Monthly Archives: September 2015

A happy ending

Well hey, looky here:

Scott opposes efforts to defund Planned Parenthood

That’s the headline on a newly-minted story by the Vermont Press Bureau’s Neal Goswami, who reached out to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott for comment on the Planned Parenthood foofaraw. Don’t know whether Goswami’s inquiry was sparked by yesterday’s disgraceful Congressional “hearing” or by my earlier post calling for Scott to exercise some leadership, but the important thing is, Phil Scott stepped up and delivered.

“I’m pro-choice. I always have been and I believe that Planned Parenthood provides very important health services that go far beyond abortions for women,” he said. “They provide great services and needed services.”

Can’t say anything bad about that. It’s a strong and straightforward statement, and it puts Phil Scott at odds with the national party and all the Republican Presidential candidates. I do have one quibble:

Scott said he did not know if the videos that have inspired conservatives in Congress to cut funding for Planned Parenthood are reputable.

“I don’t know anything about the allegations, whether they are true or not, but I’m sure we can all agree that no organization should be profiting from abortions,” he said.

Well, he went a little Sergeant Schultz on us there at the end. But the rest of his position? Commendable.

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Oh wait, there’s some leadership now!

My previous post called on Lt. Gov. Phil Scott to show some leadership on the issue of Planned Parenthood, and noted that neither he nor the VTGOP had responded to my Tweet inquiring about their stance. Well, I missed something.

Unfortunately, it’s not good.

Jay Shepard is one of Vermont’s two members of the Republican National Committee. (The other, Susie Hudson, is known in these parts for drawing paychecks from the VTGOP as a “fundraising consultant” while the party’s fundraising continues to suck, and also for accepting a free trip to the Holy Land chaperoned by leaders of the American Family Association, the notoriously anti-gay, anti-choice ultraconservative Christian organization.) He is, in short, one of Vermont’s two representatives to the national party.

And he revealed his position on Planned Parenthood in an August Facebook post:

Jay Shepard and Rand Paul

Well, hooray for leadership. Too bad it’s the wrong kind. Wrong for Vermont, certainly.

I’ll also mention a comment Shepard made in January to the Wall Street Journal, concerning then-fringe candidate Ben Carson. Yes, the guy who doesn’t believe a Muslim should be President.

“I think he was fantastic. A breath of fresh air,” said Jay Shepard, GOP national committeeman from Vermont.

Oh, goodie.

Now, I realize that Phil Scott isn’t directly responsible for the views of his fellow Vermont Republican. But this guy holds one of the most important, influential posts in the VTGOP. And the other RNC representative thinks it’s perfectly okay to travel on a hate group’s dime. If these are the two people chosen to represent Vermont on the national stage, then tell me again: exactly how is the VTGOP different than the national version?

Time for some leadership

Phil Scott wants to be the leader of our state, after six years in the high-profile but undemanding position of Lieutenant Governor. Last Friday, he demonstrated his leadership by speaking at the Rally for Safe Roads in Montpelier.

A worthy cause to be sure, but advocating civility and opposing mayhem isn’t exactly going out on a limb. Scott has also spent plenty of time recently promoting Wheels for Warmth, another creditable but not at all controversial endeavor.

So when will he say or do something that might be the least little bit of a stretch?

Well, he’s got an ideal opportunity right now. Because the national Republicans have been loudly, offensively, ceaselessly on the attack against Planned Parenthood, trying to capitalize on the deceitful outrage videos that claim to show PP officials profiting from abortions. Yesterday’s chest-pounding Congressional “hearing” was particularly offensive: Republican members grilled Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards for five hours, repeatedly cut off her attempts to answer questions, cited “information” from anti-choice sources, and generally behaved like assholes.

Aside from that brutal display, we’ve got Republicans threatening a government shutdown over federal funding for women’s health care at Planned Parenthood, at least three ongoing Congressional probes of the organization (with a fourth in the works), plus every Republican Presidential candidate joining the chorus. Carly Fiorina is the most obnoxious in this regard, but they’re all piling on.

So, Phil. Got anything to say about your fellow Republicans?

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You’re as Kold as ice

Keurig Green Mountain, the local startup made good and then assimilated by Coca-Cola, has formally unveiled its new Keurig Kold system online. To me, it still looks like an Edsel in the making. What’s worse, the troubled company is clearly betting the farm on this overpriced gizmo.

The cost alone is a deal-breaker. Add to that the machine’s clunky performance, and you have a product fated for the dustbin of history.

Cost? The list price of a KK is $369 — by far the most expensive of any Keurig device. But that’s just the entry fee. Your $369 buys you the opportunity to make little tiny eight-ounce servings of cold beverages at a per-cup cost of more than a dollar.

And each serving takes more than a minute to produce.

Which begs the question: why in hell would anyone buy this piece of junk?

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The Eternal General bows to the inevitable

It only took him about five months to figure it out, but Bill Sorrell finally announced today that he will not seek an eleventy-billionth term as Vermont’s Attorney General.

The end has been obvious to all since the early May appointment of former State Rep. Tom Little to head an independent investigation of Sorrell’s illegal (or at least thoroughly squicky) campaign finance activities.

SorrellZevonReally, the end has been all but obvious since Sorrell’s disastrous decision last March to throw the book at Dean Corren for an insignificant-at-best violation of the public financing law. Sorrell had alienated a lot of people over the years with his overzealous prosecution of campaign finance law and his underzealous pursuit of just about everything else in his purview. L’affaire Corren left him friendless in Montpelier and in Democratic and Progressive circles (he long ago lost the Republicans), with the possible exception of Sorrell’s political godfather, Howard Dean.

Today, the end came not with a bang, but an emailed whimper. Paul Heintz:

For a man who has spent much of his adult life in public service, Sorrell made his announcement in a remarkably low-key fashion. Rather than holding a press conference, he delivered the news in a terse, five-sentence statement emailed to reporters Monday afternoon.

Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t see any advantage to be gained from taking questions at his own political funeral.

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Mike Smith, multiplatform provocateur

Vermont’s number-one walking, talking conflict of interest, Mike Smith, has a bee in his bonnet.

Smith, for anyone living in a spider hole, is host of Not The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV, political columnist for the Times Argus and Rutland Herald, and political analyst for WCAX-TV and for the Charlie & Ernie Show on WVMT Radio. Man, that’s enough hats to gag a milliner.

Anyway, Smith is using his multiple platforms to capitalize on a recent tragedy: the death of state trooper Kyle Young during a training exercise. On his radio show and in his column, he is raising questions about possible wrongdoing by state officials. He is also, I hear, using his connections to prod WCAX into covering the “story.”

What caused Trooper Young’s core body temperature to rise to such a dangerous level? Was the training regime too arduous for the temperature conditions? Or was there some other medical reason that went undiscovered by State Police supervisors and medical staff until it was too late?

Well, of course questions need to be answered. But there is absolutely no indication that anyone did anything wrong. This was a standard, if rigorous, training; the weather was warm, but not unusually so. And yet, Smith is calling for an independent investigation, and is avidly sowing the seeds of doubt about the state’s handling of the case.

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Sons of the North

In the aftermath of the June 17 terror attack in a South Carolina church, many people have reawakened to the awful connotations of the Confederate battle flag. The issue has reached South Burlington, whose high school sports teams have been called the Rebels since the school’s founding in 1962. There have been calls to change the name to something that better reflects an increasingly diverse community.

Defenders of the nickname have called the controversy “crazy” and insisted the name “could mean a lot of different things.” One pointed out that Americans were the “rebels” in the Revolutionary War, so maybe that’s what it means.

Well, the Burlington Free Press came up with a creative approach. It sent reporter Haley Dover to leaf through SBHS yearbooks from the 1960s. And what did she find?

Confederate battle flags all over the damn place.

In the school’s first yearbook from 1962, sketches of Civil War era soldiers with their swords and muskets can be found placed among the student photos. The inside cover of the yearbook from 1964 is the image of a fall mountain scene and a Confederate solider holding the southern-rooted flag. Numerous pages throughout the 1960s show the flag hanging behind the basketball team or behind two Key Club members shaking hands. Cheerleaders pose with the banner on the football field.

Obviously, the Rebel nickname was inspired by the Confederacy.

Now, I don’t think anyone at SBHS was overtly racist back then. They were just completely clueless, in what was then a lily-white community and state.

There’s still a lot of that cluelessness around today. Indeed, there’s a prime example in the Free Press article itself.

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