Wednesday, July 30, 2008

John McCain's 15 Minutes of Fame Are Up

Barack Obama Will Be the Next President of the United States.
Frank Rich says Barack Obama has already become
Acting President
by default.

It almost seems like a gag worthy of “Borat”: A smooth-talking rookie senator with an exotic name passes himself off as the incumbent American president to credulous foreigners. But to dismiss Barack Obama’s magical mystery tour through old Europe and two war zones as a media-made fairy tale would be to underestimate the ingenious politics of the moment. History was on the march well before Mr. Obama boarded his plane, and his trip was perfectly timed to reap the whirlwind.

..... He never would have been treated as a president-in-waiting by heads of state or network talking heads if all he offered were charisma, slick rhetoric and stunning visuals. What drew them instead was the raw power Mr. Obama has amassed: the power to start shaping events and the power to move markets, including TV ratings .... Power begets more power, absolutely.

The growing Obama clout derives not from national polls, where his lead is modest. Nor is it a gift from the press, which still gives free passes to its old bus mate John McCain. It was laughable to watch journalists stamp their feet last week to try to push Mr. Obama into saying he was “wrong” about the surge. More than five years and 4,100 American fatalities later, they’re still not demanding that Mr. McCain admit he was wrong when he assured us that our adventure in Iraq would be fast, produce little American “bloodletting” and “be paid for by the Iraqis.”

Never mind. This election remains about the present and the future, where Iraq’s $10 billion a month drain on American pocketbooks and military readiness is just one moving part in a matrix of national crises stretching from the gas pump to Pakistan. That’s the high-rolling political casino where Mr. Obama amassed the chips he cashed in last week. The “change” that he can at times wield like a glib marketing gimmick is increasingly becoming a substantive reality — sometimes through Mr. Obama’s instigation, sometimes by luck. Obama-branded change is snowballing, whether it’s change you happen to believe in or not.

Looking back now, we can see that the fortnight preceding the candidate’s flight to Kuwait was like a sequence in an old movie where wind blows away calendar pages to announce an epochal plot turn .... on July 15, Mr. McCain suddenly noticed that more Americans are dying in Afghanistan than Iraq and called for more American forces to be sent there. It was a long-overdue recognition of the obvious that he could no longer avoid: both Robert Gates, the defense secretary, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had already called for more American troops to battle the resurgent Taliban, echoing the policy proposed by Mr. Obama a year ago.

..... But it’s not merely the foreign policy consensus that is shifting Obama-ward. The Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has now joined another high-profile McCain supporter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in knocking the McCain nostrum that America can drill its way out of its energy crisis. Mr. Pickens, who financed the Swift-boat campaign smearing John Kerry in 2004, was thought to be a sugar daddy for similar assaults against the Democrats this year. Instead, he is underwriting nonpartisan ads promoting wind power and speaks of how he would welcome Al Gore as energy czar if there’s an Obama administration.

The Obama stampede is forcing Mr. McCain to surrender on other domestic fronts .....

..... but the sitting president, a lame duck despised by voters and shunned by his own party’s candidates, now has all the gravitas of Mr. Cellophane in “Chicago.” The opening for a successor arrived prematurely, and the vacuum had been waiting to be filled. What was most striking about the Obama speech in Berlin was not anything he said so much as the alternative reality it fostered: many American children have never before seen huge crowds turn out abroad to wave American flags instead of burn them.

Mr. McCain could also have stepped into the leadership gap left by Mr. Bush’s de facto abdication. His inability to even make a stab at doing so is troubling. While drama-queen commentators on television last week were busy building up false suspense about the Obama trip — will he make a world-class gaffe? will he have too large an audience in Germany? — few focused on the alarms that Mr. McCain’s behavior at home raise about his fitness to be president.
Once again the candidate was making factual errors about the only subject he cares about, imagining an Iraq-Pakistan border and garbling the chronology of the Anbar Awakening. Once again he displayed a tantrum-prone temperament ill-suited to a high-pressure 21st-century presidency. His grim-faced crusade to brand his opponent as a traitor who wants to “lose a war” isn’t even a competent impersonation of Joe McCarthy. Mr. McCain comes off instead like the ineffectual Mr. Wilson, the retired neighbor perpetually busting a gasket at the antics of pesky little Dennis the Menace.

..... the McCain campaign whines about its lack of press attention like a lover jilted for a younger guy. The McCain camp should be careful what it wishes for. As its relentless goading of Mr. Obama to visit Iraq only ratcheted up anticipation for the Democrat’s triumphant trip, so its insistent demand for joint town-hall meetings with Mr. Obama and for more televised chronicling of Mr. McCain’s wanderings could be self-inflicted disasters in the making.


During Mr. McCain’s last two tours of the Middle East — conducted without the invasive scrutiny of network anchors — the only news he generated was his confusion of Sunni with Shia and his embarrassing stroll through a “safe” Baghdad market with helicopter cover....

The election remains Mr. Obama’s to lose, and he could lose it, whether through unexpected events, his own vanity or a vice-presidential misfire. But what we’ve learned this month is that America, our allies and most likely the next Congress are moving toward Mr. Obama’s post-Iraq vision of the future, whether he reaches the White House or not. That’s some small comfort as we contemplate the strange alternative offered by the Republicans: a candidate so oblivious to our nation’s big challenges ahead that he is doubling down in his campaign against both Mr. Maliki and Mr. Obama to be elected commander in chief of the surge.
John McCain is about to learn that the USA is no longer a country for old men to lead.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Second Thoughts about the Second Spot

I sometimes have to think about eating my words. Attentive readers will recall I have in the past attached a lot of importance to Barack Obama picking the right person with whom to share his presidential ticket. To sum up my argument, I wanted him to choose an authentic vice-president rather than merely a running mate. In football terms (I am not a fan) I wanted Barack to put a member of the varsity on the field, someone who would give him a full four quarters of hard-contact play versus a role player who would balance the ticket and give the ticker just one more state's electoral vote.

I still think Wesley Clark is his best choice to fill this position. But I saw something today which gave me pause.

What brings this up is the buzz which I hear on the radio and on Google about who's on Obama's short list: Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Senator Joe Biden, Senator Evan Bayh, and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. I have already vetted these possibilities fully to my own certitude and found them lacking. So, I'm concerned that if his list isn't any longer than this, I think he's in trouble. Actually, it's more accurate to say we're in trouble. I'm not worried about Barack getting elected. I'm worried that such a VPOTUS selection would indicate that Obama
  • is not motivated to work for a tsunami-scale landslide victory (with Congressional coat tails) which will punish and repudiate Republicanism for some time to come,

  • is really not going to be working in the next four years for a change we can all believe in.
Let's take up the issue of a landslide, 49-state Electoral College victory. As you read the remainder of this column, listen to this video of Brian Schweitzer, Montana governor. I think he makes a lot of sense, talking about who decides elections, in every state.

What Schweitzer offers us is sobering thought about more than the independents' influence. Especially it's about the less-informed, least-informed, or uninformed voter who decides elections. That's the people who are not on the Internet, do not watch Keith Olbermann or listen to Air America. These are the people you find at Walmart or in the bars. Like or not, they might just vote against their best interests in order to vote for someone who reminds them about themselves. That why we got stuck eight years ago with someone who talks and walks like the uniformed voter. Listening to Schweitzer's speech above suddenly got me worried about how Obama could best reach out a grab the uninformed voter around his or her red neck.

The second reason I'm posting this is it got me to thinking what Brian Schweitzer brings to the table.
  • a soil scientist and rancher

  • 6 years' experience in Saudi Arabia working on irrigation projects.

  • a fluent Arabic speaker.

  • a true-believer when it comes to an enlightened energy policy

  • an excellent public speaker different from Obama's style which still communicates authenticity and responsiveness to the voter.
There are other positives which Senator Jon Tester relates here.

I think Governor Schweitzer can make the first string varsity. Not as convincingly as wide-receiver Wes Clark. But a helluva lot better than the role-players on the so-called short list above.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Busheney's High Crimes and Misdemeanors? No Question!

But Vincent Bugliosi says the nation is just moving on to the next paragraph.

Because my time is extremely limited, I missed all in Friday's Judiciary Committee, presided over by the genteel and befuddled Chairman Conyers. I especially wanted to review the Q&A's by Congressman Robert Wexler, and found them at MWC News. IMHO, Wexler deserves the assignment of making the keynote address to this years's Democratic National Convention. I expected Wexler to be exemplary. But the surprise for me was the tumult occasioned by Vincent Bugliosi's incendiary testimony.

All through the hearings Conyers was struggling to keep pro-impeachers in the audience calm and quiet, but the Republicans, looking over his shoulders, were complaining about audible cheers and jeers as well as the signs in front of cameras. But when Vincent Bugliosi read his opening statement, outlining his case that the Justice Department should bring first degree murder charges against the president for illegally invading Iraq, the room erupted. Conyers decided not to boot the boisterous activists from the room, but he did remind the entire audience to refrain from any demonstrations of approval or disapproval of the proceedings.

That seemed to work more or less until fired up the crowd again during Q & A. It went something like this:

By taking this nation into war on a lie, all of the killings of American soldiers in Iraq became unlawful killings, and therefore murders.
Cindy Sheehan (in the hearing room audience):
Thank you, Vince!!!
Some members are urging me to take more action than merely reminding our audience to maintain decorum.
I urge you to take SOME action!
OK then, Sheehan, you're out.

I haven't been able to find Bugliosi's statement in HTML, but here's an excerpt from his book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, in which he's more harsh on Busheney's enablers than the dual evil doers themselves.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to me about the belief of many that George Bush lied to the American public in starting his war with Iraq is that the liberal columnists who have accused him of doing this merely make this point, and then go on to the next paragraph in their columns. Only very infrequently does a columnist add that because of it Bush should be impeached. If the charges are true, of course Bush should have been impeached, convicted, and removed from office. That's almost too self-evident to state.

But he deserves much more than impeachment. I mean, in America, we apparently impeach presidents for having consensual sex outside of marriage and trying to cover it up. If we impeach presidents for that, then if the president takes the country to war on a lie where thousands of American soldiers die horrible, violent deaths and over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including women and children, even babies are killed, the punishment obviously has to be much, much more severe. That's just common sense.

If Bush were impeached, convicted in the Senate, and removed from office, he'd still be a free man, still be able to wake up in the morning with his cup of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice and read the morning paper, still travel widely and lead a life of privilege, still belong to his country club and get standing ovations whenever he chose to speak to the Republican faithful. This, for being responsible for over 100,000 horrible deaths?* For anyone interested in true justice, impeachment alone would be a joke for what Bush did.

Let's look at the way some of the leading liberal lights (and, of course, the rest of the entire nation with the exception of those few recommending impeachment) have treated the issue of punishment for Bush's cardinal sins.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about "the false selling of the Iraq War. We were railroaded into an unnecessary war." Fine, I agree. Now what? Krugman just goes on to the next paragraph. But if Bush falsely railroaded the nation into a war where over 100,000 people died, including 4,000 American soldiers, how can you go on to the next paragraph as if you had been writing that Bush spent the weekend at Camp David with his wife? .... Are there no consequences for committing a crime of colossal proportions?

Al Franken on the David Letterman show said, "Bush lied to us to take us to war" and quickly went on to another subject, as if he was saying "Bush lied to us in his budget."

Senator Edward Kennedy, condemning Bush, said that "Bush's distortions misled Congress in its war vote" and "No President of the United States should employ distortion of truth to take the nation to war." But, Senator Kennedy, if a president does this, as you believe Bush did, then what? ..... why, Senator Kennedy, do you, like everyone else, want to give Bush this complete free ride?

The New York Times, in a June 17, 2004, editorial, said that in selling this nation on the war in Iraq, "the Bush administration convinced a substantial majority of Americans before the war that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11, . . . inexcusably selling the false Iraq-Al Qaeda claim to Americans." But gentlemen, if this is so, then what? The New York Times didn't say anything, but went on to the next paragraph like everyone else talking about something else.

In a November 15, 2005, editorial, the New York Times said that "the president and his top advisers . . . did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections." But if it's "obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans" in taking them to a war that tens of thousands of people have paid for with their lives, now what? No punishment? If not, under what theory? Again, you're just going to go on to the next paragraph?

I'm not going to go on to the next unrelated paragraph.

In early December of 2005, a New York Times-CBS nationwide poll showed that the majority of Americans believed Bush "intentionally misled" the nation to promote a war in Iraq. A December 11, 2005, article in the Los Angeles Times, after citing this national poll, went on to say that because so many Americans believed this, it might be difficult for Bush to get the continuing support of Americans for the war. In other words, the fact that most Americans believed Bush had deliberately misled them into war was of no consequence in and of itself. Its only consequence was that it might hurt his efforts to get support for the war thereafter. So the article was reporting on the effect of the poll findings as if it was reporting on the popularity, or lack thereof, of Bush's position on global warming or immigration. Didn't the author of the article know that Bush taking the nation to war on a lie (if such be the case) is the equivalent of saying he is responsible for well over 100,000 deaths? One would never know this by reading the article......

For my money, Vicent Bugliosi was the most profound witnesses heard in Friday's show farce of an impeachment hearing. He's calling Congress into the docket along with Bush and Cheney, et. al. Small wonder that they just want to move on to the next paragraph.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

End of the Week Rant

I'm too busy with puppy training to play close attention to the point vs. counterpoint in the day-by-day news. The endless task is to get up early enough to exercise the little beauty before she becomes the big beast and an obstacle to 90 minutes of blogging. The catch-22 is that, in the process, I'm becoming too exhausted to think. All I can do is to take a few notes. But processing them? Let's just say I have come to know how the fake journalists - cum - stenographers/rumor-mongers in the MSM sleepwalk through their day jobs.

Hopefully, a difference is that I understand enough to be aware that there are sizable and numerous gaps in my comprehension of what's been happening this week.

For example, everything I hear randomly about this presidential week's campaign doesn't seem to fit together:
  • that Barack Obama is out classing and out drawing McCain by several times, like three or four to one.
  • that the press is favoring Obama to McCain two to one.
  • that in the polls (quote-polls-unquote) the race is surprisingly even.
I don't know what to make of all of this. Maybe some one can fill me in.

I don't understand what McCain is saying. Is he actually saying that because he, McCain, urged the surge, Obama was able to go to Iraq? Someone tell me, did he really say that? I can't believe that he really said that squat. For one thing, This is Obama's second trip to Iraq. The first time was well before the so-called surge. Secondly, if McCain (and others) hadn't been such a gung-ho cheerleader for the unnecessary Busheney invasion of Iraq in the first place, and their interminable occupation in the second place, then Obama and 200,000 other Americans would not have gone to Iraq. And we would be a happier, wealthier, more respected and united people than we are now in our present circumstances.

I guess I am lapsing into channeling Ellen Goodman's McCain's blind spot on Iraq & Vietnam, here. She says,
McCain's cultural references have a sell-by date of 1970… He's thought more about the sorry last chapter of that war than its foolish beginning. …. So, too, his attention on Iraq has been less on the war's origin than on some undefined victorious conclusion.
A perfect summation. McCain is obviously following the Busheney trail like their faithful son although he should be old enough to be their father. The current crumbs of wisdom which have fallen from the table in the oval office are:
... a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals ...
As I heard someone - I think Zbigniew Brzezinski - say the other day, a horizon is an imaginary line that recedes away from you as you approach it. As any sailor knows.

Having slept all day since her morning at the beach, Ballou is restless again, and tugging at my sleeves. Similarly, the American voters are restless. As Goodman says, at the end of the day, they will insist on,
... a bottom-line, rock-solid qualification for being the next president, it's a candidate who acknowledges just how badly we were misled. So far, Obama's The (Only) One.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank God It's Republican Friday (TGIRF)!

Our end-of-the-Week GOP-Day is now a regular feature.

The Republican I want to applaud this week is someone who
  • served in the Senate since 1980
  • exercised long-standing oversight of the Defense Department's ability to misspend tax dollars
  • has an 80 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and a 5 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action
  • voted against authorizing the Gulf War (yes, the first one)
  • supported FBI agent Colleen Rowley, (an occasional staff writer for this site) who tried to warn of anti-terrorism failures
  • a devout Baptist
  • initiated a Senate Finance Committee investigation of six televangelists for conspicuous personal spending
Why would I be celebrating someone with this kind of mixed record?

Because it's
Chuck Grassley!

Grassley is an Iowa Republican who has long led the conservative forces of his state and now has been denied his customary position as a voting delegate to this year's Republican National Convention! It's being done by the Iowa Christian Alliance. The ICA has effectively taken over the state party's executive committee, and they obviously weren't happy with Grassley. One gripe is obviously that Grassley teamed up with Democrat Max Baucus to investigate the finances of televangelists.

2002, Grassley was interviewed on 60 Minutes about FBI incompetence in translating foreign language documents before and after 9/11. This Republican didn't pull his punches in assigning Administration blame in the war on terror.

Grassley may attend the party's Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate. Of course, if he were a Democrat, he would have super delegate status!

Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts, also recently ousted, observes,
The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues. It hurts John McCain's chances to win this state.

It's pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance. If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, 'Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.' Now it's very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say.
So, I appreciate Chuck Grassley for whom and what he is,
  • a true maverick (not a fake maverick like whatshisname from Arizona)
  • a true Conservative who thinks for himself
  • a public servant who follows his personal conscience more than party discipline
By being denied a vote in his state's delegation, Grassley is taking one for his country, as well as for his national Grand Old Party..

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain Critiques Obama?

The LA Times should be ashamed of itself. Today's front page, A1, shows Obama and General Petreus flying together over Iraq. The caption beneath this picture states that McCain "critiqued" Obama's proposed troop withdrawal plans.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines the word "critique" as a
". . .critical examination ...of a ...situation...with a view to determining its nature and limitations..."
McCain did not "critique" Obama's proposal, he vilified Obama and his proposal for withdrawing our troops. The LA Times attributes to McCain powers of thought and discrimination that he does not possess.

McCain, who recently told an interviewer that Iraq's shared border with Pakistan troubles him (revealing his gross geographical ignorance about the Middle East, as Iraq and Pakistan do NOT share a border; they are more than 750 miles apart), and who is unable to describe (in his would-be NY Times op-ed piece) exactly what "Winning the War in Iraq" means, is incapable of critiquing anything. These are just two more of the many misstatements uttered by John McCain as facts, which have been ignored or minimized by the "Main Stream Media" determined to give McCain a "free pass" regardless of how blatant his untruth or gaffe.

McCain's words reveal a disturbing amount of ignorance as well as confirm that he, like Phil Gramm, is an elitist who lacks interest in, or curiosity about, other peoples, their geography and their cultures. For a man who claims that HE possesses the wisdom and experience necessary to be our country's Commander-in-Chief, McCain's ignorance about the larger world in which we all live is both reprehensible and chilling.

Sadly, this morning's LA Times, is caught yet again, minimizing and ignoring McCain's continuing misstatements and gaffes, while subjecting Obama to microscopic scrutiny and cavalier coverage as he continues his historic trip to the Middle East.

Today, the LA Times, in past years an esteemed member of the "Fourth Estate", is once again, found to be MIA.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Prosecuting International Criminals

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. the ICC pursues international criminals to the ends of the earth and until the ends of their lives.

Some surrender. Some are captured. Some are prosecuted. Some are convicted. Some are imprisoned. Some die in confinement. Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals, takes the pragmatic view:
We're interested in results. I don't care how they come here as long as I get them.
Today, the Serb, Radovan Karadzic, was captured. His boss, Slobodan Milosevic, died in prison. But his buddy, General Ratko Mladic, is still at large.

An arrest warrant against Sudan’s El-Bashir has been sworn out. His Sudanese regime has been accused of complicity in the unfolding crimes against humanity in Darfur, particularly for either arming or failing to punish the militia group which calls itself Janjaweed–roughly translated to mean devils on horse backs.

Congolese militia leaders
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and Thomas Lubanga have also been charged.

The tribunal is going through a period of unparalleled success in getting its hands on indictees, many of whom have been on the run for years. Judge Theodor Meron, president of the tribunal, said in a letter to the UN security council,
This is without doubt the most active and productive period in the life of the tribunal thus far, a period full of challenges, stresses and strains.
A year ago the tribunal's wanted list of fugitives ran to 21 men. As of the capture of Karadzic it has shrunk to 10.

It appears that no country is up to investigating, indicting, arresting, trying, convicting, and imprisoning its own nationals as war criminals.

Otherwise, what a wonderful world it would be.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stormin' Norman Goldman Takes It to the MSM!

And so should we!
I think Ed Schultz has taken some huge steps away from being the left-wing equivalent of the Rush Limbaugh talk-show hosting model. Big Eddie does a fun drive-time show. He's better than ever. So I'm not knocking him at all.

But when he has Norman Goldman substituting for him, his show goes up a notch. When I caught Now-Man's opening salvo on Thursday morning, I just knew I had to try and capture it.

Here is the short segmentI have in mind. I have said before that Barack Obama's biggest, most potent adversary is not John McCain. It's the multitudes of talking heads funded by the corporats which presents stenography on the main stream media in stead of journalism. Goldman asks,
Why it is that Barack Obama is being decreed and defined by all these unelected, unappointed, media self-important, arrogant snobs, elitist inside-the-beltway, who all go the same cocktail parties, all smooze with each other, all go to the same fancy restaurants, who all have their cars parked by their valets - why have they all decreed, described and defined Barack Obama?
Unopposed, they will succeed in their endeavors to re-define Obama and render him as an under-achieving, humorless, elitist and a loser instead of a closer.

Not only that. But in view of the fact that McCain is such a joke, These MSM guys seem to be struggling with the fact that Obama is no joke. They want Barack Obama to be like Chris Rock! They want politicians to be entertainers!
What is it with the media, that they must have the president as comedy material?
Goldman thinks the talking heads are trying to play catch up with Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert.
Let me give you newsflash, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Fox News - I gotta newsflash for you:

Our political system does not exist for your entertainment. These people are not here to entertain yeeeewwww! They're not here to give yeeeeewwwww fodder for your laughter. They are here to give us health care. To get us the hell out of Iraq. They're here to secure loose nuclear material so that al Qaeda doesn't get a dirty bomb and blow us all to kingdom come. They are here to pave our roads, to make taxes fair, to root out waste, fraud and abuse from government; to provide health care for little ol' ladies and little ol' men; to give us prescription drugs that don't kill us. That's what they're here for. It's called solving problems. They're here to solve problems. And these problems are very serious. Is there any comedy material in there you would like to work with?

This ain't a side show for your little bit of amusement. I don't care if some big fat bozo on teevee wonders why Barack Obama can't get over Barack Obama.

It ain't on the agenda, Pal.
Norman Goldman seems to be channeling Andrew Shepherd.

We, the people, have to find ways to reiterate Goldman's news flash to the main stream media:
Get over it.
John McCain's 15 minutes are up.
Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thank Goddess It’s Republican Friday (TGIRF) !!

I almost forgot to celebrate a decent, law abiding, Constitution-observing Republican for this week!

I was going to propose the governor of my own adopted state because, just 10 days or so ago, he said some mighty anti-Busheney things about how they have handled or mishandled environmental issues. But
  • He never mentioned Busheney by name.
  • He most probably kissed up to Bush when the 1st Incumbent did a fly-by over our state to check out our forest fires.
  • He never apologized for campaigning for Busheney in Ohio in 2004. At the time I said I would never either forgive or forget him for that. And I meant what I said. Forever is a long time.
Therefore, I will not be nominating the dude. I won’t even be mentioning him by name, as a couple of readers may have noticed by now.

Nominations, however, are open. For a few minutes, anyway.

Saturday Morning Update!

For this week's Republican-of-the-Week, I nominate Larry Hunter, who I mentioned in last week's TGIRF feature. Professor Hunter was inteviewed by Keith Olberman last night. It turns out that Hunter wrote an excellent, excellent column on Wednesday for the N.Y. Daily News entitled I'm a Lifelong Conservative Activist and I'm Backing Barack Obama.

I feel compelled to publish extended excerpts from it, adding my own boldfacing!
I'm a lifelong Republican - a supply-side conservative. I worked in the Reagan White House. I was the chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for five years. In 1994, I helped write the Republican Contract with America. I served on Bob Dole's presidential campaign team and was chief economist for Jack Kemp's Empower America.

This November, I'm voting for Barack Obama.

When I first made this decision, many colleagues were shocked. How could I support a candidate with a domestic policy platform that's antithetical to almost everything I believe in?

The answer is simple: Unjustified war and unconstitutional abridgment of individual rights vs. ill-conceived tax and economic policies - this is the difference between venial and mortal sins.

Taxes, economic policy and health care reform matter, of course. But how we extract ourselves from the bloody boondoggle in Iraq, how we avoid getting into a war with Iran and how we preserve our individual rights while dealing with real foreign threats - these are of greater importance.

John McCain would continue the Bush administration's commitment to interventionism and constitutional overreach. Obama promises a humbler engagement with our allies, while promising retaliation against any enemy who dares attack us. That's what conservatism used to mean - and it's what George W. Bush promised as a candidate.

Plus, when it comes to domestic issues, I don't take Obama at his word. That may sound cynical. But the fact that he says just about all the wrong things on domestic issues doesn't bother me as much as it once would have. After all, the Republicans said all the right things - fiscal responsibility, spending restraint - and it didn't mean a thing .....

Besides, I suspect Obama is more free-market friendly than he lets on. He taught at the University of Chicago, a hotbed of right-of-center thought. His economic advisers, notably Austan Goolsbee, recognize that ordinary citizens stand to gain more from open markets than from government meddling. That's got to rub off.

..... overall, based on his embrace of centrist advisers and policies, it seems likely that Obama will turn out to be in the mold of John Kennedy - who was fond of noting that "a rising tide lifts all boats." Over the last few decades, economic growth has made Americans at every income level better off. For all his borderline pessimistic rhetoric, Obama knows this. And I believe he is savvy enough to realize that the real threat to middle-class families and the poor - an economic undertow that drags everyone down - cannot be counteracted by an activist government.

Or maybe not. But here's the thing: Even if my hopes on domestic policy are dashed and Obama reveals himself as an unreconstructed, dyed-in-the-wool, big-government liberal, I'm still voting for him.

These past eight years, we have spent over a trillion dollars on foreign soil - and lost countless lives - and done what I consider irreparable damage to our Constitution.

If economic damage from well-intentioned but misbegotten Obama economic schemes is the ransom we must pay him to clean up this foreign policy mess, then so be it. It's not nearly as costly as enduring four more years of what we suffered the last eight years.
To reiterate what I said last week:

Thank God affiliation with the Republican Party no longer provides any inoculation against Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Retreat in Afghanistan?

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, July 13 -- Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in heavy fighting Sunday at a military base in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, according to a Western official. The attack was the deadliest against U.S. forces in the country since 2005.

KABUL, Afghanistan: The Taliban insurgents who attacked a remote American-run outpost near the Pakistan border on Sunday numbered nearly 200 fighters, almost three times the size of the allied force, and some breached the NATO compound in a coordinated assault that took the defenders by surprise, Western officials said Monday.

The attackers were driven back in a pitched four-hour battle, and they appeared to suffer scores of dead and wounded of their own, but the toll they inflicted was sobering. The base and a nearby observation post were held by just 45 American troops and 25 Afghan soldiers, two senior allied officials said, asking for anonymity while an investigation was under way.

With nine Americans dead and at least 15 injured, that means that one in five of the American defenders was killed and nearly half the remainder were wounded. Four Afghan soldiers were also wounded.

KABUL, July 16 -- After suffering significant setbacks in the fight against insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan troops have pulled out of a combat outpost where nine U.S. soldiers were killed in a pitched battle with Taliban fighters Sunday.

We are on the retreat against terrorism. Oh, to be sure it's only a 'tactical' retreat. Surfing through Google News this morning, I could see several shades of lipstick put on this defeat reversal. The outpost was
  • only temporary?
  • abandoned?
  • overrun?
  • vacated?
  • left?
  • surrendered?
  • removed?
  • dismantled?
  • disassembled?
  • disestablished?
The last euphemism is my favorite: 'disestablished'! (I didn't know that was a word.)

How did we get to this point?

It's awesome to note how far our erstwhile war-time president has led us from those first days of his declaring war in September 2001.

I'm talking about when Bush said on 13-Sep-01,
The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.
And when he said on 17-Sep-01 (UPI),
I want justice...There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'
Or, at the White House on 14-Dec-01,
I don't care. Dead or alive, either way. I mean, I - it doesn't matter to me. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.
Or two weeks later, when Bush discussed Osama bin Laden in a Press Availablity with the Press Travel Pool, in Crawford Texas, 28-Dec-01, as reported on the official White House site,
"...Secondly, he is not escaping us. This is a guy, who, three months ago, was in control of a county [sic]. Now he's maybe in control of a cave. He's on the run. Listen, a while ago I said to the American people, our objective is more than bin Laden. But one of the things for certain is we're going to get him running and keep him running, and bring him to justice. And that's what's happening. He's on the run, if he's running at all. So we don't know whether he's in cave with the door shut, or a cave with the door open -- we just don't know...."
And then again at the White House, on 8-Jul-02,
I don't know if he is dead or alive, for starters - so I'm going to answer your question with a hypothetical. Osama bin Laden, he may be alive. If he is, we'll get him. If he's not alive, we got him.
In Manilla, Philippines, on 18-Oct-03,
We're on the offensive against the terrorists...
In Nashua, New Hampshire, 25-Mar-04,
The best way to protect us is to stay on the offensive and to find terrorists before they try to harm us again.
And a Prime Time Press Conference (#3), White House, 13-Apr-04:
I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack. Here's what I feel about that. The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. That's who's responsible for killing Americans. And that's why we will stay on the offense until we bring people to justice.
Dead or alive?

After almost seven years since Osama bin Laden declared war on us with the attacks of 9/11, we are on the defensive. We have had no justice. (Only torture) We have no clue whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead or where the hell he is. Afghanistan? Pakistan? Talibanistan?

Where does this jerk-off president and his militaristic entourage get off on their pretense of being tough on terrorism?

It was on their watch when we suffered the most devastating attack since 7-December 1941. And it is on Busheney's watch that
Adolph Hitler Osama bin Laden, Emperor Hirihito Mullah Omar, and Benito Mussolini Ayman al-Zawahri continue to bleed us dry of blood and treasure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Cover: Satire or Parody?

I hesitate to give this cover anymore 'coverage' than it already has. But it's out there, so there's outrage that needs to be talked about.

There's satire. And then, there's parody.

Satire: sat·ire Audio Help /?sæta??r/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sat-ahyuhr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
  1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
  2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn
  3. derision, or ridicule. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Parody: par·o·dy Audio Help /?pær?di/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[par-uh-dee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -dies, verb, -died, -dy·ing.
  1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet's soliloquy.
  2. the genre of literary composition represented by such imitations.
  3. a burlesque imitation of a musical composition.
  4. any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, as of a person, event, etc.
  5. the use in the 16th century of borrowed material in a musical setting of the Mass (parody Mass).
  6. a poor or feeble imitation or semblance; travesty: His acting is a parody of his past greatness.
  7. –verb (used with object)
  8. to imitate (a composition, author, etc.) for purposes of ridicule or satire.
  9. to imitate poorly or feebly; travesty.

Which is it?

Whichever it is, it pulls out all of the stops for the Republican bigotry machine.

Here's a list of zingers from BAGnewsNotes:
  1. Set in an Oval Office the revolutionaries have cleared of the desk (because revolutionaries don't do desks, so much as lairs), the self congratulations -- especially at this early, pre-convention stage of the campaign -- ascribes a massive sense of entitlement to the Obamas.

  2. Minus the eye contact of the actual fist bump in St. Paul (and adding the arched eyebrows), Angela Davis Obama's expression is transformed from "I love you" to "You're SUCH an evil genius, baby ... and no one ever caught on!"

  3. Besides Barack's pursed lips -- which have turned into code in the MSM for this arrogant (read: "uppity") black man -- the most damning element in this illustration, by far, is Obama's eye. The furtiveness lends the perfect Machiavellian effect, and the fact it's directed our way suggests we should really know better what this guy is up to.

  4. Of course, the gun, the ammo clip, the cammo pants and the crossed legs (like crossed fingers) suggest what an angry, war-like creature Michelle is.

  5. It's not just that Old Glory is on fire ("thank Allah I can finally toss that damn pin!"), the crumpled flag at floor level is reminiscent of the flag good old Bill Ayers was stepping on.
I am appalled! Why, when we finally have the conservative elites circling their wagons and taking their last-ditch stand, do the liberal elites still insist on lining up our firing squad in a circle? Can any body explain that to me?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Results for Our Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV)

Our straw poll for the Democratic Party's candidate for VPOTUS closed July 1st.

Readers of The Vigil determined their choice for Barack Obama's Vice-President. There was a clear winner and a clear loser. 246 readers voted and it took 14 rounds to derive the definitive 50.5%-49.5% result.

At the end of the first ballot, the 15-candidate field looked like this:
At the end of the 10th round the field had narrowed.
Hillary Clinton was eliminated on the 10th Round, so you could consider her finishing 6th. Similarly, Kathleen Sebelious was dropped after the 11th ballot, so finished 5th. My candidate, Wesley Clark, finished 4th. John Edwards was defeated in the 13th round and so finished 3rd. In the final round, Bill Richardson edged out Jim Webb. Here are the complete results!

I'm not sure what all of this signifies. Nevertheless, thanks to everyone who participated.

Friday, July 11, 2008

TGIRF! Thank God It’s Republican Friday!

Obamacans, Obamacons and BDS?
'Obamacans' - Sen. Barack Obama's term for Republicans who whisper their support for him.

'Obamacons'- leading conservatives of various stripes who have declared their support for the Democrat.

This week on our regular Friday Republican-of-the-week feature we have more than a handful, thanks to the research by Carolyn Lochhead, head of the Washington Bureau of the San Francisco Chronicle. She has unearthed some of the secrets of why some traditional Republicans may reach out and vote outside their party this November.

Like Michael Greve, director of the Federalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, who says,
The untold story of the Bush administration is the deliberate annihilation of the Reaganite, small-government wing of the Republican Party. A lot of people are very bitter about it.
Of Obama?
When he leaves the room, everybody thinks he just agreed with them. We don't know if you're really buying a pig in a poke here. It could be the second coming of the Clinton administration. If people have any confidence in that, I think a whole lot of conservatives would vote for him.
David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank:
I do know libertarians who think Obama is the Antichrist, that he's farther left than John Kerry, much farther left than Bill Clinton, and you'd clearly have to be insane to vote for this guy. But there are libertarians who say, 'Oh yeah? Do you think Obama will increase spending by $1 trillion, because that's what Republicans did over the past two presidential terms. So really, how much worse can he be?' And there are certainly libertarians who think Obama will be better on the war and on foreign policy, on executive power and on surveillance than McCain.

The Republicans have left the libertarian baby on the doorstep, but Democrats won't open the door. There are people saying Obama's a University of Chicago Democrat, and you can't spend 10 years at the University of Chicago without having some appreciation for markets. I'd like to believe that. I just don't see the rubber meeting the road.

The Republicans have left the libertarian baby on the doorstep, but Democrats won't open the door. There are people saying Obama's a University of Chicago Democrat, and you can't spend 10 years at the University of Chicago without having some appreciation for markets. I'd like to believe that. I just don't see the rubber meeting the road.
Douglas Kmiec is former chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, and now a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University and a devout Catholic. Kmiec endorsed Obama earlier this year, despite his conviction that Obama "believes in a pretty progressive agenda."

Kmiec said his support deepened after meeting with Obama and other faith leaders last month, during which the busy candidate spent hours in a freewheeling discussion with people who differed with him.
I think he's the right person at the right time to re-establish principles of constitutional governance that have been ill treated by the current administration, and to free us from the tar paper that we know is Iraq. I think he's a man in the market for every good idea he can find, and he doesn't care what label it comes with.

I'm disappointed that a legacy of great achievement that I think Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush brought to the Republican Party (has ended): in terms of fiscal responsibility and conveying as Reagan did that a free market and personal responsibility and defense of home and local community often redounds to the happiness of the human person. Somehow we've managed in the last eight years to forget all the basics, to violate all of the first principles. We've lost sight of the things that really mattered to us. If I had to give us a report card, I'd have to say, in the way the nuns used to express it, 'not promoted to the following grade.'
David Friedman is the son of late conservative icon and Nobel economist Milton Friedman, and has also endorsed Obama. Friedman, an economist at Santa Clara University, considers McCain a "nationalist," and hopes for libertarian tendencies from Obama:
Bush was elected on a pro-market, small government platform and proceeded to greatly expand the size of government - and not only in the form of military spending. His view of the legitimate power of the executive branch, including the authority to deliberately violate federal law, I find frightening. Perhaps, if we are lucky, Obama will turn out to be the anti-Bush ….. Of the two, Obama is less bad and at least has a chance in some ways of being good. I don't expect to agree in general with [obama's University of Chicago advisors] but I certainly would be happy if the left became more libertarian, since the right seems to be less libertarian than it used to be.
Bruce Bartlett is a supply-side economist who coined the term Obamacons:
People don't understand that there has always been a small but very significant element of conservatives who have been against the war from day one and who, like me, also hate George Bush and think he's the most incompetent president in American history. The few people who are slavishly pro-Republican, live or die, slavishly pro-Bush like the Weekly Standard crowd, have gotten lot more publicity than they deserve.
Matt Welch, editor in chief of the libertarian Reason Magazine and author of "McCain, the Myth of a Maverick," thinks Obama's conservative support,
comes as much anything else from people being exhausted with the Republican coalition, who are mad at one wing or another, and they just think it's time for them to lose. It's just, 'Look, we're out of ideas, we're exhausted, it's not working, we don't know what our principles are anymore, let's take one for the team and have a black guy be the president for a while.'
Andrew Sullivan, conservative blogger for the Atlantic Monthly:
Obama's story confirms what conservatives have always believed about America. He is the black son of an immigrant, raised by a modest single mother and yet despite the obstacles inherent in his background he is approaching the pinnacle of American success. Isn't he the poster boy for what conservatives have always assured us is possible in America?
Armstrong Williams, a conservative and talk radio host who is not an Obamacon but said he might become one:
I'm not going to just blindly go to the polls and vote for someone because they're a Republican anymore. I wouldn't have given two cents of thought to this in the past, but fortunately I'm maturing and fortunately for the first time in my life I could vote for a Democrat for president … however the stain of America is race, human slavery and de jure segregation and no one can ignore the fact that since the founding of this country, only white men have occupied the White House.
Larry Hunter, supply-side economist who helped write Republicans' 1994 Contract With America:
How can I possibly support a candidate who proposes domestic policies (especially tax and economic policies) that are completely antithetical to everything I believe? ... It is indicative of how much I value individual freedom and how profoundly important I believe foreign policy to be at this juncture of American history that I am enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama for president. It doesn't hurt that McCain himself is only slightly less wrong on economic and tax policy.
Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, writing in the American Conservative:
We should take (McCain) at his word: his commitment to continuing the most disastrous of President Bush's misadventures is irrevocable. ... He is the candidate of the War Party. The election of John McCain would provide a new lease on life to American militarism, while perpetuating the U.S. penchant for global interventionism marketed under the guise of liberation.
Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower:
Deep in America's heart, I believe, is the nagging fear that our best years as a nation are over. We are disliked overseas and feel insecure at home. We watch as our federal budget hemorrhages red ink and our civil liberties are eroded. Crises in energy, health care and education threaten our way of life and our ability to compete internationally. ... My grandfather was pursued by both political parties ... (and) went on to win the presidency with the indispensable help of a 'Democrats for Eisenhower' movement. These crossover voters were attracted by his pledge to bring change to Washington and by the prospect that he would unify the nation. It is in this great tradition that I support Barack Obama's candidacy for president.
Even though I am not a Republican, and cannot be either an Obamacan or an Obamacon, I do admit to having a severe case of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) as Wizard has suggested. While Charles Krauthammer coined the term, I prefer to modify his original definition:
Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS):

a purported hatred by some American liberals/progressives of President George W. Bush and his policies. This supposedly leads to reflexive opposition to any position advocated by Bush for no other reason than that Bush happens to be advocating it the reason that experience has established that nothing can be accomplished with Bush in office. Absolutely nothing.
When I started blogging, I was in a minority; not so now. Since then, BDS has become a national epidemic. GOP affiliation no longer provides any inoculation against it. But there's a major consolation: while BDS is incurable, it does not have to be terminal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Occupation and the Insurgency It Spawns

It's a brutalizing fact of life for Iraqis; but it's sanitized for my fellow Americans.

The sights and scents of violent human death is commonplace for Iraqis.
Here is a photo of Shia caskets in the wake of a recent USA-assisted offensive against the Sadrists.

But when three U.S. Marines are killed in action and their bodies are captured on film by an embedded photographer, he is suspended from his embed and taken back to the Green Zone.

Here is Zoriah's story. And here are Zoriah's photos. Here are Zoriah's words:
I want you to observe and comprehend what others live through on a daily basis -- to see what the Iraqi civilians and foreign soldiers see. I want people who follow my photography to understand that although I am able to bring images of war occupation to the world in a form of art, what actually goes on here is horror. My message is not that war yields great photography. My message is: war occupation yields human misery and suffering.

..... If you are offended by graphic images -- instead of reading the entry about the suicide attack linked to below and being upset by the sight of death -- please do something to stop the political situations and foreign policy that facilitate these atrocities.
Bush, Cheney and McCain pretend that our occupation of Iraq is as sanitary and tranquil as in our post-war status-of-forces agreements in Germany, Japan, and Korea.

Zoriah's photography puts the lie to that mythology. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Arte de Pico Award

This award has been offered to The Vigil by the very, very talented Stella of Swiftspeech.

Well, thank you very, very much, Stella. I never thought I would eligible for this, because I do not disclose my real name. I also never expected to accept any award from another blogger: their reading and commenting is all I ever have ever hoped for. So much I have learned from my fellow bloggers, on my pages as well as on theirs, that I am the last one who should receive such an award - especially to be considered among the ranks of the Parrothead, Mike - the Mad American, MariaMariaCuchita, and my fellow refugees from Sozadee! We - all of us - are in the shadow of Swiftspeech's prolific quality, 24-7! Because of their company, which I wish to keep, I have no other alternative than to humbly accept this coveted award from the Stellar Stella.

And so I do so - on behalf of my co-writers, Emily, Pekay, and Coleen.

Friday, July 4, 2008

T.G.I.F. !

And thank God it's the 4th of July, to boot!

I'll forgo celebrating a Republican, as I normally do, on Fridays. This is such a special day. Today is a day to join hands with all my fellow Americans of what ever political stripe, and celebrate our once-great country, full of hope that we can soon begin restoring it if we just join together and get started on making the necessary repairs.

As far as politics are concerned today, I'll leave that up to Miss Catherine Ballou.

She loves her George Bush Chew Toy, especially as she makes him squeal as she tosses him up in the air, bites him or crushes him to the floor with her paws.

But Ballou has more nonpartisan fun fetching her Big Dog Bone. The goal for the next few weeks is for her to learn how to play well with others.

Come to think of it, I need to work on that myself. Both Cat Ballou and I are works in progress!

In the meantime, Happy and Safe Fourth, everyone. Please don't start any more fires!