Saturday, November 8, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I believe Washington will stop at nothing to bring Obama down for having the audacity to propose that "regular people" in America will take precedence over entrenched Washington insiders.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Place Boat# Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Total Pts
1 I-45 A. BURDICK 3 1 1 2 2 9
2 M-9 T. BURTON 9 5 2 1 5 22
3 V-37 A. BARKOW 1 16 3 3 4 27
4 V-123 K. JEWETT 7 4 4 13 1 29
5 X-751 J. GLUEK 17 6 16 12 3 54
6 I-71 K. WRUK 11 11 14 8 12 56
7 GL-7 T. SUTHERLAND 10 18 7 10 13 58
8 WH-77 T. MUNROE 22 9 9 7 25 72
9 I-0 B. PORTER 2 2 46 BFD 4 21 75
10 MA-14 C. HORROCKS 33 13 8 20 14 88
11 W-47 L. HILL 4 8 21 29 28 90
12 CR-100 B. WALTER 23 10 18 31 9 91
13 D-301 M. HETZLER 14 22 12 18 27 93
14 CR-66 R. TERRY 12 25 46 DNC 5 7 95
15 J-80 J. SCHLOESSER 26 23 10 21 18 98
16 I-14 M. JORDON 15 30 11 27 16 99
17 WA-99 C. CALL 8 19 46 BFD 16 11 100
18 D-55 T. O'KEEFE 16 22 46 DNC 6 6 106
19 H-13 P. HEANEY 24 28 23 14 17 106
20 H-7 L. SCHOOR 46 DNF 20 17 11 15 109
21 I-17 C. BEAUDAY/C. HARRETT 13 3 6 46 DNC 46 DNC 114
22 TO-101 A. BRERETON 5 26 13 25 46 DNF 115
23 X-11 C. BARKOW 6 7 46 BFD 46 DNC 10 115
24 D-20 D. EVERHART 27 21 19 17 33 117
25 CH-6 R. TURNER 25 14 46 BFD 9 26 120
26 H-33 T. TIEFENTHALER 35 12 15 35 24 121
27 WA-21 D. IRMSCHER 34 33 25 28 8 128
28 V-74 W. GRAVES 19 46 DNF 5 15 46 DNF 131
29 D-42 R. BEERS 18 34 29 24 31 136
30 WA-47 B. HENDRICH 30 15 46 BFD 23 23 137
31 GL-31 J. SUTHERLAND 39 17 20 37 29 142
32 I-22 M. GANNON 46 DNF 29 28 26 20 149
33 X-20 P. MAAS 40 24 22 34 30 150
34 X-4 E. QUADRACCI 28 46 DNF 26 36 19 155
35 CR-12 R. HALLIDAY 29 46 DNF 27 22 34 158
36 SC-22 W. HANCKEL 20 27 24 46 DNC 46 DNC 163
37 WA-200 R. LEMBERG 32 35 31 33 35 166
38 I-818 J. SIMMS 41 46 DNF 46 DNS 19 32 184
39 V-15 E. GOOD 31 31 30 46 DNC 46 DNC 184
40 D-1883 B. BUZZELL 46 DNC 46 DNC 46 DNC 30 22 190
41 D-66 P. MATTISON 21 46 DNC 46 DNC 32 46 DNC 191
42 I-564 S. SCHALK 36 46 DNF 46 DNS 46 DNC 46 DNC 220
43 I-333 F. DAVENPORT 37 46 DNF 47 DNS 46 DNC 46 DNC 221
44 TO-33 S. JOHANSON 38 46 DNF 46 DNC 46 DNF 46 DNC 222
45 WA-8 J. B. VAN METER 42 46 DNC 46 DNC 46 DNC 46 DNC 226
Here is his actual voting record.
So the conservative National Journal compared Clinton and Obama. She was ranked 16th and he was ranked 1st in "liberal voting."
Guess how many times they voted differently? Twice. Does that really make Obama significantly more "liberal" than Clinton?
The hilarious thing is that Clinton voted against establishment of a Senate Office of Public Integrity while Obama and McCain voted for it's establishment.
The second vote they differed on was when she voted against allowing certain immigrants to stay in the United States while renewing their visas, while he voted for that.
That is it.
Now let's look at how often Senators voted with their party:
Here is the link for the 110th Congress.
Obama scores a 96.7% rating and Clinton scores a 97.2% rating. Humm, Obama must have voted with the Republicans more than Hillary. Seven Senators voted with their Party more often than Obama. I am sure it will surprise no one that Obama is a Democrat and votes that way.
The Democrat scoring lowest, in voting the party line, is Ben Nelson of Nebraska, with a 79.3% correlation to his party. The next worst is Landrieu and Bayh at 83%
Clearly most Democrats, and Republicans, vote predominantly along the party line. Republicans, surprisingly enough, have voted more often with Democrats than Democrats have voted with Republicans.
My conclusion is that calling Obama the "most liberal Senator" is either disingenuous or naive. It may make good political hay for the reactionary or uneducated masses, but it does not tell us much in terms of how liberal or conservative he is relative to other legislators.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Josh and his wife are new parents. I think Bill is without children, but writes books like "Kids Are Americans Too" and "The O'Reilly Factor For Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families."
Who would you want as a father?
Bill O'Reilly (you will notice between the time I posted this and now, this video is "no longer available." Humm... O'Reilly being able to get this thing off the net should scare the hell out of Americans.)
Here is an edited version:
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
"About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday, from a polling place, by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.
Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.
The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.
"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives."
What is really funny is that they were turned away by one of their own Sisters at the convent.
Yet again the Indiana Voter ID Law : a real law enacted to solve a pretend problem. Unfortunately the Indiana Law will cause a whole bunch of legitimate voters to be disenfranchised.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The advertisement raises the scepter of Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright, beginning with a photo of Obama and Wright together and a clip of Wright's contentious remarks about America.
"He's just too extreme for North Carolina," the narrator says in the 30-second spot.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
"One of the arguments the Clinton campaign is making to the supers, hoping they'll overturn the will of the voters, is that Obama can't win certain demographics. Yet looking at the exit poll numbers, it's clear that Obama has actually been making serious gains the past six weeks.
Obama's percent of the vote:
60 and older 28 38
White 34 38
White men 39 44
White women 31 34
Less than $50K 42 46
No college 40 38
College 51 49
Catholic 36 31
Protestant 36 53
What was a 10.5% win in demographically friendly Ohio has become an 8.6% win in similar Pennsylvania, except the state was even less black and with a much smaller youth voter population (Pennsylvania's seniors accounted for 32 percent of the electorate, compared to 23 percent in Ohio).
And, those gains were made despite the Wright controversy as well as manufactured bullshit about "bitter" and flag pins and whatnot.
On top of that, Obama has had to run against Hillary Clinton, against former President of the United States Bill Clinton, and against John McCain and the entire GOP apparatus, which has trained its guns on Obama hoping to give Clinton a boost.
Yet he continues to gain among most of Clinton's best demographics, is still raising more money, leads comfortably in delegates, leads comfortably in the popular vote, leads in states won, leads in the national polls, and does better in the head-to-head matchups against McCain.
So why should the supers spark an intra-party civil war by overturning the will of the electorate again?"
Monday, April 21, 2008
Just back from being under fire in Sadr City this week, award-winning journalist Leila Fadel, Baghdad Bureau Chief for McClatchy, gives viewers on-the-ground analysis of the latest events and close-up look at the state of the war.
The blog by McClatchy reporters and staff is called "Inside Iraq"
From the blog:
"He told them how he killed a young man in Al Anbar province west of Iraq.
This killer along with his gang stopped cars and buses on the highway passing through Al Anbar to Jordan and Syria. He said he took aside one of the men to kill.
He was begging the killer not to kill him, his tears were not in fear of death, were not to beg to spare his life, it was for the sake of the woman he loved.
"Please let me marry her then kill me" the killer recalled him saying.
In his conversations with other prisoners, including my cousin who told me this story, the killer recalled his victim as saying his Juliet's family refused their marriage for ten years and then his family called him in Syria to tell him that her family agreed at last. He was coming back to get
married to the woman of his dreams, and she was waiting for him.
The killer told the men surrounding him that the young man begged him not to kill him, and he promised he would come back after ten days - but what love can this killer understand? He shot him in the head and killed him on the spot.
In the killer's nightmares, the young man says to him, "I begged you … Please let me marry her then kill me, I promised you to come back, Why?"
He told the men surrounding him that he had killed many but he doesn’t remember or regret any of them but killing this man. The killer was sentenced to death.
One of the inmates who was waiting for his imminent release thought it worthwhile to go and to find that woman and tell her: Your man begged for his life to marry you -- not for fear of death itself -- and he didn’t let you down. He was murdered in the middle of nowhere.
So, he asked the killer to give him the name of the victim.
The killer replied he didn’t know, he asked from what tribe? The killer didn’t know, he asked from what sect? The killer didn’t know, he asked him from what province? The killer didn’t know.
Then he asked him, then why you killed him? The killer said he cannot remember, whether it was the victim's haircut or the way he was dressed or the music pouring from his car.
I hope and wish that one day someone will tell the woman he loved how he died; someone will tell her that those killers who kill every day do not distinguish between people, their color or their belief.
Someone to tell her that those killers are addicted to killing and one way or another they are punished.
Someone to tell her that your man didn’t fear death; his fear was to die without marrying you. "
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
From The Hill:
"Ten of the 14 people Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) hired early last year have left the freshman’s office, according to public documents and sources familiar with the personnel changes.
The casualty list includes two chiefs of staff, a district director, a press secretary, two legislative assistants, a staff assistant, a caseworker, an outreach and grants coordinator and a district scheduler."
Why can't candidates say "look at your tax return. If line 7 is over 250k your taxes will go up. If line 7 is under 250k then your taxes will stay the same, or go down.
If line 13 is where you make most of your income you will see your taxes rise to about 20%, from the current rate of 15%. If you do not have much income on line 13 then don't worry about tax increases."
For most wealth Americans, the vast majority of income shows up on lines 9a, line 9b and line 13. These are taxed at a 15% rate, far below what most Americans pay on line 7 at 25%.
Look at your own return. Would a tax increase on lines other than line 7 make a difference? Probably not.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"Back in February, the AP broke the story that the White House had secretly modified a proposed rule to crack down on contract fraud. The rule, originally drafted by the Justice Department, was intended to force contractors to police themselves and report evidence of fraud or abuse. But the White House's version of the rule specifically exempted contractors working overseas on contracts that exceeded $5 million.
The Justice Department, which needs all the help it can get in busting corrupt contractors, was dismayed. But it made the major overseas contractors (like, say, Blackwater, KBR, CACI International, etc.), who had been opposing the rule, very happy.
When the AP asked why the White House had inserted the loophole, no answers were forthcoming. A spokeswoman from the Office of Management and Budget would only say that it was a "proposed rule," and that they were reviewing public comments.
And that was it. Over the ensuing months, members of Congress from both parties denounced the rule and vowed investigations. Even the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction publicly criticized the rule. But the White House otherwise stayed mum.
The first Congressional hearing was set for today. And the White House has let it be known that the loophole is gone -- and that it was all a big misunderstanding"
Monday, April 14, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
"Obama Responds to Charges of Elitism
Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 06:32:59 PM PDT
What Obama said:
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
What the McCain campaign said:
Asked to respond, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt called it a "remarkable statement and extremely revealing."
"It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," Schmidt said. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."
What Clinton said:
"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter," Clinton said this afternoon. "Well, that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children.
"Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families." "
What Obama said in response:
Friday, April 4, 2008
Did I just hear him calling a soldier in Iraq "two bit?" Let me get this straight. He had a soldier wake up his commanding officer at 5:30 AM so he could work out? Where did he think he was, Cancun?
Can you imagine if a Democrat said this, Limbaugh would be apoplectic.
McHenry is getting rocketed in the Green Zone, five years after the invasion, and he has the guts to say the surge is working. How would he know if it wasn't?
Update: It turns out that the security guard was not a member of the military but a "foreign contractor." I am not sure this excuses the behavior.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
"It would be irresponsible to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, and the US economy in near shambles without finishing the job," the President said. "And besides, Dick Cheney says there's so much more he can do for the nation's honor with another four years."
At a White House briefing, Dana Perino parried questions from an astonished press corps. When MSNBC's Gregory asked Perino if the President "hasn't gone too far," she noted that Bush's actions were no more unconstitutional than dozens of other actions the President has taken in the last eight years, and all of them had been eventually sanctioned by the Democrats and the media.
"We've broken treaties, waged aggressive wars, committed war crimes, kidnapped people, tortured them, put them in secret prisons, suspended habeas corpus, politicized the Justice Department, demolished the Fourth Amendment, defied Congress' requests for information, corrupted the regulatory system, kept a three trillion dollar war off budget while adding trillions to the national debt, and presided over the worst economic stewardship since Herber Hoover." "Why are you making such a fuss about this," Perino asked? Perino did not respond to Helen Thomas' who asked, "why shouldn't the American people run you crooks out of town?"
Official Washington was shocked by the White House announcement, although reactions were spllt along party lines. Democrats denounced the President's decision, promising that they would try to pass a resolution condemning the President's decision. Senate leaders said they might even try to attach the non-binding resolution to the next Iraq funding authorization. "This will not stand," Senator Reid declared. In the House, reporters asked Speaker Pelosi whether she thought the House should consider impeachment proceedings, but Pelosi claimed that impeachment proceedings would be a distraction for the entire third term.
Speaking from the campaign trail, Senator Clinton said the President's actions were "too little, too late." She added, "If I got a third term, I'd be ready on day one." Senator Obama gave a major policy speech explaining that this was the inevitable result of indulging a frat-boy President without any accountability, and that both parties must bear some responsibility. "We need a different kind of President," he declared.
Most Republicans expressed support for the President's decision. "We're teetering on the brink of the worst recession since the Great Depression and in the middle of an endless war and it's clear only this President has the faith to think we can get out of this mess," said Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader. Other Republicans, speaking anonymously, hinted they were relieved; they were fearful of a McCain Presidency because, they said, in some "McCain moment," he might become confused or angry and start a war with the wrong country for no reason.
John McCain expressed his support for what he called the President's "courageous decision," noting that all he ever wanted to do was serve a Presidency larger than himself. Speaking to reporters, McCain first noted that he supported Bush's decision to invade Iran after 9/11, but when told by Senator Lieberman that Bush had invaded Iraq, McCain changed his statement to refer to "those extremist Arabs." Reporters then overheard Lindsey Graham whispering "they're Persians, John; Persians." "Oh yeah," McCain added, "that's what I meant."
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the President's decision, "the most patriotic act I've ever seen. We've finally got a President who understands that what America needs is strong ruler to keep the liberals' hands off our country." Lou Dobbs, however, asked whether the President's decision wasn't a secret socio-ethno-centric plan to reintroduce amnesty for lawless aliens.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann promised "the mother of all special commentaries" tonight.
Predictably, the liberal blogosphere was apoplectic. Several noted that Bush had previously said he would not seek a third term, while others focused on the fact that McCain had repeatedly confused Persians and Arabs. Kos, not negotiating to sell out to Rupert Murdoch, (h/t LS) promised to add a new panel to the next Yearly Kos to discuss what to do, but it's likely to include another petition.
Happy April 1st, everyone."
If you agree with my statement that immigration is a complex issue, then ask yourself why we have a simplistic quota system regarding immigration. Also ask yourself why no one is working with the countries on a reasonable immigration policy. For instance why have we not heard of any high level discussion between our government and Mexico, or Central American countries? If immigration is such a "hot" issue then why are we not trying to do something constructive to solve it reasonably. Where is John McCain on this? He throws a bone to the "fence people" and then intimates that the issue is more complex.
John McCain on immigration:
"As president, I will secure the border. I will restore the trust Americans
should have in the basic competency of their government. A secure border is an
essential element of our national security. Tight border security includes not
just the entry and exit of people, but also the effective screening of cargo at
our ports and other points of entry.
But a secure border will contribute to
addressing our immigration problem most effectively if we also:
Recognize the importance of building strong allies in Mexico and Latin America who reject the siren call of authoritarians like Hugo Chavez, support freedom and
democracy, and seek strong domestic economies with abundant economic
opportunities for their citizens.
Recognize the importance of pro-growth policies -- keeping government spending in check, holding down taxes, and cutting unnecessary regulatory burdens -- so American businesses can hire and pay the best.
Recognize the importance of a flexible labor market to keep employers in business and our economy on top. It should provide skilled Americans and immigrants with opportunity. Our education system should ensure skills for our younger workers, and our retraining and assistance programs for displaced workers must be modernized so they can pursue those opportunities
Recognize the importance of assimilation of our immigrant population, which
includes learning English, American history and civics, and respecting the
values of a democratic society.
Recognize that America will always be that
"shining city upon a hill," a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking a
better life built on hard work and optimism."
Improve Our Immigration System
Obama believes we must fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.
Bring People Out of the Shadows
Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.
Work with Mexico
Obama believes we need to do more to promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration."
Both of these candidates seem to have a better grasp of the complexity of the issue than we have seen these past seven years.
I love the quote I heard last week, "Show me a 50' fence and I will show you a 51' ladder."
Monday, March 31, 2008
We have lost the last of a generation of great designer architects. My family and I will miss Ralph, the kind, older man, living on the corner of our street.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Nice words. But the fact remains that the Church he belongs too and the pastor he loves do not identify themselves as american. No..they identfy themselves as Africans. This is from Obama's church: "We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization." I don't care what he believes...as long as he is honest about it. And he is not. This church is afro-centric and speaks very inflammatory rhetoric against the US and white people. Obaman cannot possibly represent all of americans when his religious and philosophical core is divisive.
March 20, 2008 12:18 PM
Good point, though I wonder how much of this rhetoric is designed to give the congregation a feeling of place and belonging. African Americans have often not been made to feel that they "belonged." They have been treated as "other" by the powerful in America. It seems natural for them to create a feeling of belonging, that those who have rejected them cannot claim.
Were I to have a defining characteristic, that advertised me as of Scottish heritage, and if being of Scottish heritage denied me a place here in America, I might also try to find my place in my parents country of origin. The interesting thing is that African Americans would be just as rejected in Africa as they have been her in America. They would be seen as Ameircans not Africans. It is a difficult place for them to be. I am willing to cut them some slack.
I also do not believe that Barak Obama has any designs on being other than American. He is clearly trying to put forth an agenda that is more healing and lacking in divisiveness, than any other candidate. I believe we need a politician like Obama right now.
March 22, 2008 10:03 AM
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
"A More Perfect Union"
Constitution CenterPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution - a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part - through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign - to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together - unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts - that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely - just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems - two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters....And in that single note - hope! - I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories - of survival, and freedom, and hope - became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame about...memories that all people might study and cherish - and with which we could start to rebuild."
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments - meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods - parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement - all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it - those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations - those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today - a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I can imagine my wife saying, “dude, you are on your own for this press conference. I may choose to work through this with you, but I did not run for governor, you did. I did not sleep with some hussy, you did. You stabbed me in the back. Don’t expect me to suck it up in front of the press.”
I can also imagine her saying “OK, I will stand next to you only if I can slap you silly at some time during the press conference.”
I wonder what women are thinking when they see Ms. Spitzer standing there? Do they think, “she has to stand by him because she said: ‘for better or worse, until death do us part.’” Or, do they think, “not me, I would cut his *&^% off.” Or, do they think, “I will stand there when you sign over every single thing we own.”
I don’t even know what men think when they see this. Perhaps they think “wow dude, that totally cannot have been worth it.” Or, “note to self: don’t run for office.” Or, “doesn't he know about the Internet?”
I can only say this. Were I Ms. Spitzer, I would say, You clearly did not think of me when you got yourself into this, I do not think it is incumbent upon me to get you out of this. We may choose to work through this, but that does not include press conferences.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Granted he did not run as an anti-prostitution guy so far as I know. His hypocrisy does not rise to the stunning level of the likes of Rick Renzi (who ran on an anti-abortion platform while stealing from Arizona anti-abortion organizations), or Mark Foley (who ran as a crusader against child abuse while abusing children). I could go on and on.
I must admit I am conflicted about whether Governor Spitzer should resign. He almost single handedly cleaned up Wall Street. Without Mr. Spitzer, many egregious crimes, perpetrated by an under-regulated Wall Street, would never have been prosecuted. The Federal Government was willing to overlook the pillaging of average Americans with a wink and a nod. Only when Spitzer filed suit was the Federal Government goaded into action.
I have to fall back to what I said about John McCain’s “very close” relationship with a lobbyist, I am willing to look beyond some of the things these guys do in their personal lives, unless it clouds their decisions in their elected job working for the people. That is, I do not believe we need to elect perfect people. I mostly care what they do in their jobs as elected officials. So, if the people of New York had to pay for the prostitutes then he should resign. If Mr. Spitzer gave tax breaks to prostitution rings, or cushy jobs to prostitutes in his administration, he should resign. But, if he did it with his own money, I will be very disappointed. I think he has some ‘splanin’ to do to his wife, and he may need to see his day in court, but I don’t care.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Here is a video of main stream media political reporters hanging out at the McCain ranch in Arizona. I find this very inappropriate and way too cozy. Can you imagine how this scene would be portrayed, were held at the Obama home. Can you imagine the right wing radio wackadoodles tearing into the “liberal media” and accusing them of being too cozy with a candidate? They would go nuts. But it was not held at the Obama or Clinton homes. It was at the Republican nominee’s ranch, so all is cool.
This should never happen. Reporters should keep their distance from those they report on.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Republicans have enjoyed the Democratic Party brouhaha. The “liberal media" is also playing up each little detail, making a big deal out of some pretty small stuff.
If I were a Republican I would not be enjoying myself much right now. John McCain raised only 12 million over the same period. One might attribute this paultry result to McCain's no longer being in a pitched battle for the nomination. I think he has a bigger problem.
McCain collected just 13% of what the Democrats raised. The previous monthly record was 45 million, raised by Kerry, once he became the prohibitive favorite in 2004. Sure, Bush ended up beating Kerry anyway, but Bush had a fundraising machine in place, he had a pay-to-play system set up for all Federal agencies, and the ability to deliver on his promises for the cash he raised. He had a unified party. Neither Hillary, nor Barak, can say this.
95% of Barak’s money came from people giving less than $100. Almost half came from people donating for the first time. Over 80% of it came on-line. No expensive mailers or TV ads were needed. His campaign money can be spent on the campaign not on raising more money.
Because Barak is getting his money from small donors, he can continue to raise it from the same people. These donors can give another $100 next month and still be nowhere near the donation limit. This could continue to go on through the election in November.
Corporate and wealthy donors may initially seem a juicy target for raising campaign contributions, but they can also be a liability when up against the great unwashed masses.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
If we are to reduce our carbon emissions and, promote biodiversity, why would we not encourage a full range of crops in any area of the country where they can be grown. I worry about a disease attacking the fruit growers in the central valley of California, or bad weather in Minnesota creating great imbalances in our food resources. Why create a system where we have to ship a great percentage of everything we eat?
If we cannot encourage diversity in our agricultural system then at least let us not discourage it by only subsidizing certain crops in certain regions. I suggest that if we are to give subsidies we find a way to subsidize effective land usage rather than crop monopolies for certain regions.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Point out that as talented as Obama is, he is still young, uppity, and not Episcopalian. The base will know what you mean.
Throw a bunch of veiled racist rhetoric at Obama, then argue that it is just regular campaign criticism, you would use against anyone. After all Obama is Black, you are being called a racist only because he is different. Again, you are the victim.
Highlight Obama’s odd name while confusing it with terrorists names, thus equating Obama with terrorists. The goal will be to peel off some ignorant voters who don’t know anyone not named john, paul, or joe.
Point out Obama’s non-American father. Throw anything you can against the wall. See if you can peel off some voters who have never been out of the United States. See if you can push the thought that he will be less loyal to America because he knows people in other places and some of them are family.
Find some way to question Obama’s patriotism. The goal is to cast doubt about who Obama will be working for as president, us or the foreigners in his family. You can do this by showing him being liked by people in other countries. If they like him then he must not be a true American.
Go after Obama’s wife. She is smart and outspoken. Paint her as a powerful woman who will have undue influence on a president.
Highlight Obama’s family upbringing. After all how can a man not raised by his natural father be a stable president.
Find something sexual or racist in Obama’s past. For example did he ever date a white woman? If he did, then highlight that a lot. Some voters, that would vote for a black man, would change their minds if he ever dated a white woman.
Show how the minorities, poor and young people love Obama. People don’t trust a man who’s base is not rich, white, old people. If he is liked by the poor, non-white, and young, then there is something to be worried about.
Make stuff up as needed. Anyone named Barak Obama, instead of John Smith, is worthy of doubt.
The overall theme must be to focus on Obama’s “otherness.” Someone so unique must be untrustworthy. He is black so not like most Americans. He was raised, in part, outside the country so not like most Americans. He has a weird name, so is not like most Americans.
If you have no shame, and no moral foundation, you will be willing to focus the public on how he is somehow not like "us" and thus can’t be trusted.
Monday, February 25, 2008
How would this be different if this were the communist country of China or the dictatorship of Pakistan? It wouldn't.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Until then I have a thought. Why don't we all find a candidate to work for in the House or Senate race. There has to be someone around the country you like. Give them money. Volunteer in some way. If you are not inspired by you rep, then find someone who represents your values and call their headquarters. Ask what you can do from out of state. Perhaps you can write letters. If all Americans found someone that inspired them, and then worked to get them elected, our democracy would represent all of us.
Just a thought.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
TPM has more detail.
Question: can everyone now switch to Ron Paul or Barak? I think Dick Cheney just had a heart palpatation.
So, since I really do not want to know what John McCain does with his anatomy below his belt, what is the real issue for me? I want to know what John might have given to the industry this woman represented. If his votes cannot be called into question then, as far as I am concerned, the issue goes away. I may wonder about John’ judgment in getting involved with someone who could make us question his voting record. Then again, I cannot expect him not to form friendships with people he sees all the time.
At this point I do not know if there is really a story here. Let’s look at the voting record and find out.
On another note, I would not want to be John McCain when he talks to his wife. I will also be interested to see how the “values voter” bends over backward to forgive McCain for his alleged sexual transgression, while still seething over exactly the same behavior from Bill Clinton.
Friday, February 15, 2008
T's Place is owned by Chef Tee Belachew. Tee was born in Ethiopia and has been in the Twin Cities for 16 years. Tee became passionate about cooking at a young age when his Auntie Wyzro Bezunesh Belachew taught him traditional home cooking.
Tee became a partner with Singaporian Chef Kin Lee in 2002 after they went on a culinary tour of Europe and Asia to research spices. In 2006, Tee decided to go out on his own and establish T's Place. All of his food is made from scratch and features authentic and flavorful meals full of delicious blends of mouth watering spices.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The fact is that the Aministration was "stovepiping" intellegence data, so that the intellegence community would give them an NIE (National Intellegence Estimate) that was favorable to the conclusions they wanted.
It is not true, as Secretary Rice states, that the Administration simply took the NIE and responded to it's conclusion. Again, the Administration gave clear signals, to the CIA, that they wanted a specific conclusion drawn by the NIE. They even went so far as to create a new department (The Office of Special Plans) in the DOD, full of people with little intellegence experience but an anti-Iraq agenda, to give them what they wanted to hear. They did this in case their efforts at "stovepiping" went unheeded at the CIA. When the CIA capitulated, and the Office of Special Plans, concluded what they had created it to conclude, they took it and ran with it.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
(Plus Update 1 )
It seems that President Bush is willing to hold up all judicial and executive brench nominees to get this one guy confirmed as assistant Attorney general for the Department of Justic'e Office of Legal Counsel.
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, agreed to a deal that allows more than 84 of the President's nominees to go through Senate confirmation. Bush shot the deal down if Bradbury was not among those confirmed. “It’s Brabury, or nobody,” Bush reportedly told Reid. Here it is from Reid
Why does Bush care that much? Let's look into it.
From the New York Times:
"Late last year, Democrats urged the White House to withdraw Mr. Bradbury’s name once and for all and find a new candidate for the post after it was disclosed in news reports in October that he was the author of classified memorandums that gave approval to harsh interrogation techniques, including head slapping, exposure to cold and simulated drowning, even when used in combination.
Mr. Bradbury’s memorandums were described by Democrats as an effort by the Bush administration to circumvent laws prohibiting torture and to undermine a public legal opinion issued by the Justice Department in 2004 that declared torture to be “abhorrent.”
From Talking Points Memo:
"It took two days of hearings for the Senate Judiciary Committee to reinforce its consensus that Michael Mukasey should be attorney general. The panel asked Mukasey tough questions about torture, detentions, surveillance and the president's inherent wartime powers. But those questions might have been misdirected. That's because an obscure Justice Department lawyer, Steven G. Bradbury, the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), might actually be more important to the war on terrorism than the attorney general.
It's also a position that's arguably more important to the administration too, since the OLC chief has the power to issue what former chief Jack Goldsmith called "an advance pardon" for dubious activities."
"Bradbury has been serving as the acting head of the office since early 2005, he's never been confirmed for the spot. Senate Democrats continue to express opposition to Bradbury's nomination and say he remains in the position illegally....In August 2006, three Democratic senators, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), blocked Bradbury's nomination in a maneuver to compel the Bush administration to disclose more about its warrantless surveillance program. Around that time, President Bush personally quashed a review by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility into the propriety of DOJ lawyers who approved the program. The Democrats countered that they couldn't confirm Bradbury until he was formally cleared of wrongdoing. "
Wow, why would Bush want to make his last stand on a guy this controverasal? Is ego getting in the way of governance?
Aha! I think I've got it! Listen to Murkasey's comments today:
"Delahunt: You said if an opinion was rendered, that would insulate him from any consequences.
MM: We could not investigate or prosecute somebody for acting in reliance on a justice department opinion.
Delahunt: If that opinion was inaccurate and in fact violated a section of US Criminal Code, that reliance is in effect an immunity from any criminal culpability.
MM: Immunity connoted culpability.
Delahunt: This is brand new legal theory.
MM: Disclosure of waterboarding was part of CIA interrogation and permitted by DOJ opinion, would and should bar investigation of people who relied on that opinion.
Delahunt: Let's concede that waterboarding is in contravention of international obligation. If opinion rendered that amounted to malpractice, whoever employed that technique, simply by relying on that opinion would be legally barred from criminal investigation.
MM: If you're talking about legal mistake, there is an inquiry regarding whether properly rendered opinions or didn't. But yes, that bars the person who relied on that opinion from being investigated.
Delahunt: I find that a new legal doctrine. The law is the law.
MM: If it comes to pass that somebody at a later date that the opinion should have been different the person who relied on the opinion cannot be investigated.
Delahunt: Is there a legal precedent.
MM: There is practical consideration.
Delahunt: I can't cite you a case."
So let me get this straight. If Bradbury is appointed and issues opinions that are favorable to the White House, no matter what the laws enacted by Congress require, then the White House is immune from prosicution.
There it is, Congress has just been written out of our government. The President has all the power. He or she can appoint insiders to the Justice Department and basically do whatever he or she wants when his or her appointments, at Justice, write opinions (many secret even from Congress) supporting whatever they want to do. No fear of accountability to anyone.
Are you frightened yet?
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
"All At Sea"
I'm all at sea
Where no-one can bother me
Forgot my roots
If only for a day
Just me and my thoughts sailing far away
Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to
All at sea
I'm all at sea
Where no-one can bother me
I sleep by myself
I drink on my own
Don't speak to nobody
I gave away my phone
Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to
All at sea
Now I need you more than ever, I need you more than ever, now
You don't need it every day
But sometimes don't you just crave
To disappear within your mind
You never know what you might find
So come and spend some time with me
We will spend it all at sea
Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to
All at sea
Friday, February 1, 2008
At least someone is making money in this economy. Taxpayers will be happy to know that we gave the oil industry 14.5 billion in subsidies in 2006.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
When I was in college I lived in Boston for the summer. I was training for cross-country and cleaning floors in the nuclear engineering labs at MIT. I would get up and run ten to twelve miles along the Charles River. At three o’clock I would get a bagel and cream cheese and go to work the second shift. I would have eaten more, but I had to live on ten dollars a week until I got a pay check. I remember thinking how much I just wanted a Coca Cola. I could not afford the extravagance. I vowed that when I made some money I would have a whole closet full of Coca Cola.
I now have two houses and three cars. I have a wonderful family. We eat well, and watch movies, or go out to dinner, when we want to. I often wonder if, in our hyper-complex lives, we miss how good a simple thing like a can of Coke, or a good song, can be.
Perhaps I should clear out a closet this weekend. I will put in a single can of Coke, just to remind me to be happy with the little things.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We have lost a strong voice for the poor in John’s ending. He made his career fighting for the disenfranchised against corporate America. The cynical among us will say that fighting corporate America was where the money was for him. They will say that what we don’t need as a lawyer as President. I beg to differ. We should have a lawyer as President. We should have a man or woman who will understand the law and how it defends the rights of less fortunate Americans. We elect a President to fight for all Americans, not just the big campaign donors or those who can afford to hire lobbyists.
Let us hope that whoever prevails will remember John’s message of working for those in poverty and near poverty. These are people who have been ignored by Washington for far too long.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
"The vote on the Motion for Cloture on the 30-day extension (i.e., to proceed to a vote on it) just failed -- 48-45 (again, 60 votes are needed). All Democrats (including Clinton and Obama) voted in favor of the Motion, but no Republicans did -- not a single one. Thus, at least as of today, there will be no 30-day extension of the PAA and it will expire on Friday.
Reid, however, indicated that it was certain that the House will vote in favor of an extension tomorrow, which means it will be sent to the Senate for another vote. It's possible, then, that the Senate will vote again later in the week on an extension, but it's hard to imagine any Republicans ever voting in favor of an extension since Bush has vowed to veto it.
By blocking an extension, Republicans just basically assured that the PAA -- which they spent the last seven months shrilly insisting was crucial if we are going to be Saved from The Terrorists -- will expire on Friday without any new bill in place. " (emphasis mine)
But the Democrats have been just as creepy on this issue:
"In essence, the reason Senate Democrats were able to successfully filibuster today is not because they oppose the Cheney/Rockefeller Senate Intelligence Committee bill. It's not because they stood firm against telecom immunity or warrantless eavesdropping. Quite the contrary, more than enough Senate Democrats were and still are prepared to vote for that bill in order to ensure passage (as they demonstrated on Thursday when 12 of them, in essence, voted for that bill).
The only reason Democrats were able to hold their caucus together today to filibuster is because The Senators were offended that their inalienable Senatorial Right to vote on amendments was deprived by the GOP's premature Cloture Motion. The one (and only) "principle" that can really inspire many of these Senators to take a stand is the protection of their Senatorial prerogatives. Many of them don't actually have any beliefs other than that.
Reward lawbreaking with immunity? Fine. Give the President new warrantless eavesdropping powers? No problem. Abolish habeas corpus and legalize torture? Sure. Deprive a Senator of the Right to vote on an amendment before cloture? Unacceptable! " (emphasis mine again)