Friday, February 01, 2008

Looking at the options

A (formerly) conservative friend writes:

Well .... if it comes down to Hillary vs McCain then it is the same old political dynasty machine controlling who we get to vote for in my opinion. It was pretty sad in Florida that out of 17 million + population only about 1 million voted...... complete apathy. The people here will have no right to complain if they don't like who runs for president.

If Hillary wins on the Dem side I am forced to go the other way, but if Obama wins then I smell change and I like the smell!!!!!!!! I'll take a chance with the boy.....but the man I liked was Edwards and sorry he didn't seem to connect although I think the media didn't give him the coverage. So far 80 million bucks has been spent for seeking a $400,000 job. Could have fed a lot of hungry kids here in the USA.

I had to respond:

I think we're singing from the same sheet ... at least half the time!!

I agree about the need to leave the Dynasty politics behind and move onto something new and different. I've had enough Clinton and enough Bush to last a lifetime .. and it seems like it's been a lifetime, too!!

But as much as *I* feel Obama is a better choice (I, too, favored Edwards) if the Democrats decide that Clinton is their candidate for 2008, I'll vote for her. Here's why.

The Republicans offer:

Mike Huckabee who takes a literal interpretation of the beliefs of cattle sacrificing, bronze age nomads who believed all the species of animals on the planet lived within walking distance of Noah's house and that the sun revolved around the earth while at the same time he denies scientific method and the last 150 years of scientific breakthroughs - breakthroughs that are responsible for things like flu vaccines, the Green Revolution (, cancer therapy, and a broader understanding of how the world has changed over time - giving us insight into how we can avoid cataclysmic disaster in the future. I'm not sure that's a picture of leadership I'm comfortable with. Besides, given the primary voting pattern to date, it appears he doesn't have a prayer. Who knows ... maybe there IS a God!

Mitt Romney, the shape shifter, seems to believe that we have the best government money can buy... and he's willing to spend millions of his own money to prove it. He may be right but I like to think we're better than that. He's taken every possible position on every possible issue at one point or another - leaving him standing for absolutely nothing beyond personal ambition - it's the only thing that's been consistent throughout his career. Besides, we just went through 8 years of an MBA president and I'm not sure we need more of that. If anything, we need a little more protection from the corporate mentality which is capable of sacrificing human beings for the sake of profit. I don't need a president that reminds me of the guy who laid me off or the mentality that made it a priority. It may be good for a corporation but it's not good for a democracy - and every CEO that ever breathed air will tell you that a corporation is NOT a democracy.

John McCain was once a possibility on my radar. I appreciate his courage and admire his devotion to country and duty - however, his current platform seems to be (according to Joe Scarborough's recent assessment) "less jobs and more wars". Now there's a wonderful future to work toward! (Actually, if Scarborough was slightly more literate he's know that "fewer jobs and more wars" would be the grammatically correct way of saying it.) We can't allow fewer American jobs to be acceptable as McCain seems to suggest it should be - and I find the idea of engaging in more wars without any reference to exploring other options completely repugnant. He wasn't labeled "Senator Hothead" by his peers in congress for nothing. We're already involved in two mismanaged wars - neither of which is going particularly well. We don't need a guy with his hand on the nuclear trigger who gleefully sings choruses of "Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran" while our military is in its current state, our economy is in shambles and we can't deal with the quagmires already at our feet.

By process of elimination, given the choices and assuming Obama is not the nominee for the democratic Party in 2008, I see no choice but to vote for Hillary - however annoying I find her.


PS: Fortunately, those $80million bucks didn't get dumped into outer space. They got spent and are working their way through the economy, finding their way into the paychecks of printers, sign makers, and other people just doing a job.

McCain channels Dr. Strangelove

or watch the video here

Tom Tomorrow - Serious Pundits discuss the issues

click image to see the rest of the strip

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush-Clinton Forever

A Roadmap for the Future of America's Two Most Important Political Dynasties

Since the inauguration of George Herbert Walker Bush on January 20, 1989, every President of The United States of America has been a member of one of America's two political royal families:

Bush. Clinton.

At Bush & Clinton Forever, we strongly believe that a family's political experience, pedigree, ambition and "brand name" are of paramount importance in American political life. It is our mission to help continue the Bush and Clinton back-and-forth political dynasty into perpetuity.

Here's our in-depth look at the past, present and expected future Bush and Clinton Presidents of the United States of America (from 1989 to 2057 and beyond.)

See it here ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 Creates Foundation to Aid Illiterate People Who Post Stupid Satire

In a rather curious but very bold development, a web site that allows writers to post their stories and/or editorials announced that they indeed had created a private not for profit foundation that would aid, as a spokesperson for described, "those writers so bereft of talent it defies description,and who write incredibly long sentences." said: "We face a daunting task as almost all of the writers from Europe and all of the writers from the US are pretty stupid. It will take billions to get them all properly trained, as some can't even begin to formulate proper sentence structure and some from the states are unable to properly spell words like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, George Bush, or turd. It's really quite staggering!"

Officials at are confident that they can start the first push by soliciting the writers themselves as up to 10% actually have a job, and up to one percent actually has a life.

Donations to the cause will be gratefully received.

(Sourced here.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's E-mail from Congressman Wexler

Dear Joe,

Tonight, President Bush will issue what will thankfully be his final State of the Union address; but, little of what he says can be trusted.

For the past seven years, we have watched as America has moved steadily backwards. We have become a nation that is less free and less fair. We have become a nation that no longer values the right to privacy and has tragically retreated from our cherished foundations.

Nothing George W. Bush says tonight will change the sad reality of the America he has given us:

  • Our economy teeters on the edge of recession while property taxes spike and homeowners are losing their homes at record levels;
  • Our educational system is broken and our teachers are abandoned;
  • Our roads and bridges languish in disrepair, while our borders and ports remain under-inspected and insecure;
  • Our most basic ideals about law and justice have been tossed out, as our President uses fear to pursue his reckless agenda; and
  • We remain mired in Iraq a war built on lies and manipulated intelligence.

Nowhere in American history - not even Watergate - have we been confronted with an Administration so ambivalent about the truth and established law. A recent nonpartisan study found that the Bush Administration lied over 900 times in the prelude to the Iraq war, misleading us on nearly every critical issue.

It is time that we reclaim this country and undue the damage wrought by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Democrats in Congress must stand up and lead no matter the cost.

We need to finally act on the promises of the 2006 election and stop at nothing to bring our troops home from the Iraq. If we do not act Bush will install a permanent US presence in Iraq and John McCain's vision of a 100 year US occupation will become reality. (Click here to read my recent editorial on the Failure of the Bush Surge in Iraq.)

It is time that we faced up to our global responsibilities and begin to prevent global warming. In the richest nation on earth, it is long past time that we provide health insurance to every single American.

We must aggressively pursue impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney due to serious allegations of abuse of power including illegal wiretapping, torture, and deliberate lies to bring us to war. (Click here to see my recent speech on the floor of the House calling for impeachment hearings).

Fifteen members of Congress - including 4 Judiciary Committee members - have already joined my call to Chairman Conyers for impeachment hearings and more are joining each day: (Click here to see the letter I am sending to Congressman Conyers and the list of members who have joined as signatories.)

Bush Administration officials and cabinet members must answer questions - on the record - regarding illegal wiretapping, torture, and what I perceive as deliberate, knowing lies to the American people in an effort to bring us to war in Iraq.

Impeachment hearings are essential because the Administration has recklessly used claims of executive privilege to block key witnesses from testifying. Impeachment hearings could force the Administration to drop their executive privilege claims and we would then finally get the answers this nation deserves. We are making progress with over 216,000 Americans already registering their support at

We must rededicate ourselves to the core values of this nation and finally deliver to the American people the change they demanded when they stood up and voted for Democrats in 2006.

I value your support, and I am thankful for your patriotism.

Together, we can begin to restore the state of our Union.

With warm regards,

Congressman Robert Wexler

A lot has been written ...

Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins and Harris

... about a group of recent best-selling authors that, back in November 2006, Wired Magazine dubbed "the new atheists". Principally, they are the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), the neuroscientist Sam Harris (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation), the philosopher Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell) and the journalist Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great and The Portable Atheist).

These authors have not just sold a lot of books (over 1.5 million for the English language edition of The God Delusion alone). Dawkins runs a website with a lot of traffic and has started a charitable foundation in the US and the UK. Harris has smaller, but similar projects. Hitchens takes on all comers in his inimitably confrontational style. Google any of their names or the phrases "new atheist" or "new atheism" and you'll see a torrent of arguments, for and against. The “new atheists” are clearly trying to start and sustain an intellectual movement.

What is strange is that, when one actually reads them, one gets the feeling that the real target of the "new atheists" isn't religion at all.

Indeed, they all explicitly say they have little or no problem with deism, or Spinozian pantheism or what Dawkins calls "Einstein-ian religion". Harris, Dennett and Hitchens (and possibly Dawkins) have indicated that they wouldn't necessarily want to see the synagogues, churches and mosques emptied, though they would want to see them abandon their “metaphysical bullshit” (see this video towards the end).

It seems that the new atheists’ real problem is with dogma, and specifically with the dogma of religious faith - with the belief that it is acceptable, even admirable, to believe propositions without logically sound reasons based on good evidence. They aren't really the “new atheists” at all, but the “new anti-dogmatists”.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

One of my favorite bumper stickers from some time ago: "My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma"

I've always been uncomfortable being labeled or labeling myself as an "atheist". I've never needed a word to describe my disbelief in the proposition that the earth if flat or my disbelief in astrology the way the term "atheist" is used to express an inability to accept propositions for which there is no evidence ... and for which there is ample evidence to the contrary. I've never felt compelled to proclaim my inability to accept fairies or Santa Clause or the existence of the Easter Bunny. Why would I need a word to indicate that I am unwilling to accept what must be taken as true by way of irrational faith.

I prefer to simply state that I am willing to believe things for which there is supporting evidence. I believe in logic and in reason and propositions for which there are supporting, provable, testable facts.

60 Minutes Legitimizes Walking Away

from Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

There was a nice expose on CBS 60 Minutes this weekend called House Of Cards. I seldom watch TV but happened to catch it.

Steve Kroft reports on how the U.S. sub-prime mortgage meltdown, in which risky loans drove a housing boom that went bust, is now roiling capital markets worldwide.

Get the video and a summary after the click ...

Steve Kroft: "It sounds complicated but it's really very simple. Banks lent hundreds of billions of dollars to homebuyers that can't pay them back. Wall Street took the risky debt, dressed it up as fancy securities and sold them round the world as safe investments. If it sounds a little bit like a shell game or a ponzi scheme, in some ways it was".

My comment:

So, I guess the answer would be to de-regulate some more?

In related stories:

"Countrywide CEO to Give Up $37.5 Mln in Payments" (Reuters)

"Even CEOs think CEOs are overpaid: survey" (Reuters) - the rewards of screwing it up for all of us.

"Citigroup CEO Prince Falls to Subprime Debacle"

In return for driving CitiGroup into the ground, Prince was awarded a $40Million severance package. Think you could get by on that?

How the Country Has Come to Find Itself in the Current Economic Mess

from Huffington Post by Leo W. Gerard

As the Senate moves to consider the wholly inadequate stimulus package passed by the House -- zip for the jobless, no increase in food stamps, squat for the nation's crumbling infrastructure -- it's useful to consider how the country has come to find itself in the current economic mess.

Part of the reason we need a "fiscal stimulus package" under what President Bush continues to claim is a strong economy is the bad behavior of a government operating in cahoots with corporate America over the past 30 years. This shameless cabal has given us a reckless stock market, a subprime mortgage crisis that is taking down homeowners while threatening banks and insurers, health care and gasoline costs flaming out of control, an endless war that violates international law and savages the budget, rising unemployment and income inequality, and the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs that is undermining real wages.

This, as New York Times financial reporter David Cay Johnston points out in his new bestseller, Free Lunch, is not the America of FDR. It is not the America that nurtured a middle class from the time of the New Deal with Social Security, employer-paid health insurance and defined benefit pensions, and, later, low-cost college educations. This is not the America of investing tax revenue in programs to benefit the majority, like the U.S. interstate highway system, and in regulation to benefit the majority, like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (a chicken coop now being "guarded" by a fox formerly employed by the corporate-dominated U.S. Chamber of Commerce).

That America is gone. Ronald Reagan got on his high horse, cracked his whip and told those little doggies to move along. Since then, income disparity in this country has grown so that in 2005, Johnston reports in Free Lunch, if you consider all income, the 300,000 wealthiest men, women and children, the top one tenth of one percent, made more money than all the other 150 million Americans put together.

This concentration of income at the top does not occur in places like Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. It does, however, in places like Brazil, Mexico and Russia, Johnston points out.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

It doesn't need my comment. It's pretty complete as it is. We'd rather find our economy being compared to Brazil or Russia or Mexico than to do anything some right wing-nut, son-of-a-bitch, so far to the right that he makes Attila the Hun look like a flaming liberal, might label Socialistic.

The Four Tops

Or get it here ...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

5 Myths About Torture and Truth

By Darius Rejali / WaPo

So the CIA did indeed torture Abu Zubaida, the first al-Qaeda terrorist suspect to have been waterboarded. So says John Kiriakou, the first former CIA employee directly involved in the questioning of "high-value" al-Qaeda detainees to speak out publicly. He minced no words last week* in calling the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" what they are.

But did they work? Torture's defenders, including the wannabe tough guys who write Fox's "24," insist that the rough stuff gets results. "It was like flipping a switch," said Kiriakou about Abu Zubaida's response to being waterboarded. But the al-Qaeda operative's confessions -- descriptions of fantastic plots from a man who intelligence analysts were convinced was mentally ill -- probably didn't give the CIA any actionable intelligence. Of course, we may never know the whole truth, since the CIA destroyed the videotapes of Abu Zubaida's interrogation. But here are some other myths that are bound to come up as the debate over torture rages on.

5 Myths About Torture and Truth after the click ...

* The article is from the December 16, 2007 edition of the Washington Post.

The Bogeyman

by Jane Smiley on HuffPO

If I were the Democratic candidate for president, and it was September and my opponent were John McCain, here's the ad I would run: A street in the middle east. Some cute children playing games. Some women carrying groceries. A dog trotting by. Back to the children. Cut to McCain singing "Bomb bomb bomb Iran", but speeded up a little, to remind people how crazy he is. Cut back to Iranian street scene. The dog joins the children. Blow them up. Ever see "Failsafe"? That's what happens at the end. The last few scenes are of folks minding their own business on the streets of New York. Then they're gone.

The next ad I would run would be film clips of American soldiers in Iraq, dead, dismembered, dying. Cut to Walter Reed Army Hospital. American soldiers, men and women, struggling with their injuries. Cut to funeral for American soldier. Cut to John McCain, smiling, welcoming a hundred years of war in Iraq.

The rest after the click ...

The Bush Countdown Clock

It's like watching the ball come down on New Years Eve!

Get it here ...

A Charge to Keep?

“A Charge to Keep.”, by W.H.D. Koerner, 1916

There's a great piece in Harpers about G.W. Bush's favorite painting that gives an interesting insight into Bush and the Bush mentality.

What's the true nature of the subject matter?

  • A brave man leading missionaries along a steep mountain trail -or-
  • A silver tongued thief, one step ahead of a lynch mob

Find the answer here ...

What's your call?

And who IS that man on the horse, anyway? Sure looks familiar!!

Rock breaks Scissors

One of the lessons from South Carolina

Dirty politics can backfire.

It's only my opinion but ...

The Clintons have been victims of slime politics for the better part of three decades. As such, they have become expert practitioners. They probably know more about how to manage a dirty campaign than anyone who isn't Carl Rove.

Obama got slimed by the best and still he overcame. Sometimes the underhanded, dirty-dealing of retail politics is seen for what it is ... and in South Carolina it was. And it didn't work.

I'm not sure why it didn't work this time, but it didn't and I'm glad it didn't. It worked so well against Kerry when he was Swiftboated. The lies were no less obvious then. It worked when the slime machine was turned against Gore. The slime stuck long enough to help bring him down. (Interestingly enough, he's held in much higher regard everywhere else on the planet than he is here ... proving the old axiom that one cannot be a prophet in one's own country.)

All the spin, all the quotes taken out of context, all the the mischaracterizations and misrepresentations, all of the hype and hyperbole used against Obama this time around were seen by the voters as the BS it was. They were paying attention and the BS only works when people aren't paying attention. Maybe that's it. Maybe people are simply engaged and paying attention this time around. By listening to what the candidates are saying, by paying attention to which of those things match up with reality and which bits and pieces are spun out of all recognition, they're getting an education. And if that's the case, then they are becoming the educated electorate the Founding Fathers hoped and prayed for ... and that's the best thing that could possibly happen.

If I were a Republican of the Rovian School of Winning Elections, I'd be frightened. Political warfare has been taken to a new level and the old weapons of insinuation, innuendo, misinformation, and outright lying aren't working as effectively or as efficiently as they used to. The Clintons in South Carolina can testify to that. If there's truth in it, then the Republicans have lost some of the most effective weapons in their campaign arsenal. Heaven knows, the ideas they're offering as a platform can't stand up to much scrutiny.

Already the opposition on that side of the aisle has been forced to sing choruses of Change by a charismatic upstart filled with hope and ideas. They talk about being Change Candidates while they support a war that 70% or more or the people oppose. They talk about being Change Candidates while they support making the current administration's tax breaks for the rich a permanent thing. They talk about being Agents of Change and offer more of the same thing that has brought us all to the brink of military, financial and economic disaster. They call themselves candidates of Change and offer continued fear; a fear of the future without hope. The only real Change they seem to be offering is a Change of Face. They all want to be seen as the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan. How back-to-the-future is that? The more distance we have from that era in time the more Reagan begins to look like a bad actor who did more damage than good. Besides, it's foolish to try to turn back the clock and relive the past. The moving hand of history has written, and having written, everything has changed. There is no path back to the past. The only way is forward.

Obama is offering real change. And real change begins with a change in attitude. Obama is a formidable challenger to "the way it's always been done". He's a breath of fresh air in the smoke filled rooms of politics as usual.

Winston Churchill said of Americans, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing ... after they've tried everything else." I submit that Bush, the Republicans of the last 45 years and American "politics as usual" have pretty much exhausted all of the other possibilities. I certainly hope that's the case.