Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Politics of Ignorance and Arrogance

Apologists for the Bush Administration will do their best to spin yet another poll showing Bush at an all-time low once again, but they will do so at their own peril.

Let's just put some of the pieces together, shall we?

The most recent CBS poll puts the President's approval rating at 34% - lower than ever before. The Apologists will blame the "liberal media." Let's say they're right. Show me the poll that puts the President's numbers significantly higher than this, then. You choose.

When I was writing about the Vice President's public relations fiasco in Texas, the Apologists kept repeating over and over that it was a "non-story." Obviously not, as Cheney's numbers have fallen to an abysmal 18%. As in EIGHTY-TWO PERCENT of those polled disapprove of the Vice President. How do you like THOSE "non-stories?"

The Apologists will then state that "polls simply don't matter." This Administration doesn't govern according to polls. Let's again say they're right. Let's look at some of the other mounting evidence of the continued impotence of the Bush Administration, and let's try to frame it in the context of traditional Republican beliefs and values.

$300 billion spent (thus far) on a war that was supposed to cost $65 billion, and then completely mismanaged, placing our troops needlessly in harm's way, with no exit strategy in place and a civil war erupting.

A national debt of $8.2 trillion dollars, nearly double what it was five years ago. And they say that Democrats are the ones with the open purse strings.

A one trillion dollar annual trade deficit - $220 billion with China alone - in a single year.

Skyrocketing gas and energy prices, while the companies providing those energies reap the biggest profits in history.

While all of this deficit spending continues, the Administration fights to make the tax cuts permanent - tax cuts that a vast majority of Americans will never see.

For ALL of the details, please read Stephen Pizzo's article - I've summarized a few of the points for the sake of brevity, but you really must read his article to understand fully the utter failure of this Administration.

Is all this just a little too "liberal" for my Apologist readers who stop by from time to time? Well, then let's hear from the Republicans:
"We have to acknowledge we have a President who is not popular… The war in Iraq is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room and a major downturn could drown anything we do… We won in 1994 because we promised small government and going into the 2006 elections this is key idea we have abandoned." - Pat Toomey, former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman, and head of the Conservative-based Club For Growth.

"I feel the Republican Party in my state and nationally is a party that has lost its way… we need to find our way back to a reason to vote Republican." - John Andrews, Former Colorado State Senator.

"I believe these scandals are the end of the 1994 Revolution… all this seriously threatens the Republican majority. It might be hard to shrink government as we promised. But it's not that hard to be honest and we haven't." - John Shaddeg, Congressman from Arizona.
The point here is that every President will make mistakes (perhaps not in the volume of the Bush Administration), but the most damnable act is the simple arrogance of the Administration and its Administration to pretend that everything's fine. Stay the course. Sound familiar?

The sheer idiocy of watching this Administration march blindly off the edge of a cliff, seemingly because neither Bush nor Cheney will be running for office in 2008, simply baffles me. What they fail to understand is that these arrogant actions doom not only their place in history, but the future of the Republican party for quite some time to come.

For the faithful PTFers who have come this far, here's your reward... enjoy.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 3:23 PM /

And On the Menu Today... Prison.

Former GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to corruption the likes of which Congress has never seen - at least publicly. Now, in sentencing hearings taking place this week, federal prosecutors have submitted documents showing that Cunningham actually had a "bribe menu" and priced his corruption per contract... and on Congressional stationary, no less!

Given how little we're seeing about Cunningham's sentencing trial, and the 10 year maximum sentencing that he'll likely receive for "unprecedented corruption," it will be interesting to see how events proceed with the upcoming rounds of GOP Congressional corruption.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:55 AM /

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Politics of Hillary

It appears that many Democrats assume that Hillary Clinton will be the chosen Presidential Candidate for 2008.

It also appears that many Republicans assume that Hillary Clinton will be the chosen Presidential Candidate for 2008.

Or do they? My instincts tell me that Karl Rove has begun the GOP Campaign for 2008, and is trying to psychologically dictate the path of the election, including the Democratic nominee.

Think about it... is Ken Mehlman or Karl Rove talking about the Republican candidate for 2008? Nope. Instead you hear Mehlman calling Hillary "angry" and Rove speaking on her "brittleness."

Is Hillary SUCH a foregone conclusion that the strategic heads of the GOP feel it necessary to begin their attack on her already???

I don't think so. I know there are Deomcrats who felt it necessary to defend her during the whole "plantation" remark story. I didn't. And I know there were a whole lot of others who didn't, either.

Currently, there is just as strong an anti-Hillary swell amongst Democrats as there are amongst Republicans. Democrats fear another version of 2004 in 2008. Dick Harpootlian, former Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party sums it up best:
“We all believe she’s wonderful,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman. “But we also believe that if she’s the nominee, it sets up perfectly for the Republicans to win the White House for another four years. … Do we really want to rehash Whitewater and all the stuff we had before?”
This weekend, as Hillary went to Florida for fundraising events, with Carville and Begala on board with her as well, she was followed by editorials such as the Open Letter published in the Tampa Tribune:
If you run for president, chances are good that you'll secure your party's nomination. But realistically, how do you think you can win the White House? You are the most polarizing figure in the Democratic Party, and your negatives among likely voters are prohibitively high. Many people simply don't trust you. You may share your husband's name, but what people liked about him is not transferable to you.
And yet, despite this clearly visible weakness, both Mehlman and Rove are still so threatened by Sen. Clinton that they feel they HAVE to attack?

Nope. I would assert that they are attacking in the hopes that Hillary rises to the challenge presented by the GOP, and giving her further visibility and less exposure to other potential candidates. In this way, they can choose the candidate that they'd LIKE to run against. And I see them all licking their chops over a 2008 Clinton Democratic nominee.

So, Rove comes out and says that Clinton is brittle. What's the response? Hillary says that Rove is "obsessed" with her. Rove then counters back to her comments, stating that "Senator Clinton would be better served if she spent less time flattering herself with perceived obsession and more time focusing on her job."

Rove sucks her in, and then lays the bait out once more.

I'm not falling for it. I'll just keep pushing everyone I know to support Russ Feingold, as I have for almost a year now. And once the groundswell gets beyond the blogosphere, he may get the traction he needs for a very successful campaign. Remember where Bill Clinton started out, in terms of exposure, in 1992.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 11:30 PM /

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Goodnight, Don Knotts

Maybe I'm overstating it in the emotion of the moment, but if our generation had a Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, his name was Don Knotts.

Don Knotts died yesterday at the age of 81.

Throughout my life, I can point to specific moments where Don Knotts has made me laugh - a simple gift, but one that is both extremely rare and extremely valuable.

As a child, I think my first exposure to Don Knotts was in The Apple Dumpling Gang, a schlocky Disney live action film that was otherwise saved by Don Knotts and Tim Conway as the bumbling "bad guys."

Before all of the computer animated/live action films, or even Who Framed Roger Rabbitt, there was The Incredible Mr. Limpet, which premiered in theatres before my time, but which I saw many times on a Sunday afternoon matinee on TV.

There was his time on Three's Company, playing the neuritoc landlord, Ralph Furley.

But it wasn't until I got older that I truly appreciated his comic genius in the form of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. I admit it - I'm a closeted fan of The Andy Griffith Show. As we speak, I know there are six episodes awaiting me on my TiVo - comfort food, for consumption when nothing else will do. Whether it was Barney telling Andy that you've Got to "Nip It... Nip It In The Bud..." or fighting to pull his single bullet out of his shirt pocket, or a thousand other moments of comic brilliance, this was the character he was put on this earth to play.

Words escape me, but I am happy that Don Knotts was on this earth, and that he truly made me smile.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:30 AM /

The Week That Was - February 26, 2006

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:20 AM /

Saturday, February 25, 2006

POUNDING MY FLESH - Running and Training Update - February 25, 2006

Sorry for the lack of update last week - I was in crunch time getting my production of The House of Bernarda Alba up and running. The show opened this week, and is being received VERY well by audiences.

So, back to Pounding The Flesh. The best thing I can say about last week was that in spite of the long technical rehearsals, I managed to fit all of my training runs in, including a five-mile run outside on Saturday morning before our all-day technical rehearsal. That made a total of fifteen miles for the week.

The bad news is that I messed up a tendon slightly on my run this past Tuesday, and so I was a bit lighter on the miles this week. My first thought was that it was a stress fracture, but after running five miles on it today, I'm happy to report that it was just a bruised tendon that's on the mend.

So, on to our totals:

February 2006: 38.2 miles
Average Pace/Mile: 10:37
2006 Total Thus Far: 90.3 miles
Average Pace/Mile: 10:53

I've discovered a way to get "in the zone" on the treadmill - something that I've always found a bit challenging. It's always more engaging to run outside, and to change up training courses, if for no other reason than the view is constantly changing. It rarely does that on a treadmill.

Good music is essential. I can lose myself quite easily in great music, matching the tempo of the song to the strike of my foot against the treadmill belt. But there's always that issue of constantly looking down at the time and mileage, and not being as far along as one might hope, either in terms of time or mileage.

Look up from your computer screen for a moment, and try to take on a soft focus. Not staring at anything in particular, but just looking again. A magnificent instructor of the Alexander Technique I once had called this "being prepared for nothing, yet ready for anything."

Now choose a stationary point in front of you - something that isn't going to move. Once you've picked that spot, try to pay attention to something else that's in the periphery of your view. Keep your eyes on the object you've chosen os your "focus," but pay attention to the object in the periphery.

This method, in combination with great music, has kept my mind off of the mindlessness of running on a treadmill, and allows my mind to use the time to think about other things, or to simply let my mind wander a bit while I'm running. Relaxing the mental a bit while working the physical. It's good stuff - try it!

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Posted by FleshPresser at 5:44 PM /

Friday, February 24, 2006

FLESH, INK. FRIDAY - Carolyn Roper

Carolyn Roper is a make-up artist and body painter, educated in Ipswich and London, and working now as a professional artist for television, film, and model industries. In addition, she is recognized internationally as one of the finest body painters in the world. She placed 5th in the 2005 World Body Painting Championships, and is a member of the World Body Painting Association.

She also painted Javine Hylton (British pop star - played Nala in The Lion King for two years on London's West End) for a "Jeans for Genes" charity. Her work is creative, seductive, imaginative, and well worth a trip to her site. Enjoy!

Previously on FLESH, INK. FRIDAY: The Australian Museum / Jodee Lenaine Smith / Fredi Schmid / Vladimir Valenta / Anthony Chiappin and Andrew Dunbar / Rich Diltz / Flesh and Color

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:32 PM /

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The House of Bernarda Alba

At long last it opens! My production of The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Federico Lorca and Adapted by the amazing Emily Mann, opens this weekend. If you happen to be in the Allentown, PA area, please stop in and take a look! It's a damn fine production with some pretty amazing work done by the actresses on stage, if I do say so myself!

OK... so our production doesn't feature Phylicia Rashad or Daphne Rubin-Vega, and it's not the World Premiere of a musical version of the Lorca show (STILL not quite sure how that will fly... oh, well...) On the plus side, it runs a very tidy 1.5 hours, and tickets will set you back $15, as opposed to $75.00 for the NYC production. Tell ya' what... if you mention that the FleshPresser sent you, I might just buy you a drink after the show!

As an enticement, I've posted some photos from the show taken this evening at our final Invited Dress Preview - enjoy! Click on the image to enlarge.

Posted by FleshPresser at 1:04 AM /

When You Can't Convince New Republicans, Hire An Old One

From the CNN Wire:
Dubai company hires Bob Dole to lobby for port deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Dubai-based company at the center of a controversy over the management of six U.S. seaports has hired former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole to lobby on its behalf against bipartisan criticism of the deal, a Dole aide said Wednesday.

The 1996 Republican presidential candidate was "engaged" by Dubai Ports World shortly after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began expressing their strong opposition to the deal, said Mike Galloway, an aide to the retired senator.

He is considered a GOP elder statesman, and his wife, Elizabeth, now represents North Carolina in the Senate.

Dole is a special counsel in the Washington office of the law firm Alston & Bird. DP World hired the firm in 2005 to help shepherd its purchase of the British-based firm Peninsular and Oriental, which currently manages the U.S. ports, Galloway said. --From CNN Correspondent Andrea Koppel (Posted 2:43 p.m.)

Posted by FleshPresser at 12:22 AM /

Isn't It Amazing?

Just a simple thought to start the day...

Isn't it amazing that when Democrats take issue with the actions of the White House, we're labeled as "crazed idiots," "liberal conspiracy theorists," "country-hating Fascists"... the list goes on and on.

When Republicans have an issue with the Bush Administration, as they currently do with the Dubai Port Deal, then somehow their grievances are more legitimate?

I love the scent of hypocrisy in the morning...

Posted by FleshPresser at 12:06 AM /

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush and the Dubai Port Deal - Are These The Same Convictions That Led Us To War?

As the news of the UAE purchase of several key US ports spread yesterday, both Democrats and Republicans alike ceremoniously joined together to call the President an idiot. Ahhh... such a joyous day!!!

Democrats, Republicans, House and Senate Members all scolded the President for his actions, and said they would all draft legislation to immediately block the actions of the President.

The President countered by speaking to the Press immedaitely upon stepping off of Air Force One yesterday - something he has done only a handful of times since stealing taking the office of President. He countered his suprising number of opponents by vowing to veto anything that would be done to derail the sale of these ports to Dubai.

Generally speaking, this is the point where most Republicans would say "wow... he's such a great President. Once he's made up his mind, he's a man of convictions, and absolutely sticks to what he says." I doubt those Republicans were saying this about their President yesterday.

Well, today we are allowed to see how deep those convictions run. According to the White House, the President didn't even KNOW about the purchase of these ports until after the transaction was approved and completed by his Administration.

Didn't even know.

Did. Not. Know. And. Yet. Threatens. To. Veto.

I hate to keep coming back to the Dick Cheney story, but DAY-UMN... this is just another example in the long list of gaffes that this Administration has made - here's the most powerful man in the Free World, threatening to veto something that he didn't even know about prior to the action being taken by his Administration.

Next time you congratulate the President on his strong convictions, and you think about soldiers sacrificing their lives for their country and dying in support of that strong conviction, think about this story and how far those convictions really run... and where they may actually be sourced.

Posted by FleshPresser at 3:55 PM /

Moving On To Another Dick... Santorum

Rick "Dick" Santorum is featured in the upcoming edition of The American Prospect. The Senator charged with drafting ethics reform in the shadow of the Jack Abramoff scandal (this, of course, is about as funny as Dick Cheney being put in charge of Firearms Safety for the Capitol police) has a little explaining to do about about his own ethical conduct. The article is sharp and well written - Will Bunch writes for the Philadelphia Daily News, but also writes the smart blog Attytood - check it out if you haven't already.

Among the concerns? Despite the fact that Santorum has told The New York Times Magazine last spring: “We live paycheck to paycheck, absolutely...." Santorum was able to buy a $643,361 McMansion in Loudon County, VA - financed through an elite bank run by people who have contributed to his campaign.

In addition, according to The American Prospect:
The Prospect decided to heed Santorum’s advice by taking “an honest look at the family budget” -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings. Santorum’s PAC -- a “leadership PAC,” whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

These facts may well raise questions in Pennsylvanians’ minds about how the senator is conducting their business in Washington. But it is Santorum’s Virginia home that raises the hardest questions for the third-ranking Senate Republican.
Obviously, if these allegations are true,. they would be a violation of Senate ethics rules which state that a Senator may not avail him/herself to something a regular citizen could not get.

Of course, this may not be a problem for much longer, as the latest Rasmussen Reports poll finds Santorum trailing Democrat Bob Casey 52 - 36%.

UPDATE: Will Bunch has posted follow-ups to the Santorum story on Attytood, including a complaint filed to the Senate Ethics Committee by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Posted by FleshPresser at 2:42 PM /

Just Another Non-Story

June 2003 - Juan Garza Mendoza was released from jail under $150,000 bail and charged with manslaughter after allegedly shooting a migrant accidentally, mistaking him for a wild hog in the low brush.

Yup... just another non-story. No similarities here. Move along. Nothing to see.

Posted by FleshPresser at 2:02 PM /

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The FACTS on Cheney and Whittington

Last week, as I was hammering away at the Cheney story, a comment came into PTF asking for the facts as we saw them. Here's the comment that was posted:
As I said to your comment on my blog, give me the facts as your left thinking mind sees them.

The fact is the secret service called the local authorities within an hour and you spin that to mean he was hiding something because they have to setup a time for them to arrive the next morning. Where is the fact in what your spin says?

Another fact; the landowner called the local media and informed them or the incident (simple hunting accident) and just because he didn't schedule a Washington Press Conference is because he didn't have any with him (it was a private hunting party). It wasn't some lurid rendevous that I have heard being suggested by some crazy liberals.

So give me some facts as you think you know them.

We at PTF like to try and accomodate all of our readers, and as such, I will attempt to lay out the facts known in the Cheney-Whittington shooting incident last week:

* It is reported that Secret Service notified local police about the incident within an hour. It is also reported, however, that the police were told by Secret Service not to come to the scene of the incident until the next day. This contradicted local authority, and general police policy;

* Katharine Armstrong told people that there wasn't even a thought about releasing this as a story to anyone on Saturday. It was only on Sunday that she discussed it with the Vice President and decided to call the local media. "I said, 'Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper,'" she told The Associated Press. "And he said, 'You go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing.'"

According to TIME Magazine:
At about 8 a.m. Sunday, a Cheney aide called strategist Mary Matalin, who regularly advises the Vice President. The aide read her a statement about the accident that Cheney had considered releasing before he decided to encourage Armstrong to go to the Caller-Times. But the statement "didn't say much of anything," Matalin says--not even that Cheney was the shooter. Matalin then spoke with a second aide and with Cheney's family and heard different versions of what had happened in the shooting. She decided no statement should be released amid the confusion. Matalin spoke with Cheney, and, she says, they agreed that "a fuller accounting, with an eyewitness," would be preferable.

* While the story was held from any source of media, local or otherwise, the President was told at 8:00PM on Saturday. However, Scott McClellan then reported that he didn't personally know Cheney was the shooter until the next morning, about 6:00AM on Sunday, when he was awakened with the news.

* On Sunday, Texas Parks and Wildlife reported that Cheney was legally hunting with all required licenses and paperwork. The department paperwork reported on Monday, however, that he was missing a game bird stamp. Minor, but a fact nonetheless, and another contradiction.

* Initially, Karen Armstrong reported that "No one was drinking.... No, zero, zippo." The investigating officer later reported that in an interview with Mr. Whittington, the 78-year old man "explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt." When Cheney finally came forward in an interivew on Wednesday, he stated ""I had a beer at lunch."

* In the reports about Whittington's condition on Sunday, Karen Armstrong reported that "He was talking. His eyes were open." Cheney stated in his interview fith Fox News that Whittington was not responsive when he rushed over to him. It wasn't until later that Armstrong reported that she was about 100 yards away from the incident, and when she saw Secret Service running toward the President, she initially believed that the Vice President had suffered a heart-related problem.

These are all FACTS. No opinion inserted. No "spin." I am listing simply what was reported by the involved parties. No insinuation of anyone being drunk. No wild stories about affairs with women other than their spouses. No mention here of a vast conspiracy.

Here's my question - and I send it out once again to all of the Vice Presidential Cheerleaders who support with a blind faith that is sometimes staggering to imagine. Given THESE facts, aren't there enough contradictions that the media, in seeing the contradictions, SHOULD HAVE followed up on the events of the day. Isn't it quite possible that the Vice President could have indeed killed his hunting partner? Yes, we're all thankful that he didn't, but given that as a possibility, isn't it their responsibility to look into the events as they unfolded?

And if it is, couldn't the Vice President and the Bush Administration have quieted this story MUCH sooner, had they simply come forward and answered questions in a straight-forward manner? And sooner than Wednesday?

Beyond all the "factual contradictions" of the story, my argument is simply that the management of this very small incident is emblematic of a MUCH larger problem with the Bush Administration in how they deal with the press, with those who oppose them, and with the American people in general. Forget policy and partisan gripes for a moment, and simply focus on the mechanics of how they "Press The Flesh" - how they get their message out to the American people.

Can't you admit that they botched it in this case?

Just like they've botched their message on Social Security? Whether you love or hate the policy, you HAVE to admit that the President's message out on his "Social Security tour" did NOTHING to generate support for the policy.

Or how they botched the message related to the ongoing battle of insurgency in Iraq? Again, support the war or demand it's end right this moment - you've got to know that the Bush Administration has floundered in maintaining the support of the American public for the war.

Or how they've botched their message even recently with regard to Homeland Security - can you say Dubai and our national ports, anyone?

Without the ability to find your own weaknesses, you allow your enemy to point them out instead, and take advantage of them before you can. This is not to say that the ineffective and impotent Democrats currently leading the Democratic party will be able to take advantage of it - 2004 is more than enough proof of that. But I do believe that a new breed of Democrats is on the horizon, and that they WILL make the change in 2006 and 2008.

Posted by FleshPresser at 1:18 PM /

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Week That Was - Special Edition - Cheney Shoots Whittington

Yes, of COURSE this man needs his own special secion this week. With all of the fun the comedians have been having with this story, it's impossible to represent it with just one or two cartoons... thus, he merits an entire section to himself. Congratulations, Dick!

(Regular postings and weekly festures will resume this week, once my show opens and I get out of tech hell.)

Posted by FleshPresser at 11:30 AM /

The Week That Was - February 19, 2006

Posted by FleshPresser at 9:48 AM /