope that Vermont and other states will go forward with a single-payer system, which I believe is the best way. But in any case, we will be able to look at what states are doing, learn from that  and develop a national program which finally will provide healthcare to every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship."

And Bernie did not need any motivation from Michael Moore's flick - Sicko, which presents a scathing fact-based indictment of our shameful for-profit healthcare system. Been running around the state holding town meetings and meeting with constituents, says he. Just hasn't had time for the movie theater.

Certainly has a lively website, though. Doesn't he?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A True Vermont Embarassment

Lincolnparkzoochicagoparkdistrict First woke for a morning pee at 5:49. Rang a bell.

“549“ was the number of one of my regular cabs in Chicago back in the 1970s.[Hey, is this the aging process?]  Actually it was “2549.” One of Chicago’s 5000 “licensed” taxi cabs. Most were either Yellows or Checkers. Mine was one of the few hundred “Independents.” A red-white-and-blue Ford LTD. No shield. Twenty-five bucks, plus gas for a 12-hour shift. Sometimes I miss it. You met everybody. 

A great classroom. And a great office. Made up for the street-smarts one isn't exposed to in a college classroom. Expect the unexpected.  Still carry the backpack and the notebooks and pens. Tools of the trade. Guess it’s worked, eh?

Anyway, I didn't cover this earlier in the week - busy week - but, Vermont's Independent U. S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is blowing the whistle on the Bush-Cheney propaganda machine, aka Fox News, for beating their 24/7 drums for a new war against another country that is not a threat - this time against Iran.

Newban2_2 And the ludicrous, dishonest editorial page of the Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury, Vermont once again abandons any and all pretense of credibility in smearing Ol' Bernardo, our popular and well-respected U.S. senator, for having the courage to stand up and tell the truth about Fox News, which apparently, is the right-wing "Cal-Wreck's"  TV News bible!

Sen. Bernie Sanders and a notoriously liberal filmmaker have teamed up to produce a three-minute documentary that viciously attacks the Fox News Network as a collection of warmongers leading us into war with Iran. Their documentary is a pastiche of bits and pieces from a dozen sources that add up to a virulently anti-Bush, anti-Republican piece of propaganda.

It is sad to see Sen. Bernie Sanders prostituting his election to the most prestigious body in the world by flacking for the rabble. He plainly doesn't understand that there is a dignity that goes with the office of senator that precludes hawking snake oil. When Bernie was a simple congressman, one of several hundred, making speeches to an empty House at 2 in the morning in order to get himself into the Congressional Record, it was easy to dismiss him, as virtually everybody in Washington and Vermont did. But as Senator Bernie Sanders, joining his raucous voice to a radical propagandist's and attacking a national news network that millions and millions of Americans pay attention to every day, cheapens his high office and is undignified and unworthy.

I'd say the St. Johnsbury daily gets an "A" for propaganda!

The nerve of Landslide Bernie Sanders to be "flacking for the rabble," eh?

Doesn't he know he should be flacking for the banks, the profiteering war-machine, the insurance industry, the polluting oil & coal industries and the richest of our rich?

You know, the folks the Caledonian-Record editorial page has championed for decades?

Writes Sen. Sanders:

Every American should watch Robert Greenwald’s short video, for it shows us that the current Fox drumbeat for war is almost exactly the same as what Fox did, and most of the American media did, in the days before we invaded Iraq.

We know that most of what we were told then in that very loud and determined campaign about the dangers of Iraq turned out to be false. We need to be very, very careful that we don’t follow another loud and determined campaign into another disastrous war.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Presidential Boycott of Vermont

With the tornado-like storm blowing through Chicago, the Midwest underwater, and a U.S. fighter jet, one of our boys, bombing British troops in Afghanistan, I thought the "Presidential Boycott of Vermont" story would get bumped from "Good Morning America."


Bush_no_vermont I rarely if ever watch ABC's "Good Morning America" program. Now I know why.

They treated it like an "entertainment" story rather than a "news" story. Though they had little sound bites from our senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, the "hook" was Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream fame and his "free ice-cream offer" to our disgraceful president if he sets foot in Vermont, the only state of 50 he has not visited while president.

Wonder what Ol' Ethan Allen would say, eh?

I was lost in something else in Internet Land and didn't get the tape recorder on it. Barely got this pic of our presidential warmonger, the ol' draft-dodger who used daddy's connections to get into the Texas National Guard and avoid the Vietnam War. And he has the nerve to compare his own personally orchestrated, totally deceitful debacle in Iraq to Vietnam as he "fights" in the media to keep his war going?

Thank you Sen. John Warner, Virgina Republican and former Secretary of the Navy for speaking up yesterday and saying what has to be said - time to bring our troops home!

Reports The Washington Post: Sen. John W. Warner, one of the most influential Republican voices in Congress on national security, called on President Bush yesterday to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in time for Christmas as a new intelligence report concluded that political leaders in Baghdad are "unable to govern effectively."

he Vietnam-Iraq parallels grow stronger every day, don't they?

Anyone out there remember Phil Ochs?

Oh, we're fighting in a war we lost,
before the war began.

We're the white boots marching
in a yellow land.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vermont Leads - USA Follows?

Cheer up, folks.

The voice of this little Green Mountain State continues to catch the nation’s ear. The tide is turning, not as fast as we'd like, but it is turning.

Cnn_vermont_1_2 CNN’s John King aired a nice little feature on the CNN “Political Ticker” Wednesday afternoon about “President Bush's forgotten state?”

They’d actually had it in the can for a couple weeks - bumped by the Minnesota bridge-collapse story and the mine cave-in.

C’est la vie, eh?

And not only the usual suspects appeared before the camera like Bernie Sanders, our “self-described socialist” senator and UVM Political Science Prof. Garrison Nelson. Garrison told CNN that he "sees no upside in the president paying a visit to Vermonters."

"It is a photo opportunity he does not need," Nelson said. "I cannot imagine any assemblage in the state of Vermont that would give him an unalloyed positive reception."

But CNN also noted:

Cnnvt_2_the_guv_2 Vermont does have a Republican governor, Jim Douglas, but he is a throwback to the moderate breed of Republicanism that once thrived across New England. Douglas notes the first President Bush visited Vermont last among the 50 states, and predicts the son will do the same — despite his low popularity.

"He can take it," Douglas said of a potential Vermont visit. "He has certainly taken a lot of hostility and tough questions and I am sure he can do that here."

More to come, too.

A crew from one of the original "Big 3" networks (psst: ABC) was in town yesterday. Curious, they were, about why this president won't set foot in this state.

Too bad they weren't as curious when the crooked Bush/Haliburton/Fox News Team led us into war on such fraudulent evidence, eh?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Football Returns to UVM!

So I’m driving home from Seven Days on Tuesday evening. Another weekly "Inside Track" miracle in the can. Heading south along Prospect Street and I’m cruising past the Redstone Campus. It’s about 7 p.m.  and a beautiful Burlington sunset.

Uvm_football_2007 Had noticed the UVM students returning to the apartment blocks around downtown over the past couple days. It goes with the season. But I was not prepared for what I saw on the big lawn of Redstone - a football team practicing - a college football team!

See, there hasn’t been a college football team at UVM since 1974 - that’s before the college students of the present were even conceived, yet alone born.

Had to check it out. Was it a mirage?


It was one of the very first practices of the UVM Club Football Team. Yes, University of Vermont football!

They’re playing in a semi-pro league and have an 8-game schedule...and a website. First game is Saturday in Manchester, VT against the Northern Berkshire Kings.

Some have previous college football experience, said injured tailback Dustin Degree, who played a season at Norwich. And some, said Dustin, the team spokesman, have never played organized football before.

Home games will be played at Buck Hard Field at Burlington High School.

The team will practice at Redstone and on the UVM Rugby Field.

One day - the Catamount Coliseum?

Something about seeing these guys in pads and helmets smacking into one another at Redstone made this old dog feel like a miracle was happening before his eyes.

UVM football. Wow!

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