Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ready or Not, Here it Comes... 2008!

Farewell, 2007:

From our "There Will Always Be an England" notebook: "After he was exposed, Lamberton told an intelligence officer that he had thrown himself into a 'frenzied' round of 'gardening and debauchery' to get over the fact that he had lost a three-year battle over the use of his father's title." Washington Post

If only The Decider had been forced to turn to gardening instead of .....

In this divisive primary campaign year, Jupiter the African lion demonstrates how we all need one another, lovingly showing that we can cross the most ingrained barriers to join in common cause. Raspberries to our beastly Congress and veto-pen-wielding Lyin' King for acting like political animals instead of working for the best interests of the country.

Give yourself a New Year's warm and fuzzy by watching this touching video of Jupiter hugging his rescuer Ana Julia Torres... YouTube video

And, just a reminder of why it is important that our next leader well..... have a clue. Oliphant-WaPo


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Huckabee's Nose Grows

Presidential GOP candidate Mike Huckabee said of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan that we send "our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan" and referred to the "continuing" martial law there.

By his recent statement, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has once again demonstrated not only his lack of understanding of Middle Eastern affairs, but his "slick" side.

This glib preacher who has delivered numerous sermons and consoled the grieving said he misspoke..... that he meant to say "sympathies" not "apologies" and had a long explanation for why he thought that the martial law had not been lifted by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf when in fact it had.

The truth, something with which Huckabee seems to only have a nodding acquaintance, is that he is weak on foreign affairs, although he tries mightily to flim-flam.

In his rush to capitalize on the tragedy and divert the discussion to the safer waters of domestic affairs, Huckabee linked the Pakistan situation to the dangers of illegal immigration in the United States, arguing Friday that "we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border."

When pressed on the numbers.... looking like a deer caught in the headlights.... Huckabee fumbled around asserting that he thought they were CIA or immigration numbers. Actually, Homeland Security reports for 2006 show that many more illegal immigrants living in the United States came from India, Korea, China and Vietnam than Pakistan.

And, while on the subject of Huckabee's tough campaign stand on illegal immigration, let's take a look at his record.

The Washington Times ran an article by Stephen Dinan in which he said in the first paragraph: "Mike Huckabee is overselling his record of cracking down on illegal aliens as governor, claiming he ordered his state police to arrest illegal aliens when in fact he never signed the agreement with federal authorities that would have allowed it."

Huckabee's web site, however, boldly twists the facts.... "As governor, I ordered my state troopers to work with the Department of Homeland security to arrest illegals and enforce federal immigration laws." But he never signed an agreement with Homeland Security that would secure the training needed before federal immigration laws can be enforced by state police.

When called on this inaccuracy, his excuse was that he just ran out of time to get the agreement with Homeland Security.... the dog ate his Homeland Security agreement so to speak.

Yet, Huckabee had more than 20 months left in office to work out an agreement with Homeland Security for training, something his successor undertook in 12 months.

Huckabee at campaign rallies in Iowa exhorts voters to caucus for him.... "do something different that would utterly confound the political ruling class in this country"... deliver a "seismic shock."

An Iowa caucus win for Huckabee would be more like shock and horror.

Haven't we had enough talking the talk, but not walking the walk? Hopefully the Republican voters will examine Huckabee's record and deliver their shock to the huckstering Huckabee campaign on January 3.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Biden Walks the Walk

Brent Budowsky at The Huffington Post tells it the way it is regarding the Pakistan crisis:

"It was Joe Biden and Joe Biden alone among the presidential candidates in both parties who warned, and warned again about the dangers of Pakistan, who offered constructive proposals to get out of Iraq, and opposed the Iran hysteria of Lieberman-Kyle."

Come lately to the party, Chris Dodd, is now claiming he warned. Rudy Giuliani is saying his post 9/11 moves make him a Middle East expert.... but, as Biden so aptly pointed out, Rudy's campaign rhetoric boils down to three words, "a noun, a verb and 9/11."

The other candidates offer pithy platitudes.... the sound and the fury, signifying nothing.

Anyone paying the least bit of attention knows the one candidate who isn't just campaign hot air on foreign policy is Biden, the current Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Iowans, remember this on January 3.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Biden Pakistan Warnings Prophetic

Regardless of the saber-rattling of The Decider against Iran, presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) has been warning that the hot spot in the Middle East isn't Iran, but Pakistan.... a country rife with al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists and bristling with nuclear weapons.

Today in Rawalpindi, Pakistan's instability was tragically validated with the assassination of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto who headed up a party in opposition to President Pervez Musharraf.

Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest just before a suicide bomber detonated explosives near her car as she was leaving a campaign rally. At least 20 others were also killed by the bombing.

Also today in Rawalpindi, a rooftop sniper opened fire at the rally of another political foe of Musharraf, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, killing four supporters.

It's just 12 days until the Pakistanis are supposed to vote in national parliamentary elections.... the party with the most legislative seats determines who is prime minister. Will Musharraf now call off these elections and reimpose a state of emergency, leaving him in power and the push for democracy nowhere?

U.S. military officials said last week that the terrorist group al Qaeda is increasingly focusing its efforts in Pakistan.... considered the most dangerous country in the world..... a nuclear-armed country quickly plunging into chaos.

Ask yourself who do you want in the White House as the situation in Pakistan becomes ever more dangerous.... the candidate who is highly respected and experienced in foreign affairs, who understands the gravity and complexity of the situation in the Middle East, knows its leaders, and serves as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

That presidential candidate is Democrat Senator Joe Biden.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Dog Days of Mitt and Huck

Seems the campaigns of two top GOP presidential candidates are going to the dogs....

.... As, when it was learned that Mike Huckabee's son David was involved in the hanging of a stray dog when Huck was governor of Arkansas. David was dismissed as camp counselor and the local prosecuting attorney wrote a letter to the Arkansas state police seeking help investigating whether or not state animal-cruelty laws were broken.

The request was denied because according to John Bailey, Huck's then director of Arkansas state police, he was leaned on by the governor and his personal lawyer to deny the prosecutor's request. Seven months later Bailey was terminated by Huck who cited as one of the reasons, "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem."

According to I.C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock, "Without question [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son," and called Bailey a "courageous" and "very solid" professional.

As disturbing as the incident was.... the Animal Legal Defense Fund got an anonymous fax that summer that alleged that David and another youth had been involved in the hanging of a stray dog at the camp and the defense fund report reads, "Boys confessed & were fired".... as always, it's the cover up that is so telling about the ethics of the self-professed "Christian Leader" candidate Huckabee who turned the screws to hush things up.

Then there is Mitt Romney's treatment of man's best friend, his Irish setter Seamus.... Romney put poor Seamus into a dog carrier and strapped it to the roof of his station wagon in 1983 for a 12-hour trip from Boston to a cottage on Lake Huron, Ontario. When the terrified dog made bads all over the car, why old Mitt the problem-solver hosed down the dog and car and then continued on his merry way.

Empathy doesn't seem to be Romney's long suit. Although that wasn't one of the reasons stated in the unheard of anti-endorsement of Romney by the Concord Monitor last Saturday. They boldly stated that Romney is a "disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped."

It's the flip-flop thing on such issues as gay rights, abortion rights, stem-cell research and anti-tax pledges that led the Monitor to an unimpressed.... "you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core."

Or, maybe we should just ask..... "How would Seamus the Irish setter vote?"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Are Two Clinton's Better?

On the whole, does former president Bill Clinton help or hurt his wife's campaign?

Seems like Hillary had a lot more wind in her sails until Bill stepped in to add his hot air. Like, his telling people while campaigning for Hillary in Iowa on November 27 that "I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers."

This is so wrong, on so many levels.... the first being he didn't oppose the Iraq war, he's just trying to rewrite his history on back of Hillary's campaign. Second... in just one sentence on her campaign stop he used "I" three times, Hillary zero times.

His campaigning for Hillary is all about Bill, his presidency, his opinions..... all of the time. Mentions of Hillary sound like well-drilled rote lessons, like his parrot repetition of "Hillary is an agent of change." When he strays from the campaign script it's all "me, me, me, me, me, me, me."

As Alice Roosevelt Longworth said of her attention-demanding legendary father, Teddy Roosevelt.... "he wants to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral, and the baby at every christening."

Teddy reborn in Bill.

Is it that Bill just can't help himself, or is there something more insidious going on.... an "I'm the best president" power struggle. Even if Hillary can grab enough attention to somehow win the nomination, then what is Bill's roll? The more he raises his profile, the more the GOP "vast conspiracy" will be motivated to squelch Hillary.

And, if Hillary somehow manages to win the presidency, will Bill then be undercutting her Secretary of State and other advisers?.... cranking up the media circus that follows him around like dust on a dirt road. These questions bring back to the voters the seamy side of Bill's White House life.

Some things are best viewed at a distance.... in this case it's Bill Clinton's presidency.

Rather than being the wind under Hillary's campaign wings, he's likely to become the draft drawing her off course. The old Clinton formula of "two for the price of one" could be.... and perhaps should be.... Hillary's undoing.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

White House Christmas: Then, Now and....

A picture can be worth a thousand words.... so hope you enjoy this little jaunt through White House Christmas cards and wishes past, present and..... please, say it isn't so.... the future?

The Blue Room of the White House was the theme for the greetings sent by Presidents Lyndon Johnson in 1967 and Bill Clinton in 1995. Above is the Johnson card, a reproduction of Robert Laessig's painting, and below the Clinton card with the artistic image "Fantasy Blue Room" by Thomas McKnight.

The first President George Bush used the image of artist Kamil Kubik's impression of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse for their striking 1992 Christmas card.

However, proving that political good taste doesn't reproduce itself, The Decider turned his 2007 greetings into a sermon, in keeping with the GOP push to turn our country into a theocracy. The biblical message reads (and I'm not kidding)....

"You alone are the LORD, You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. NEHEMIAH 9:6 (NIV)"

"May the joy of all creation fill your heart this blessed season 2007."

Below are the front of the Bush 2007 card with this year's holiday "theme".... our national parks and natural history. And, depicting this "Holiday in the National Parks" is the 2007 Holiday Program, and on the inside back cover, (really, I'm not kidding) is Mama Bush's portrait regally lording over a terrra cotta replica of our Mt. Rushmore worthies.... Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.

If you love the creationist thrust of The Decider's 2007 Christmas message, then you'll love a President Mike Huckabee who calls himself the "Christian Leader" and espouses the teaching of creationism in our public schools. This Huckabee family Christmas card is from when The Huckster was governor of Arkansas, before he embarked on becoming our Ayatollah in November 2008...

Think you can see the direction our country is heading unless you stand up for the separation of church and state, and for keeping American free for all Americans.

Ring in the New Year by supporting the candidate who offers "Peace on earth and good will to all men".... regardless of belief, or lack thereof.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Biden Takes Aim

Truth telling. That is Sen. Joe Biden's (D-DE) way to campaign for the presidency.

For instance, Biden defends the role of the CIA in the administration's decisions on Iran, especially their recent reports about Iran's nuclear weapons capability.... "It's not been so much that we've gotten bad intelligence, but that what we've gotten is manipulation of that intelligence by the president."

Ba-ba boom!

Further, Biden explains, the CIA is "tired of being manipulated by a president who in fact uses the information they produce to do things that do not justify what the report says."

He continues to remind us that while Iran may be a problem in the future, it is Pakistan that is "bristling with nuclear weapons."

How refreshing.... a hard-hitting opinion. About a real problem. Not religious pandering or interest group targeting.

Because of his grasp of the issues, his breadth of experience and his straight-forward commitment to resolve our thorniest issues .... Biden would be a sound choice for thoughtful Iowa caucus goers on January 3.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Huckster Huckabee

Ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee has hit upon an effective strategy in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.... keep the focus on religion.... this pleases the religious right base and keeps the talk away from his record.

Like his ethics problems when he was governor of Arkansas..... 16 complaints before the Arkansas Ethics Commission resulting in five violations including using campaign funds to pay for a Gospel Fest event, or cash that was received and unreported.

Or, paroling a rapist whose guilt Huckabee questioned, pressuring the parole board for his release. Huckabee, shaving the truth, says the parole board members were appointed by his predecessors. He fails to mention that he reappointed two board members, one just days before he voted with three other members to set the rapist free. The rapist subsequently murdered a woman in Missouri.

As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons.... over 1033 during his nearly eleven years in office..... than all of the six neighboring states combined including the usually never reduced sentences of murderers serving life without parole.

And, Huckabee's recent strong stand on illegal immigration is counter to his record. He battled conservatives in his own party who were pushing for stricter state-level measures. He opposed proof of legal status when applying for state services and proof of citizenship when registering to vote.... calling these requirements un-Christian and accusing the sponsors of drinking a different "Jesus juice."

He also tried but failed to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for state-funded scholarships and in-state tuition to Arkansas colleges.

Huckabee also touts that he cut taxes, but fails to point out that he raised fuel and sales taxes and other state charges leading him to be nicknamed "Hucka-fee."

But.... how is he presenting his record? He crusades under the label "CHRISTIAN LEADER" with the mantra "Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me."

Huckabee's stump speech is more sermon mixed with homilies and crowd pleasing political promises. At campaign stops, his introductions include, "Here's a guy who fears God."

It's pure praise God and pass the plate.... and vote for me, Huckabee.

Opponent Mitt Romney has been indulging in own God talk, assuring Iowans that God loves them. Perhaps most jawdroppingly, in a speech on his Mormonism in early December, Romney preached that "freedom requires religion," proclaiming his allegiance with "any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty."

This brought the boogieman response from Huckabee that Mormons believe Jesus and the devil are brothers. Very Christian.

All of this political preaching has led WaPo's Dana Milbank to ask and answer, "Is This Heaven? No, it's Iowa."

We say unbelievably, "Are these revival crusades? No, they are presidential campaigns."

But, as long as the GOP hucksters aren't called out for placing belief front and center.... obscuring their records and agendas... it'll be all God, all of the time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Keeping the Faith Honest

If you have nothing to hide....

Despite vigorous protests from the secretive White House, "Secret Service Logs of White House Visitors Are Public Records, Judge Rules."

Administration lawyers have been arguing that the logs recording visitors to the White House or the vice president's residence are presidential records and outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. But the decider on this issue is U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth who ruled they are "agency records" subject to disclosure.

Records of the visits of nine conservative Christian leaders including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer are ordered to be released.... and Lamberth will also rule on visits by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Now, Judge Lamberth, how about the names of the attendees at VP Cheney's stealth energy policy gathering....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lieberman Hawks McCain

Foregoing his usual skulking around the halls of Congress in his "Independent" sheep's clothing, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT) exposed his Benedict Arnold underbelly today by endorsing GOP presidential candidate John McCain (AZ).

Never one to miss an opportunity to support anyone who supports the war in Iraq, Lieberman extolled McCain as no ordinary candidate, while McCain made assurances that Lieberman would be one of his closest presidential advisers.

It's telling that Lieberman, Al Gore's Democratic vice presidential running mate in 2000, has strayed so far into the GOP "ends justify the means" swamp that Lieberman supports putting another war-promoting, religious-pandering, illegal-immigration-favoring Republican in the White House for four more years.

If Lieberman wonders if we'll still respect him after he prostitutes himself yet again for his narrow pro-Israel Middle East agenda, let us hasten to assure him that we don't respect him now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sanity in Democratic Discourse

Des Moines Register Editor, Carolyn Washburn, the moderator of today's Democratic presidential candidate debate, redeemed herself.... no more Nurse Ratched.

Or, perhaps the high caliber of the candidates simply raised the level of discourse without the undignified tension evidenced between the GOP candidates and Washburn yesterday.

Today, no one preached, or claimed that God was on their side.... no blatant religious pandering. No one tried to justify torture or scoff at global climate change or continue the push for lower taxes in the face of the country's Bush-engendered crippling deficits.

Refreshingly, today the Democratic candidates answered the questions put to them, they didn't run over their time requiring Washburn to constantly try to keep unruly debaters on track, and they were respectful both to her and their fellow candidates..... there was no need to struggle to maintain control of a Cuckoo's Nest.

Six Democratic candidates debated.... Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. No Democratic candidate won, and no candidate lost. You were left with the feeling that you could entrust the country to any of these candidates. So in the end.... the Democratic party won.... big time.

GOPers In the Cuckoo's Nest

One down and one to go in the Des Moines Register's Nurse Ratched-hosted presidential campaign debates. Not much to comment on except for Fred Thompson trying to project a macho Reaganesque "I paid for this microphone" display by refusing to take his hand-raising medicine.

Look for a lobotomy on Thompson from the Register before the caucuses despite their make-nice front pager in this morning's paper.

More after the Democrats go to bat today.... although the baseball steroid-users list will probably knock the debate's general media coverage back to the cheap seats.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Biden: "Tapegate" Special Counsel

During his confirmation hearings before Congress, Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to describe waterboarding as torture. We now know why.

The videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists were purposely and cynically destroyed by the CIA.... and in our heart of hearts we know why.... undoubtedly they showed our government using torture, almost certainly waterboarding, on these suspects.

Presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) has called for a special counsel to investigate this perversion of justice so "everyone will know what the truth is;" and, candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) regrets that the destruction of the videotapes "harms the credibility and the moral standing of America in the world again."

However, applying the Bush administration manipulative standards of justice, Mukasey's Justice Department and the CIA announced that they will conduct the joint inquiry into the matter.... the "fox guarding the hen house" analogy was never more apt.

While we endured the White House's corrupting "the ends justify the means" decadent policies, we did see a ray of hope.... now dashed by "tapegate".... that our new attorney general would uphold the rule of law and start to restore our national honor.

It's now clear, until we can install leaders with a political moral compass.... not a Trojan horse administration blathering religious platitudes that are disconnected from their power-grabbing agenda.... nothing will change.

Take this lesson to your caucus or primary next year. Real moral political leadership.... not religious political rhetoric cloaking the condoning of torture and the destruction of evidence.... matters. We must not be fooled again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Only the Faithful for Romney

The question must be considered.... are we electing a president, or are we ordaining a preacher-in-chief.

Which matters more, experience in the affairs of the pulpit, or experience in foreign affairs? And what about non-believers.... are they to be sidelined as second-class citizens? Is there now a religious litmus test for the presidency

GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, spoke Thursday in defense of his Mormon religion, recognizing all peoples of faith and advocating the premier role of religion in our country.... and, taking it even further, obliterated the wall of separation between church and state by flatly stating that "without religion there is no freedom." Excuse me?

The very freedoms he, and all of the religious-pandering presidential candidates, so loftily proclaim they want to protect are fundamentally undermined by this "we're all the children of God" mantra.

What about freedom from religion? It is just a short step from interjecting religion in the public square to dominionism.... placing religious dogma above the constitution.

By singling out those who "seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of God" as citizens to be mocked for the "religion of secularism," Romney divided Americans into believers and non-believers.... the non-believers having no place at a President Romney table.

No one said it better than founding father James Madison in 1785.... "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruin of the civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people."


Monday, December 03, 2007

One Dictator Checked, One Empowered

Democracy wins in Venezuela while Russia's fate lies with Putin's dirty-gray soul that The Decider gushed over a seeming lifetime ago.

"Venezuelans Deny Chavez Additional Authority"..... as voters yesterday blocked proposed constitutional changes that would have sped the country toward socialism and allowed President Hugo Chavez to stand for reelections indefinitely. A hopeful sign in our dangerous back yard.

At the same time a half a world away, "Pro-Democracy Groups Call Russian Election Unfair"..... as the United Russia party headed by President Vladimir Putin won the parliamentary elections by 64 percent. European observers called the election "the merging of the state and a political party."

An example of the skewed results.... in Chechnya United Russia received 99.36 percent of the vote with a turnout of 99.5 percent. Chechnya is currently led by a Putin strongman, and their elections were not monitored.

Putin's United Russia now has 315 of the 450-member State Duma.... enough to change the constitution to allow Putin to remain in power beyond the current limit of two consecutive terms. Putin opponents called the vote a "disgusting" repeat of Soviet practices, while Putin said he was pleased with the results.

There seems little doubt that the empowered Putin will continue to consolidate his dictatorial powers, while the The Decider and his Russia "expert" the dithering Secretary of State Rice, watch their soulful Russia policy ice over like a Siberian winter.... or a cold war.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Purple Panthers on the Prowl

The weather outside is frightful (ice storm), but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go..... it's the perfect day to veg in front of the TV and watch the UNI Panthers (12-0) try to keep the Delaware Blue Hens (9-3) couped up in their own territory.

That will be a tall order since Delaware's running back Omar Cuff has the FCS single-season record 33 touchdowns on the ground.

So, at 1pm today (Mediacom Channel 22 in the Des Moines area) pop a big bowl of popcorn and settle in to cheer on Northern Iowa in the Football Championship Subdivision playoff quarterfinal at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.... let UNI roll, let them roll, let them roll.