Friday, February 29, 2008

Cartoon of the Week....

He's baaaaack.... Ralph "The Spoiler" Nader. (Sargent of WaPo)

And, for a hearty chuckle here's video cartoonist Ann Telnaes. (WaPo)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain's Ethics Have No Clothes

Candidate Sen. John McCain had better check his back pocket, the conservative vote still isn't there. Even with the help of the ham-fisted New York Times report on his appearance of inappropriate behavior with a lobbyist that temporarily rallied the faithful to his banner.

Conservative columnist George F. Will makes the case in "McCain in A Glass House." (WaPo) He calls McCain "a situational ethicist" regarding "big money" in politics. Plainly put, McCain showboats while shadowboxing.

For example, while chairman of the Commerce Committee, McCain "founded the Reform Institute to lobby for his agenda of campaign restrictions. It accepted large contributions, some of six figures, from corporations with business before the Commerce Committee (e.g. Echosphere, DISH Network, Cablevision Systems Corp., a charity funded by the head of Univision).

"The Reform Institute's leadership included Potter [general counsel of McCain's campaign] and two others who are senior advisers in McCain's campaign, Rick Davis and Carla Eudy."

While McCain judges the behavior of others, and their corrupt appearances, Will points out, "Such is his towering moral vanity, he seems sincerely to consider it theoretically impossible for him to commit the offenses of appearances that he incessantly ascribes to others.

"Such certitude is, however, not merely an unattractive trait. It is disturbing righteousness in someone grasping for presidential powers."

There is a world of meaning in Will's use of "grasping." It says McCain's grab for power doesn't match the reach necessary for our next president.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Temperament vs. Temperamental

There you have it.... Hillary Clinton's latest bi-polar performance in last night's 20th Democratic presidential debate, the third one-on-one between her and Barack Obama. (Cartoon by Steve Brodner of The New Yorker)

Most of us have already heard the policy positions, the back and forth of their differences with only an occasional surprise. What the MSNBC-sponsored debate did highlight last night was the difference in temperament between the two candidates.

Hillary whined at the git go that she always got the first question and tried a lame one-liner "Maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow." Her nasty humor fell flat and she never really found her debate face.

It was Temperamental Hillary who showed up last night.... flushed face, smoldering dagger-looks and false cackle. At any moment she could have burst into flames.

No matter how many ways.... her kitchen sink strategy.... she tries to remake herself or falsely frame Obama, nothing is working.

Hillary leads in opinion polls until she actually shows up in a state to campaign. Then as voters are subjected to I'm-a-woman-vote-for-me and "35 years of experience".... years most know are merely coattail rides.... she starts to fade like an over-exposed negative.

Maureed Dowd perfectly captures Hillary's dilemma in "Begrudging His Bedazzling" (WaPo) by pointing out, "The fact that Obama is exceptionally easy in his skin has made Hillary almost jump out of hers. She can't turn on her own charm and wit because she can't get beyond what she sees as the deep injustice of Obama not waiting his turn."

And, while not waiting his turn, Obama's temperament last night was pitch perfect.... calm, confident, commanding.... presidential.

Hillary's campaign has fallen down and can't get up.... or, as Obama points out, get away from the Iraq bus she drove into the ditch.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

McCain's Real Deal


Most media and conservative talking heads seem bent on giving GOP candidate Sen. John McCain a pass on his dealings with lobbyists because the New York Times gave it a whiff of sexual overtones that McCain firmly denied.... "I did not have relations with that lobbyist."

In the rush to condemn the Times and kill the story.... McCain says he had his press conference and won't talk about it anymore.... the underlying question lies buried beneath his campaigns' sweeping denials, is McCain too cozy with lobbyists?

Today E. J. Dionne, Jr. brings McCain's special-interest relationships into focus in "House of Cards" (WaPo).... pointing out that McCain's carefully constructed reformer-image may be on the verge of collapse.

Much will depend on whether journalists continue to explore how McCain's strong words about lobbyists and special interests square with his actions.

The window the Times opened may bring the scrutiny that demolishes McCain's shaky "Straight Talk" house of cards.... a house populated by top officials of his campaign and staff who are powerful lobbyists with long client lists.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hillary's Political Hell

Hillary Clinton's latest incarnation this campaign season is part tent revivalist, part ruler-wielding schoolmarm.... and, crowding into John McCain's territory.... part Horseman of the Apocalypse.

From her lips to your ear.... "I could stand up here and say, 'Let's just get everybody together, let's get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect,'.....you are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear." (WaPo)

Maybe this rant was because it was Sunday and she felt it was time to test Holy Sarcasm.... roasting Obama's fresh message of hope.

That riff followed her Shillary of Saturday night where she went on the attack, angrily accusing her Democratic opponent of "using tactics that are straight out of Karl Rove's playbook," unleasing scowling disapproval as she scolded.... "Shame on you, Barack Obama."

What brought about this latest broom ride? Mainly it was an Obama mailing pointing out that if Hillary claims part of her "35 years of experience" was her time in the White House where she voiced her support of NAFTA, she can't now claim to not support NAFTA.

As Obama pointed out.... "Yesterday Senator Clinton also said I'm wrong to point out that she once supported NAFTA. But the fact is, she was saying great things about NAFTA until she started running for president. A couple years after it passed, she said NAFTA was a 'free and fair trade agreement' and that it was 'proving its worth.' And in 2004, she said, 'I think, on balance, NAFTA has been good for New York state and America."

After declaring "Mission Accomplished" as the inevitable candidate last fall, her campaign seemed unprepared for the post-inevitability unruly movement toward Obama after his landslide in the Iowa caucus in January. Hillary tried everything.

There was the whisper campaign that Obama was a ghetto dope user.... and, the constant refrain that he's unvetted, and last week that he was a plagiarist for lifting a paragraph from a speech by his friend and supporter who told him to use it.

Her misty-eyed vulnerable woman approach in New Hampshire met with success.... so perhaps that is why in last week's debate she ended by extolling Obama as everything but the second-coming, looking at him all in smiles with a honeyed "I really respect Obama."

Obviously she was just softening Obama up for this week's shrieking-surge.

With the many faces of Hillary, it's hard to get a handle on which Eve-face is the real Hillary. But her latest Danteish incarnation... "Eternal and eternal I endure, All hope abandon ye who enter here".... can't be the glimpse of political Hell that voters are looking for.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cartoon of the Week....


Photo of the Week....


Condi Rice gets a little sugah in Ghana.

McCain's "Bent Talk"

Ah, those pesky little facts.

Responding to the recent New York Times article on his ties to a particular lobbyist, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) denied meeting with broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson or his lobbyist Vicki Iseman before sending two controversial letters to the FCC on Paxson's behalf while McCain was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Letters the FCC chairman called "highly unusual."

A statement issued by the McCain campaign Thursday said that he had not met with Paxson or Iseman on the matter.... "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde and Fay [the lobbying firm where Iseman is a partner] personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC regarding this proceeding."

Well.... "Paxson Contradicts McCain Campaign on Meetings." (WaPo)

It turns out... Paxson talked with McCain in his Washington office before the letters were sent and Iseman attended the meeting and most likely set it up.

Pshaw, was the reaction of McCain's attorney-to-political-polecats, Robert Bennett, ".... Now it appears he did speak to him [Paxson]. What is the difference?"

The difference?

If there is nothing to hide, why lie about it.

"Statements from McCain's office said Iseman met only with staff and indicated that a staff member was involved in drafting and sending the letter..... and, "Thursday's statement went to lengths to say why McCain could not have met with Paxson." Untruths.

At the time McCain wrote those letters, he had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson Communications and its law firm.

The second letter came a day after the company's jet ferried McCain to a fundraiser aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach attended by Paxson, arranged by Iseman's lobbying firm, and hosted by a cruise line her company represented.

Cozy.

We're reminded of a statement by the Republican Party chairman in McCain's home district before the recent primary there.... he said that McCain's Straight Talk Express campaign bus should be renamed.... "We call it the Forked Tongue Express around here. He'll lie about anything."

Which should be the lesson of the current hoopla.

Thus far, it appears all the Times article about McCain and Iseman really accomplished was to galvanize the GOP conservatives to McCain's defense.... the Times is rabidly reviled by conservatives.... and clouded the bigger issue of McCain's ethics.

Since McCain's involvement in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal, he has carefully cultivated his anti-corruption, anti-special interests "Straight Talk" persona.

The Democratic National Committee sums up this latest peek behind that facade.... "John McCain's 'do as I say, not as I do' approach to ethics and lobbying reform can be called a lot of things. 'Straight Talk' isn't one of them."

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain's "Revolving" Straight Talk

It's candidate Sen. John McCain's public face..... for years he has ranted against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in DC. His website even says he's fighting against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists...."

Well, he should know.

The Washington Post today spells it out, "The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists."

"...when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried.

"His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications [remember McCain chaired the Senate Commerce Committee]. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JP Morgan and U. S. Airways.

"Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae."

These lobbyists are not only running McCain's campaign, but most of them aren't getting paid.... at least by McCain.... for their campaign work.

There's more.... McCain recently hired Mark Buse to be his Senate chief of staff. Buse until last fall was a lobbyist. McCain's top fundraising official is former congressman Tom Loffler (R-TX) who revolved himself into heading a lobbying law firm that counsels the Saudis and Toyota among others.

Public Citizen found that McCain has more bundlers from the lobbying community gathering checks for him than any other presidential candidate during the entire campaign from either party. By their current count, McCain has at least 59 federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign.

Of course, all these influence peddlers proclaim that they don't lobby McCain, or that they aren't currently working as lobbyists.... but how do they square that with McCain's "revolving door" rhetoric that is his crusading persona for his all-war-all-the-time no hope agenda.

In November we must stop the "revolving door" The Decider exits as McCain enters pushing the same failed policies and hackneyed ideas in the vanguard of an army of lobbyists with special influence.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

McCain's Bimbo Eruption

While GOP conservatives and John McCain lambast their despised New York Times for their story about McCain's relationship with female telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman, they should instead be thanking them for burying the story since late December.... before the start of the primary season.

Why did the Times finally publish the story? Speculation is that The New Republic was about to release a story about how the Times was handling the story. This from the Republic yesterday.... "TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times' foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it." And yes, Sherman will release his story sometime today.

While GOP talking heads will focus their ire on the Times, there was this from Drudge on December 20, 2007.... "Just weeks away from a possible surprise victory in the primaries, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz has been waging a ferocious behind the scenes battle with the New York Times, the Drudge Report has learned, and has hired DC power lawyer Bob Bennett to mount a bold defenses against charges of giving special treatment to a lobbyist!

"McCain has personally pleaded with NY Times editor Bill Keller not to publishs the high-impact report involving key telecom legislation before the Senate Commerce Committee, newsroom insiders tell the Drudge Report.

"The paper's Jim Rutenberg has been leading the investigation and is described as beyond frustrated with McCain's aggressive and angry efforts to stop any and all publications.

"The drama involves a woman lobbyist who may have helped to write key telecom legislation. The woman in question has retained counsel and strongly denies receiving any special treatment from McCain."

So, the story has been out there. But the GOP wouldn't go after Drudge..... the Times is a much juicier and satisfying target. Some say the source was departed McCain campaign Rovian-guru John Weaver. Weaver is central to the story because as the Times and the Washington Post both report, Weaver.... "met with Ms. Iseman at Union station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator."

Weaver said that the Times already knew about his meeting with Iseman when its reporters approached him, and that he was not going to lie to the paper.

According to the Times, their initial sources were.... "two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman..... they spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others."

Just what favors might the crusader-against-lobbyist influence McCain be guilty of? For instance.... "In late 1999, Ms. Iseman asked Mr. McCain's staff to send a letter to the commission to help Paxson, now Ion Media Networks, on another matter. Mr. Paxson was impatient for F.C.C. approval of a television deal, and Ms. Iseman acknowledged in an e-mail message to The Times that she had sent to Mr. McCain's staff information for drafting a letter urging a swift decision.

"Mr. McCain complied. He sent two letters to the commission, drawing a rare rebuke for interference from its chairman."

McCain had a news conference this morning basically denying everything.... that he had a romantic relationship with Iseman, that he acted inappropriately in his position as chairman of the Senate Commerce committee.... even denying ever talking to the Times until he was called on it by a reporter as conflicting with other reports, so McCain backed up and admitted having one brief nothing phone conversation with Keller at the Times.... not an angry or confrontation one.

Cindy McCain was at the press conference, standing by her man..... and that, as we learned from the Bill Clinton bimbo eruptions, is a powerful motivation to deny, deny, deny.

Newspapers gleefully joined in the GOP conservative witch-hunt over Clinton's personal life.... and now those same conservatives are crying foul.

Why did the Times bury this story? They say that the story wasn't ready until now. But, there can be no denying that releasing it before the primary season might have directly affected the outcome..... McCain as the almost certain Republican nominee.

We look forward to reading what Sherman at the Republic has to say later today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gramm is McCain's $$ Man

This is a problem for GOP candidate John McCain in November.... "Inflation, Consumer Prices Rise in January." (WaPo)

"Inflation accelerated in January as the rising cost of energy, food and transportation led price increases across a broad array of goods and services..... and yesterday "oil closed at a record high of more than $100 a barrel.... ."

You get the picture, our economy is in the dumper. Yet candidate McCain admitted to the Wall Street Journal editorial board in January that he "doesn't really understand economics" and looks to his adviser and former Senate colleague, Phil Gramm.... whom he had brought to the meeting.... as his expert on the subject! (HuffPost)

Phil Gramm! "By your advisers we shall know you" should be a heeded campaign commandment. Because we now know a lot more about McCain by his choice of an economic guru.

Gramm, who prides himself on meanness, once wrote a vanquished opponent, "I feel sorry for your many problems, but you deserve them."

Elected as a tight-fisted Texas conservative in 1984, over time he was shown to be all sermon and no scripture.... "Gramm spoke of belt-tightening, but forced it only on folks he didn't need, notably immigrants and the poor. He began his career railing against corporate subsidies, but he never pulled the trigger. Instead he became one of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from energy, banking, health-care, and insurance companies." (Slate)

During his 18 years in the Senate, Gramm helped spearhead the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which allowed commercial and investment banks -- like Citigroup --to more easily merge. He's all about big business is better and anti-government.

Gramm also reflects the world-view of in-Iraq-100-years, bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran, jobs-will-never-come-back McCain. Gramm ran for president himself in 1996, and failed.... "What killed Gramm in '96 was not that he's hypocritical or too ambitious or ugly (one of his talking points) or even condescending. What killed him was that he has a deeply gloomy view of the world. Gramm lives on fear. We're on an escalator to hell..... He sees enemies everywhere."

He's been described as having "a rare quality in a successful politician. He is a man smaller than life." Making Gramm the perfect ideologial fit for McCain, but not for a country bent on change and hope for the future.

McCain's handlers and the Republican mover-doers know that McCain is weak on economics but strong on war and fear, especially fear. Watch for the fear meter to go to red by November.... a terrorist incident, escalating problems in the Middle East.... we'll know it when we see it. It'll be a commander-in-chief moment tailor-made (literally?) for MadMax McCain. Or at least spun to holocaustic-heights by the Republican myth-makers.

In November citizens will have a clear choice.... the McCain-Gramm continuance of The Decider's boogieman style and downward economic spiral, or turning the page and moving forward. No decision should be easier.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hillary's Cheap Talk


An increasingly desperate Hillary Clinton says of her increasingly popular opponent, Barack Obama.... "Words are cheap".... thus giving truth to the statement, but only as reflected in her own tawdry barb.

Unfortunately for her, it's not Obama's words that bring her down, but her own cheap-shot campaign tactics as compared with the vision of hope that Obama articulates like no other. Making his presidential run more than a campaign..... but a movement.

Toward tomorrow. Toward change. Toward a newly discovered old-fashioned notion.... decency in government. And common courtesy toward those who disagree.

Nothing is working for Hillary.... not her angry, scolding, race-baiting husband's methods, nor her "35 years of experience", nor evidently her campaign manager. Making the fired Patti Solis Doyle the scapegoat for Hillay's failure as a campaigner reminds us of the seamy side of the Clinton White House years.... their quick abandonment of those they no longer find useful.

In the larger context of Hillary's charge that words are cheap, is her accusation that Obama lacks ideas and has copied her plans.

But, as Obama's campaign manager Bill Burton points out.... "Hillary Clinton should tell the people of Ohio the truth - she once bragged about helping to pass the nuclear bill she's now criticizing Obama for, she came out with her plan for green jobs one month after Obama did.... Senator Clinton may have said that attacks and distortions are the 'fun' and 'exciting' part of the campaign, but they're exactly what everyone else in America is tired of," he said. (
ABCNews)

How true.

Words do matter. Words of leadership, of inclusion, of hope. Americans have had to bear the uninspiring rhetoric of The Decider which ranges from "I'm just reading this because it's part of my job" speeches to "be very afraid" manipulative warnings when attempting to stampede acceptance of his monstrous agenda.

Hillary's elbowing tactics are exactly what the electorate doesn't want. They want to turn the page. To move forward and away from "cheap" politics as usual
.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Bush-Eye View...


With his abysmal legacy staring him in the face, what's a failed president to do but disagree with all truth-telling.... "Conflicting Assessment of War in Afghanistan." (WaPo)

In a recent report to The Decider on Afghanistan, Gen. James L. Jones first line cut to the chase: "Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan."

Yet, in a speech Friday to the hawkish Conservative Political Action Conference, Bush said of Afghanistan: "The Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies are on the run...."

....and our trickle-down economy is healthy, the deficit will disappear and global warming is a liberal myth.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CW, Superdelegates and Divides

Conventional wisdom.... what we fall back on to fortify our arguments, to prop up our misconceptions, to put the coup de grace to dissent.

Forget some CW in this 2008 election season, as Ellen Goodman points out, "Conventional wisdom fails to explain anything about Election 2008." (Post-Gazette)

"It'll Be All Over by February 6." Not according to Mike Huckabee. And only in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's dreams.

"Kennedys are Kingmakers." Why then didn't Obama carry Massachusetts, or California? Maybe kingmakers if they can deliver the majority of the worst idea the Democratic Party ever had, superdelegates. That remains to be seen.

"Southern White Men Won't Vote for a Black President." Well.... Georgia white men voted 48 percent for Obama. But then, as Goodman pointed out, perhaps it just proves that "Southern white men still won't vote for a woman."

"Evangelicals Vote in Lockstep." This time they scattered to GOP candidates Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

"Money Uber Alles." After spending $35 million of his own money, the departing Romney begs to differ. Nice to know, though, that the presidency isn't for sale to the highest bidder.

"Dittoheads Rule." Far right talking heads savaged McCain and Republicans yawned.

"The Death of the Nominating Convention." Get your popcorn ready, with the Democrats it looks like a nominating fight to the finish.

When it comes to the delegate dead heat between Clinton and Obama that is hurtling headlong toward a nominating convention, Tad Devine advises "Superdelegates, Back Off." (NYTimes)

He admonishes these superdelegates "to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.... If the superdelegates determine the party's nominee before primary and caucus voters have rendered a clear verdict, Democrats risk losing the trust" of the voters.

Actually, they risk a rebellion and the disaffection of the many blacks and women who see this as their moment. Luckily, there is The Decider's monstrous record, and the specter of more with his ideological replacement McCain, to provide the unifying glue. But, will this be enough?

Frank Rich thinks until then, "Next Up for the Democrats: Civil War." (NYTimes)

Reporting on Hillary Clinton's paid-for hour in the run-up to Super Tuesday on the Hallmark Channel, plus satellite TV hookups for assemblies of coast-to-coast supporters, Rich said he was given a "naked preview of how nastily the Clintons will fight, whatever the collateral damage to the Democratic Party, in the endgame to come."

He points out that after over-playing their hand trying to scare off white voters by framing Obama as the "ghettoized-cocaine-user" and Jesse Jackson redux.... and in the process alienating many black voters.... they abandoned black America and redoubled efforts to pander to the Hispanic population, especially in delegate-rich California.

The makeup of the Hallmark audience.... few blacks.... with many Hispanic canned-question askers.... no blacks.... brought this forcefully home. Leaving no Hispanic stone unturned, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of LA had a cameo, and one of the satellite meetings was held in the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Earlier, in an attempt to divide the voters and reinforce their racial game plan, Clinton's pollster told The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have "not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates,".... followed by Hillary telling Tim Russert in a debate that her pollster was "making a historical statement."

As Rich points out, this "wasn't an accurate statement, historical or otherwise. It was a lie, and a bigoted lie at that....." For example, all three black members of congress from the LA area won in heavily Latino districts. And in the 1990s, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk received more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Now comes Texas.... what despicable racial ploys will the Clintons unleash in that heavily Hispanic state before the March 4 primary contest?

And, is the Democratic Party in free-fall toward for a race-tinged brawl and superdelegate bullying at their convention some nine weeks before Election Day?.... a non-"Hallmark moment?"

Democratic voters will demand a just and representative convention, where superdelegates vote their constitutents' preferences.... that's CW you can take to the polls.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bush Signs Away Rule of Law

Consider this.... we now live under a new form of government.... The Decider's dictatorship.

George W. Bush is the one who decides which laws to follow and which to ignore.

If you don't believe this, just read "Bush not shy in asserting right to defy law." (DallasMorningNews)

"President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."

To do this, Bush just appends to new legislation sent to him from Congress for his signature so-called "signing statements" indicating which part of the law he believes he is under no obligation to enforce.

"Among the laws Mr. Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, whistle-blower protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally financed research."

Bush's latest exercise of his self-anointed dictatorial "Decider" powers is spelled out in "Congress: Left Behind." (DallasMorningNews)

When The Decider signed the Defense Reauthorization Bill into law late last month, he decided he is under no obligation to enforce the following parts of the law:

~"A provision forbidding the use of U.S. funds to establish a permanent military base in Iraq. Mr. Bush believes Congress has no business telling him how to spend taxpayer dollars there.

~"A provision requiring the intelligence services to respond within 45 days to document requests from either House or the Senate Armed Services committee.... The president apparently doesn't want that oversight.

~"Provisions creating an independent, non-partisan commission to investigate waste, fraud and abuse allegedly perpetrated by private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and protecting whistle-blowers working for government contractors."

Thus The Decider allows corporations to continue their unfettered, no-bid rampage while not protecting those who would try to expose them. Disgusting.

The Dallas Morning News editors ask: "What's the point of having a Congress if the president believes he can pick and choose which of its laws apply to him?"

Indeed. For over seven years our reckless president has taken unprecedented executive powers unto himself.... and in doing so is thumbing his nose at the rule of law.

Why has Bush been allowed to pursue his arrogant disregard for the balance of powers between the executive, judiciary and legislative that insures a government by and for the people?

That's the question the GOP and Congress will have to answer in November.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Romney Surrenders

Today Republican candidate Mitt Romney sang his presidential-run swan song to the influential GOP Conservative Political Action Committee conference.

Romney said he will suspend his national campaign because going on would make it more likely for Democratic Senators Clinton or Obama to win..... "And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Pleeeeze.... Romney quit because after his disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, and the realization that his low delegate numbers made it impossible to "get them to add up," as a good business man he wasn't going to throw more of his millions into a lost cause.

Sad that equating ending a misbegotten war to a "surrender to terror" is the pose Romney had to strike to get the loud conservative applause that was so muted during his campaign.

This leaves the unloved-by-Limbaugh-conservatives, Sen. John McCain, and preacher Mike Huckabee as the only GOP candidates left standing.... a choice between a latter-day Bob Dole and an Arkansas snake-oil salesman.

Romney wrapped himself in the flag, demonized his party's opponents, and chanted the new GOP mantra.... bomb, bomb, bomb.... as he made his exit.

His hawk-pandering leave-taking makes it likely Romney will be baaaaack.

Fighting Justice for Transparency

"Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention..... If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves.

"It seems to be the law of our general nature in spite of individual exceptions, and experience declares, that man is the only animal which devours his own kind....." Thomas Jefferson, January 16, 1787

Jefferson understood that an informed electorate was essential to protect our liberties and keep in check the tendency toward abuses by those entrusted with our national destiny.

During the last seven years, the Bush administration has been placing ever more stumbling blocks along the path to government transparency.

In the first year of the Bush administration, VP Dark Cheney held a closed-door confab to formulate energy policy with various oil and energy poobahs. He has refused repeatedly to name the attendees or the agenda of the meeting.... and it's been down hill from there for a shut-out electorate.

The wolves in the Bush White House den hold close their secrets.... every citizen knows less and less about what their government is up to, left to sort through their lies and distortions.

Admissions that we were misled into the invasion of Iraq, that the CIA destroyed evidence and lied about torture to conceal their illegalities are but a sample of some of their actions that the Bush administration wants to keep from public view. Is it any wonder?

That is why a vigorously implemented Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is so vital. And, why we need to listen to the alarm bell rung in "Is Ombudsman Already in Jeopardy? Bush Proposes Moving Post From Archives to Justice Department." (WaPo)

Even as The Decider reluctantly signed a law enforcing better compliance with FOIA, he's working to undermine this vital safeguard. In his budget request this week, "Bush proposed shifting a newly created ombudsman's position from the National Archives and Records Administration to the Department of Justice," a move "akin to killing the critical function..."

To support the alarm over such a move, consider that after 9/11, "then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft issued a memo urging agencies to use all legal means to refuse public document requests." So, is it surprising that a "recent review of overdue FOIA requests by the National Security Archive criticizes Justice for holding up public records releases."

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has been working diligently to see that the White House doesn't succeed in frustrating the efforts of, or in removing altogether, the nonpartisan National Archives and Records Administration as the vital open-portal to public documents.

But, the wolves are at the door. Only an electorate armed with the demand to know, and constantly vigilant, will keep them from devouring us all.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Finding Voices for Obama

After her win in the New Hampshire primary, a victorious Hillary Clinton told her supporters "I found my own voice."

That was before she lost her own voice to her husband as Bill pushed her to the sidelines in South Carolina to defend his legacy, and coincidentally Hillary's candidacy, with eye-bulging, finger-waving, race-baiting vehemence.

As Hillary lost her voice in South Carolina, and the primary, she also lost her right to maintain the fairy tale that she could control Bill and was a woman who could lead. A sobered Democratic Party saw a replay of the painful Billary soap opera with an out-of-control Bill and weren't entertained.

Now other voices are rising to drown out Hillary's faux voice.... "Michelle, Maria, Caroline and Oprah on the Hustings in California" (NYTimes).... in support of Barack Obama.

Even though the NY Times endorsed Hillary, Times editor Andrew Rosenthal had a cautionary tale to tell. In California's U.C.L.A. basketball arena "four extraordinary women put on the best campaign rally I've seen in 20 years of covering presidential politics."

Caroline Kennedy, who brought along her uncle Sen. Ted Kennedy, delivered the message.... "step out of your lives and into this moment in history".... before introducing the surprise Obama supporter of the evening, Maria Shriver, the wife of Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who recently endorsed GOP candidate John McCain.

Oprah Winfrey urged the excited young crowd to see this campaign, with the two front runners, a woman and a black man, as a moment when they "are free from the constraints of gender and race".... to support the best candidate.

But, even with all of this star power, the person who stole the show was Michelle Obama who found her voice... "she was intellectually powerful, even fierce at times, in making her political arguments.... she also allowed herself to offer the full-throated praise of her husband that she avoided in earlier stages of the campaign. She spoke about his character, about his ability to lead, and aimed squarely at the criticism that his resume is too thin."

Michelle spoke about Obama's time in the Illinois State Legislature as better than "serving in Congress or as governor because it made him understand the impact that federal laws have on ordinary Americans."

In the end, it's these ordinary Americans who must find their voices.... "yes we can!"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's the Ordinary People, Stupid

You've heard The Decider parroting the phrase over and over.... "I say that the fundamentals of our nation's economy are strong."

Just what does that mean? What are the "fundamentals." Economists say the fundamentals for a strong economy are growth in jobs, incomes and number of new households.

Obviously, either The Decider doesn't understand the fundamentals, or he's purposely whistling past the graveyard of our economy.... 17,000 jobs were wiped out last month according to the Labor department, and real wages fell last year according to a just-released study by the Economic Policy Institute.

And, new households?.... how about existing households.... people are losing their homes as home values fall and bait-and-stick-it-to-them mortgages come due.

The GOP's one-note solution to this problem is to cut taxes. What these well-heeled politicians don't realize is... IT TAKES AN INCOME TO PAY EVEN THE LOWEST TAX!

Not that the Democrats are much better.... they swarmed to The Decider's stimulus package life boat, abandoning the mother-ship of fiscal responsibility and long term solutions like.... a return to progressive taxation, higher wages and real government oversight of lending and credit practices.

As Barbara Ehrenreich points out in today's "The Boom Was a Bust For Ordinary People." (WaPo) "For years now, that strange stimulus-crazed beast, the economy, has been going its own way, increasingly disconnected from the toils and troubles of ordinary Americans."

In a far-off time, before NAFTA and "trickle-down" economics, job-creating titans like Henry Ford realized that his company would only prosper if his own workers earned enough to buy a Ford. No more.

Today, consumer behemoth's like Wall-Mart haven't figured out that their poverty wages will eventually curtail their own growth and profits, while Ford's once-thriving auto industry shipped manufacturing overseas and a rusting Detroit builds casinos to replace them.

It's the ordinary consumers.... the poor, and the struggling middle and working class.... who "have become a tripwire in the American economy - generating defaults on debts, depressed consumption and global market turmoil."

Our war-president Bush, and the GOP's next-in-line war president John McCain, can envision only spending hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on their bloody crusades while at home the country is imploding.

It's this type of "leadership" that is the real threat. Fundamentally flawed policies that favor the wealthy and bloated corporations while "eating our seed corn".... the working middle-class.

A strong national economy depends on ordinary people.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Those Who Know McCain....

Remember the moment in the GOP presidential debate this week when Arizona Senator John McCain turned on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with the barb that those who know Romney best, like his conservative hometown newspaper in Boston, didn't endorse him.

So, how does McCain explain this headline from the Washington Post.... "Immigration Battle Divides Arizona GOP, Many Activists Despise McCain."

It seems at the grassroots level McCain is loathed by many in Arizona's GOP who think McCain is a traitor to conservative causes, but especially because of his advocacy of amnesty for illegal immigrants.... a mushrooming problem making many Arizona streets unsafe and negatively impacting the everyday lives of his constituents.... a problem they call "the invasion."

Will this outcry cause McCain to lose his home state on next Super Tuesday?.... probably not. But his candidacy spells trouble ahead for the GOP, capsulized by the outraged in Arizona's GOP who label McCain, the increasingly likely GOP presidential nominee, as "despicable. Dishonest. Duplicitous."

Even the Republican Party chairman in McCain's home district accuses him of not being a conservative, and that McCain's Straight Talk Express campaign bus should be renamed.... "We call it the Forked Tongue Express around here. He'll lie about anything."

And, they're the ones who know him best.