After 25 years of shouting, The Loudest Mouth in the Green Mountains has finally decided to put it all down on paper. Congressman Bernie Sanders, whose years of screaming and yelling finally necessitated throat surgery last summer, has a potential best-seller (at least among left-wing Vermonters), coming out this summer titled Outsider In the House. Cute.
The 240-page hardcover volume, to be published by Verso, a New York City-based publishing house, will retail for the "affordable" price of $25. It's billed as "a political autobiography," written in "a passionate and personal voice." Verso touts Bernie's book as one that "gives the inside scoop on Sanders' discussions about class politics with Bill Clinton in the Oval Office [what, no bimbos or hookers?], his battles with the often byzantine politics of the House floor [excuse me, but where am I supposed to sit?] and his encounters on the campaign trail in Vermont [hello, WGOP-TV?]."
Ol' Bernardo wrote the book with the assistance of his close friend and confidant, Huckleberry "Huck" Gutman, a UVM English professor who presumably can turn Bernie's words of wisdom into something that has a ring to it.
"The path which Congressman Bernie Sanders has taken," says the publisher, "must be followed by others before US democracy can be revived. Outsider In the House is a compelling signpost for that most difficult of political journeys."
Sounds like a 240-page sermon. Wonder if Susie Cream‑cheese will get a mention?
Paying the Piper Time — This week, members of nightclub owner Shawn Cliche's legal dream team — Karen Shingler, Norm Blais and Joseph Obuchowski — plan to sit down with Burlington City Attorney Joe McNeil to give the city what Shingler calls "one last chance" to rectify the wrong done by the distinguished City Council in revoking the liquor license for Cliche's planned Coliseum nightclub on Cherry Garcia Street two weeks after they issued it. If that doesn't work, Cliche will proceed with a lawsuit against the City of Burlap and the 13 pure and holy councilors who voted to take back his license before he ever got to use it. Ward 7 Councilor Gary Hevey will not be a defendant, since he had the wisdom and courage to stand alone against the regressive council's dastardly deed. Shingler notes that the recent Supreme Court decision that ruled the South Burlington City Council was wrong to revoke the liquor license at Cliche's Club Fantasy fuels their case.
Burlington's moral majority played the tune, and it looks like they may have to pay the piper, too. This is going to cost the city a "whole bunch of money," says Shingler. Cool.
Extremism Returns? — Now that the Democrats run the entire Statehouse once again, the environmental lobby is back in the driver's seat. Nothing proves it more than their current holy war against aerial spraying of herbicides on woodlands. Evil, wicked, bad and nasty! Sen. Elizabeth Ready already has 11 cosponsors on a bill that would institute a ban on aerial spraying, despite the fact that Champion Inc., the Forest Resources Advisory Council and Gov. Howard Dean just want a moratorium and further study rather than a total ban. One witness from the Sierra Club testifying in Chainsaw Ready's committee last week even raised the specter of mutated frogs! Hey, man, what about the ozone hole, prostate cancer, the melting of the glaciers and Alzheimer's?
The facts aren't going to get in the way here, folks. This one's wired. Nobody wants to know that the herbicide used is approved by the EPA and already in use without hurting even one little frog leg. Nobody wants to know that farmers and apple growers will continue to use aerial spraying on their fields and orchards 'cause no politician will dare mess with farmers. Nobody wants to know Champion doesn't want to spray grown trees, despite the bogus editorial in the Free Press — just areas that have recently been logged and replanted with spruce and fir. Nobody wants to know Champion depends on a healthy forest and nobody gives a damn that just last month Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gave Champion the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Corporate Stewardship Award.
Nope. Champion is this year's Monsanto. String 'em up!
Medical Advice — Back in 1981, the legislature approved a law allowing docs to prescribe pot for cancer patients. But for the last 15 years the statute has just been sitting there in the law books. Though the law directed the health commissioner to promulgate rules and get the program going, nothing was done. Federal drug laws take precedence, says Bill Wargo, the department's legal counsel.
Rubbish, says Dr. Douglas McSweeney. For many years, McSweeney was a distinguished surgeon up on Hospital Hill. Back in 1981, McSweeney was also a state senator who helped write Vermont's medicinal marijuana law. He learned about the benefits of pot in 1963 out in Oregon, where he noticed its effectiveness in treating patients undergoing toxic chemotherapy. After hearing the Gov's recent draconian statement that there's "absolutely no medical benefit" to be derived from marijuana, Dr. McSweeney wrote Dr. Dean and gave him a medicinal scolding.
"I told Ho-Ho he was wrong on his stand against marijuana for medical purposes," said McSweeney.
No response, yet. Maybe it's time the legislature revisited the matter. Why let the damn statute just sit there gathering dust?
Paul the Puck Laces 'Em Up! — Déjá vu all over again last week as Rep. Paul Poirier, the new chairman of House Health and Welfare, kicked off his health care offensive. Health care consumers unite!
Poirier played center ice on Speaker Ralph Wright's deadly political power play unit in the 1980s, lost a congressional bid in 1988 and drifted off into Green Mountain Power Land. But Poirier's back, and now sits at the right hand of Speaker Michael Obuchowski. Word is, Vermont's medical moguls are taking skating lessons.
Media Notes — A reader called the other day to express shock at the Burlington Free Press' website on the internet. Fact is, Vermont's largest daily newspaper doesn't have a website. C'mon, cyber surfers might stop buying the newspaper. But the unsuspecting web surfer didn't know that. With hundreds of newspapers on the web, he thought Vermont's largest would surely be up to speed. So he typed in "www.bfp.com" — and guess what? He ended up at the Web page of Bound For Pleasure, "a site dedicated to serving the needs of the B/D, D/S, and S/M, fetish and alternative lifestyle communities around the world." BFP hosts a "Sinners Lounge" the third Friday of every month. Whatever you do, don't tell Good Golly Ms. Molly Walsh.