Boy to man
When Phillipe and Jorge give thanks this holiday, we certainly will put US
Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) at the top of our best wishes
list. Your superior correspondents have not been shy about hammering Boy
Patrick for what seems to be his "Me first, Rhode Island second" focus. After
all, he refused to debate his Republican opponent, Ron Santa, during the recent
election, instead spending most of his time playing Tonto to Dick Gephardt and
Hillary Rodham Cuckold as he raced around the country raising funds for fellow
Still, the end result was Kennedy's appointment as chair of the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee, a plum, high-profile position that seems to
fit Patrick's political-climber agenda. Even better, the young congressman
barely had the DCCC wreath laid atop his carrot top before showing his true
maturity and allegiance to the Biggest Little in announcing that he would not
run for the Senate in 2000.
Of course, Kennedy's predicted opponent, US Senator John Chafee (and P&J
certainly hope he will run again), is one of the most respected politicians in
Washington, and a person who brings enormous prestige to Vo Dilun through his
thoughtful and forthright stands on key issues, most notably the environment.
So, in addition to avoiding a race in which we figured to lose at least one
very efficient politician in DC, Patrick's decision to stick to the House
raises his clout and prestige appreciably, which will mean only long-term
benefits for Little Rhody.
Indeed, Patrick's decision to stay put virtually guarantees a coveted spot on
the House Appropriations Committee, which, to be candid, translates into the
ability to steer mucho federal dollars our way. And let's not even start to
think about the majority leader's post should the Dems take back control of the
House in 2000.
Gosh, Patrick, sorry for our doubts. Ye've grown up, laddie, and we couldn't
be more proud of ye. Happy Thanksgiving.
It is one thing to know that Governor Bigfoot doesn't care -- or even know much
about -- environmental issues. It is another to see him flaunt that
cluelessness, as he did last week when he essentially pushed DEM director Andy
McLeod out the door in a display that stunned the environmental community and
now has Common Cause concerned as well.
Thanks also to Department of Administration chief Robert Carl, no friend of
McLeod's ever since Andy arrived here 15 months ago to attempt to resurrect the
DEM in the face of a General Assembly witch hunt. The DOA director butted heads
with McLeod on personnel issues at every turn, so between Carl and chief of
staff Mike DiBiase, you have some great environmental advisors there, Linc.
Overall, the only time Bigfoot responds to environmental issues is when his
back is up against a wall, such as when Economic Development Corporation head
John "What Clean Water Act?" Swen embarrassed the guv by trying to skate around
public input at Quonset Point or when Almond found it helpful to come out
against dredge dumping in Narragansett Bay's East Passage while his
gubernatorial opponent, Myrth York, read his beads in public and further showed
him up by bringing federal Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner
into town to campaign for her.
The depth of Almond's know-nothingness was highlighted by the fact that McLeod
had poured oil on the already troubled EPA/Rhode Island government waters in
squiring New England EPA head John DeVillars around the state just days prior
to McLeod's resignation. Not only was mutual respect and support for McLeod
mentioned at every stop, but local environmentalists and DEM staff were
noticeably inspired by the future projects McLeod unveiled with DeVillars's
overt blessing. Now, as the Phoenix goes to press, sources close to DEM
say a petition drive is afoot to reinstate the embattled McLeod.
If that doesn't happen, Bigfoot faces two very big questions: first, what type
of person does he expect to recruit to replace McLeod when he or she will know
that the knives in the back could come at any time from the DEM staff, the
General Assembly, and even the governor's office? Second, what credibility does
Almond have with the environmental community now that he is personally
responsible for the loss of such a highly respected and trusted person within
that faction? P&J's guess is zero, which should be a real help to Almond
the next time he stands up and says he cares about the state's natural
resources in terms of mega-projects like Quonset Point.
When can we take a shower?
For those who have noticed that P&J have not had a whole lot to say about
Monica and Bill, it's not that your superior correspondents haven't been paying
attention to the nation's soap opera. It's just that, for all the billions of
words written about the nation's number-one Fellatio Alger tale, nothing much
has really happened.
Spinning and hand-wringing tend to get old after a while, and, frankly, we're
satisfied leaving most of that up to our fellow hacks of the keyboard. Still,
in light of the nationally televised testimony of Kenneth Starr last week in
front of the House Judiciary Committee, some distinct ideas did start to form
in our pointy little heads.
For those who insist that, a la our late departed crime chief Raymond L.S.,
the investigators and press should just "leave that poor president alone," we
feel compelled to remind you that the Willy-in-Chief has brought much of this
upon himself. On the other hand, the Big Pink One did have a point in last
week's BeloJo when he said that Starr's claims of not taking any pleasure in
exposing the X-rated shenanigans of the Oral Office are a pile of rubbish. Our
impression of the not-so-independent counsel after last week's tour de force is
that he is a lying, self-righteous prig.
For those who haven't had the time nor the inclination to wade through the
five volumes of "Appendices and Supplemental Materials" from Starr's
investigation -- and we would imagine that this is almost everyone save
Clinton's attorneys and a few rabid Judiciary Committee staffers -- we suggest
for your perusal Renata Adler's essay in the current Vanity Fair.
In it, there are excerpts from the actual grand jury testimony, and we believe
that one thing becomes clear. In employing techniques used primarily in
prosecuting organized-crime figures to entrap Clinton, Starr and his cohorts
definitely crossed the line. As surely as Clinton committed perjury, Starr's
prosecutors also broke the law by thwarting Lewinsky's attempts to contact her
then-attorney, Frank Carter, during the notorious Ritz Carlton episode.
A reasonable conclusion to this whole affair would have Clinton resign and
slink off into the sunset of Little Rock, DreamWorks, or wherever he's heading
and Starr and his cohorts disbarred. That this scenario makes sense is one good
reason why it will never happen. Instead, we might as well get used to the
stench, as our long national shower after this "long national nightmare" will
continue to be deferred.
After all, no one in Washington would have the temerity to interrupt a really
good soap opera while it still has legs. So get used to it, because this thing
won't end any time soon.
Buy nothing, do something
The Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange will take place this year on the State House
lawn on Friday, November 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The phenomenon was created by
the Adbusters, a group dedicated to exposing how advertising promotes the
culture of brain-dead consumerism.
In this spirit, a number of Vo Dilun organizations have banded together to
encourage people to stop by the State House, in the shadow of the edifice for
the new Providence Place mall-orama, and donate a winter coat for those in
need. Last year, this grass-roots campaign proved to be successful, as a
surprising number of people got the word and dozens of coats were indeed
The fact is that the ongoing "good economy" has not been so good for folks on
the wrong end of the economic scale. Right now, we have a wider gulf between
rich and poor than we've had since the turn of the last century. But this fact
seems to be obscured since a) it's not a sexy media story and b) the way we
tend to lead encapsulated lives these days means that most people seldom see,
up close and in person, the homelessness and hunger right in our midst.
To P&J, the Coat Exchange seems to be a simple and thoughtful way for
those who have been blessed with good fortune to share that with those who have
not. If you would like to help out, call Greg Gerritt at 331-0529, Phil Edmonds
at 273-4650, or Dick Fontaine at 851-9733.