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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Worlds Apart!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 8:29 PM

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:

"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

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 9:16 AM

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.

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

"I'm Jeff Danziger...

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 at 9:53 AM

"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...

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 10:31 AM

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 permanentlegal authority to keep Guard members in Iraq. The Governor asCommander-in-Chief of the Vermont National Guard should take necessarysteps to bring them home."

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

Interesting, eh?

[Took the picture last Valentine's Day.]

More here.

Bernie Sanders
State of the Mind?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 9:45 AM

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.

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?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bernie Sanders
D.C. Senatorial Presser

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 6:17 PM

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.

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.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bernie Sanders
America Today

Posted By on Sat, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:34 PM

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.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Symington Says...

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 1:38 PM

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:

"We passed what was a fairly comprehensive approach to restructuringhow we would pay for and deliver healthcare in this state [in 2005]. The Governorvetoed that.

"We were not able to override that veto.

"And we made adecision a year later to make an enormous compromise, which was to usethe healthcare insurance as the delivery mechanism. And the bottom linefor us has been that it needed to be comprehensive healthcare. Andwe’re on that road and once you make that decision you have a lot ofwork 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....

Hemp promotes marijuana?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 9:39 AM

On Thursday afternoon, Sgt. Dean Hoover of the Saskatchewan Drug Unit told Wavy Davy's House Ag Committee via telephone from Saskatoon that that's not what happened up there.

"We really don’t have a big issues with the hemp growers," said Hoover. "It’s such a different looking crop and it really doesn’t look like marijuana," he said. "There’s basically just one flower on top, so most people really don’t know what it is." So we really don’t have a lot of issues.

"It would be really easy to spot marijuana plants in the center of a hemp field because there’s such a difference in the look. Hemp plants are absolutely filled with seeds, and, of course marijuana are all female plants, so there are no seeds. They want the smokable product," said the Sarge from Saskatoon.

As for smoking hemp to get high, said Sgt. Hoover, "You’d have to smoke 400 pounds of it to even get a smile on your face."

As it is, he said, "Marijuana is huge everywhere up here. Most of our marijuana grows are indoors.  A lot better product. Readily available anywhere. Canadian marijuana’s pretty popular. Big indoor hydroponic grows because of the short outdoor growing season."

Hemp in a field has got one stalk coming up and one flower on top, noted Hoover, wheremarijuana plants "have stems coming everywhere and the more bud thebetter. It’s totally different looking."

The Hemp Bill, H.267, appears to be gathering steam.


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hemp Has Legs

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Don't spend much time in the House Agriculture Committee chaired by Progressive Burlington farmer Dave Zuckerman. Today was an exception. An interesting exception.

Check back to find out what Alex Miller [right], founder/owner of True Blue Green Food in Bethel had to say about how nice it'd be to be able to grow hemp seeds right here in Vermont instead have having to order from Canada.

Interesting story about this former Australian chef to the rich and famous in Seven Days last Halloween. I missed it on the first go-round. Maybe you did as well?

Also find out what the two top-ranking Vermont State Troopers behind her had to say about it - and a cop on the speakerphone from Saskatchewan where it is legal.

Rep. Michael Fisher of Lincoln's H.267, a bill that would allow commercial hemp production - it's not the same as marijuana, witnesses emphasized - actually looks like it has legs.

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