Thursday, January 31, 2008

McCain and Romney Square Off

Desperate to swerve the debate toward his self-declared area of expertise..... war.... Sen. John McCain accused opponent Mitt Romney in last night's CNN Republican presidential debate of supporting (gasp) timetables for withdrawing U.S. troops from the Iraq battlefield.

Romney defended himself by pointing out that McCain was using misleading statements and stooping to "dirty tricks" yada, yada, yada.... you get the idea. The Bickersons held forth most of the evening with Romney appearing as the harried grownup to a McCain who smirked his way through questions he seemed to know little about and the answers of others.

Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul showed up for the debate but were mostly onlookers issuing I'm-the-most-conservative proclamations when given the chance.... Paul was his usual straight-shooting "canary in the coal mine" while Huckabee managed to entertain.

In what was the minuet-moment of the debate, when asked "Are we better off economically than we were eight years ago?" all except Paul tried to express their sense of gloom over the economy while tiptoeing around The Decider's culpability.

The debate was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, a fitting altar for the worshipful chanting of Reagan's name at every opportunity as a frail Nancy sat smiling in the audience.

Tonight Democratic candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton debate on CNN.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Package Stimulates Deficit

For politicians, there is nothing easier than giving money away.... especially during an election year.

Today the House overwhelmingly approved a $146 billion plan to jump-start our stalled economy, and now it's up to the Senate to pass their form of the plan.

The House stimulus package calls for most workers to receive $600 from the government, plus $300 per child. Eligibility for the full payment would be capped at $75,000 in adjusted gross income for individuals, and $150,000 for couples. Workers with at least $3,000 of income last year who earned too little to pay taxes would receive $300 plus $300 per child. Businesses would receive $45 billion in tax incentives to invest in new plants and equipment.

The plan under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee reduces the rebates to $500 per person but offers them to virtually everyone, including low-income seniors and the affluent. It would include a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits.

Some senators are also calling for housing provisions, food-stamp extensions, money for infrastructure and even an amendment to make Bush's first-term tax cuts permanent.... as well as extending renewable energy tax credits, heating assistance for the poor and a tax payment to disabled veterans. If some of these measures are adopted, the Senate plan would cost unknown billions more.

Absent from the discussion is how the government is going to pay for this monumental boondoggle (of course they can't talk about that because the government is already living on borrowed prime), or provisions to address a long-term solution. This short-term "fix" will only feed the deficit pig.

But hey, let's all go buy more big-screen TV's, made in China, paid for with money we've borrowed from China. What a good deal..... for China.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Here "Lies" Bush's Nation

A grateful nation breathes a sigh of relief.... last night was the last time they'll have to endure The Decider's Misstatement of the Union.

The Washington Post unravels some of the untruths and half-truths in Bush's speech in "Fact Checking Key Assertions in the State of the Union." Here are a few examples.....

Bush asserted that "The Iraqis launched a surge of their own.... and today, this grass-roots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists.

The "grass-roots" surge by citizens are actually Sunni neighborhood-watch groups that have been hired by the U.S. military for $300 a month. Officials aren't sure what will happen when these "citizens" are no longer paid.

The "coming together" of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds doesn't exist. In Baghdad, once heterogeneous, the Sunnis and Shia now live in separate enclaves while the Kurds have congregated in northern Iraq as an almost separate state.

The new de-Baathification law The Decider bragged on as one of the "encouraging signs" of reconciliation in many ways is more punishing to former Baath Party members than the much-criticized earlier law.

On the economy The Decider proclaimed that "Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800... This budget will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012."

Of course, since the tax cuts targeted the wealthy, they would be the ones most impacted by letting the tax cuts expire. Actually, the median American household would pay less than half of Bush's "average" $1,800 in 2011, while the richest 1 percent would pay an extra $64,154.

In truth, the Congressional Budget Office this month projected that the budget deficit will grow worse. In projecting a surplus by 2012 with his budget, Bush isn't counting the long-term cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which his administration has repeatedly underestimated. In 2009 it has budgeted $70 billion, just one-third the cost this year.

What was most discouraging about Bush's performance, was his lack of new ideas or a call to action. The closest he came was his repeated assertion that the border cannot be secured against illegal crossers unless the U.S. increases channels for foreign workers to enter legally.... but he didn't make any new specific proposal for them to do so.

Aside from the medoicre content and hectoring-Congress tone, Bush's lackluster performance didn't even attempt to energize a dispirited nation. This stood in sharp contrast to the stirring speeches earlier in the day by Patrick, Caroline and Sen. Ted Kennedy with their endorsement of an inspiring Barack Obama for president.

The Decider's I'll-show-you-daddy plans lay in disarray at his feet. Shattered by his own misconceptions, arrogance and mismanagement. All he has left are lies.

Monday, January 28, 2008

McCain... Bush on Steroids

Because of his service to our country and years in captivity as a POW in Hanoi, Sen. John McCain is respected, even revered, by many.

But, unlike others who have experienced war.... for instance President Eisenhower, who as U.S. General of the Army and commander of allied forces in Europe during WWII, ever after abhorred war and warned of the "military-industrial complex" taking the country into war.... McCain is daily making it increasingly clear, he'll be a war president.

Talking about the casualties of war at a campaign stop Sunday, and what will be the need for more medical facilities for the many anticipated "combat wounds," he gave his straight-talk assessment.... "There's going to be other wars," and repeated "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars." (YouTube video)

Other wars? Never surrender? Is this a presidential candidate or a latter-day Dr. Strangelove?

For those looking for a president who can, and evidently will, keep us in costly wars.... McCain's your guy. It's not like we had no idea that war is his shtick. After all, he gave us his rendition of a Beach Boys song last April.... "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran." (YouTube video)

And, let's not forget his opining that he would support having troops in Iraq for a 100 years.

Of course, some of this macho talk is to divert the campaign rhetoric away from our limping economy.... an economy in trouble in no small part due to the devastating cost of the Iraq war.... because his strongest opponent Mitt Romney claims expertise in the economic arena while that admittedly isn't McCain's strong suit.

For those who bemoan our very long campaign season, look at it this way. The constant campaigning spotlight will eventually illuminate the nooks and crannies where each candidate ticks.... and, in McCain's case, we are slowly realizing it's not a pretty picture.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Caroline Chooses Obama

Who of us who lived through the John F. Kennedy presidency can forget the special relationship he had with his children. We can picture them playing under his desk in the Oval Office, or showing up there in Halloween costumes much to Kennedy's delight.

So what endorsement could be more powerful than this.... "A President Like My Father".... (NY Times) made by daughter Caroline, advocating for the nomination of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

There are the expected political endorsements from other pols and news organizations.... shrugged off by many voters as politics as usual.... but rarely an endorsement that breaks that jaded mold, to forcefully bring home the possibility of reconnecting with our better selves, to "feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president."

There is no denying that the country is dispirited, overwhelmed by the monstrous failures of the Bush administration on every front. Caroline reasons that all of the candidates goals to right the country's course are similar.... "So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual."

She powerfully articulates that she sees in Obama an eloquent candidate with intregrity who can inspire the way people told her that her father inspired.... "I believe I have found the man who could be that president - not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

Nothing could be further from this heartfelt hope than what we've all witnessed with the reemergence of the Billary road act.... unprincipled, fact-challenged and divisive. Bill Clinton's undignified red-faced eruptions and Hillary's hollow "35 years of experience" and slick evasiveness leave inspiration stillborn.

But, should the Democratic electorate be so self-destructive as to nominate Hillary, as Frank Rich points out today, it'll be "The Billary Road to Republican Victory." (NY Times)

Rich points out that if "Obama doesn't fight, no one else will. Few national Democratic leaders have the courage to stand up to the Clintons."

Big choices lie ahead for Democrats with the Super Tuesday primaries on February 5.... voters can choose the Clinton rancid politics of the past, or on Obama who embodies hope for the American dream and in the American ideal for peoples everywhere.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Billary Blitzkreig

Colbert King is worried about "Billlary Adventures in Primaryland." (WaPo) And for good reason.

He sees Bill and Hillary Clinton as the "superficially charming, self-absorbed couple Billary, ever so possessed with an outsize sense of entitlement" as they tag-team Barack Obama in their attempt to devalue him in their current run for the sun.

And, King is sure of one thing, "A Clinton administration will be a four-year co-presidency with all of the drama that Billary has managed to bring to every undertaking."

Isn't the country weary of the Clinton soap opera where the script is all about them.

While King makes a good case, there are yet other Billary pitfalls.... Hillary as the first woman president. If she isn't the right woman, she will set back years of progress for women. She will hurt the womens' movement. She will have the opposite effect that so many women who support her will be expecting, proof that a woman can handle the top job.

But, as King opines.... "let's not get ahead of ourselves and start worrying about tomorrow. Billary gives us enough to worry about today."

Friday, January 25, 2008

GOP "Makes Nice" in Florida

It seemed pretty clear in last night's MSNBC Republican presidential candidates debate (WaPo) in Florida, that after seeing the negative reaction to the recent unseemly Democratic food fight, the GOP candidates decided on a civil, gloves-off verbal exchange... or as moderator Tim Russert commented after the debate, they seemed to have made a "nonaggression" pact.

And, it worked to Mitt Romney's benefit. Left unchallenged, he was able to unleash his considerable intellect and verbal skills even though it was obvious from the unfriendly eye-rolling faces of his fellow debaters (with the exception of Ron Paul who has too much class) that they were just itching to square off with Mitt but were restraining themselves.

Prediction: When Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee quit the race (which could be as early as after Florida next Tuesday) they will throw their weight behind McCain. Back to the "debate"....

With the focus on our free-falling economy, the candidates' solution was the usual unimaginative conservative mantra, cut taxes.... even deeper, and permanent tax cuts. Mike Huckabee goes so far as to propose abolishing the IRS altogether and installing a 30% sales tax.

Rudy Giuliani said of the current unpaid-for $145 billion giveaway stimulus package that doesn't make Bush's tax cuts permanent.... "What it does is okay, and I would support it, but it doesn't go far enough," with John McCain and Mitt Romney chiming in their similar aggressive views, even though McCain initially opposed the Bush tax cuts that he now pushes to make permanent.

Of course, everyone promised to cut spending.... a promise the voters have learned is as empty as their piggy banks. And, except for the only real constitutionalist in the field, Ron Paul, all strongly supported the invasion of Iraq and our continuing presence there which they equate to "winning" and "justifying" our sacrifices in blood and treasure.

This conservative macho-man posturing has so far penetrated the persona of the candidates that Romney, during a photo shoot with some African-American supporters last week, let out a Turretish "Who Let the Dogs Out?" followed with a couple of poodle-grade barks. Really. Will leave you to make of that as you will.

But all in all.... the debate left a better taste than the uncivil Democratic dust up. In fact Hillary Clinton's demeanor was so shrewish in the Democratic debate that Russert quipped afterwards that Hillary reminded you of "your first wife outside of Probate Court."

Still, the polite twilight-zone GOP debate made for some la-la land observations. The "Harvey the Invisible Rabbit" award goes to Huckabee who.... in the face of a just-released government finding that Saddam was only pretending to have weapons of mass destruction to keep Iran at bay.... offered this excuse for not finding WMD after the invasion of Iraq.... "Just because you don't find every Easter egg doesn't mean it wasn't planted."

No comment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Obama Soars in Atlanta

With a call for unity in the country, Sen. Barack Obama took the pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr's. church in Atlanta on Sunday.

It's seldom that the words of a political candidate truly inspire.... but those delivered by Obama on the eve of the King holiday did just that. Give yourself a lift, listen to this remarkable speech.... (YouTube video).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Debate Too Far

Four showed up in Myrtle Beach, SC last night at the Democratic presidential debate (WaPo) on Martin Luther King Day.... John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.

At least, that's obviously the way Obama sees things as he accused Hill and Bill of repeatedly distorting his positions on the campaign trail, and pointedly remarking on Bill's role in his wife's campaign... "I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes."

But, Clinton was there only in spirit.... actually, he was taking a little snooze on stage while sitting behind the speaker, the son of the man of the day, MLK III. (Video) But we digress. Back to the fight.... er.... debate.

So protracted and angry were the clashes between Hillary and Obama that John Edwards wondered if just two people showed up for the debate complaining... "Are there three people in this debate, not two?"

Regardless of how many seemed to be in this debate... ugly is uncomfortable to watch. Private food fights in the face of our... and a worldwide.... plunge of stock markets that are reacting to our very sick economy seemed unpresidential.

Yes, the economy was eventually addressed in the debate, and while Hillary and Obama had ideas for immediate actions, Edwards plan seemed well, quaint.... a green jobs program that could start in thirty days or so. Good idea, Edwards, except the nation's HAIR IS ON FIRE!

Hillary and Obama still are Senators with the ability to help shape events and stimulus program recommendations. In the next few days, let's watch their actions to see "Where's the Beef?"

But, enough debates already!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Truth vs. Reaganomics

It's a political strategy.... ".... people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."

This is a part of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services description of Adolf Hitler's psychological profile. His methods were very effective, his repetitive-propaganda machine always in high gear.... people will believe that which is continually advocated if it isn't vigorously challenged.

There can be little doubt that the American public is being propagandized on all sides about Reaganomics and the joys of cutting taxes as a way to grow the economy.

Just listen to the GOP presidential candidates jostling to claim the Reagan mantle.... even Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama recently praised Reagan's presidency.

How about a reality check. Paul Krugman tries in his opinion piece, "Debunking the Reagan Myth." (NY Times)

Krugman points out that the GOP's rewriting of history never ends.... "That's why conservatives are still writing books denouncing F.D.R. and the New Deal; they understand that the way Americans perceive bygone eras, even eras from the seeming distant past, affects politics today."

Reaganomics failed.... just as the Reagan "trickle down" economics of the current Bush administration have failed, unless you are a CEO or belong to the country club set. With Reagan's credit-card economy in the early 1980s there was an initial boom, but then the bills came due.

"By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before - and the poverty rate had actually risen," Krugman points out. And the national debt had ballooned. This Reaganomics recession was the reason Bill Clinton captured the White House, and why he was reelected.

Understanding the fallacy of Reaganomics, Clinton declared in 1991 that.... "The Reagan-Bush years have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect."

Clinton turned the floundering economy around. Even the Bush administration's own Council of Economic Advisers dates the beginning of the economic boom to 1995, during Clinton's first term.

Yet, Republicans anxious to take credit for this resurgence will tell you ad nauseam that it was Reagan's 1981 tax cut that fueled these positive economic developments 14 years later.

They have repeated this economic lie so often that they seem to believe it themselves, even as we are again experiencing the economic nightmare of Reaganomics from the Bush White House and Congress.... cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations and forget about balancing the budget.

Credit-card Reaganomics, thy name is RECESSION!

Obama shouldn't be opining that Reagan's ideas were dynamic, he should be pointing out the GOP's "big lie" that Reagan's ideas led to prosperity when in fact they failed!

Hopefully Obama isn't so bent on defeating Hillary Clinton at any cost that he allows, even seems to buy into, the Reagan myth rather than give Bill Clinton his due.

The overwhelming majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.... if Obama misses that train he won't get out of the station.... "It's the economy, stupid."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt.....

A cartoon is worth a thousand words, and Tom Toles of the Washington Post said a mouthful about the Bush administration's selling of America upon The Decider's return from his trip to the Middle East where unbelievably he told Saudi entrepreneurs "It's important for the president to hear thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, concerns from the folks that are out making a living."

He must mean the "folks" currently losing their homes, jobs and way of life under his watch.

The Decider's latest financial boondoggle is the $145 billion emergency stimulus package the form of "checks" to taxpayers and businesses.

Maudeen Dowd of the New York Times today laments over this selling of the American economy in "Red, White and Blue Tag Sale." She paints a clueless Bush last week doing his sword dances, Arabian stallion inspections and lounging in his fur-lined George of Arabia robe in the Saudi king's tent before he came home.... or, "what was left of home."

David Ignatius chimed in today with his opinion piece in the Washington Post, "Too Late To the Downturn". He points out that it's not that we didn't know about this looming financial crisis heralded by the housing subprime mortgage collapse.

As Ignatius points out, "What's infuriating is that the problems in the housing market were clear to everyday folks long before they registered with the geniuses at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department....."

Now Congress and the Bush White House are jostling over the size and shape of an emergency stimulus package to reduce the impact of the coming recession. But the economic hurricane has already done it's damage, and issuing checks on yet more borrowed money is nothing more than the "Katrina effect."

Heck of a job, Georgie!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Bush "Voodoo Economics"

The tax cuts for corporations and the rich along with an unprecedented spending spree.... the "trickle down" economic policies of the Bush administration.... have brought the country to an economic cliff, teetering on financial collapse, our dollar in free-fall.

Does Bush consider a targeted increase in taxes, pulling back from overspending? No. "Bush Proposes $145 Billion Stimulus Plan" (WaPo). King George wants to give us cake.... up to $800 per qualified taxpayer.

Ramp up the printing presses, Bush needs more money!

Discouragingly, both parties on the Hill praised this short-sighted plan.... but Wall Street wasn't impressed. They know investors are fearful of a "recession amid a severe housing crunch, high energy prices and stagnant job growth."

Some Democrats assailed the plan for leaving out the very poor 50 million low-income workers who do not pay income taxes... while Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards clear-sightedly warned that such a plan is "making matters worse."

No one has mentioned where the whopping billions are coming from.... Bush and Congress don't want to tell us that they'll have to borrow again from other countries, putting us deeper in debt and further weakening the dollar while not addressing the root causes.... corporations that "trickle up" and runaway spending.

As usual of late, most politicos take a voter-pandering stance to the Flim-Flam Man's panicky plan, ignoring the big picture.

Don't expect fiscal responsibility from anyone in the current administration or Congress.... that would take political courage and what's best for the country.... that "check's in the mail."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where's Our Lincoln?

The Library of Congress has uncovered four new photos of the second inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1865.

They show the large crowds and the many soldiers who participated in an inaugural parade including African-Americans who proudly marched in the parade for the first time. Lincoln shook at least 6,000 hands that day.... a day of celebration for a country emerging from the bloody Civil War. A little over a month later Lincoln was struck down by an assassin at Ford's Theater.

Many people well remember the words from that second inaugural speech that are captured on Lincoln's memorial to "bind up the nation's wounds." But, how many recall the part of the address where he names the cause of those wounds? Here are his thoughts on that day......

"....One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union...."

While slavery constituted the "powerful interest" in the United States that took a Civil War to contain, so too are special and powerful corporate interests squeezing the lifeblood from our country now in the name of greed and profits.

The next president must stop these powerful corporate and foreign interests from stealing our hard-won Union, restore trust in the government and, yes, bind our wounds.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Obama's "Find Waldo" Persona

A person's religious beliefs says something important about them. It's a part of what makes up the whole-cloth of the views of a worshiping person... and the whole-cloth of a presidential candidate. The matter of how and where they worship will surface during the upcoming general election battle as every nook and cranny of the lives of each candidate will be dissected, many times with a dull knife.

That is why Barack Obama's association with Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ leads to troubling questions as Richard Cohen points out in "Obama's Farrakhan Test." (WaPo)

The minister of Obama's church Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is also Obama's spiritual advisor, launched in 1982 the Trumpet Newsmagazine. Wright's daughter serves as publisher and executive editor. Every year the magazine makes awards in various categories, and last year the award for the man it said "truly epitomized greatness" was given to Louis Farrakhan.

As Cohen points out, "For most Americans, though, Farrakhan epitomizes racism, particularly in the form of anti-Semitism.... His history is a rancid stew of lies."

Obama's camp says that he disassociates himself from this award, but feels that he is under no obligation to speak out on the matter. Not speak out on the views of his minister and spiritual advisor? Where is Obama's outrage for calling Farrakhan.... who vilified whites and homosexuals and singled out Jews to blame for crimes large and small as the racially-toxic leader of the Nation of Islam.... the epitome of greatness?

The award puts its stamp of approval on Farrakhan's poisonous incitements, applauding his "depth of analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation," praising his "integrity and honesty."

In March of 1984, answering charges that he was a "Black Hitler," Farrakhan responded.... "Well that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man....." Farrakhan was censured unanimously by the United States Senate for the speech.

He has said "White people are potential humans - they haven't evolved yet" in March 2000, and "Murder and lying comes easy for white people" in 1994. He has labeled whites as "blue-eyed devils" and the "anti-Christ," and Jews as "bloodsuckers." He has called for the destruction of America and rails against homosexuals.

Cohen's last thoughts on Obama's troubling reluctance in not vigorously condemning the idea of Farrakhan as "truly epitomizing greatness":

".... the rap on Obama is that he is a fog of a man. We know little about him, and, for all my admiration of him, I wonder about his mettle. The New York Times recently reported on Obama's penchant while serving in the Illinois legislature for merely voting 'present' when faced with some tough issues. Farrakhan, in a strictly political sense, may be a tough issue for him. This time, though, 'present' will not do."

As a state senator, Obama voted "present" 130 times. (NY Times)

Voters traumatized on so many sides..... by the perilous state of the economy, the devastating war in Iraq and the continuing specter of the threat of terrorism from Islamic radicals.... need to hear much more from Obama than "present,".... and they need to hear it now!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Behind Huckabee's "Aw Shucks" Smile

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, they played a clip from a speech made yesterday by GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in which he said:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it is a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that is what we need to do.... to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary standards that the country needed...."

This is scary wrong on so many levels. Of course, he was referring to his "beliefs," beliefs that he would act upon regarding termination of pregnancy and the definition of marriage. As this quote makes clear, he wants the Constitution to adhere to his literal translation of the Bible. Gone would be consensus, the will of the people.... only the doctrine of conservative Christians would prevail in his tortured vision of a Huckabee presidency.

While pandering to his base using The Word for cover, he, and all other religious hucksters like him, neglect to mention that the Bible does not provide an absolute answer as the flock is led to believe since it doesn't mention same-sex marriage and touches only once on miscarriage with a fine if a man causes something to happen to a pregnancy....

"Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn't badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve. But if she is seriously injured, the payment will be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, cut for cut, and bruise for bruise. Exodus 21: 22-25. Contemporary English Version, American Bible Society"

In this same Bible chapter, it also demands: "Death is the punishment for cursing your father and mother." Does this biblical admonition also apply? Where would these alignments with the "God's standards" stop under a Huckabee presidency?

Some of Huckabee's religious backers.... The Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists.... are working hard to implement their narrow religious agendas based upon their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and it's position of dominance in our government... not upon our Constitution and the freedoms and rights guaranteed under that Constitution. They're counting on Huckabee, and Huckabee is counting on their support.

This is serious. It's more than advocating for a breach in the wall separating church and state, it's a full-out assault on the very bedrock of our democracy. An attempt to stampede the unquestioning faithful toward a national theocracy.... and so far it's working.

Huckabee has the second-most Republican delegates and according to politico wisdom, stands to take the lion's share of the South Carolina primary delegates next Saturday.... the same large block of evangelical votes he captured in Iowa.

Huckabee probably won't resonate in the Michigan GOP primary today.... the rust-belt state has policy issues that need addressing starting with the NAFTA-gutting of manufacturing and the desperate plight of their working middle-class.

Hopefully, the religious Republican voters of South Carolina won't be gulled by the silky rhetoric of a former Baptist minister who is using his campaign bully pulpit to promise a rapture that in reality would be a "casting down" of their rights and freedoms.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Can McCain Drive Off with SC?

It was presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) finest hour.

He looked the far right wing of the GOP, and the far left wing of the Democratic party in the eye, put the Straight Talk Express into high gear, and "laid on the horn" in a speech just before the primary in South Carolina during his 2000 White House bid... trumpeting that evangelical pooh bahs Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were "agents of intolerance," comparing them to the left's wingnuts Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton. Intoxicating.

Conservative Christians in South Carolina, prompted by a blizzard of Bush dirty-tricks leaflets smearing McCain, and rejecting his straight-talking comments, put the brakes on his presidential bid.

But, this moment of telling truth to power won McCain the hearts of many Independents and Democrats even though his party abandoned him.

Since 2000 McCain has played the good soldier, many times coming to the defense of The Decider while disappointing many of his supporters who look at Bush as arrogant and an abject failure as president. With dismay they watched as McCain embraced The Decider, and made nice with Jerry Falwell.

Fast forward.... McCain's gassed up the bus and revived some of his straight talk message.... only this time he doesn't face the Bush bully boys, but the newly-minted darling of the religious right, Mike Huckabee. And, a formidable and politically-disciplined powerhouse in Mitt Romney.

So, did McCain's political plays to Bush's base give a boost to his current Oval Office quest?

It seems only he also has "annoyed, aggravated and nearly destroyed some of the most powerful members of Washington's Republican establishment, creating a list of antagonists including anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and the vehement Gun Owners of America." (WaPo) Yet, McCain boosters will welcome the anamosity as evidence that the embattled McCain hasn't totally lost his in-your-face charm.

So the question next Saturday seems to be, can an iconoclastic, and knows-where-the-bodies-are-buried Washington GOP insider get past his party to the wider general election where his curmudgeonish personality resonates?

It'll be a close call. The GOP needs his experience and broad popularity in November. However, South Carolina may be payback time for McCain's old GOP foes.... and conservative Christians with long memories and a new champion in Huckabee.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Letter to Michigan Voters

Dear Michigan Republicans.... It's up to you to speak for the many who don't want to go down the aisle of theological politics to genuflect before the alter of a self-righteous privacy-invading government.

It's your chance to shun the revival tent of presidential candidate and former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee who wants to be Pastor-in-Chief because being Commander-in-Chief would require some clue about international affairs.

Huckabee preached on "Meet the Press" on CBS this morning that he wants to "recapture the soul" of our nation. Besides cornering the soul of the nation.... "Huckabee: Evangelical Christians Now Have a Chance to Lead GOP," (WaPo).... he'll use his nomination to convert the Republican Party into the Grand Old Pastorate.

At a Michigan pastors' meeting recently he exhorted these men of the cloth to "mobilize people of like mind and spirit" by tapping their email lists and phone lists. Never mind that the major requirement for churches to avoid paying taxes is to not endorse and advocate for a political candidate.

Nevertheless, this strategy worked for Huckabee in Iowa where about 80 percent of his voters identified themselves as "born again" or "evangelical." While his plan on issues like health care are sketchy, he loudly supports messing around with our Constitution with bans on same-sex marriage and abortion.... and he would be comfortable displaying the Ten Commandments in the White House.

Demonstrating how self-servingly myopic are the ambitions of the religious right, "Fulton Sheen, a conservative religious activist in Michigan who switched his support from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to Huckabee on Saturday said, 'There is little difference in faith and values issues' between Huckabee and President Bush."

Imagine.... identifying with the values of the man who started a war of choice that has taken over 4,000 American lives, displaced millions and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands in their homeland.

So, besides wars of aggression, a vote for Huckabee means more church and less state, more invasion of privacy and the diminishing of our freedoms.

Hey.... if you love the grip the Ayatollahs have on the government of Iran, you'll love the tyranny of a Christian cabal leading your party and..... what a chilling thought.... in the White House.

Michigan, the eyes and hopes of our Constitution-revering citizens yearning for a serious candidate who can bring us together and pull the country back from the abyss of arrogant "religiously inspired" ineptitude are on you next Tuesday. Sincerely....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary Weathers NH Storm

Hillary's perfect-storm loss in the New Hampshire presidential primaries didn't happen. She weathered the storm, defeating rival Barack Obama in a cliff-hanger by a couple of percentage points.

The forecasters missed this one.... big time. Why is that? Every poll, except one by a college, showed Obama carrying the day.

Obviously the polls were wrong. There may have been several reasons besides the fact that Obama may have tried to make history instead of a cogent rationale for the vote.....

It could be that people lied to the pollsters in New Hampshire. While saying they could and would vote for a black candidate, in reality when left to the secret process of casting their vote, they showed a less-unbiased face than the PC one shown the pollsters.

On the other hand, the voters in Iowa had to publicly declare.... no room there for private ugliness. As the process moves forward Obama would do well not to depend on the sunny beachfront of acceptance reflected in the polls, they could be quicksand.

And, while there was no storm, there was a shower of sympathy for a more vulnerable, even teary, and ganged-up-on appearing Hillary. Her softer side was, and will be, a more formidable campaign front for Obama to face. She said she found herself in New Hampshire.... believe it.

And Bill.... he was well off-stage when Hillary made her acceptance speech. Perhaps at last recognizing he's more of a distraction. Hillary managed to overcome his "help," although his ham-fisted attempts to make the Obama story into a fairy tale may have given her some of the "there he goes again" womens' vote.

The next big battleground state for the Democrats will be Nevada on January 19, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The most sought-after endorsement there is from the 60,000-member-strong Culinary Workers union and this morning ABC News confirmed that the union will endorse Obama.

This endorsement will definitely give Obama a boost in a state that is expecting only 40,000 to participate in their caucuses. But, Hillary is also courting union workers, John Edwards (who finished a distant third in NH) has invested a lot of time in Nevada with his populist message, and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (who barely registered in NH) is counting on the large Hispanic population of Nevada to pull him out of the campaign storm cellar.

Let's see what the polls forecast for Nevada .... regardless, Obama had better batten down the hatches as he navigates the rough primary seas in Nevada and onward to Super Tuesday.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Clintons Backward Glance

Is this a diva trill?...... me, me, me, ME, me, me, me. No, it's the theme of Bill Clinton's remarks in New Hampshire while supposedly campaigning for Hillary. What he actually said last night is: "We can't be a new story, I'm sorry. I can't make her younger, taller, male. There are a lot of things I can't do." MSNBC

Here we thought opponent Barack Obama was Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare. No. Her worst nightmare is Bill.

As the polls show Obama steadily outpacing Hillary, the egocentric message coming from Bill amounts to.... "it's not my fault."

But, maybe it is.

Bill is yesterday, making Hillary and her "experience" yesterday. The voters sent a loud message in Iowa.... they want tomorrow. The polls agree.... it's all about tomorrow.

Like a robin on a June bug, Drudge pounced on the odor of desperation coming from the Clinton campaign in their flash today "from one top campaign insider.... Facing a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, a sudden collapse in national polls and an expected fund-raising drought, Senator Hillary Clinton is preparing for a tough decision: Does she get out of the race? And when?!"

They also reported that John Edwards confided to a senior staffer that he is staying in the race because Hillary "could soon be out."

Rumors of a campaign meltdown are rife. A Clinton adviser told the Politico, "we're going to lose South Carolina." While Nevada is definitely pulling back as her endorsement by the powerful culinary union is in limbo, evidently awaiting the NH results.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show this morning, Andrea Mitchell reported that many of Hillary's supporters at her rallies in New Hampshire are from Long Island and Upstate New York. NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert confirmed this, adding that at a rally he attended at Nashua High School over the weekend he was stunned to find the school's parking lot filled with cars bearing Massachusetts plates.

It's beginning to look like the perfect storm.... a dropping barometer of expectations, the gathering thunderheads of the Obama whirlwind, and her yesterday-sailor Bill heading for the lifeboats. If Hillary stays the course, it's going to be a dark ride.

Disasterous Bush Beat Goes On

With the presidential primaries taking all of the oxygen from the room, you may not have heard that:

The Decider again defied Congress, allowing Mexican 18-wheelers to begin traveling freely into the United States after previously being confined at a 25-mile border zone. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who authored the provision that shut down the NAFTA Mexican trucking program, wrote to the Secretary of Transportation saying that the administration's violation of the law is arrogant and wrong.

The Pakistani government announced that it will not allow any country to conduct military operations on its territory after the New York Times reported the U.S. government was considering far more aggressive operations in Pakistan. The lawless tribal belt on the Afgan border is a haven for al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. The Pakistani forces are engaging these militants, but an alliance with the U.S. in these operations would be deeply unpopular, and viewed by Pakistanis as doing the bidding of the United States... and these are our allies.

The unemployment rate soared and job growth came to a near-halt in December. Just 18,000 net jobs were created, and it takes about 125,000 a month just to keep up with population growth. "We are on the verge of a recession," said senior economist Robert A. Dye. This is just another economic jolt felt from the housing downturn and related crises in the financial markets. So much for The Decider's supply-side economics the NAFTA-ization of our job markets.

And, in an op-ed in the Washington Post today, George McGovern opines: "Why I Believe Bush Must Go..... Nixon Was Bad. These Guys are Worse." His opening salvo.... "As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president."

McGovern's reasons: "Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of the people around the world. these are truly 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' to use the constitutional standard."

He then talks about some of these "high crimes and misdemeanors," a sad recital of "killing, immorality and lawlessness."

Still, McGovern thinks impeachment is unlikely although he insists we must still urge Congress to act. All the more reason the primaries and general election are so important.... we must cleanse our government of these criminals and those who would try to follow in their shoes.

Support change. It matters.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Debates Goin' to the Dogs

If you had a dog in last night's ABC presidential candidates debate, you probably thought they decently defended their territory.

Although, if you support Fred Thompson you may well be more than pleased. The bar for him has been set so low when he bestirs himself to make salient points it has the same startling effect as watching your favorite basset hound talk. He had his best night.

If you are into truth telling, you would connect with Ron Paul's performance. Feisty. Making his points like a terrier on the postman's pantleg. Really, his slogan should be.... "It's the economy, stupid" which won't get much better until we pursue peace. And he's right. But most of the other GOP presidential candidates don't want to hear it and resort to ridicule to keep him out of the pack.

But, maybe ridicule would have been better than the ambushes Mitt Romney encountered. Snarly John McCain, cheap-shop Mike Huckabee and fast-talking Rudy Giuliani showed their ugly pack mentality, especially McCain. Snapping at Romney with bared fangs. Lowering themselves to personal attacks merely elevates Romney and exposes their mean streaks. Not very presidential. Their behavior may come back to bite them.

Not that the Democratic presidential candidates were all tail waggy and "Oh Boy.... It's Bacon"ish. Hillary Clinton so far forgot herself in response to a charge of being part of the old guard that she barked at John Edwards and Barack Obama like a threatened junk yard dog. But her trusty Saint Bernard, Bill Richardson came to the rescue, diffusing the dustup with a keg of humor... one of the few light moments of a long night.

All in all, nothing much new on the policy front was gleaned. Perhaps the best moments came when the candidates from both parties were on the stage together, the idea being that regardless of their differences they wanted what was best for the country.

Big doggy treats to Charles Gibson and ABC for the debate format, the best yet. Tonight FOX news will conduct a roundtable with the same GOP candidates as last night's debate, with one notable exception.... Ron Paul wasn't invited. Too bad. A debate needs a smart terrier.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa... In With The New!

Our favored candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, has withdrawn from the presidential race after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses yesterday. But, he isn't going away.

Biden promises to be the administration's worst nightmare when it comes to their misshapen foreign policies, and to look after the well being of our troops, in the field and after they return.

For the Democratic party, it's a new dawning. You can hear the over-prognosticated apple cart wheels coming off as Barack Obama pulls off a stunning win, defeating the second-place John Edwards and derailing the Des Moines Register-anointed coronation of Hillary Clinton by nine percentage points, proving....

Parading Bill about isn't enough, it just reminds us we're all getting older, and wiser to them.

People want change.... out with the old, in with the new..... an Iowa twist on "throw the bums out."

Hillary doesn't own the women's vote.... Obama garnered 35 percent of the womens' vote, Hillary 30 percent.

Young people can be energized, they will come out and vote when someone speaks to them.

And, demographically very white Iowa will support a black candidate.

Turnout was historic, 239,000 for the Democrats... almost double in size from the 2004 caucuses.... and, the Democratic turnout doubled that of the GOP. This should give the Republican party worrisome pause as Iowa is considered a "red" swing state.

The GOP also went for change, giving former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee the nod over Mitt Romney, while the rest of the pack trailed in the low teens or worse. Sixty percent of the GOP turnout according to polls were Christian conservative voters who overwhelmingly supported Huckabee.

While that probably won't give Huckabee an edge in New Hampshire, it might hold up in South Carolina where John McCain was tripped up by the Christian conservative voters in his 2000 race against The Decider.

The rumblings for change in Iowa were in the air long before last night. In the Democratic contest for governor in 2006, the candidate supported by retiring "establishment" governor Tom Vilsack didn't secure the Democratic nomination.

Evidently heedless of this warning, Clinton nonetheless drug along Vilsack and his wife, Christie, to many a campaign event, evidently thinking to ride on his perceived Democratic-turnout-machine coattails.

So, it is with a great dollop of irony that it was reported that Vilsack and Christie didn't show at their Des Moines precinct last night to vote, and in that caucus Obama carried the day over Clinton by.... you guessed it.... two votes.

Isn't Democracy great!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Biden's Pre-caucus Video


January 1st, 2008 by Erin Medlicott

Jan. 1: Today, Senator Joe Biden launched a new video today urging Iowans to caucus for him on January 3.

Senator Biden remarked, “I can hardly wait to debate Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee when they accuse the Democrats of having no moral authority to lead. Where is the morality in providing an addition $85 billion tax cut for those who make an average of $1.4 million a year? And, not providing health insurance for America’s children – or letting American’s who fall pray to a catastrophic illness lose all they have? What is moral about maintaining a prison at Guantanamo Bay and allowing torture as U.S. policy?”

Biden Supporters Rally

Surrounded by an overflow crowd of enthusiastic supporters, members of his family and well-organized campaign workers, Sen.Joe Biden delivered an inspiring and sober message today in Des Moines, two days before the Iowa caucuses.

It is hard to estimate now many attended, well into the hundreds, as it was SRO throughout the venue. And, it was obvious these were not only supporters, but caucus goers, since they braved subfreezing temperatures on New Year's day to deliver their message.... they want Joe Biden to be our next president.

Biden's closing thought was simple.... who would you want sitting in the Oval Office if nuclear-armed Pakistan exploded; or to settle the Iraq war while making sure that our 140,000 troops are protected now, and their needs are met when they return home; or to deal with a plutocratically trending Putin in Russia; or to manage the unraveling relations with an increasingly powerful China?

The answer was resounding.... Biden.

As he pointed out, progress on the domestic front is almost impossible until we address these threatening and economy-busting foreign policy issues.

As evidenced by his experience (30-year member and currently Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), and legislative and diplomatic initiatives (currently the bill with his federalization plan for Iraq has the support of 75 percent of the Senate body of both parties and is on The Decider's desk awaiting his signature).... what sets Biden apart from the other candidates is that he has, and will, take action.

Iowans.... caucus on January 3. It matters!

(Photo at top: Biden signing autographs after his speech with his brother prominent in background. Photo at bottom: Truth Hunter and Biden with his son prominent in background.)

Take the Biden Path....

This from today's Des Moines Register Editorial Page Editor, Carol Hunter, about her impression of Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden when she attended his campaign rally in Newton, Iowa:

"He conveyed his detailed grasp of issues. He was passionate and inspiring, telling the audience he wanted to restore Americans' belief 'in the goodness of their government.' You left feeling this guy could make a good president."

Now that's an endorsement. The Register six-member endorsement board took the path of least resistance when they named Hillary Clinton as their choice.

Don't take the path of least resistance. Caucus for Biden. It matters!