Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Viva Pelosi!

Harry Truman:

I don't give them hell.
I give them the truth and they think it's hell.

I take no position, pro or con, on the negotiated package to solve the economic crisis which was defeated yesterday in the House. It's too complicated for me. There are smart people on both sides (as well as not-so smart people).

I am just struck by what motivates some Republicans. In this short century, it's only been in these last two years that GOP-ers decry 'partisanship' and plea for 'bipartisanship'. For the first part of the century, they were fine and all-aboard with Tom DeLay's K-Street regime of ignoring, not only Democratic input, but Democratic votes as well.

So they are blaming Democrats' 'partisan politics' for the fact that their own Republicans defeated the so-called rescue package. Now they cry "politics ahead of country" (John McCain's mouthpiece Douglas Holtz-Eakin). And they are blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi for "giving a partisan voice that poisoned our conference" (House Republican Leader John Boehner).

What, then, was so untruthful in Pelosi's remarks? Well, there is her prepared speech. It's well worth a read. But here is where she departed from her prepared remarks:
When President Bush took office he inherited President Clinton's surpluses — four years in a row, budget surpluses on a trajectory of $5.6 trillion in surplus. And with his reckless economic policies within two years he had turned that around and now eight years later the foundation of that fiscal irresponsibility, combined with an anything-goes economic policy, has taken us to where we are today.

They claim to be be free-market advocates when it’s really an anything-goes mentality: no regulation, no supervision, no discipline. And if you fail you will have a golden parachute and the taxpayer will bail you out. Those days are over. The party is over in that respect.

..... Democrats believe in a free market. We know that it can create jobs, it can create wealth, it can create many good things in our economy. But in this case, in its unbridled form as encouraged, supported by the Republicans — some in the Republican Party, not all — it has created not jobs, not capital, it has created chaos.
GOP Congressman Daryl Issa curiously did not blame Pelosi's speech for the package's defeat when I heard him on C-SPAN last night. But what he did say revealed to me what Republicans mean when they revile "politics". Issa accused Democrats of wanting to bury Reaganism: to lay one more coffin on top of Ronny's, is actually the way he put it.

That's what Republicans are trying to save. They are not trying to put country first, over politics. They are trying to put Reagan ideology over on the country, one more time. It's not the common welfare they wish to salvage: it's Reaganism.

All Pelosi is saying is look at the track record in this century and understand that self-regulation is not a reliable curb against the excessive "creative destruction" that unfettered capitalism promises. Contempt for government regulation is no longer acceptable.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Swiftboating John McCain

warmonger: (–noun)
a person who advocates, endorses, or tries to precipitate war
John McCain is a Warmonger

And his swiftboating is long overdue. . .

A couple of points or more to frame this column with context to assist any readers who are unfamiliar with my thinking:
  • I do not see presidential election campaigns as some variant of Corinthian sport. They are especially not spectator sports; if they are sport at all, they are participatory sports in the sense that everyone is an involuntary participant as well as a stake-holder. If anyone could imagine an appropriate arena for politics, a suitable image would resemble less a football gridiron or a horse track and resemble more a bullfighting arena - because political contests have consequences in our lives. If politics is sport, it is a blood sport.

  • In politics, as in life, disproportionate response is optimal. I believe in giving back more than I have received. When presented with a gift, I believe it should be reciprocated by a kindness in greater scale than the original gesture. Similarly, when I receive an intentionally painful blow from some quarter, I believe in returning that not only in kind, but in greater measure. That is what liberals do not understand about politics. Democrats are learning. But they are only to the point that they have discovered that instant pay-back is important. They haven't yet realized that it's more beneficial and productive to render pay-back and then some.

  • Which brings up the Swift-Boating of John Kerry. Now, I am not recalling just the original Swift boaters who challenged John F. Kerry's history of heroism on the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. Who I am remembering are the ditto-head, rank and file Republicans at their 2004 national convention who wore band-aids on their sleeves to mock Kerry. Nor am I writing this as a true-believer in Kerry's candidacy; I write merely as one more American who resents the fact that his once-great and still-beloved country was saddled with four more years of occupation by a political cabal alien to her traditions.

  • No, I am not a true-believing supporter of Barack Obama. I am merely an informed voter who singled out Senator Obama in a crowded field after the Iowa primary as this nation's best progressive hope to compensate for the last eight years. (Notice: I deliberately did not say retaliation and revenge.) Immediately, Obama signs sprouted in my front yard. After almost a decade of the worst governance in American history, I had the audacity to hope for four years (maybe stretch it to eight) of the best governance our beleaguered country could produce.

  • After the Republicans have managed to out do themselves by nominating a ticket of even less merit than the outgoing Busheney clique, I raged in dissent against Obama's disinclination to tell the whole truth. He unmistakably sent a harmonious, bipartisan message before the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when he decided not to select a truth-teller like General Wesley Clark to be his running mate. I recalled when Harry Truman heard a voice from one of his crowds in the 1948 campaign yelling, "Give'em hell, Harry!" Truman responded,
I don't give them hell. I give them the truth and they think it's hell.
Instead, Obama makes nice. Trouble is, the GOP doesn't understand nice.

Well, I don't offer up Wesley Clark here as I have in the past. The General has been deprived by Obama of any current cachet in this 2008 campaign. Instead, I offer up Michael Moore who has never needed any protocol, introductions, invitations or cachet. Moore delivers the unvarnished truth, although others may experience it as bloody hell.

Sadly, McCain's sacrifice had nothing to do with protecting the United States. He was sent to Vietnam along with hundreds of thousands of others in an attempt to prop up what was essentially an American colony, South Vietnam, which was run by a dictator which we had installed. Lest we all forget, the Vietnam War represented a mass slaughter by the United States government … The U.S. armed forces killed more than 2,000,000 civilians in Vietnam (and perhaps another million in Laos and Cambodia). The Vietnamese had done nothing to us. They had not bombed or invaded or even sought to murder a single American. President Johnson and the Pentagon lied to Congress in order to get a vote passed to put the war in full gear. Only two senators had the guts to vote "no". Almost 3,000,000 troops ended up serving in Vietnam. The United States dropped more tons of bombs on the Vietnamese people than the Allied powers dropped during all of World War II.

In response, during the nine years of the war, not a single Vietnamese bomb was dropped on U.S. soil, not a single Vietnamese terrorist attack took place in the U.S.A. But we poured 18,000,000 gallons of poisonous chemicals on their villages and rice fields. The number of injured, wounded and severely deformed Vietnamese has never been counted because it's just too huge to for any one to calculate, let alone comprehend.

And yet, with all the death and destruction we visited upon the Vietnamese, we lost the war. They never gave up. Just like I'd like to think we'd never give up should we ever be on the receiving end of such a horrific assault from an invading force.

During Christmas of 1972, though the U.S. was only a month away from calling it quits, President Nixon ordered the carpet-bombing of the civilian population of Hanoi and Haiphong. Two thousand combat sorties dropped 20,000 tons of bombs in a final burst of anger for having been beaten by a nation who didn't possess a single attack helicopter or bomber plane during the entire war.

John McCain flew 23 bombing missions over North Vietnam in a campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder. During this bombing campaign, which lasted almost 44 months, U.S. forces flew 307 attack sorties, dropping 643,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam (roughly the same dropped in the Pacific during all of World War II). Though the stated targets were factories, bridges and power plants, thousands of bombs also fell on homes schools and hospitals. In the midst of the campaign, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara estimated that we were killing 1,000 civilians a week. That's more than one 9/11 every single month - for forty-four months.

In his book, Faith of Our Fathers, McCain wrote that he was upset that he had been limited to bombing military installations, roads and power plants. He said such restrictions were "illogical" and "senseless". McCain wrote,
I do believe that had we taken the war to the North and made full, consistent use of airpower in the North, we would have prevailed.
In other words, McCain believes we could have won the war had he been able to drop even more bombs.

And thus it was on October 26, 1967, that John McCain, flying his A-4 Skyhawk, was hit by a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery shell just as he fired off his missile at - not a military target, not an army unit, not a battle ship - but an electricity generating station that supplied electrical to a number of neighborhoods. The target, according to McCain, was a "heavily populated part of Hanoi. Heavily populated. A plane from the sky raining missiles down on a heavily populated area of the nation's capital.

..... John McCain is already using the Vietnam War in his political ads. In doing so, it makes not just what happened to him in Vietnam fair game for discussion, but also what he did to the Vietnamese. Considering what the Republicans were willing to do to smear John Kerry in the last election, I don't want to hear them now say that John McCain's war record cannot be called into question. I would like to see one brave reporter during the election season ask this simple question of John McCain:
Is it morally right to drop bombs and missiles in a heavily populated area where hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians will perish?
My own answer (different from Moore’s probably) is certainly not: assuredly not in wars begun of our own American volition, choice or caprice. But, with that caveat entered, Moore’s question can certainly spark a valid inquiry.

Another caveat: I am not saying John McCain is a war criminal. That status is arguably reserved for the suits in the White House (and the Pentagon) who have launched or expanded unnecessary wars (LBJ, RMN, & GWB). Men and women, who serve honorably in uniform, following lawful orders, are not criminals. They are heroes; especially those, like John McCain, sustaining severe injuries and enduring long captivity.

Jeff Goldberg convincingly argues in his Why War Is His Answer that it was this captivity in North Vietnam which forged and steeled McCain’s militarism. His captors daily taunted him that, notwithstanding our military victories on the ground, all of our American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines would ‘lose Vietnam’ because of political realities – because Vietnam was for the Vietnamese.

In his obsessive pursuit of the presidency this decade, McCain has shamelessly flip-flopped on a host of issues: tax, health care, immigration, or off-shore oil drilling. For him, these policies are just matters for shifting political calculations. But when it comes to foreign policy, there is no room for ideological plasticity for McCain.

Goldberg writes,
It is only in the realm of national defense, and of American honor—two notions that for McCain are thoroughly entwined—that he becomes truly unbending …. .

John McCain has been said to have neoconservative inclinations; to critics, this suggests a commitment to the unilateral deployment of military force to bring about a democratic transformation in once-hostile countries. The question of whether he’s a Neocon, however, is not entirely relevant; McCain has advisers from both the Neocon and realist camps, and he’s too inconsistent to be easily labeled. In one area, though, he has been more or less constant: his belief in the power of war to solve otherwise insoluble problems. This ideology of action has not been undermined by his horrific experience as a tortured POW during the Vietnam War, or by the Bush administration’s disastrous execution of the Iraq War.
I don’t quarrel with the fact that McCain parlayed his military service into a distinguished senatorial career, and I thought his brief presidential candidacy in 2000 had merit. I even voted for him in the California primary that year. I’m just saying that, unlike Al Gore, McCain the man has lost a little a lot in the past eight years. The Arizona Senator’s current sorry-ass campaign adds up to little more than Noun-Verb-POW. And a sense of entitlement can never be a qualification of the highest office in the land.

Furthermore, a life-long obsession for national defense does not imply expertise in statesmanship. More often than not, McCain sees military solutions for political problems. Where, in McCain’s vast history of political experience has he ever spoken up against or voted down committing American forces? I challenge any reader to find such an instance.

All I am saying, is that John McCain is still a prisoner of war.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

George Bush's Style of Politics

  • Neglect
  • Catastrophe
  • Fear & Panic
  • Devolution of Responsibility
  • Unsustainable Cost
I don't know nothing about E-Con-Nom-Min-Eee! I slept through my graduate school seminar in international economics. As a matter of fact my most memorable experience in that class was when my corn-cob pipe spun out of my slack jaw and fell into my lap, rightside-up, still warm and unnoticed. In old-school, you could smoke (anything) in class! 'Nuff said: I guess I have something in common with John McCain, after all.

As the events of the last week unfolded around us, Trophy Wife and I slowly began to realize that it was not necessarily economic and financial expertise which contained the key to understanding events. Just living through the last eight years was enough. Jon Stewart captured our Gestalt moment:
People say that I'm dwelling too much in the past, that I should look to the present and think about what we Americans should do for ourselves, going forward.

When they say that, I have to suppress an impulse to douse their crowns with my Corona.

We Americans can't move forward until we shuck off the freebooters and free-marketeers who pushed us off the bridge to the 21st Century Nowhere in the first place.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's Just Cancel All of the Debates ...

If we're not going to hold a real debate.

I confess not to have done any significant research into the original Lincoln-Douglas Debates. But I'm not going to let that stop me from talking about my impression of them as far as providing an ideal format for real debate. My ideas as presented below are tenative. I welcome helpful suggestions and contributions from my readers.

Here's how I think the Lincoln Douglas events would look like if they were to provide a model for debates to serve our contemporary American electorate:
  • Candidate A with microphone

  • Candidate B with microphone

  • Time-Keeper equipped with suitable technologies such as a microphone, stopwatch, calculator or laptop.

  • Audience (impartial, balanced, representative of current registered voters).

  • Program would be broadcast on C-Span, and terminate with the debate's conclusion. No pundits or commentators would be provided by C-Span.
There would be three parts to the debate. It would go something like this:
  1. Opening Statement: Candidates would take turns delivering a short opening statement, say 5-10 minutes.

  2. Cross Examination: Candidates would take turns posing questions to the other. All answers would be subject to follow-up questions. The questions themselves could be questioned or challenged. Notice, I didn't provide for moderator(s), interrogator(s), and questioner. The timekeeper's roll is restricted to only tracking the time each candidate consumes so as to assure equity and to prevent interruptions. Whenever one candidate engages in a filibuster or monologue, his opponent merely raises his hand to the timekeeper who can then direct traffic.

  3. Concluding Statement: Time would be appropriated to allow a five minute concluding statement from each candidate.
It's pretty straight forward and not excatly nuclear science, is it? Let me make a few comments.

The provision of a timekeeper implies only a passive role of a referee. He or she is not a moderator, questioner, nor interlocutor. No question is asked of a candidate, except by the other candidate.

In our modern media world, all potential moderators and questioners have public personas themselves, sometimes approaching or exceeding the weight of the candidates. Any moderator - any moderator - is a self-conscious performer on the debate stage. If his or her role is to pose questions to the candidates, the audience will be judging the moderator by scrutinizing the balance, fairness, and equity of the questions.

Additionally, if one candidate is perceived to significantly outshine or outperform the other, a moderator may feel that he/she should step in, separate the candidates, introduce another soothing question or take some other compensatory measures to re-balance the playing field. This peace-keeping interference would only distract the public from discovering significant differences between the candidates.

All moderators are themselves also running for public approval and amount to distractions from the candidates themselves. In short, proactive moderators inevitably become part of the story. Moderators are arbitrary, third-party intrusions in an otherwise un-buffered process by which the public tries to measure the comparative strengths of each candidate.

My model also does not include the so-called "town meeting" debates, in which candidates are expected to respond to written or verbal questions from members of the live or TV audience. The problem of these types of events is that gotcha' questions come from anonymous sources with little degrees of public responsibility. Programming networks have an affinity for these freak shows because they generate hot-button topics designed to embarrass one candidate or another.

The beauty of restricting the source of questions to the candidates is they have to take responsibility themselves. They will be adversely judged by the audience if they ask unduly personal or insulting questions of their opponents. In the template proposed above, any 'dumb' question will reflect poorly on the candidate asking it. The candidates themselves should frame the debate with their own Q & A.

Finally, by restricting the debate broadcasts to C-SPAN facilities assures a neutral post-debate programming. At the very least, TV viewers will have to take their own initiative, and make their own choices as to tuning in to post-debate coverage on other network channels.
If they want network pundits to score the debate, designate winners and losers, viewers will have to switch to their own preferred channel. They cannot sit passively in front of their teevee and absorb sound-bites the network program has selected for them. Too often, panels of post-debate pundits say the things that TV viewers then take away from the debate. You can't shut up the talking heads, of course. But requiring audiences to choose their own pundits by the process of switching channels might help communicate the idea that commentary is different and separate from the debate and debaters themselves.

Debate heightens theatricality, which is one of the cores of all political systems. A candidate's charisma; ability to think on his feet; capability to discriminate between which issues are vital and which trivial; willingness to disclose and defend his own values; and candidness in demonstrating his way of thinking about the complex mix of public policy that confronts a modern president - all these are a part of what the American public wants to know about their prospective leaders. Debates will help provide that, as long as they are not pampered up to look like joint news conferences or game shows.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There's No Middle Ground
in this 2008 Election Year

Please consider contributing by clicking on the above heading?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Colin Powell: We are NOT all Georgians

The General has not booked a seat on McCain's Straight Pandering Talk Express.

Instead he appears to be sharing a seat with The Vigil on the Saakashvili-Gate Terminal. (Bridge to Nowhere?)

Last August, I asked, Who Lost Georgia? I wrote that
The lack of American prior restraint on Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili is but the last in a long list of blunders of omission or commission by the Bush-Cheney-McCain School of Foreign Policy.
I think Colin Powell and I are in total agreement for the first and only time in history.I saw enough of this discussion group on CNN to be motivated to follow up on a part of this.
Here's what I what I would like to highlight:

..... Now, in the current situation, the Russians acted brutally. I think they acted foolishly. But it was also absolutely predictable what the Russians would do. You could see them stacking up their troops.

And I think it was foolhardy on the part of President Saakashvili and the Georgian government to kick over this can, to light a match in a roomful of gas fumes.
So you’re saying the Georgians provoked this?
They did. I mean, there was a lot of reasons to have provocations in the area, but the match that started the conflagration was from the Georgian side.
And some debate in the presidential elections has basically been, “We are all Georgians now.” What does that mean? It’s the same as was said after 9/11.
One candidate said that, and I’ll let the candidate explain it for himself.

You can help a little, if you’d like.
No, the fact of the matter is that you — you have to be very careful in a situation like this not just to leap to one side or the other until you’ve taken a good analysis of the whole situation.

This was something that might have been avoided if people had looked at the Russian troops that were stacked up, if people had realized that the Russians were serious about South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and if perhaps more guidance and suggestions had been given to President Saakashvili beyond those that he received, it might have been avoided.

But it wasn’t. It’s over. The Russians are the offenders right now. And we have to see that.

We cannot say to the Russians, “We are not going to allow the Georgians or Ukrainians or anyone else to start down the path toward NATO membership.” It’s not for the Russians to decide that.

But I think it is wise for us to look at the whole strategic situation and all of our equities before deciding how fast that should happen and whether it’s the time to do it right now.
Clearly, Colin Powell doesn't think McCain has a grasp of the situation.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If McCain is the Head on the G.O.P.'s Nail,

And the economy is the hammer,

What is Obama waiting for?

All he has to do is to approve this message.

Because John McCain has been a balls-out deregulator for years. “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 15-Oct-1999:
I would argue that I have 17 years of legislative experience with a clear voting record of a strong conservative. I believe in smaller government, stronger defense, lower taxes, less regulation, encouragement of entrepreneurship, encouragement of legal immigration. I think that my fundamental philosophies and beliefs are very clear, and I’ve articulated them for years and years. And most importantly, I voted on them.
PBS, “NewHour with Jim Lehrer,” 2-Feb-2000:
If you inspect my 17-year voting record, it’s a proud conservative Republican who acts on principles and one who obviously has a very strong commitment to the leadership role the United States has to play… I think that’s probably one of our first efforts - keep the regulation of the government as much as possible out of people’s lives.
CNN, “Wolf Blitzer Reports,” 8-May-02:
I continue to believe in a strong national defense, free trade, deregulation. I’m pro-life. There are many, many issues that I feel would make it very difficult for Democrats to embrace me.
The St. Petersburg Times quoted McCain at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on (5-June-03) as having said,
I have a long voting record in support of deregulation.
While speaking about the cable and satellite television during an appearance on CNN’s “On the Money,”(13-July 2003) John McCain said,
I am a deregulator. I believe in deregulation.
When asked how the Republican Party can recover after the losses in the 2006 election on “CNN Newsroom,” (8-Nov-06), John McCain said,
By returning to the basic core principles of the Republican Party, very careful stewardship of tax dollars, less government is best government, less regulation, lower taxes, strong national defense, community and family values.
Just drop the hammer on him, Barry!

Friday, September 19, 2008


I never make comments on polls. You're not supposed to count your winnin's before the dealin's done.

So, I'm not making any comments.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

GOP (Neo)Con Artists Return to the Original Scene of Their Crime!

If you haven’t heard, they’re back (But not necessarily by popular demand)!

Actually the Palin-McCain phenomenon, brought together only a couple of weeks ago, is already traveling back to the scene of the crime (Minnesota) this Friday, September 19th. And while it’s true that some of us have barely recovered from all of our patriotic marching, rallies, artistic displays and music concerts during that week of the RNC, what I wrote in my letter to the Pioneer Press back then, remains more true than ever, that “Patriots Can’t Stay Home!”.

We don’t have the time to organize any hotdogs or cake this time but we are hoping several of you “WE THE PEOPLE” populist-leaning, Constitution-supporting, grassroots democracy believers will plan to come up to Blaine on Friday morning and help us line the sides of the bike and walking path at the entrance to Key Air’s new hangar at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, 10188 Radisson Road, with your “End the War” banners and other messages. It appears there is parking in the Blaine soccer field lots that are only a short distance to the airport’s Radisson Road entrance where those with tickets will be allowed in to attend the Palin-McCain appearance. Altho’ the Palin Performance will apparently not begin until noon, seating starts at 9:00 am so that’s when we’ll try and get ourselves the first free, front row seats on the bike path.

If you haven’t seen what true participatory democracy is about in a while, check out the unprecedented numbers and great messages a group of regular coffee-drinking Alaskan women turned out in Anchorage a few days ago: Now this is real dssemocracy! Issue-based real democracy that is the right, duty and privilege of all us average Americans. Not the scripted, tightly controlled, and highly guarded show that many of us witnessed with the RNC in St. Paul.

So come one, come all, with lipstick or not, to 10188 Radisson Road in Blaine at 9 a.m. this Friday, September 19th. Let’s show the Alaskans that we can do democracy here too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You Can't Put Lipstick on a Bear (Market)

And expect not to get eaten alive.

Take a big bite, Obama.
This one is a little better:This is even better, still. But this is only a modest start. Where's your appetite, Barack? This self-confessed economic illiterate, McCain, deserves to be eaten alive.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

After Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama has to beat yet another woman!

What If Sarah Palin is Barack's real adversary?

What If?

What if John McCain's personal and secret agenda is:
  • If nominated, I will run.
  • If elected, I will be inaugurated.
  • If inaugurated, I won't have to serve (for long).
I expect a lot of readers may take extreme exception to what I'm about to set forth in this column. All I can say is, against my better judgment, Obama is down to Plan B, C, or D. His best option has been left behind at the Convention (if not before). So, don't blame me if we find ourselves, today, on the brink of a Barackis-Dukakis.

For the last eight years, what's worked for the GOP has been to put a mediocre governor in the White House and let him serve as an empty vessel. Let a Cheneyesque and Rovian inner circle tell him what the policy is and keep him half-informed as to what the facts are; because too many loose facts can spawn transparency, indiscretions and embarrassments.

Conventional thought has been that John McCain can fill the role quite perfectly. In order to fall in the GOP line of Bush's succession, McCain has been willing to stand on his head and turn himself inside out in the last eight years. He calls it being a maverick; the rest of the world calls it being a Chameleon.
In his own 2002 memoirs, Worth the Fighting For, McCain confessed to having no cause other than satisfying his own ambition - an obsession and determination to become President:
I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I'd had the ambition for a long time.
In fact, in the primaries McCain struggled in a field of conservatives' undesirables. His track history of being a changeable maverick, as well as his age, engendered a list of negatives for the GOP brain trusters and king-makers like Grover Norquist and Paul Weyrich. McCain survived. But the GOP's godfathers did not trust his commitment to their basic principles when he wanted Joe Lieberman as his running mate. They picked Sarah Palin for him. Fine by him! Anything that gets him over the bar and through the hoop!

I submit that the 2009 edition of this empty vessel mold is Sarah Palin. The pattern emerges. McCain is a temporary placeholder until she is groomed. Governor Palin is the new Bush. Arianna Huffington says Sarah Palin is a Trojan Moose Concealing Four More Years of George Bush:
McCain's real running mate is George Bush and the failed policies of the Republican Party. Even if they are dressed up in a skirt, lipstick, and Tina Fey glasses.
Ted Rall says, Sarah Palin may be Queen of the Nobodies. Her
experience may be overrated. But what about IQ? ... By most measures, Palin is a weird choice. Like Geena Davis in the 2005 TV series "Commander in Chief," she could wake up one morning to find that McCain has shuffled off to the great POW camp in the sky. We would probably be in trouble.
Big trouble. This is an extremely troublesome possibility for the future of our country. What if McCain's blind ambition to become #44 is satisfied by one year after his inauguration (more or less)and he retires? What if his health fails? President Palin becomes #45!

I further submit that the main issue in this campaign is Sarah Palin. She represents and embodies McCain's first strategic decision as a presidential nominee. The probability that decision was made for him makes it even more ominous.
She is the Manchurian Wasilla Candidate.

McCain is actually running on her coattails. McCain crowds dwindle without Palin. Reflective voters, Republican and Democratic alike, realize Sarah has a greater political future than John. Any actuary will tell you that.

If the GOP wants this election to be about personality and celebrity instead of addressing policy issues, so be it. Sarah Palin needs a thorough vetting. Since McCain didn't vet her, Obama will have to be up to the task.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

George Bush Has Put a Bigger Hurt on America than Has Osama bin Laden

When the history of the 21st Century is written,
19 March 2003
will be a bigger date than 11 September 2001.

It will be seen that Bush's needless invasion and endless occupation of Iraq began America's slide from being the preeminent leader of the free world.

I have been posting on this theme at least twice a year for years. And every year, doing the simple arithmetic paints an increasingly uglier picture.

Now that George Bush has had half a decade to drive America to I-wreck and I-ruin, the truth is incontrovertible: Bush's illegal, un-provoked, unnecessary, and largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq has cost our nation more in blood and treasure than has Osama bin Laden.

First, contrast the bloodshed by al Qaeda in America six years ago today with the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq, beginning on 19 March 2003 through today.
OBL: Total Deaths - All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
OBL: Total Injuries - All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337
GWB: Total US KIA in Iraq: 4,155
GWB: Total U.S. WIA in Iraq: 30,324

What I failed to consider when I initially posted this graphic a year or so ago, is that it can be argued - as I vehemently have argued - that massive American retaliation against Afghanistan was not only justified by the 9-11 attacks, but mandated. Therefore, our costs sustained there in Operation Enduring Freedom are costs which are directly attributable to the 9-11 attacks against us. Therefore, they should be added to the lives lost in the crash of four airliners on 9-11-01.

In Afghanistan, we have lost 584 KIA in the seven years beginning in the last couple of months of 2001. So, adding the Afghanistan theater's 584 to Osama's toll, we derive an al-Qaeda total of 4,358.

So, counting our Afghanistan sacrifices, Bush has pushed through to a break-even point with Osama bin Laden.

It has to be added that Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq has sapped resources from the pursuit of bin Laden (and corrupted the anti-Taliban cause). Officials with the CIA and the U.S. military said they began shifting resources out of Afghanistan in early 2002 and still haven't recovered from that mistake.

John O. Brennan, a former deputy executive director of the CIA and a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center was quoted in the Washington Post only yesterday:
Iraq was a fundamental wrong turn. That was the most strategically negative action that was taken. The collective effort in the government required to go after an individual like bin Laden -- the Iraq campaign consumed that.
The WP reminds us that in late 2005, Bush had the CIA disband Alec Station, its special unit dedicated to tracking bin Laden. But a year later, after the disruption of the airliner plot in London was uncovered it was clear that al-Qaeda's core command had made a comeback.

On the financial ledger,
the financial losses due to the four airliners' attacks on 9-11, estimated up to $ 40 billion, (Costs of economic recovery from 9-11, are generally accepted as being less than those of Katrina.) The Department of Defense has not provided Congress with the individual costs of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) as opposed to Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Further discussion of economic costs on my part would be redundant, given the recent authoritative work of Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes. Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winning economic professor at Columbia and Bilmes is at Harvard. They have co-authored a monograph with the self-explanatory title, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of The Iraq Conflict. Stiglitz and Bilmes say of Iraq that
. . . the big picture is that, by our most conservative estimates, this war has cost an almost unimaginable $3 trillion. A more realistic estimate, however, is closer to $5 trillion once you include all the downstream "off budget costs" of long-term veteran benefits and treatment, the costs of restoring the now depleted military to its pre-war strength, the considerable costs of actually withdrawing from Iraq and repositioning forces elsewhere in the region.
I'm going to take their word for it. The economic evidence is conclusive and the jury's verdict is in.

Let's add to the ledger, that as a result of Bush's reckless adventure in Iraq, our military is stretched to the breaking point. Finally, of penultimate importance to our global war on terror, would be an international consensus on how to wage it. Al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington gave us an overwhelming groundswell of sympathy throughout the world. By the time Bush mobilized for his unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Iraq 4½ years ago, he had squandered that foundation of support. In fact, Bush's war was the first war in history to garner world-wide demonstrations against it on the day before his invasion of Iraq began.

It is George W. Bush, who has put the biggest hurt on Americans, in squandering our blood, our economic resources, our military assets, and our international esteem.
Source for statistics:
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Our Nation at the Cross Roads and Our Media at Cross Purposes

Hey Vig! Thanks for reminding me that I never said what I started to say in my recent post on the free pass being given to Palin (and to McCain) by the MSM.

Daum, after blathering on about Ms. Scott’s identification with Palin, concludes her article with these words: “Game on, folks!” It was Daum's use of sports as a metaphor for this election that so infuriated me.

Why? Because this election is too important to be trivialized as being merely a "game".

Consider this very possible scenario: Aided by voting machines lacking paper copies of the voter’s actual vote and programmed to convert votes for Obama to votes for McCain, and by the growing voter-suppression efforts presently occurring across our land, it is increasingly possible that McCain-Palin could succeed in their attempt to steal the 2008 presidential election. Such an outcome would place Ms. Palin (with her religiosity driven political agenda) but one heartbeat away from:
  • controlling our nuclear arsenal;
  • from ordering our sons and daughters into any and all wars which God tells her to enter;
  • from continuing to mock and denigrate those who would heal the wounds of our mortally wounded body politic;
  • and from escalating the relentless onslaught by those Democracy-hating Republican operatives who are determined to impose upon the citizens of this country, their extreme agenda of selfishness and greed, while privatizing (and thus destroying) our beloved country from within.
Truly, this election is no mere game. Our nation's very survival as envisioned and called into being by our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) is at stake.

The Republicans are determined to steal a third presidential election. When they return to the White House, they intend to complete the shredding of our Constitution and the bankrupting (both morally and economically) of our Democracy.

Their goal: to establish a Unitary Presidency presiding over a Theocracy; answerable to no one; worshiping at the altar of conspicuous consumption; and tolerating no dissent. Privatized mercenaries will continue Bush's warrant-less-wire-tapping of, and spying upon, the citizenry, who will have been cowed into passivity by the ceaseless fear- mongering spewing forth from the “Bully Pulpit” and the abdication of true journalism by the remnants of the MSM..

This nightmare may sound laughable, Dear Reader, but I believe that these past eight years of Republican Rule, with its resulting divisiveness and continuing brazen attempts to destroy our constitutionally guaranteed Rights have laid the groundwork that will permit the Republican Right to complete their goal of total hegemony within each of the once separate branches of our nation’s governing institutions.

We are engaged in an hidden war, waged in secret, with the outcome determining the quality of life for all Americans. No game this. Rather, it is a necessary war that must be won, not lost.

Note that the continuing falsehoods that McCain and Palin blatantly pass themselves off as righteous “mavericks” when in fact, they are nothing but desperate, hypocritical panderers, liars and lawbreakers. Yet, no one is calling them on their campaign (mis) behaviors.

Two examples of our MIA MSM:
  1. McCain continues to use copyrighted music in his campaigning, knowing that he has been asked to cease and desist by the artists whose work it is. NO ONE CALLS HIM ON IT.
  2. Palin continues to lie about several actions she claims she took that she didn't: firing her personal chef, eliminating "earmarks", and opposing the "Bridge to Nowhere". NO ONE CALLS HER ON IT.
The media is silent, no doubt, in part, because of the publicly staged intimidation scenario, which, during the Republican’s carefully orchestrated convention demonstration by the party’s faithful, succeeded in manipulating MSNBC to banish Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews from their accustomed roles during the upcoming campaign debates and on election night.

It seems that Olbermann and Matthews were winning the ratings race and the Republican operatives could not allow their losing product (the McCain-Palin ticket) to continue to flounder for a moment longer in the “Free Market Competition” so adored by Republican ideologues.

As for Obama, he appears to be flummoxed by Palin’s scurrilous lies about him and her inflated statements of her supposed political “accomplishments”. He appears to have lost his focus, looking dazed and uncertain as to how to respond to the slime and filth thrown at him by the Republican operatives.

Obama needs to find his own voice again – not easy to do when the opposition continues to obfuscate, fails to allow its candidate to be questioned by voters or by those in the media (WHAT exactly is it they fear she’ll say without her Teleprompter or Minder?).

Palin needs to be “treated with deference”? Has Obama been treated with “deference” by his Democratic rival, the MSM, or anyone else? Why does Ms Palin need special treatment? The Republicans shout that “she’ll be ready on Day One”, but keep her sequestered while screaming “Sexism”. Just who is being sexist here?

As a woman, I decry this attempt to portray “Sarah Barracuda” as a weak “Little Woman” in need of protection from those big bad boys (and girls) of the media and the public. It is demeaning to all women when Ms.Palin demands special, lenient treatment, and cries “”Sexism!” before a single question had been asked of her.

Ms Palin: Don’t pretend to be an “Underdog” when you’ve spent your brief time in the national limelight dishing out lies and venom that would turn a cobra green with envy.

Meghan Daum’s chatty op-ed piece colludes with the McCain-Palin campaign’s attempt to trivialize, demean, and manipulate what is at stake in this election when they declared: “Oh, this campaign isn’t about issues, it’s about “images”. This favorite Rovian strategy seeks to hide the fact that McCain-Palin and the Republican Party have no solutions to offer that would improve the lives of our citizens.

We voters must consider the consequences of permitting ourselves to be manipulated into trivializing all that is at stake in this election. We cannot permit ourselves the luxury of being seduced by seemingly friendly “folk” who present a “nice”, or novel, or “down home” image.

We’ve “Been there…Done that”.
It is time to clean house.
I’m all fired up and ready to go! How about YOU?

Monday, September 8, 2008

I like Elites!

I don't mean aristocrats

I mean elites.

And by elites, I don't mean people whose predominance is based on inherited wealth, privilege, or class. I'm talking of the self-made individuals from whatever background, who rise by the dint of talent, perseverance, and courage to the top level in their particular chosen field.

Elites always attract me. I've had to consult medical opinion for a number of serious health issues in my family in the last decade. In doing so, I never stopped with my primary care physician or the local specialist he recommended. Instead, I carefully and meticulously researched and sought out experts in their fields, and ended up finding elite people with international reputations within a three hour driving radius. My health, such as it is today, is due to those wise decisions. I'm convinced things go better with elites.

So are the Los Angeles Dodgers. Due to a chain of circumstances,
Manny Ramirez came to Los Angeles late in this 2008 season. Before he arrived, the Dodgers were only close: close to first place, but also
only close to playing 500 ball. The Dodgers continued to play at about the same speed, despite the fact that this Hall-of-Fame shoo-in excelled individually with a 400+ batting average and a 700+ slugging percentage. Until last week there was no change in team performance. What happened?

For whatever reason, Manager Joe Torre, decided to bench two of the team's most highly payed veterans who were not performing. Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones were plugging up and sapping the offense. The lead-off, base-stealing star, Pierre had an OBA under .300 and Jones, couldn't get his BA over the Mendoza line - couldn't get it within 40% of it actually.

So when the manager went with the young talent on an everyday basis, the team chemistry jelled with Ramirez. Manny's mere presence in the line-up was able to have a multiplier effect, lifting the Dodgers into an eight-game winning streak. That's what you get when you play who's hot instead of who's not, just because of the latter's sense of entitlement. The improved play of the talented youngsters, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and especially Andre Ethier speaks for itself. Manny was the elite; but there wasn't a change in team performance until management made the hard decision not to go with the people in which they had the biggest, most expensive, and longest term investment.

Of course, as elite, all-star catcher Russell Martin points out, 1st place in the first week in September does not mean 1st place in October. But I have to celebrate an elite home town performance while I have it, don't I?

Last night, another elite performer kept me up past my bed time. Like other elites I admire,
Serena Williams put on a stellar show, winning her 3rd U.S. Open Title, and her 9th Grand Slam victory. I should also say something about Serena's older sister, Venus (7 Grand Slams). As well as their father, Richard. As a coach and father to my four sons, I have always looked upon these three Williams as paragon models in achieving perfection without the benefits of inherited status or wealth. Growing up in Compton, California, where they remember having to duck gunfire, the sisters were the youngest of Richard Williams's five daughters. Richard dreamed of raising tennis stars, and Venus and Serena showed the most aptitude, winning tournaments when they were 10 years old. In the middle of the 1990's they hit big time, and now in their late 20's they are still major players in the WTA.

The thing I like about both Manny and Serena is that they seem to relish playing the inner game. Both stay within themselves with a confidence that putting forward their best effort will be ultimately more satisfying than the eventual outcome. Serena readily smiles when she loses points. I've seen Manny smile when he strikes out swinging on three pitches - and the next up, time homering with the same smile. Both Serena and Manny come to the arena to hit the ball hard, and to hell with the outcome.

The point of this subjective, anecdotal, superficial
and improvisational review of sports is simply a celebration of elites in our midst. In every area of endeavor, recognition of their talents, potentials and achievements enriches us. They are more than celebrities. They are leaders. By paying close attention, the rest of us can learn to be better than mediocre.

So, I am all for elites. In sport, I find myself among their cheering spectators. Outside of sport, I find myself among their partisans. Because I am more than a fan; I am a stakeholder.

All fired up and ready to go.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Free Passes for Republicans (Again?)

What's happening here? Our national elections are become a "game", and Sarah Palin is the newest attack dog-mascot employed by the opposing team.

It's been said that America's elections are decided, not by the candidate's stand on the issues confronting the nation, but on the voter's selection of the candidate that he or she would most like to sit down with and have a beer. Just look where that criteria for choosing our President got us.

And yet, having learned nothing from the last eight years of Republican "Search and Destroy" tactics waged against our Constitution and our citizenry, it appears that the Republicans are once again pursuing their destructive and, sadly, their very successful scorched-earth-character-assassination-style of campaigning; a style that is based upon lies, spin, and the deliberate distortion of facts, and which will, I fear, yet again result in a Republican entering the Oval Office on 01/20/09.

Note that the life and death issues facing our beloved country are utterly ignored by the MSM, which instead of informing and educating the public, colludes with the wealthy Republicans who own the majority of our MSM sources of "news", devotes lines of op-ed columns and pages of supposed "news reporting" to waxing eloquently about the bread and circuses so cynically and hypocritically being dished up for public consumption: see today's op-ed piece by Meghan Daum.

Television viewers are forced to watch McCain gazing lasciviously at her butt; women must hear and read the endless blather about her hair; and men are said to be entranced to hear that she is a lifelong NRA member who promotes herself as an aficionado of hunting and fishing, as she seeks to follow in the footsteps of another famous VP "sportsman". Like Cheney, Sarah thinks nothing of using new fangled weapons to outsmart local wildlife when hunting them. She murders wolves from the air, firing at them from an helicopter. I'd say that such behavior makes her a destroyer of wild life, not a noble and daring huntress. I find nothing admirable in the use of such over whelming violence against the beautiful wild animals living in America's vanishing wilderness.

This gal demands special kid glove treatment by the MSM, and are they ever happy to comply. Refusing to submit to any questioning of her experience; refusing to reveal her positions on issues, foreign and domestic, which currently face our country; refusing to discuss the disconnect between some of her recent decisions and her public statements about family values, abstinence only educational programs and a woman's right to choice in matters concerning her own body; and concerns about the ethics investigation currently underway in Alaska (which the McCain camp is vigorously trying to postpone until after the November election) all mean that Sarah Palin is being given a free pass. She is being allowed to provide very skewed, limited, and inconsistent "tidbits" about herself. It feels like one big titillating seductive ploy to catapult two ideologues into our nation's two highest offices.

Where is the public outcry at this MSM collusion, yet again. with the Republicans? Utterly absent. Remember: when Republicans have no desire to discuss the many complicated issues facing our nation, they consistently turn to their old stand-by strategy: Accuse your opponent of the very things YOU are doing, and go after the individual with your reflexive tactic to slime your way into office: spew forth your politics of personal destruction and chatter as loudly and frequently as possible. And that is exactly what John and Sarah are doing. Where is our nation's MSM? MIA, again. There is no acknowledgment that this is happening again. No outcry at all the issues that are being ignored by the Republicans. Let me just mention a few receiving little or no significant mention:
  • of Bush's war and the thousands of dead American sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and friends;
  • of the (hundreds of thousands?) of Iraqis maimed and killed;
  • of the shredding of our cherished Constitution;
  • of the death spiral which is our economy;
  • of the growing divisiveness within all governmental bodies and jurisdictions across our nation;
  • of the deepening despair about the legislative gridlock rampant across our nation;
  • of our nation's broken healthcare system;
  • of the questions about the viability of social security;
  • of how to truly become energy independent; and finally,
  • of what to do to preserve and improve our planet's health.
This is to name but a few of the many pressing problems currently festering just out of sight within our nation's wounded body.

Republicans proudly wear buttons that carry her picture and the words: "Hottest VP from the coldest state". "Sarah Barracuda", who has assumed center stage in the McCain campaign, the third beauty queen (that we know about) after whom McCain visibly lusts (and not just in his heart), has energized the Republican's base with her lipsticked-pit-bull attacks, her misrepresentations of facts, and her slanderous lies about Obama.

What is going on? Have we learned nothing in these last eight years? Truly, the MSM is no friend to the citizens of this country.

The Democratic Vice President Nominee

Forget The Roads Not Taken
It's too late for me to mourn the non-selection of Wes Clark or Hillary Clinton. After the campaign is over we can all assess that. For now, moving on, I have to say Joe Biden is going to prove a helluva good consolation.

Monday, September 1, 2008

On Our Own: The MSM is MIA

I've been thinking about Vigilante's very perceptive and disturbing analysis of today's Main-Stream-Media's pathological transmogrification, and the resulting dearth of critical, thoughtful, and thought provoking news coverage available in our country during this crucial time in our nation's political life. I also really appreciated Vigilante's posting of Frank Rich's discussion of Obama and the fact that the press is "not your friend".

Vigilante's description of the 5th Column that is arrayed against Obama, coupled with Rich's insights, are extremely disturbing. Voters, longing for news coverage that informs and educates, too often find that today's MSM, and the written press, offer neither. I grew up believing that the job of the press and the media was to provide information essential to the survival of our democracy: to set before us meals that nourished us, rather than merely offered the instant gratification of empty calories. I'd like to offfer an example from last week's MSM "reporting" as supporting evidence of the existence of the very real problems that Vigil and Frank Rich identify.

I found Obama's handling of Hillary's demands for time to celebrate herself at the Democratic Party's National Convention in Denver last week to be very revealing of who he is as a leader. Yet, in all of the ad nauseum MSM commentary about Obama and the Clintons, only one person (at least that I'm aware of) commented publicly about Obama's decision to co-share the 2008 Democratic Party's National Convention's prime time hours with the Clintons and what that suggests about an Obama Presidency.

Obama gifted the Clintons and their supporters with more actual "face time" during those four evenings of prime time than he reserved for himself, despite the "fact" (as we were continually reminded by the many pontificating MSM pundits, who daily pointed out) that there were numerous vital tasks that he absolutely had to accomplish in those few days of the Convention.

Consider the division of the prime time hours over those four days of the Convention: Michelle spoke in prime time Monday evening; Hillary and "gal pals" owned Tuesday during the day and that evening; Bill spoke Wednesday evening, after Hillary's nominee-midwifery of the roll call vote, which was successfully performed earlier that day; and Obama spoke Thursday evening.

I know of no other presumptive nominee, of either party, who would be so gracious and so generous in sharing the prime time limelight with anyone, let alone with the rival who had resorted to attacking his qualifications to run, rather than debating him on the issues (as "Esteemed Senatorial Colleagues" would surely want to do). And, remember that Hillary has provided the fodder for McCain's best attack ads, as he, like she, throws the kitchen sink at Obama just to see what might stick.

The sole commentator who considered the ramifications of Obama's response to Hillary's Convention-demands was Doris Kearns Goodwin, whom I heard responding to a question from Charlie Rose. She compared Obama's behavior vis-a-vis the Clintons to that of Lincoln's, noting that Lincoln had consciously sought out and appointed members of the opposition political party to his Cabinet on the grounds that he needed to hear (and wanted to consider) their (different) points of view in order that he might be a more effective President of all his fellow citizens. (A concept buried in the sands of antiquity by the Busheney-Rovian Cabal's 8-year long reign of duplicity, terror, and treasonous actions.)

Doris' comment was comforting to me, as I had been thinking about what it meant to me that Obama found a way to work with the two Clintons to heal the wounds inflicted upon the Democratic party during the (far too lengthy) primaries, while also furthering their differing political and personal goals.

Obama's ability to resolve Hillary's demands (for recognition and time in the limelight) suggests to me that Obama is comfortable in his own skin; that he is his own man; that he is capable, "centered", and confident; that he knows how to work with emotionally charged conflicts among and between peers; that he is able to craft compromises; that he can share power with other powerful people; and that he doesn't have to hog the limelight. In a phrase: he knows how to work and play well with others!

I submit that these qualities are qualities which he will desperately need as President of the United States of America - and, that they are qualities utterly lacking in John McCain.

I believe that we voters need to be considering the meaning of the behaviors of those who would become the President (and Vice President) of our beleaguered nation.

Ideally, the MSM would focus on two aspects that need illumination: (1) providing analysis, and information that would encourage individual voters to dialogue about the many issues facing our beleaguered country; and (2) clarifying what can be understood about the temperament of each man and woman seeking to hold the two highest offices in the land - insights that would be gained from a thoughtful study of their behaviors. Sadly, the reality is, that today's MSM just wants to sell itself.

With the abdication of its responsibilities by today's MSM and the press, voters who want to vote for Change before it's too late will just have to step up and share with one another the fruits of our own efforts to educate, inform, ponder, and discuss the issues and personalities before us.