Blurt | Solid State | Omnivore | Mistress Maeve | Freyne Land

Seven Days Blogs: Freyne Land

« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Worlds Apart!

Vt_2 Back when the Baby Boomer Generation, the generation of Gov. Jim Douglas, was young, the White House had the "Selective Service System" - THE DRAFT - to provide the bodies to fill the bags in South Vietnam.

To pull off the current quagmire in Iraq, this White House didn't have the draft to rely on.

Instead, President Bush, who "dodged" the Vietnam-era draft by getting a special placement in the Texas Air National Guard, had to count on the Reserves and the weekend warriors of the states' National Guard forces.

National Guard troops can be federalized to protect the nation's security, but as Sen. Peter Shumlin pointed out on "Charlie & Ernie" this morning [see item below], the reasons President Bush cited to do so were bold lies and hold no water whatsoever. The nation's security was not being threatened by Iraq,

At his official weekly presser today, Gov. Scissorhands was informed of Shummy's comments on the morning radio and their connection to the bill, H.746, that  Rep. Mike Fisher (D-Lincoln) and 27 co-sponsors introduced in the House on that point. Said Vermont's reigning and apparently invincible King James:

"I share every Vermonter’s concern about the continuation of the war. I hope that we can find an exit strategy. That is the responsibility of our national leaders so that no one from Vermont or any other state is called upon to serve.

"But in the meantime, the Congress not only authorized the use of force, but continues to fund the war efforts and it’s really a question that’s best put to those who represent us in the Congress.

"I think it’s important for the Legislature to focus on the agenda they can affect, because they can’t affect the power, constitutionally and statutorily, of the President to federalize the National Guard. It’s been clarified by the Congress. It’s been litigated throughout the centuries and that power is quite clear.

"I hope the Legislature will focus on economic growth, on housing, on healthcare, on reducing property taxes, on matters that are within their provence."

Q. Do you think there's justification for Vermont Guard members to continue to be on the firing line in Iraq?

Douglas: "Well, the President has that authority."

Q. And you don’t question that?

: "No. It’s been resolved by the court system repeatedly."

Informed afterward of Douglas' remarks, the bearded Rep. Fisher told yours truly:

Fisher "It’s clear to me that the governor and the governor’s staff have not looked at this issue. We’re putting a very serious question on the table about the continued illegality of the President’s federalizing of the Guard. I hope that the Governor and his staff will take a good serious look at the questions we’re raising and invite him to the policy table.

"I think when his staff does take a look at it, they’ll realize there is a role for states to play with respect to the governing of the Guard."

One thing's clear: these guys are worlds apart on this one!

Charlie & Shummy

Charlie_wvmt Got wind the other day - from a Montpeculiar business lobbyist, as a matter of fact - that 620 WVMT-AM morning radio jock Charlie Papillo, of "Charlie & Ernie" fame, was whining on the radio airwaves about the fact I'd snapped his picture at the Great Harvest Bread Store on Pine Street, but never published it in this blog.

Poor baby!

Charlie, so sorry. The opportunity simply hasn't presented itself. Haven't been tuning in.

But with the Vermont Legislature back in session and you having guests like Senate President pro tem Peter Shumlin, I tuned in this morning.

So here's the shot of your handsome self at long last!

Mr. Papillo leans to the political right. And he challenged Shummy about his support for Rep. Mike Fisher's bill declaring that President George "WMD" Bush's authority to federalize the Vermont National Guard for Iraq duty has terminated.

"The Governor’s already come out and said that any bill that would suggest that, he would veto it in a minute. You’re going to continue on that fight?" asked Charlie.

Shumlin: I have really strong feelings about the war in Iraq. I also think it’s a great example of why Americans are turned off by politics-as-usual. All these folks running around saying we’ve got to get out of Iraq, we’ve got to end this war. Nothing happens.

Sen And the fact is the Vermont Guard has made the most extraordinary sacrifice for their country and they are fighting hard in Iraq and I think Adjutant General Dubie has done an extraordinary job. I am proud of the families and the Vermont Guard.

However, the resolution that was passed by Congress six years ago, in my judgment, has expired. It was based upon three tenets:

1. That the government of Iraq was a threat to the United States. Well guess what? Saddam Hussein is not longer a threat to the United States.

2. We had to get those weapons of mass destruction. Well, haven’t found them yet [because they do not exist].

3. That it was punishment, in effect, for their complicity in 9-11, which we know also didn’t happen.

So either Congress needs to authorize a new resolution saying we’re gonna mediate a civil war in Iraq, or we should bring our Vermont Guard members home.

Good point, eh?

P.S. Good bread, too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who are these guys?

Chinese_military Small world.

Reminded of that again today under Montpeculiar's Golden Dome.

Just getting there was an adventure. Cloudy to Williston, then the snow started. One lane 30-35 mph from Richmond to Waterbury. Then it cleared. The frickin' sun came out and the joint, as they say, was hopping!

Surrounding Sgt. at Arms Francis Brooks in the Statehouse Lobby are students and relatives from the Chinese Military Academy in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. A Norwich connection. The gist I got was a few of ours study there for a year and a few of theirs do likewise, studying here at the first private military college in America.

News-wise, the House Agriculture Committee voted on the Hemp Bill, H.267.

Sitting down?

Chair_zuckerman It passed unanimously on an 11-0 vote!

Afterward I had a little Q&A with Committee Chairman David Zuckerman, the Progressive farmer from Big Bad Burlap [pictured doing his summertime Farmers-Market thing].

Q: What does the Hemp Bill do?

Zuckerman: The bill essentially outlines the process by which a farmer could grow hemp, get a license from the Agriculture Agency, pending approval by the federal government.

We took a lot of testimony to be clear about the differences. It is the same plant as cannabis sativa. However, hemp plants are .3% THC or less, and that’s clearly significantly lower levels than anything people would use for illicit drug use.

Q. North Dakota has also passed a law allowing this, but they haven’t issued licenses yet. They’re not growing hemp.  The federal government says hemp is the same as pot. Any THC and it’s pot.

Zuckerman: Well, as of next January we’ll have a new federal government, a new president. Partly, this is just setting the stage so when that administration, or some future administration is ready to acknowledge these differences and the economic value of hemp, our state will be well-positioned to take advantage of that and help our farmers with another crop option!

Q: Certainly this will be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee. Is this going to pass?

Hemp Zuckerman: I think this has a strong chance of passage. I’ve gotten nods in the hallway from people of all political persuasions. Clearly the vote was 11-0 in my committee. That includes all three parties and an Independent. I think there’s broad understanding by people in this building that there really is a difference between hemp and marijuana.

The Judiciary Committee review is really on a couple technical matters. There will be a background check on a farmer to grow it and they just need to make sure that’s appropriate.

Q. Surprised it was a unanimous vote?

Zuckerman: No. As the testimony went on over the last week, we kept seeing more and more evidence of why this is a good crop economically, and why it could easily be distinguished from marijuana. So, people’s comfort levels rose.

Q. So, what does one do with hemp?

The primary economic value at first for Vermont farmers would be the seeds: hemp oil and hemp meal and seeds for hemp food products.

The secondary product would be the fiber and the stalks which could either be burned in the power plants for renewable energy, or could be chipped and used as animal-bedding where dairy farms are having a hard time finding bedding.

In the long term, if we grew more and more of this in-state, we could end up with a hemp-fiber manufacturing plant.


You'll never guess who returned my Monday call today around noon. 

Initials "P.G."

Insists he's "seriously considering" something. However, he adamantly declines to put a time-limit on his period of "serious" consideration.

April Fool's Day?

Hey, it's a free country.

"I'm Jeff Danziger...

071217_danziger "I'm a political cartoonist. I've been doing this for about 25 or 30 years, and slowly but surely, trying to figure out what it's all about."

That's the opening line in a snappy little four-minute video Jeff polished off and sent our way a couple days ago. Merci beaucoup.

I hear ya, man. I might utter the same line, only substituting "columnist" for "cartoonist."

Once upon a time, Ol' Jeff taught English at U-32 High School in East Montpelier, Vermont.

Hey, somebody has to, right?

Today he's nationally syndicated.

Here's the link to Jeff, the talking cartoonist on the Big Apple rooftop - his first on YouTube.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Vermont Takes the Point...

_statehouse Just got word that legislation is being introduced today under Montpelier's Golden Dome that will put Vermont on point in leading our nation out of the illegal Bush-Cheney Quagmire in Iraq. The lead sponsor is Democratic Rep. Mike Fisher of Lincoln.

Says Fisher in a statement being released today at a Statehouse presser and also being released nationally by the Liberty Tree Foundation:

"It is clear that the mission that Congress authorized no longer exists. The President has no current or permanent legal authority to keep Guard members in Iraq. The Governor as Commander-in-Chief of the Vermont National Guard should take necessary steps to bring them home."

Statement of purpose: This bill addresses limits to the constitutional and statutory authority of the President to federalize and deploy the Vermont National Guard in Iraq; declares that the authority for that deployment has terminated; requests that actions be taken to terminate federalization and bring troops back to Vermont as members of the Vermont national guard; and reaffirms that Vermont national guard members be limited to service on behalf of the state of Vermont, unless properly and lawfully called into federal service.

Interesting, eh?

[Took the picture last Valentine's Day.]

More here.

State of the Mind?

Tuesday "Track" rush for Wednesday's Seven Days.


Talk-show host Arne Arnesen, out of Massachusetts these days, called last night. Long time no hear.

Bush She wanted me on her radio show this morning to talk about...get this... President Bush's Monday night "State of the Union" speech.

Told her I wasn't planning to watch it, but for her?

What the hell!

"Why don't you watch it? You're a political columnist."

I confessed. I haven't been able to watch or read about anything to do with presidential politics, the Liar in Chief, or the presidential race with the smiling wannabees and the distractions from reality. Is it an indication of my good health? Or of a persistent illness?

But for her, I told her, I would make an exception.

I watched. Did you?

Was reminded of why I had stopped watching. My beloved America is tumbling into the worst economic recession of my baby-boomer life. The Bush Administration's Iraq War, the war that, like Vietnam, never should have been allowed to start, continues unabated without any end in sight.

And Big Oil continues to rule, as Mother Earth's rising temperature forecasts the shameful legacy we shall leave for our children's children.

Mr. Bush preferred to emphasize the need for maintaining tax cuts for the rich. The repeated standing ovations by the Republicans to even the most meaningless of lines became nauseating  acts of forced theatrical absurdity.

Hey, Sen. Pat Leahy's come out for Barack Obama for president. Sen. Bernie Sanders hasn't made an endorsement yet. BUT, Ol' Bernardo did sit right behind Obama-wama and was real friendly with him.

A sign?

Monday, January 28, 2008

D.C. Senatorial Presser

Bernie_presser U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders did a 4:30 PM presser from his U.S. Senate office Monday afternoon - his preview of the real state of the union President George "WMD" Bush will paint in his State of the Union speech tonight.

This is a photo of the presser. Participation was by phone from Freyne Land HQ. Tape recorder, telephone, coffee cup and pooter. High-tech!!!

Ol' Bernardo went on for just seven minutes - you can imagine what he had to say, right? - before taking questions.

Aside from more pressing issues, like the illegal Iraq War, the economy and the Canadian border, Sen. Sanders was asked this by some wise guy:

Q. Is it true that you’re supporting the N.Y. Giants at the Super Bowl?

Sanders: No. It is another piece of malicious media gossip.  No, not at all. Actually I am supporting New England.

Giants Q.Really? But you grew up in New York? [Brooklyn to be exact.]

Sanders: But I have lived in Vermont, as you may know, for 43 years and think it’ll be very exciting to see whether they can pull off an undefeated season.

Sorry, Bernie. I grew up in New York, too. Frank Gifford, Charlie Connerly, Sam Huff? And that defensive line of Robustelli, Katcavage, Modzelewski and Grier.

The names one never forgets in life, eh?

On a more serious note, Bernie was asked about the Brattleboro Selectboard's 3-2 Friday vote in favor of putting on the March ballot the question of arresting President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for war crimes as well as perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in that Vermont city.

Q. This is Evan Lehman from the Brattleboro Reformer. As you've probably heard, the city is potentially gonna vote on Bush's war crimes. Do you have any comment on that? And do you plan to go to the State of the Union yourself?

Sanders: Yeah. I will be at the State of the Union. I think Brattleboro...[pause]...I don't have really much to say about the war-crimes vote. I just simply reiterate my view that this president will in all likelihood go down in history as being the worst president, at least in the modern history of the United States.

I apologize, but I do have to get down there.

"There" was the floor of the U.S Senate where a floor vote was underway.

And at some point Ol' Bernardo will have to come up with a straight and complete answer on the Brattleboro war-crimes vote.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dean And Me

Heath_eiden A hundred people plus turned out for the 11 o'clock showing of - and almost final cut of - Heath Eiden's film about The Howard Dean Presidential Campaign back in 2003 and 2004 at the Roxy in Burlington this morning. That's the Stowe filmmaker in the lobby [right].

Thanks for the memories!

Heath showed it in Montpeculiar yesterday and at the Roxy in Burlap today. I knew if I didn't go, I'd regret it.  Apparently Sam Hemingway from the Freeps and WDEV morning talk-show host Mark Johnson had similar pangs.

Eiden the filmmaker was "feeling great."  The Associated Press wire and WCAX-TV covered yesterday's Montpelier screening, he noted, and,  “Most importantly, people from the grassroots showed up.  It’s really a testament to it years later, that people are still realizing that movement was no fluke. I was watching South Carolina’s returns last night," Heath told yours truly, "and I swear I’m watching Howard Dean in those speeches".

No Howard Dean here?

Dean_and_me "Howard Dean’s not here," acknowledged Producer/Director Eiden, "but he’s got some very important things going on in Washington.  We look forward to doing another special showing in Burlington when he decides it’s time for him to show."


“We’re going to be talking to a company up in Toronto," he told us,  "and their potential partnerships with other politically like-minded groups throughout the country that have interest in the continuing story of the movement that was inspired by Howard Dean."

How refreshing to see and hear a presidential candidate way back in November 2003 - at the time the passionate Democrat front-runner - refer on the campaign trail to the "lies" President George W, Bush used to take us to war in Iraq.

How disturbing that more than four years later, the bloodbath those Bush-Cheney "lies" were used to start continues...with no end in sight.

Not even the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl can change that sad fact.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

America Today

Jan_27_bernie Big "Worker Justice Conference" today at UVM.

Yours truly finally hit the huge, new $70 million Dudley Davis Center to catch the show. Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders [right] was first elected mayor of Burlap in 1981 when Ol' Dudley was president of the Merchants Bank.

Bernie told the crowd that since George W. Bush became president, "Five million more people have slipped into poverty and we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country in the world."

"One of the great disgraces in this country," said Sen. Sanders, is that "one out of five children lives in poverty. And you know what the corollary of that is?" he asked.

Answer: "We lock more people up in jail than any other country in the world!" said Bernie.

Ol' Bernardo also noted, "We have lost over 3 million good-paying manufacturing jobs. In this small state alone, we have lost 25 percent of our manufacturing jobs in the last six years.

"Part of the transformation of the American economy is shown by the fact that 25 years ago General Motors was the largest employer with good wages, good benefits and a strong union. Today," asked Bernie, "who is the largest employer in the United States?


And what did Wal-Mart bring?

"Low wages, low benefits, and vehemently anti-union. That’s the transformation of the American economy," answered the Senator.

He neglected to mention that the man for whom the building we were in was named, the late Dudley Davis' son Jeff Davis, was the lead developer/builder who fought long and hard to finally construct our own local Wal-Mart in Williston.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Symington Says...

Caught the Speaker of the House's Friday "brown-bagger" via telephone today. And Gaye Symington said some things that certainly made my ears stand up. Sure sounded like she conceded they - the Democrats - have left a whole lot undone healthcare-wise. Said Speaker Gaye:

Speaker_symington_124 "We passed what was a fairly comprehensive approach to restructuring how we would pay for and deliver healthcare in this state [in 2005]. The Governor vetoed that.

"We were not able to override that veto.

"And we made a decision a year later to make an enormous compromise, which was to use the healthcare insurance as the delivery mechanism. And the bottom line for us has been that it needed to be comprehensive healthcare. And we’re on that road and once you make that decision you have a lot of work ahead of you to make that work."

Speaker Gaye acknowledged H.304, Rep. Topper McFaun's healthcare reform bill that yours truly wrote about in this week "Inside Track." That's the healthcare reform bill providing hospitalization coverage for all Vermonters that wasn't supposed to see the light of day, the one that will be getting some attention after all. Said the House Speaker:

“I know [House Healthcare Committee Chair] Steve Maier is taking a lot of testimony about that bill and there are significant questions around H.304.  I think H.304, I mean regardless of the details of it, step back from the details - H.304 basically reflects people’s impatience with the pace of healthcare reform and their impatience with using this compromise we made after the original veto."

Good observation, Madame Speaker!

P.S. Want to get up to speed on H.304 AND see Chairman Maier on the hot seat in his hometown?  Check out this meeting on healthcare reform that was shot in  Middlebury at the end of November. No beating around the bush....

All Rights Reserved © SEVEN DAYS 1995-2008 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802.864.5684