Saturday, May 24, 2008
First of all, a word of clarification. McCain claims to be the "open" candidate, the candidate with nothing to hide, the "disclosure" candidate.
He is nothing of the sort, of course. He promised to disclose his health records but it took him many months to do so, and then the "disclosure" was limited both in scope and time so that there was no way for reporters to make an accurate determination as to his health today or his health in the past.
Some of his health problems have been known; we know he has had several skin cancer operations. McCain, however, has insisted for a long time that he has a "clean bill of health" from his doctors.
Americablog notes that the AP headline, summarizing the AP glance through his medical records, "McCain appears cancer free, healthy," is misleading at best
Here's what else AP said:
"McCain's most recent exams show a range of health issues common in aging: He frequently has precancerous skin lesions removed, and in February had an early stage squamous cell carcinoma, an easily cured skin cancer, removed. He had benign colon growths called polyps taken out during a routine colonoscopy in March."
John Aravosis, writing on Americablog said, "McCain isn't cancer-free if he had cancer 3 months ago. ..." Well, squamous cell carcinoma usually isn't that big a deal if it is treated early. We don't know, however, if it was treated early, so Aravosis maybe correct in his statement that McCain isn't "cancer-free."
But the second thing he said is more important relative to McCain's vaunted "openness." He asks, [is] "Anybody else troubled that candidate McCain was running for the GOP nomination, went for cancer surgery, and didn't bother telling anyone? What else isn't he bothering to tell us, and won't he tell us in the future?
"If this is McCain's standard for disclosure about his medical condition, we'd need weekly document dumps of his medical files because McCain clearly has a policy of hiding his true medical condition while running for president."
Why is it that McCain's deeds so seldom match his words?
Tim Griffin is an attorney, a "former Karl Rove protege." Because of that connection, another attorney was fired so Griffin could take the position of interim Eastern District U.S. attorney in Arkansas. Griffen has been in the middle of the U.S. attorney scandal, and for some strange reason resigned his job last year.
Tim Griffin is known for his dirty tricks. That's why he's been hired by the Republican National Committee. He'll be working with the RNC's "opposition research team." He's going to help bring down Barack Obama.
He will do that by "digging up derogatory information" about Obama. But he's likely to also be involved in voter suppression. Back in 2004, Griffin "reportedly led a 'caging' scheme to suppress the votes of likely Demoractic voters, including African-American service members in Florida."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has explained how this works:
The first thing is to identify an area where there are more Democratic voters than Republican voters - often taking into account "the ethnic or racial makeup of that area." The second thing is to send "do not forward/return to sender" letters to voters in that area.
When they bad guys get back the letters marked "undelivered," they challenge "the right to vote of those citizens ... on the grounds that the voter does not live at the registered address."
But, as Senator Whitehouse says, "...there are many reasons why a piece of mail might be 'returned to sender' that have nothing whatsoever to do with a voter's eligibility."
Think Progress says that they have confirmed with "'a senior Republican operative' that Griffin is being brought in 'to do to Obama what folks successfully did with John Kerry.'"
It is so disheartening to find that your worst suspicions are true. It is clear that by engaging in such actions, the Republican National Committee does not believe in democracy, in truth, in justice, or in the Constitution of the United States. They believe only in power. And they will use any means necessary to attain that power.
And these are the people who talk most about patriotism, God, family values, religion in the public sphere, the Ten Commandments, a government based upon God's laws, etc.
Isn't that funny?
John McCain's choirboy, Joseph Lieberman, who tags along behind him singing his praises and feeding him lines when McCain's ignorance shows or memory fails, has a stepson.
Ethan Tucker is the son of Joseph Lieberman's wife, Hadassah. Ethan Tucker is a rabbi. Rabbi Tucker has concluded that his stepfather knows not whereof he speaks.
Thus Rabbi Tucker is planning to vote for Senator Barack Obama for president.
McCain has promised for some time to release his medical records. In spite of what you might have read in the MSM, he still has not done so. What he has done was allow some reporters to look at some of his records for a very brief period of time.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "The [McCain] campaign will allow television reporters and three news services -- Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press -- to review the records, in addition to the two newspapers. The reporters will have three hours to view about 400 pages and will not be allowed to photocopy them. Other news organizations will have access to a 90-minute conference call with McCain's physicians and online summaries of the records."
Consider: No records from before 2000 were released. The actual number of pages released varies depending on the source - from almost 1,200 to 1,500.
It is amusing to read the stories in the MSM about McCain's health, now "verified" by his medical records. The truth is we know no more about his "health" than we did before. There was simply too much information and not enough time to begin to review that information. Even medical experts could not have come to satisfactory conclusions under those conditions.
The Minnesota Monitor quotes a local doctor and writer, Craig Bowron: "I would just be shocked if they'd be able to make any progress in 90 minutes. If they haven't gone through charts before, they won't know what to look for to begin with. Sometimes, for instance, when someone gets transferred from an outside hospital, they'll have a stack of papers that are half an inch to an inch thick. It's ... mostly junk. Stuff you don't really need to know. If you don't know what you're looking for and don't have a particular question in mind, I think it would be pointless."
Furthermore, one of the major questions, and a question that would require medical records from his Navy days, has to do with his mental health. In other words, how did his experience as a POW in Vietnam impact his psyche? We know he sometimes jumps when he hears the sound of keys. Is he liable to wake up in the middle of the night, raving about the "savages," and push the button?
McCain did not release any of those records!
So, we still don't have a clue...or maybe we do. Remember the temper for which McCain is famous?
Does he or doesn't he - support a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages?
The Associated Press reported recently that John McCain is opposed to amending the United States Constitution to ban same-sex unions. That is not true.
Media Matters for America has pointed out that when McCain appeared on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes on March 13, he said that he believes "that the states should make these decisions on the marriage amendment. [In 2006, McCain supported an attempt to bad same-sex unions in Arizona]. ... But," McCain continued, "if it is overturned by a superior court, I will then obviously support the other path [an amendment to the U.S. Constitution]."
You just can't trust much of what the MSM puts out these days!
John McCain proves again he can't be trusted to do what he says and that he has one hell of a temper!
McCain has said on numerous occasions that he will not play the "military card" in his race for the presidency.
McCain plays the military card every chance he gets.
Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.), proposed a bill expanding veteran's education benefits which was passed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate, with 25 Republicans breaking ranks with both Bush and McCain to vote for the bill. With good reason. As Senator Webb (a military man himself) said: "This is taking care of the people who have taken care of us."
McCain was not present for the vote as he decided it was more important to campaign in California and attend a fundraiser sponsored by the owner of the San Diego Chargers, Alex Spanos.
Both Senators Clinton and Obama were present and voted for the bill. Senator Obama had this to say about McCain's noticeable absence: "I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country. But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans."
Actually, I'm pretty sure that Obama knows very well the reasons for McCain's non-vote. For one thing, McCain is playing to the ultra right, who have proven over and over again that in spite of their war-colored rhetoric, when the fit hits the shan, they fail to provide for those "troops" they praise as they drive about in their red, white and blue Hummers.
Another reason why McCain missed this vote as if he didn't care, is that he doesn't care. He's an elitist, no matter how much he likes to pretend to be a "good ol' boy." His daddy was the admiral in charge of just about everything afloat in the Vietnam days. He's always been part of that bunch that drink hard and play hard with ne'er a worry about who's going to pay the bill. Then, when he chucked his first wife, Carol, who turned up overweight and crippled when he got back from Vietnam, and married dear Cindy, his social/financial standing took another giant step up.
McCain can posture all he wants, but he hasn't a clue about the world of a swabbie aboard a U.S. Naval ship, nor would he understand the first thing as to what a grunt goes through on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Here's how McCain responded to Senator Obama's criticism of his non-vote:
"I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.
"It is typical, but no less offensive that Senator Obama uses the Senate floor to take cheap shots at an opponent and easy advantage of an issue he has less than zero understanding of."
There are several things to say about that. One is that here McCain exhibits his terrible temper and tongue, which, according to those who know him and have felt his wrath, is legendary. How many people, other than Dick Cheney, have told colleagues "F... you!" in a public venue? McCain is one.
Secondly, note that in his criticism of Obama, McCain falls back on the tried and true Republican response to criticism: Tell a lie, then repeat the lie over and over again with a great deal of personal angst and pretty soon the people, including the MSM, will believe you.
The truth is clear. McCain did actually, truly and really take a back seat to a great number of people in his "affection, respect and devotion" to veterans. He took a back seat to all those who got to the Senate floor and voted to give our veterans a small piece of what they deserve!
McCain also slammed Obama for not serving in uniform, as if that is the be all and end all of service to one's country. There are many ways to serve one's country. Just wearing the uniform does not automatically confer "sainthood" or "hero" status on anyone, including Mr. McCain! The U.S. military has been blemished with a number of criminal types wearing "uniforms" down through the years. Consider George W. Bush who ran and hid when he was called to duty, and the felon, Oliver North, who thought it proper to lie and cheat as a U.S. Marine.
Finally, McCain took a really cheap shot at Obama by saying that Obama has "zero understanding" of the veteran's issue. How would McCain know that? Can one not understand the plight of our fighting men and women and the needs of our fighting men and women without being a haggard "hero" or former resident of the Hanoi Hilton? Does getting shot down, beat up, tortured, and then giving the enemy the information they want to know confer special knowledge about veteran's issues?
So, McCain plays the "military card" again! He also blows his stack, again! And that leads him to excoriate a fellow Senator who rightly chastised him for blowing off the veterans in favor of fundraising hooplahs sponsored by the rich and powerful in Southern California.
And this guy wants to be prezident? Good God, eight years of one of these bozos is too much! We won't survive so much as a year of a man like McCain.
Friday, May 23, 2008
On Hannity & Colmes, Oliver North, the convicted felon, said Bush was right to compare Obama with the Nazi appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. North, the convicted felon, said you just can't talk to your enemies. The implication of course is that Obama was naive and off base when he indicated he would be willing to sit down and talk with leaders of other nations, even those hostile to us.
That kind of slam at Obama is to be expected. After all North and John McCain have been thick as thieves for years. North was supported in a Senatorial run by none other than John McCain in the mid-1990s. North is a supporter of John McCain today and McCain is happy to have the endorsement of North, the felon.
North became a felon back in 1988-89 when he was indicted on something like 16 felony counts. He was convicted on three of those: for shredding documents; accepting an illegal gratuity; and aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress.
This was all part of the so-called Iran-Contra Scandal. North was involved in selling weapons to Iran (illegally) at the same time that the U.S. was supporting Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The money North received for the weapons went (illegally) to the Contras in Nicaragua. The entire scheme, which involved government officials, including President Reagan, was completely illegal.
Even though North's mentor, Ronald Reagan, was well aware of what was going on, he fired North.
North lied to Congress about all of this; that was what "aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress" was all about. Furthermore, this unethical felon claimed that his illegal project of deceit and chicanery was a "neat idea."
U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell basically slapped North's hands. In this case, the punishment didn't even come close to fitting the crime. Judge Gesell sentenced North to a three-year suspended prison term, two year's probation, $150,000 in fines and 1,200 hours of community service.
Unfortunately, a three-judge panel vacated the conviction on a technicality. When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, Judge Gesell dismissed it.
So North beat the system. Today his persona is that of a flag-waving, red-blooded Christian patriot. It's a persona exactly opposite to the reality. Oliver North is a man without a soul like so many other "commentators" on Fox News. But he's a perfect fit at Fox for not only is he a felon, but a liar.
I like what DJK said at Brave New Films: "To recap -- talking to Iran = Nazi appeasement. Defying Congress to sell arms to Iran = 'neat' idea."
That's why "North was aptly named May 19th's "Worst Person in the World."
The following article was written by Andrew Roberts and appeared in The Daily Express on May 8, 2008.
The State of Israel has packed more history into her sixty years on the planet - which she celebrates this week - than many other nations have in six hundred. There are many surprising things about this tiny, feisty, brave nation the size of Wales, but the most astonishing is that she has lived to see this birthday at all. The very day after the new state was established, she was invaded by the armies of no fewer than five Arab countries, and she has been struggling for her right to life ever since.
From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution - the State of Israel - has somehow survived.
When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery: today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.
Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate - blood shed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements - argues for Israel's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.
The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those who[se] interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well-being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of sane accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.
The process of creating a Jewish homeland in an area where other peoples were already living - though far fewer of them than anti-Israel propagandists claim - was always going to be a complicated and delicate business, and one for which Britain as the Mandated power had a profound responsibility, and about which since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 she had made solemn promises.
Yet instead of keeping a large number of troops on the ground throughout the birth pangs of the State of Israel, Britain hurriedly withdrew all her forces virtually overnight on 14 May 1948, thus facilitating the Arab invasions the very day, one of which was actually commanded by a former British Army officer, John Glubb (known as Glub Pasha). Less than four years earlier, Britain had landed division after victorious division in Normandy, now 'Partition and flee' was the Attlee government's ignominious policy, whose consequences are still plaguing the world half a century later in Kashmir and the Middle East.
'We owe to the Jews,' wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, 'a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together.'
The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers. Although they make up less than half of one per-cent of the world's population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32% for Physics, 39% for Economics and 29% for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers.
Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years. It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever visited Israel, as though the country is still in quarantine after sixty years.
After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognised that they had to have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Putting their trust in Western Civilisation was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence.
She has been on the front line in the War against Terror and has been fighting the West's battles for it, decades before 9/11 or 7/7 ever happened. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another sixty years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.
Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would have done placed in their position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 million is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example at random, Hizbullah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired four thousand Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further forty-three civilians.
Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what WE would do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire thirty-six thousand rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing seventy-two British servicemen in an ambush and capturing eighteen. There is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?
Last month I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, researching a book about the Second World War. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag, a blue star of David on white background. It was a profoundly moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide - which killed six million people in Auschwitz and camps like it - will never again befall the Jewish people.
Happy birthday, Israel and Shalom.
Since last October, Susan Orr has worked for the Department of Health and Human Services. She's been in charge of federal family planning programs. The Bush administration said she was highly qualified.
Ms. Terkel writes that she actually had no qualifications. "From the beginning, Orr was controversial, with her strongest credentials seemingly being her support for failed abstinence-only policies."
Prior to coming to the HHS, Orr worked for the ultra-conservative Republican Right organization, the Family Research Council, where she was "senior director for marriage and family care." She was also "an adjunct professor at Pat Robertson's Regent University, a law school diploma mill turning out legal beagles charged with infiltrating the government in order to tack back this nation for God.
Amanda Terkel notes that Ms. Orr's past record was not very splendiforous, but rather what one would expect from a retrograde ultra right fundamentalist Christian partisan:
Seven years ago, Orr supported a proposal by the Bushites to "'stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees' to cover a broad range of birth control. [Orr said] We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease."
Eight years ago, Susan Orr, in a Weekly Standard article, "railed against requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives. 'It's not about choice,' said Orr. 'It's not about health care. It's about making every collaborators with the culture of death.'"
(To use contraceptives, according to this paragon of the Christian Right is to collaborate "with the culture of death.")
Also, in 2000, Orr wrote a paper titled "Real Women Stay Married," in which she said that women should "'think about focusing our eyes, not upon ourselves, but upon the families we form through marriage.'" I wonder if she would advise a woman to stay married to a man who beats her on a regular basis?
Ms. Terkel notes in conclusion that just recently the Family Research Council, looking out for the interests of true Christians everywhere, "has been pressuring the Bush administration to restrict federal funding for family planning centers. Conveniently, Orr oversaw this funding."
Thank whatever god you wish, Orr has resigned. That's one for the good guys!
But here's what he might say if he were to tell the truth: "I am not a lame president and I'm not a lame duck, and I'm gonna blow up Iran to prove it!"
We commented yesterday on reports that Bush was planning to attack Iran before his term is up. We also said that the White House denies that is the case. In fact, of the story in the Jerusalem Post, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino it's "not worth the paper it's written on."
What a clever, original comment!
According to Think Progress, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) was asked on NPR's "Fresh Air" if he thought the White House was contemplating military action against Iran before the end of Bush's term.
Webb said, "It certainly seems that it's on the table," and referred to the fact that there are people in the Bush administration who are in favor of such an action.
That's not new, of course. Bush himself has repeatedly said that all "options" are on the table, and the neo-cons have been agitating for war with Iran for years.
More worrisome is this: "In April, a day after meeting with President Bush, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said on Bill Bennett's radio show that he didn't think 'it's out of the question' that Bush would strike Iran before leaving office because 'people are overdoing how much of a lame duck the president is.'"
So, our suspicions are confirmed! The president is a psycho. Many well-grounded and quite sane people have been long convinced that one of the major reasons Bush felt it necessary to invade Iraq and "get" Saddam Hussein was to do his father one better. Daddy left Iraq before the job was done! So Bush the younger would "show" him who was the better president!
Now we get the same kind of sick macho posturing. Bush is going to attack Iran because he's gonna "show" all those people who think him to be presidentially impotent. He's not such a lame duck after all and he can "prove" it by attacking Iran.
I think a straight-jacket in a padded cell would be a nice quiet retirement haven for Georgie boy.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This is just too funny. And rather sad.
The tale of two stooges!
McCain finally figured out that Hagee said lots of bad things about Jews and other people and had some really wacko ideas and is certifiably insane.
Hagee finally realized that McCain would jump to any side of the fence if it would bring him another vote or two and that McCain probably isn't a "born-again" Christian; hell, he probably isn't even a Baptist!
So, today, McCain "rejected the endorsement of megachurch pastor and ardent Zionist John Hagee after learning of a sermon in which Hagee posited that Nazism was God's will."
How is it that McCain is just getting the word now?
Anyway, old flip-flopping John said that he found Hagee's statements "deeply offensive and indefensible," and he said, "I repudiate them." Then he went on with as much fake sincerity as McCain can muster, to say that he "must reject his endorsement as well."
Here's the humorous part: Hagee turned right around and rejected McCain's rejection and said he was taking back his endorsement of McCain as well! The reason he was doing this, of course, was so people wouldn't think badly of McCain. He said that bad people have been digging up things he had said in the past so they could misconstrue what he had said or meant or something and make him sound like a bad guy when he's really a good guy and a man of the Lord and a prophet who can take a 1,500 year old piece of scripture and tell you exactly what it means for your life and the whole world today!
Hagee said he's "tired of these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a distraction in what should be a national debate about important issues."
Well, Hagee, old chap, they're not "baseless," as we can quote you chapter and verse, and when you go around spouting off about how we need a nuclear war with Iran so your beloved End Times comes crashing down killing all the Jews and all people who are not fundamentalist Christians and you get to be whooshed naked up into the heavens (God, is that a horrible mental picture!), and when you actually talk to a president who talks to God and you work to bolster his already insane notions of a nuclear conflict with Iran, that is a pretty damn important issue!
Poor McCain, though. He's stuck. He's made so many stupid mistakes and errors in judgment he doesn't know what to do. So, old John, who claims he's going to run a "clean" campaign, immediately grabbed this opportunity to sling dirt and that's just what he did: He said, well at least Hagee wasn't my pastor and I didn't sit in his church and listen to his sermons for twenty years, like someone else named Barack Obama did with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
What a wuss!
A pox on both their houses!
Balls of bulls in Florida
In Florida of flowing palm trees
Seagulls float on balmy breezes
There's trouble here in Disney's land
Ev'rywhere is Satan's hand.
The godless work hard in the sun
Fight God's design in creation
There's gays to hate and abortion
So much work still needs be done.
In Tallahassee, Lord be praised
A law was passed and virtue saved
No balls of bulls hang from our trucks
We've righteousness run amuck.
Lest you think New York is sweet
They've got bulls right in the street
And balls of bulls are hanging down
God have mercy on that town!
Bill Press of Tribune Media Services, in an article titled "Despondent GOP turns to drugs" explains the sad plight of Republicans following special elections in three different states.
In the State of Mississippi, in the First Congressional District, a Democrat by name of Travis Childers "defeated Republican Greg Davis in a district that George W. Bush carried in 2004 with over 60 percent of the vote."
Republicans laid out $1.3 million, flew in Dick Cheney, and tried to tar Childers by claiming he "would be a puppet of Nancy Pelosi," and that he had "the same values" as Barack Obama.
None of it worked! The Repubs lost!
In Illinois, Democrat Bill Foster took the seat held last by Dennis Hastert, and a seat that had been in Republican control for some 30 years.
Democrat Don Cazayoux won "a solid Republican seat in Baton Rouge, La."
Now some "GOP House experts are predicting that Democrats could pick up an additional 20 seats this fall. That could give them an advantage of 70 seats in the next session of Congress."
If you think that's funny, you should have heard Republican House Leader John Boehner claiming that this is a "change election," and that John McCain "is an agent of change."
The Republicans, in their distress held an "emergency summit meeting," after which Boehner and other House GOP leaders emerged to announce they had adopted a new slogan for the 2008 campaign season: "The Change You Deserve."
The should bring tears to your eyes all by itself. But there is more. It turns out, explains Mr. Press, that "that very same phrase is already the trademarked advertising slogan for the antidepressant drug Effexor ... prescribed for 'depression, anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in adults.'"
Press says Effexor is just what the Repubs need. "Except they should be taking it, not selling it."
The following is from a Sam Stein article on The Huffington Post, dated May 21, 2008. The article is titled "Chuck Hagel Takes on McCain, Repeatedly Praises Obama."
Chuck Hagel is a Republican Senator from Nebraska. He serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Stein says that "Hagel, speaking to a small gathering at the residence of the Italian ambassador, took umbrage with several positions taken by the McCain campaign, including the Arizona Senator's criticism of Obama for pledging to engage with Iran. Engagement is not, and should not be confused for, capitulation, he argued."
More importantly, however is what Hagel said when asked to comment about stories that Bush and company were "ginning up the possibility of war with Iran." Hagel "raised the specter of impeachment."
"'You've got the power of impeachment, now that is a very defined measure if you are willing to bring charges against the president at all. You can't just say I disagree with him, let's impeach him,' said Hagel. An attack on Iran without Congress' consent, he added, 'would bring with it... outstanding political consequences, including for the Republican Party.'"
Impeachment. It could and should happen, no matter what the cowBOY decides to do with Iran. If any president ever committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," it is this president! Then a war crimes trial should follow.
Nancy Sinatra sang that song years ago: "These boots are made for walking and I'm gonna walk all over you!"
George W. Bush sings it today, not to a cheating lover, but to an "axis of evil" - the country of Iran. Mr. Bush, the Connecticut cowboy, is gonna tromp all over that "Islamofascist" bunch of nuclear wannabees!
We're going to war again!
If you remember the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, you'll recognize the signs. Balloons floated everywhere. Comments made "casually" to various people who duly report them through the MSM [Main Stream Media]. A huge U.S. aircraft carrier placed within easy striking distance of Tehran.
And the scare tactics! Iran's gonna have the bomb soon. Iran's gonna do a nuclear dance on Israel. Iran is targeting U.S. assets. Iran is helping the Iraqi insurgents. Iran is a very bad country. God hates Iran. Iran is full of evil people. Iran wants to take over the world. Iran doesn't care about nuclear energy, they just want the bomb. When "experts" say that Iran is years away from building a nuclear bomb, they don't know what they're talking about. Bush's "experts" know that Iran will probably have the bomb tomorrow. They also "know" that Iran will use the bomb tomorrow.
Diplomacy isn't working. Something must be done. Now. Bomb Iran!
Then come the denials. The White House: "President Bush did not say that." Cheney's office: Vice President Cheney did not say that."
A headline in the Jerusalem Post: "White House denies Iran attack report."
And all the people go, "Sheesh!" White House denials are no longer credible, even to the gullible. Bush and company have no credibility left. Only the lost and lonely believe anything the Bush administration says.
On May 20, the Jerusalem Post referenced "an Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term." At the same time, the article "said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran's push for a nuclear weapon through 'peaceful diplomatic means.'"
It went down like this. An Israeli poohbah, in a closed meeting with the Bush gang that visited Israel last week, said that both Bush and Cheney believed "military action against Iran was called for." The only reason this has not already happened is that both Condi Rice (Secretary of State) and Bob Gates (Secretary of Defense) are less than enthusiastic about such an endeavor.
This proposed attack on Iran is all tied up with Israel and Israel's defense. Bush believes that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the man behind the recent "show of strength" by Hizbullah in Lebanon. Thus Bush said, "the disease must be treated - not its symptoms."
Sounds like our cowboy: These boots are made for walking and I'm gonna walk all over you, Mr. Ahmadinejad!
While the Bush people are blowing all this off as untrue, Bush is still issuing threats. We are opposed to Iran's ambition to obtain a nuclear weapon, he says, and "we" are trying to get Iran "to change [its] behavior and to halt [its] uranium enrichment program."
Then there's this comment by Bush last week: "Iran is an incredibly negative influence" and "the biggest long-term threat to peace in the Middle East," but the US is "pushing back hard and will continue to do so."
Bush is very worried about Iran's funding of Hamas and Hizbullah. But even more than that, he's concerned about Iran's growing nuclear technology. "All options are on the table he said," rattling his sabers.
A major problem for the people of the United States as well as people around the world is that Bush is a world-class liar. We know from long and painful experience we cannot take anything he says at face-value. So when he tells us that Iran is doing this or that and that Iran is a really bad country it is necessary to disbelieve him.
In his address to Israel's Knesset, Bush said the U.S. stands with Israel in "opposing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
Here is a good example of how this mentally-challenged Connecticut cowboy cannot connect the dots. Beginning from a set of questionable assumptions, the main one being that Iran is involved in building a nuclear weapon, he then calls Iran "the world's leading sponsor of terror." What happened to al-Qaeda? What happened to Hamas? What happened to the Iraqi insurgents? What about the Taliban in Afghanistan? How did Iran get to be the worst of the bunch all of a sudden?
And for Bush the Terrible to speak of betraying future generations is sick. If anyone has betrayed future generations it is Prezident Bush! He has made a mockery of all that is right and good and decent and is the world's leading war-monger: millions of people have died because of his actions. What is unforgivable is to listen to him preach that war is peace even as blood drips from his hands onto the floor of the Knesset!
Eric Alterman, at Media Matters, reflecting on the attempts of the White House to deflect Bush's Iranian war plans, tells of a "depressing lunch" he had with Israeli historian, Benny Morris. At the time Morris had not heard that Bush was putting on his boots to walk all over Iran.
Alterman said that Morris "came pretty close to convincing me, entirely independently, that Bush and Cheney, despite denials, have probably already promised Ehud Olmert to attack Iran after the election if Obama is elected. If McCain is elected, they can afford to take their time and let him do it, since he certainly will. Morris also came pretty close to convincing me that absent an American attack, an Israeli nuclear attack is not unthinkable.
"I was kind of speechless for much of this," says Alterman, "but there it is. Israelis are convinced that Iran is undeterrable and if it gets a bomb, it will use it on Israel. Whatever the horrible effects are of any of the above scenarios, they pale in comparison to that."
Perhaps. But a variety of experts have said that Iran is years from putting together a nuclear weapon. The Iranian leadership, now treated as THE EVIL ENEMY in a new Cold War, finds itself in a defensive position, and thus lashes out angrily at what it considers unjust criticism.
I read a "flash" on BuzzFlash.net that refers to Retired Commander Huber who "takes apart the latest Cheney scare tactics and drumbeats to war. The propagandists are building Iran into [a] jumbo-sized threat the facts don't support. Dangerous? Yes. Crazy? Yes. But ... Huber quotes Admiral Fallon's description of Iran's standing, 'These guys are ants,' [said Fallon] in a March 2008 interview with Esquire magazine. 'When the times comes, you crush them.'"
But we have to wonder what secret promises have been made between Bush and Olmert.
It is reported that Olmert "proposed in talks with a U.S. Congressional leader that a naval blockade be imposed on Iran to try to curb its nuclear program. The Haaretz daily quoted Olmert as telling Nancy Pelosi that 'the present economic sanctions have exhausted themselves' and the international community needed to take more drastic steps to stop Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The prime minister's suggestions, Haaretz said, included a Naval blockade of Iran using U.S. warships to limit the movement of Iranian merchant vessels. Olmert also said, according to the report, that international restrictions should be placed on Iranian aircraft, business executives and senior officials."
Olmert is a failed leader in the middle of a variety of scandals and may soon go down in flames. What chutzpah for him to suggest that the U.S. use its resources in such a manner that would essentially be a declaration of war against Iran! And he, like Bush and Cheney and all the Neo-con Chumps, keeps sounding the same old drumbeats for war, many of which are simply without foundation.
Another scary question: what part of the store has Bush secretly given away this time?
It is very important to recognize that the real leadership in Iran is not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who loves to prance about the world's stage and spout stupid statements that rile the Western World. And he knows how easy it is to make a fool out of Bush.
But, in many ways, Ahmadinejad is a figure-head. The real power in Iran is the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is in charge of Iran's foreign policy, military and its nuclear program.
Is it possible Bush doesn't know that? John McCain doesn't know that. In an interview with Joe Klein, printed at Salon.com., McCain's ignorance is as absolute as it is baffling. And he is the one who claims to have superior foreign policy experience and knowledge.
The truth is McCain doesn't have a clue! When Klein told him that the one in charge in Iran was actually Ali Khamenei, McCain repudiated Klein insisting "Ahmadinejad is, was the leader." Then, when Klein asked McCain why he kept talking about Ahmadinejad, who did not have power with regard to Iran's foreign policy, McCain said:
"Oh, I think -- Again, I respectfully disagree. When he's the person that comes to the United Nations and declares his country's policy is the extermination of the state of Israel, quote, in his words, wipe them off the map, then I know that he is speaking for the Iranian government and articulating their policy and he was elected and is running for reelection as the leader of that country ...I mean, the fact is he's the acknowledged leader of that country and you may disagree, but that's, uh, that's your right to do so. But I think if you asked any average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they'd know. Or anyone who's well-versed in the issue."
That is so sad. The average American wouldn't even know what or where Iran was! McCain simply doesn't even know that truth, and is clearly ignorant of the most fundamental of facts about Iran. Alex Koppelman, who wrote the Salon article describing the Klein/McCain interview, refers to a report about Iran's foreign policy structure put out by the Council on Foreign Relations, which said, in part:
"Ahmadinejad has some influence over foreign policy -- he appoints the cabinet and the head of the SNSC -- but power remains mostly in the hands of the SNSC and the Supreme Leader. [Ahmadinejad is a small piece of the puzzle and can be influential on the fringes, but certainly not [by] steering Iranian foreign or nuclear policy."
We need to take away Bush's boots, put him on trial for war crimes, slap him in slippers and lock him away in a padded cell where he can do no further damage.
McCain, or, as he is better known, McBush, should be sent back to Arizona where he can do PR work for his wife's beer company.
As regards Hillary - well, take away her license to run for president.
Obama we'll send to Iran to meet with the bad guys. He seems to be the only one who knows that so long as you're talking you're not fighting; the only who has any sense of the catastrophe that would ensue from a nuclear conflict--a catastrophe from which the Earth would likely never recover! He's said he's willing to talk, providing certain safeguards were in place. He also said that if such conversations should lead to a dead end, he would authorize alternative actions, such as additional sanctions.
And we mustn't forget John Hagee, the guy who planted the Iranian nuclear war bug in the ear of Bush and other Washington and Israeli politicos; a warmonger who keeps agitating for a nuclear strike against Iran to bring about the End Times. Should, god forbid, his dream come true, and the warheads start flying, we'll strap the reverend to the very first bomb heading East. It won't be a problem as he's going to be one of the "raptured" anyway!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
In December 2007 the garbage collectors working Naples, Italy, and the whole of the Campania region quit collecting garbage because many of the dumps were filled to capacity.
According to an AP article by Alessandra Rizzo, "It [garbage collection] is a recurring problem - the result of years of bad government, the residents' protests and, officials say, mob infiltration." Now things are out of control.
In Naples, a city of over 1 million people, "Piles of garbage have been blocking sidewalks and streets ... forcing residents to wade through knee-high trash. The stench is prompting some residents to stay inside and others to wear masks. Some have taken to burning rubbish and knocking over refuse bins and have hurled stones at firefighters trying to put out the blazing trash."
Italy's premier, Silvio Berlusconi, has promised to take care of the problem and "will deploy the military to protect trash dumps around Naples ..." Unfortunately, the methods necessary to deal with the trash will take about 2 1/2 years to construct and put in place. That means that the stink will continue, at least on and off, for the foreseeable future.
Naples, Italy, might be understood as a metaphor for the United States under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The garbage created by the Bush administration and its policies over the past seven years has accumulated in gigantic piles across our fair land until the stench has become almost unbearable.
By garbage we're referring to the pervasive corruption that infests every level of the government, organized and authorized by the Bushites, and made even more nefarious by the fact they cover it with the cloak of religion and righteousness.
Consider, if you will, the non-stop lies which formed the basis for the so-called war in Iraq; the wilting, winless war in Afghanistan; the failure to even attempt to capture bin Laden; the bloated and corrupt military machine; the thousands of crooked private contractors in Iraq; and the unwillingness to provide our troops their essential needs. Note, too, that moving into the 6th year of the Iraqi adventure, the Bush administration has not the slightest idea as to how we might withdraw from Iraq without creating chaos. And the number of American military dead is now over 4,000 and growing.
Consider also the tax giveaways to the rich and the destruction of our economy; the Bush/Cheney foreign policy which has failed on every single front; the casual and unresponsive attitude toward environmental concerns; the hands-off approach to global warming.
Consider further the unwillingness to provide health care for our people; the caving into the pharmaceutical companies; the hand-in-glove approach to corporate lobbying; the refusal to open governmental records for review; the secret laws; the signing statements; the corrupting of the Department of Justice; the incredible failure to respond to national needs such as those created by Hurricane Katrina.
Nor should we forget the ignorant arrogance that led to a dismissal of the warnings of an impending 9/11 event; and we recall how that led to the fear-mongering Patriot Act, a Bushite travesty built on disrespect for our Constitution which culminated in the dismantling of our basic freedoms.
And we must remember the garbage promoted by Bush and company that torture is not torture and even if it is we should do it and by so doing we became our enemy.
More garbage, thanks to Mr. Bush and his cronies: the economy is in the toilet; the United States is in the throes of a recession that grows more severe each and every day; and we blissfully carry on a trade policy which benefits other countries while it destroys American industries...
This is the stench with which we live even as the garbage piles higher.
And, as in Naples, Italy, it will take a long time to clean up the mess. But, again, as in Naples, that's only part of the problem.
Once the mess is cleaned up, we must establish a system to ensure that such garbage is not allowed to accumulate again.
To do that we must elect honest, ethical, competent, intelligent, non-ideological, pragmatic people who are willing to work diligently to clean out the rottenness and begin afresh. We need people who will operate from the belief that our Constitution is the foundation document (not the Bible or any other book); who will raise high the banner that proclaims this country is comprised of "We, the people" which means all the people, not just the privileged few. We must elect persons who understand that even though a democracy operates on the principle that the majority rules, a democracy cannot long exist unless the rights of the minorities are respected and protected.
When that happens, our nation may be able once again to take its place among the most honorable of nations.
But first we have to get rid of the garbage!
We had a few relatively incompetent teachers on staff and their classrooms were an unruly mess. The children walked about the room as they pleased, and ignored the teacher's (often shouted) instructions to sit down. Papers, pens, pencils and a variety of debris flew through the air. Conversation was of such a volume that no one could hear the teacher's lecture. Every so often the teacher would "lose it" and begin screaming for everyone to sit down and shut up!
Generally, the hubbub settled to a low roar, but only momentarily.
These were the teachers who, in their incompetence, thought they had to "reward" students for behaving in the manner students were supposed to behave. So, if the children arrived in class on time, or carried a textbook with them, or actually sat quietly in their chair, etc., the teacher passed out candy, in defiance of the school regulation against candy in the classroom.
The students were quite aware that the teacher was breaking the school rule about candy in the classroom, which led, of course, to a relaxed attitude about all school rules on the part of the students. Not only so, but the poor teacher's attempt to bribe the children to act as they were supposed to act, backfired, and though they took the candy, they soon continued their misbehaving ways.
In fact, these candy-laden classrooms were the worst behaved in the entire school!
About this same time certain middle schools in several states -- primarily in the Midwest -- came up with a plan to bribe children with real money to attend school. The uproar was considerable and the school administrators responsible for that lame brained idea were forced into a defensive stance. Their rationale withered under much volatile criticism. I'm not sure of the outcome, but I do not believe that plan was ever put into operation. I certainly hope it was not!
Margaret McKeehan, in an article titled "Sex Ed in the Bible Belt," tells of her experiences with sex education in schools she attended in the Bible Belt. It is a humorous and poignant story yet afflicted with much sadness and despair. Suffice it to say her sexual education at the hands of imbecilic instructors left much to be desired.
Her middle school sex-ed class had left her "with one distinct impression: sex is painful. Nothing depicted it positively. My hormones were raging, but the actual idea of sex was repulsive and frightening." Things didn't improve in high school. In high school, sex ed was of the abstinence-only variety. Because "it was a public school ... they couldn't justify saving sex for marriage on religious grounds. Instead they justified it with social custom ... Virginity is a gift. Waiting is a gift. ..."
Now comes the "real topper," as Ms. McKeehan says. If you signed a promise not to have sex before marriage, you could get a free sandwich from Chick-fil-A! McKeehan writes, "I don't mean to state the obvious, but nothing could devalue a person more than selling his/her virginity for a chicken sandwich."
As with trying to bribe students to behave with candy, or bribing students to attend school, so with trying to bribe students to refrain from sex with a chicken sandwich: It is not only stupid, but it doesn't work! More than that, it reveals the moral emptiness of the persons in charge of the well-being of these young people.
Finally, there are has been a minor furor in recent days about a church in Georgia that is giving away gas cards to bribe people to come to church. The particular congregation engaged in this idiocy is First Baptist Church of Snellville. Now, you don't get the gas card just for showing up: you get a chance at one of two $500 gas cards.
If perceived interest in this promotion is a sign of success, it has done very well. Tracy Coenen in an article at WalletPop says the pastor told her the church had to put in an additional phone line just to handle all the calls.
The pastor defends the promotion "by saying that the gas card giveaway is not just about luring people into the church. He says that the church also wants to help people meet their physical needs, and help with purchasing gas is one of those needs."
Methinks two $500 cards is not really about helping "people meet their physical needs," and the pastor is full of crap. That rationale is so lame McCain wouldn't buy it. This pastor is all about "luring" people into church!
But it's not that big a deal. Like teachers giving candy to kid and sex education instructors giving chicken sandwiches to those who promise to remain virgins 'til marriage, the church has always had a bag full of gimmicks to lure people into church. In the old days, there were picnics and potluck dinners; there were gold pins for perfect attendance and Sunday School Christmas plays (a sure way to get parents to church at least once a year!). Today, you'll still find picnics and potlucks, but you'll be enticed by concerts featuring "Christian" superstars, big screen TVs, full orchestras, punk bands, huge speakers, dance tunes set to "Christian" lyrics, etc.
The biggest "lure," however (at least in a negative sense), has been the threat of hell! God WANTS you to attend church. God insists you attend church! By failing to do so you put your very soul in peril!
The point of all this is that bribery is always an unethical and ultimately unhappy way to coerce people to behave as you think they should.
And in the long run, bribery never works!
But isn't it interesting that it is so hard to get people to come to church? How many children, for example, if left alone by their parents, would voluntarily attend church or Sunday School (without the bribes)? How many people wend their way to a worship service on Saturday or Sunday because they really want to be there? How many attend worship because they are "encouraged" by a significant other? How many go to church because they feel guilty if they don't?
I'm not going to try to answer those questions, but I think if you were to take a poll of worshipers in attendance at synagogue or a church on a Saturday or Sunday, you would find the great majority would rather be someplace else.
I could be wrong, of course.
Fred Leonhardt of Portland, Oregon wrote to MM referencing a "Bushism of the Day" from Slate magazine. When Bush was asked what advice he would give to the next president, he said:
"Take the Middle East seriously because that's the center of -- that's the place where people get so despondent and despair that they're willing to come and takes lives of U.S. citizens." -- Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
Mr. Leonhardt asks us to imagine "the MSM [Main Stream Media] reaction if Barack Obama had said the 9-11 hijackers had been motivated by despondency and despair."
My question: Why does Bush get a free pass from the MSM on this incredibly stupid remark?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"Major leaders of the American religious right," he said, "made predictions that same sex marriage would cause the decline or destruction of the traditional family and the institution of marriage. Some warned of the destruction of Western Civilization or of a sinister conspiracy against Christianity."
We've known all along, of course, that leaders of the American religious right seldom have a clue. We've known right along that their beliefs are seldom related to reality, but rather are derived from their spiked interpretations of certain biblical passages that have no more relevance for us today than the stories of Zeus and Thor. Because many Bibles are bound in leather, we call such views "hidebound."
So, were they right or were they wrong about the "decline or destruction of the traditional family and the institution of marriage"?
In a new article Wilson writes that "Almost four years after the alleged civilization-destroying event, MA is second in the US with the lowest rate of divorce, second to Pennsylvania (the MA rate is 2.27 per 1,000, the PA rate is 2.2 per 1,000) and MA rates of teen pregnancy, already close to the lowest in the US, continue to drop, down over 2% in 2000.
"By contrast, gay marriage un-friendly, abstinence-only sex-ed reliant Texas now leads the nation in both teen pregnancy and repeat teen pregnancy and Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia in Texas have continued a multi-year rise according to official TX 2007 statistics."
These data will not change the mind of the leaders of the Religious right, of course, but it's nice to have backup when they begin spewing their hate-filled rhetoric against gays, science, and common sense.
On May 15, in Columbus, Ohio, John McCain, gave a "somewhat utopian speech" which exposed "the quixotic nature of his foreign-policy ambitions."
Or so says Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate.
But McCain's speech contained something else. This Hitchens refers to as "one of his [McCain's] smaller and more realistic and achievable domestic proposals..."
"'I will ask Congress,' said the presumptive Republican nominee, 'to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the prime minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.'"
Hitchens likes this idea a lot. It is, he says, "a reformist proposal with quite a long and interesting pedigree, and it speaks well, I think, of the man proposing it."
Maybe. Hitchens still thinks the war in Iraq was a wonderful idea so that gives you some idea of where he stands in the political spectrum. But, it might work to the extent that it would open up lines of communication between the White House and the Congress, lines of communication that have been pretty much shut down for eight years in favor of royal decrees from a regal prezident to a petrified and powerless legislative body.
A major problem, however, is that of substance. What would McCain and Congress talk about? McCain, surrounded by lobbyists and cronies, still doesn't know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, nor is he aware that al-Qaeda was never the problem in Iraq. There is a huge gap between what McCain should know and what he does know.
Still...it ain't that bad an idea so far as it goes. It does, however, show that McCain is a man much more comfortable with dialog in analog than with digital 21st Century technology. McCain is a noted bullshitter, and loves to sit around and tell tall tales. He's one of the good old boys, perhaps more at home in the proverbial smoke-filled back room than in a space filled with computers, WiFi and the Internet.
So, let's do some comparison shopping. In an article on TheAtlantic.com titled "HisSpace," Marc Ambinder says that "revolutions in communications technology have always bestowed great gifts on those politicians savvy enough to grasp their full potential." He provides several examples.
First, Ambinder suggests that Andrew Jackson was able to better form and organize the Democratic Party because of improvements to the printing press -- "...he courted newspaper editors and publishers ... with a zeal then unknown among political leaders."
Even more important for Jackson was the postal service, "which was coming into its own as he reached the presidency ..." The postal service gave Jackson the opportunity to tell his story to the country via "the distribution network that the postal service had created." His 1828 campaign used biographical pamphlets delivered by the postal service to reinforce his "heroic image."
Ambinders notes that Abraham Lincoln was thrust into the national consciousness when transcripts of the famous Lincoln and Douglas debates were reprinted nationwide in newspapers "which were just then reaching critical mass in distribution beyond the few Eastern cities where they had previously flourished."
And Franklin Delano Roosevelt "used radio to make his case for a dramatic redefinition of government itself, quickly mastering the informal tone best suited to the medium. In his fireside chats, Roosevelt reached directly into American living rooms at pivotal moments of his presidency."
Nor can we forget how the first televised presidential debate in American history helped propel John F. Kennedy into the Oval Office.
Ambinder says that "if Barack Obama eventually wins the presidency, it will be in no small part because he understood the medium [of the Internet] more fully than his opponents do." Obama has used YouTube for speeches, and he has organized his support through the Internet, with "8,000 Web-based affinity groups, 750,000 active volunteers, and 1,276,000 donors..."
More importantly, and in contrast to the McCain style, Obama "Clearly intends to use the Web ... if he is elected president." He will do this in such a way, says Ambinder, as "to transform governance just as he has transformed campaigning." He plans to resurrect Roosevelt's fireside chats, but he will use the Internet, not radio. Just imagine, says Ambinder, "how Obama's political army, presumably intact, might be mobilized to lobby for major legislation with just a few keystrokes ... he might change the political culture of Washington simply by overwhelming it."
There's more. "...Obama seems to promise ... a participatory democracy in which the opportunities for participation have been radically expanded." Thus Obama has suggested a "public, Google-like database of every federal dollar spent. He aims to post every piece of non-emergency legislation online for five days before he signs it so that Americans can comment. A White House blog--also with comments--would be a near certainty. Overseeing this new apparatus would be a chief technology officer."
I find all of this tremendously exciting and opportune. My God, to have a president who can actually read without moving his lips; who knows the difference between Google and gargle; who doesn't need to consult a right wing think tank every time he wants an idea gives one the goosebumps.
Ambinder says, "If Obama wins, and if he can harness the Web as a unifying force once the voting is done, he could be a powerful president indeed--the kind that might even deliver on some of the audacious promises that Obama the candidate has made."
Finally, though, a word of caution. None of this would come easy. In many ways, it is uncharted territory and carries a variety of unseen dangers. "...the Web, like the politics it seeks to transform, is uruly and fickle."
But just think of the possibilities!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Israel was created by the United Nations in 1947 along with a Palestinian State, carved out of what was left of the British Mandate created after WWI. The British first carved out a portion which it gave to King Abdullah, a refugee from Saudi Arabia, as a present or reward for not joining Germany in WWI. Britain and France also split part of the land and created Syria and Lebanon, these states also arising as a result of the allied victory in WWI.
For many centuries, Jews maintained a continuous presence in Jerusalem and throughout the Biblical "Holy Land." (Muslims were late-comers as Islam was not founded until the 7th Century C.E.) In 1900 the population of Jerusalem was primarily Jewish as it had been for hundreds of years. While there was never a nation or state known as Palestine, the area generally thought of as Palestine was inhabited by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
During the British Mandate these groups were considered Palestinians. The Palestinian Brigade of both WW1 and WW2, which fought for the Allies, consisted of only Jews. The Arabs sided with Germany in both wars.
Mohammed never set foot in Jerusalem and Muslim prayers are directed toward Mecca. Jews always directed prayers toward Jerusalem and were the only people to ever make it their capital.
The day after the UN created the new states of Palestine and Israel the Jews accepted their new state, while the Arabs rejected theirs. Six Arab nations, (all members of the UN) immediately invaded Israel with the goal of driving the Jews into the sea and destroying the new Jewish state. But Israel prevailed and repelled the attackers.
Trans Jordan annexed much of the former area and changed its name to Jordan and kept half of Jerusalem. The Jewish Quarter of the city was destroyed and Jews were barred from entering Jerusalem to worship.
During the Six Day War, Israel recaptured Jerusalem, and named it their capital. The Arab world has consistently, from the outset, refused to recognize Israel and refuses to accept displaced Palestinian Arabs as citizens, preferring to keep them in UN supported camps where they have languished for the past 60 years.
Egypt and Jordan are the only countries to eventually make peace and recognize Israel. It is interesting to note, however, that Jews can neither live in nor own land in either nation.
Israel is the only nation not recognized by all members of the UN. It is not accepted as a member of any of the UN’s regional organizations. When Israels ambassador to the UN rises to speak, representatives of 22 other member states get up and leave!
Israel is the only nation treated in such a manner!
One cannot help but wonder if anti-Semitism is responsible for this treatment. And even though Israel has fought and won five wars, peace remains elusive because of the "rejectionist" Arab states.
By Bob Poris
There are a few exceptions. For example, a few months back, the pastor of a mega-church in Minnesota had the audacity to suggest that the Christian faith is not a political system nor is it exemplified by Republican right wing politics. Several thousand parishioners walked out and took their religion elsewhere but so far as I know the church survived and continues to prosper.
For the most part, however, those journalists and investigators who travel the country reporting on the freakiness of fundamentalist Christianity present an almost unanimous picture of a peculiar form of Christianity that has identified itself with the politics of the radical right.
In many fundamentalist churches, everything and everyone has become politicized and a person's Christianity is defined in large part by his/her political views. It is simply inconceivable, for example, that a member of John Hagee's Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas would claim membership in the Democratic Party. [It could also be dangerous!]
In a recent essay, I noted that this combination of faith and politics represents a significant religious metamorphosis in this country: fundamentalist and evangelical Christians have mixed a radical political ideology into their religious beliefs. They no longer base their political views on what their religion teaches, but their religion is now defined by this radical political ideology.
Matt Taibbi, in his book, "The Great Derangement," captures the reality of this metamorphosis in a deliciously satirical description of a worship service led by "Hagee the younger," in a chapel at the Cornerstone Church.
Taibbi says that Hagee's son "seemed to follow the Bush model of political heredity, being both dumber and more vicious than his dad. ...
"He [Hagee the younger] began slowly, asking the crowd if there was anyone here who was concerned about global warming and the environment. ...
"Pastor Hagee then snorted and said something about being tired of being told that using nonrecyclable cans was destroying the world. I am not of the opinion that that is true, he said. Doesn't sound right to me, he said. Then he mentioned the Oscars from the previous weekend, and the Oscar Al Gore received for his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
"He asked if anyone had seen the excellent speech by our former vice president, spitting the words 'vice president' out like they were dead flesh. When the chapel filled with hisses, he plowed on. 'I felt a need to rebut this individual,' he said, and proceeded to rail against Gore, the environment, and global warming for a half hour.
"'These environmentalists,' he said, 'they're trying to tell you that somehow all of these terrible things are going to happen because of us. Something WE did.
"'They want to tell you,' he went on, 'that it was America that did something bad, because they want to be able to tell us what we did wrong and send us a bill for it. China burns coal like--they burn so much coal, like it was nothing. But it's all America's fault, of course. If you ask anybody who knows whether America is a polluter, they'll tell you, America is the cleanest country there is.'
"'Amen!' shouted the crowd.
"'Now,' he said, 'why do they want you to believe this? Because they want to control what you do. They want to control where you go, what countries you go to, what cars you drive. They want to use the environment as a way to control the world.'
"'Amen!' I [Taibbi] shouted.
"'I'll tell you want they want to do,' he said. 'They want to use the environment to force America to reduce its population. And how do they want to do that? Through abortion.'
" ... There were more Amens ..."
Taibbi says that during this "religious" farce, Hagee the younger made several false statements about the American population, an "environmental" meeting in Brazil, and The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Then the son of Hagee started in again on global warming.
"'These people, what they do is, they tell you that something is a problem when it isn't,' he said. 'That is how they control you. And who else does that?'
"'The Devil!' some voices shouted.
"'The Devil, that's right,' he said. 'You know who else? Hitler did that. What did he say Europe's problem was?'
"'Jews!' the voices cried out.
"'The Jews, that's right. Now, were the Jews a problem in Europe?'
"'Of course not,' he said. 'Of course the Jews weren't a problem. And that's exactly the same thing they're doing with global warming!'
"'Hear, hear!' shouted Brian [sitting close to Taibbi]
"Amen!" I shouted.
"'They say we're all going to die because the ice caps are going to melt," he snorted. 'No we're not. We just gonna get wet--IF they melt.'
"The crowd roared.
"'They want you to be afraid that aerosol is going to contaminate the planet,' he went on. 'So what? Don't worry about it. The earth belongs to God. And God...'
"The crowd finished the rest of his sentence along with him:
"'...did not instill us with an attitude of fear!'
"'Aerosol,' he sneered. 'Aerosol destroying the earth. Ridiculous. Why, if aerosol could kill, everyone on the set with Jan Crouch of TBN woulda been dead a long time ago!'
The sermon ended soon after that witless joke. The "worship" service, as Taibbi describes it, consisted mainly of a political rally with a bit of God thrown in for good measure. But this fundamentalist God is a relatively new invention: this God has seen fit to leave very strange, hidden messages in esoteric Hebrew writings of long ago--writings that only certain people with the proper attitude and intellect, e.g. John Hagee, are able to properly interpret. This new God, properly interpreted, is a dyed-in-the-wool right wing Republican who is less concerned with the problems facing his "chosen" people in Israel, or the horrors of Darfur, or the terror wreaked by Mother Nature in Burman and China, or the everyday, run-of-the-mill violence committed in his name in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in numerous other venues, than he is in the "terrible" things going on in the United States--the fact that the public schools are cesspools of iniquity; the inability of proper Christians to establish a God-loving government; the threat to traditional marriage posed by homosexuality; the law against praying in Jesus name in public places, etc.
The Republican Party has a slight problem as we approach the November elections. Actually, it may turn into quite a large problem. Many right wing Christians and other right wing loonies in the Party do not particularly like John McCain. Even such amoral, unethical, vile creatures as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh had nasty things to say about McCain--they've since changed their tune, of course, when he became the presumptive Republican nominee. Now they are calling his possible opponents the names with which they initially had branded McCain. Nevertheless, the fact that they initially expressed hostility toward McCain indicates a deep-seated dissatisfaction with his candidacy.
James Dobson, the Colorado poohbah who runs Focus on the Family, has said publicly he will not vote for McCain. Dobson, like Limbaugh, has millions of ditto-heads who can't think for themselves and if Dobson says don't vote, they will sit on their hands at home on election day. McCain, who several years ago had several unflattering things to say about extreme right wackos like Robertson and Falwell, realized in this election cycle he needed their goodwill, so he flip-flopped (again), and began pandering for their endorsements. With a few exceptions, he got those endorsements, even though it took a year of pleading before John Hagee succumbed.
Even so, it appears McCain does not have the enthusiastic support of the fundamentalist Christian/political religion. Because this segment of our society makes up such a large mass of Republican votes, McCain could lose the general election if these folks go on vacation in November.
From our point of view, that would be wonderful. Some might even conclude there is a god!
From the point of view of the Christian religious/political right wing, however, a McCain defeat might strengthen the notion that neither of the current political parties adequately represent their interests, in particular their concern that a Christian government be established for this Christian nation. Who knows, maybe if McCain bites the dust in the fall, the radical right Christian politicos would establish a new political party, called "The National Christian Party," or "The Founding Father Party," or maybe "The Christian Republican Party."
I can see it now: The Dream Ticket of The Christian Republican Party - Tom DeLay for president; John Hagee for vice president.
What a nightmare!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The following came to my attention the other day and I'm passing it on as I believe it to be of critical importance.
Israel's fundamental case in a nutshell - from Beyond Images
The celebrations for 'Israel at 60' are still continuing.
But in Israel's global battle of ideas, there's not much cause for celebration.
Sure, there have been stirring and supportive speeches by some Western politicians. But politicians come and go.
In the current intellectual, media and cultural climate, it's cool to be hostile to Israel, and unpopular to be supportive.
Historical revisionism, falsehoods, demonisation and lack of context abound. Israel's history, its rights, and its legitimacy are all increasingly obscured.
This long-term trend in opinion encourages violence against Israel. And it emboldens and rewards the Islamist mindset.
Some people ask: 'why should Israel have to explain its right to exist as a country? Why should it have to articulate its fundamental case? No-one questions Sweden's right to exist?'
The truth is, Israel is different. The history of the Jewish people, and the circumstances in which the country was established, are unusual.
The promotion by mainstream Western media of the Arab idea that it was Israel's creation which was a 'naqba' (catastrophe), rather than the Arab reaction to Israel's creation, shows yet again how urgently Israel's fundamental case needs to be reaffirmed.
That's the purpose of a new document on the Beyond Images website - Israel's Fundamental Case.
Our aim is simply to restate the fundamental national rights of the Jewish people in a nutshell, and explain their aspirations for the future. We have worked very hard to make this document non-partisan, fair and positive-minded, distilling many articles, books and other works into a few concise paragraphs, which run to just 8 pages in total.
It's a tool designed for use by busy people who wish to engage with open-minded people in Israel's battle of ideas.
Click here for Israel's Fundamental Case. It has been published on the home page of Beyond Images.
We are confident that it can be of value to you, and help you educate others about Israel.
Please take a look and spread the word.
Beyond ImagesIsrael at 60. Celebration through education