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Brief Notes on Politics

Brief Notes on Politics

There is much to say, but I’m not in the mood.


I stand before you tonight not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American. The Eisenhowers came to this great country in the 18th century, settling first amid the hills of Pennsylvania and later on the plains of Kansas. Like many of your ancestors, they built our nation and served it in times of national crisis and war.

I grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where my parents and grandparents, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, chose to live after Ike’s retirement as Supreme Commander, Europe, and as President of the United States. It was also in Gettysburg where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic address.

On the killing fields of Pickett’s Charge our country came of age and assured our nation would survive as one.

Yet today the divisions in our country are deep and wide. Our cohesiveness as a nation is strained by multiple crises in finance and credit; energy and health care.

At the same time, we have knowingly saddled our children and grandchildren with a staggering debt. This is a moral failing – not just a financial one.

Overseas, our credibility is at an all time low. We must restore our international leadership position and the leverage that goes with it.

But rather than focus on the critical strategic issues, our national discourse has turned into a petty squabble.

Too many people in power have failed us. Belligerence has become a substitute for strength; stubbornness a substitute for leadership; and impulsive action has replaced measured and thoughtful response.

Once during the Eisenhower administration, Ike was under fire from his critics for moving too slowly in responding to political pressure. After a visit to the Oval Office by Robert Frost, the famous American poet sent the president a note of support. “The strong,” he wrote, “are saying nothing until they see.”

I believe that Barack Obama has the energy, but more importantly, the temperament, to run this country and provide the leadership we need. He knows that we can either advance on the distant hills of hope– or retreat to the garrisons of fear. He can mobilize and inspire all of us to show up for duty. Discipline will be required; as will compromise, flexibility and quiet strength.

The task before our next President will be overwhelming. But no undertaking can be more critical than bringing about a sense of national unity and purpose, built on mutual respect and bi-partisanship.

Unless we squarely face our challenges, as Americans—together– we risk losing the priceless heritage bestowed on us by the sweat and the sacrifice of our forbearers. If we do not pull together, we could lose the America that has been an inspiration to the world.

On December 1, 1862, in his Annual Message to Congress, Abraham Lincoln immortalized this thought when he said: “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

Let us respond this November to President Lincoln’s challenge. Let us restore the hope, and bring the change, that our nation so desperately needs.

Yes we can!

Who Will Get the Edwards Votes?

Who Will Get the Edwards Votes?

I wonder if there might have been any behind-the-scenes action to push Edwards out. I can’t believe he didn’t stick in the race – at least until after Super Tuesday! ARGGHHHH.

So, what happens to us John Edwards supporters? Who will get the votes?

John Edwards had the actual plans across the board. I hope the remaining candidates will make their own plans more progressive, but I doubt they will.

I can only speak for myself, and I haven’t completely decided – although at this point, I have to lean toward Hillary Clinton.

My reservations about Barack Obama are mostly about foreign policy. I didn’t like what he said about Iran, and I fear that he may be more conservative than people think. There are too many followers and not enough people asking informed questions. The other small thing that bothers me is that calling him black seems a little racist, like the infamous “one drop” rule. The fact that he’s multi-racial should be a good thing, taking some of the either/or quality off the race debate. Somehow it’s not working that way.

Hillary Clinton is strong, and caring, and flexible, and shrewd enough to do the job well. The main problem is that so many people really hate her. And why? Because she shows all the qualities of a good leader, but happens to be female? So “assertive” becomes “bitchy”? And at the same time, she has one second of choking up during a luncheon (if you blinked, you would have missed it) and that becomes a media circus in which she is portrayed over and over as “weepy”? It seems very misogynistic to me. Still, I would love to get Ted Kennedy alone in a room and get him to tell me why he has rejected Clinton for Obama. That really surprised me.

It’s not enough just to be non-white, or non-male. Those things really don’t matter so much at this point in our history, and I’m over my idealism (thank you Condi Rice).

We have big, big problems in this country, and a huge mess – involving a number of crucial issues – to be addressed.

Who is going to be able to come through most successfully for all Americans, for the country as a whole, and for this country’s relationships with other countries and the world?

That’s my question, and it hasn’t been answered yet.

The MLK Test for Presidential Candidates

The MLK Test for Presidential Candidates

Happy Memorial MLK Birthday Day. Have you wondered what Dr. King would think of the presidential candidates if he were alive?

Barack Obama gave a speech took the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta – the same church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. helped rev up the civil rights movement.

“If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. “The divisions, the stereotypes, the scapegoating, the ease with which we blame the plight of ourselves on others, all of that distracts us from the common challenges we face: war and poverty; inequality and injustice,” Obama said.

But he added that “we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean,” citing homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant bias in the black community

“I wasn’t born into money or great wealth, but I had hope!” he declared, bringing the congregation to its feet, cheering and clapping. “I needed some hope to get here. My daddy left me when I was little, but I had hope! I was raised by a single mother, but I had hope! I was given love, an education, and some hope!”

Very inspiring, but some are still wary of the rhetoric if it doesn’t deliver on substance. – Give the Candidates the MLK Test

Dr. King said the “triple evils” of his day were militarism, racism, and economic exploitation. … In addition, Dr. King said he was “compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor” in the U.S. … Senators Obama and Clinton fail the Martin Luther King Test, miserably. Obama wants to add 100,000 troops to the U.S. Armed Forces, at a cost of over $100 billion – even as he proposes partial withdrawals from Iraq. Clinton seeks 80,000 new soldiers and Marines. As sure as the sun rises, a bigger U.S. military means more wars, and no money for domestic “change.”

The only candidate who would pass the Martin Luther King Test is Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, whose platform for peace, truly universal health care, a living wage, and an end to corporate domination of American life harkens back to that “shining moment” in the Sixties that King mentioned, when there were “hopes” and “new beginnings.”

While I agree that Obama and Clinton are not as good as Kucinich on some of the transcendent issues that concerned MLK, I see no mention here of John Edwards. Comments?

Brief thoughts on Presidential Candidates

Brief thoughts on Presidential Candidates

I haven’t been posting on the Presidential race, mostly because the discourse is depressing. The change/experience framing is trite, and I’m already more than sick of it. But here are some random thoughts about the presidential candidates across the board.


I would support Dennis Kucinich, but I honestly don’t think he has a chance.

So far, I’ve been supporting John Edwards. I was disappointed to see John Kerry slap him in the face with his support of Barack Obama. I like his message a lot, and I think he would be a great president. He would do more for everyone from the middle class on down than any other candidate. Big interests dislike him – a very good sign.

My next choice is Hillary Clinton. I think she has the savvy that is required these days in politics, and I think that we might salvage our international reputation if she were president. My only real reservation about her is a big one, though. She is still very much tied up with some of the very corporate interests that have taken control of our government. Fundamentally, I have a trust issue with her.

Barack Obama is very moving, a charismatic and very smart kind of guy. But I think there isn’t enough substance there. I don’t like the fact that he misrepresents himself as a grass roots guy. He’s not, and all you have to do is look at his academic credentials. I am often blown away by this speeches, but I want to know what his foreign policies would be. I did not like what he has said about Iran. His race is not an issue for me one way or another – my idealism in that respect was – finally – destroyed by Condi Rice. It really doesn’t matter. Charisma is not enough, and in some ways it can be blinding. His followers are too… following, if you know what I mean.

I was sad to see Bill Richardson go. I thought that he had a lot to contribute to the debate, whether or not he was successful in his bid.


Obviously, I don’t support any Republicans. I’m pretty liberal. I do have a couple of thoughts about them, however.

Ron Paul. I have a lot of respect for him, and I agree with some of his positions, especially on the war and on civil liberties. But like most libertarians, he won’t take a stand on people who do not have the bootstraps to pull upon. Help them? Kill them? Let natural selection take its course?

John McCain isn’t going to go for torture. That you can count on. He’s looking pretty old, so if he successful, you’ll want to look very very carefully at his choice for VP. It could be a setup. He has been successful in the past on getting some bipartisan initiatives passed. Of the candidates on the right, he would be the only one who might be able to revive the central Republican agendas. They don’t like it, though.

I have to say that although I think he would be a disaster as President, I like Mike Huckabee. I just like him. It would be funny to have a President named “Huckabee” – it might make us more humble. I’d like to have him over for dinner. He comes across as more authentic than the other candidates. He would look good in black and white, like the old news programs. Of course, there are obvious church-state and gender issues with Huckabee’s positions, and I don’t think we could afford for him to be directing foreign policies. Obviously he appeals to the pseudo-religious right, but he’s a bit more Christian (I think) than many of them are – maybe too much so for them to swallow. The neocons aren’t pleased, for sure.

Speaking of neo-cons, Fred Thompson, wow. I’m glad it looks like he can’t compete.

Giuliani – did you _hear_ him in that Republican debate? Can you say “fascist”? I give Giuliani credit for standing up and saying the right things when 9/11 happened. He was the leader there. On the other hand, he really should have known that the towers would be targeted again, and he turned around and cut support for the first responders that he had praised. I won’t go into the possible issues regarding his sex life, relationship with family. Nobody really remembers the Jimmy Hoffa thing either, and I think it’s funny that he likes to dress up as a woman. But I will say that his cleanup of New York City had a cost: when the psychiatric hospitals were emptied, and then the homeless shelters were closed in the middle of winter – that was the measure of his regard for human life.

Smooth salesman Mitt Romney… what can I say? He scares me, in a primal way that defies explanation, so I won’t go there. New England knows Mitt. Even among politicians, I believe that he’s a consummate liar. He hasn’t switched his positions so much as people think – he has only expressed positions as they will help him at the time. How did you _expect_ him to win the position of governor in Massachusetts?

News that Matters to Me

News that Matters to Me

The roundup of the news that catches my eye and matters to me is focused around a national theme, as it often is.

We are too easily misled and kept in the dark. When we see a bit of light, it is too easy to cover our eyes. We have been progressively desensitized, but we’re not the first.

I am beginning to have some hope again.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.” — Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945

Americans are starting to be unable to avoid recognitions of some of the consequences… at last. Don’t forget the lessons of the “Good Germans”.

Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

In related news, Gen. Michael V. Hayden has ordered an investigation of its own Inspector General John L. Helgerson – for Helgerson’s own investigations into the CIA’s involvement in torture. Got that? Read it again.

This warrants an immediate and aggressive investigation by Congress into a clear case of attempting to suppress dedicated public servants because they may believe the United States should abide by international law and basic human morality. … This story fits the pattern of absolutely everything this Administration does: fail, commit crimes, try to cover up those failures and crimes, and when honest and competent people make honest and competent efforts to keep our government honest and competent, punish them.

On the domestic front lines, it looks as though the NSA approached Qwest before 9/11 to enlist telecommunications firms in surveillance without court oversight. Don’t give me any more fluff about the “post-911 world,” if you please.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio’s lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans’ phone records. In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest’s refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution.

From Gary Wood at Hear My Thunder, here’s a commentary worth reading on our 4th largest city, Prison USA:

Based on 2005 population figures for both our prisons and U.S. cities the prison population would rank as the 4th largest city behind New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago while beating Houston out by over 200,000 people.

Check out Amy Branham’s article on how we went shopping while our constitution burned, too.

Be sure to take a look at Jon Stewart’s little video on America’s favorite private mercenary force (Killing People since 1906 … for Money), care of Crooks and Liars.

One nice thing in the news, at least. Hey, Al Gore! You rock! Congrats on the Nobel Peace Prize!

But McCain is such a wanker, making this nasty and absurd statement:

Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain said the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, announced today, should have gone to someone else other than former Vice President Al Gore. “I would have liked to see that prize go to the Buddhist monks who are suffering and dying in Burma,” McCain said after a speech this morning in Davenport.

I sure hope not, but nice try for the heartstrings. There would have been a long line of suffering and dying people who would have been in line before them.

I think Gore’s contribution was to work for the recognition of a worldwide problem that we need to solve together in peace. We can all be warring with one another until there is nothing left to fight for, or we can work together on a larger project, one that is truly a global problem.

…McCain, an Arizona senator, said he hoped Gore would now support nuclear power and a cap and trade proposal made by McCain and Sen. Joseph Lieberman to mandate that all sections of the U.S. economy reduce greenhouse gasses through a market-based system of trading emissions.

Trading guilt – like indulgences?

At this point, the second Lieberman’s name is on it, I have serious reservations. I would be more optimistic about nuclear power in the US if I felt sure about the government’s true ability or inclination to safeguard the public…

The statement from White House spokeman Tony Fratto on the honor to Gore was hilarious (or maybe it’s just me). Not only is Bush fully aware that Gore should have been President… but don’t forget that Bush has vigorously opposed mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas throughout his “reign,” appointed industry cronies to important posts, and even interfered with scientific reports. Bush may be the least environmentally-friendly President in history, and he is no friend to Gore (obviously). So, what can he say?

First there is the humorous suggestion that the President is “happy”:

“Of course he’s happy for (former) vice-president Gore and happy for the international panel on climate change scientists who also shared the peace prize.”

But it gets better!

Obviously, it’s an important recognition and we’re sure the vice president is thrilled.

It almost gushes – we’re SURE the vice president is THRILLED. Mrriooww- hissss.

Oh brother.

I want to see, and I think it’s really time for us all to see, a serious unmoderated round-table debate between John Edwards, Dennis Kuchinich, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and maybe even Ron Paul. I’m getting tired of the bull already. I don’t want a performance – I want to see a serious discussion where they have to deal with each other.

What I’ve seen of the Republican debates doesn’t make me want to see any more, but they should do this too.

And – hey – why not have a series of two at a time? Not the stupid dogshows they do later, but real debates. Unmoderated debates, but under standard rules of debate. Sigh. I’ll keep hoping, although everything I see works against it ever happening.

Ask a presidential candidate

Ask a presidential candidate

What question would you like to ask the top three Democratic candidates?

On June 4, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama will join Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners live on CNN for a conversation about faith, values, and poverty — and they’re asking supporters to vote for their favorite question to ask in front of a national television audience.

The presidential candidates forum will be a unique opportunity to shape the national debate over faith and values — and to put poverty on the national agenda. Be sure to tune into the forum on Monday, June 4, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time to see which question is asked — and how the candidates respond.

The questions were submitted by Sojourners supporters.

I’ve just cast my vote for my favorite question (of the very few questions given):

Executive salaries have increased by almost 300% in recent years, while wages for ordinary workers have remained stagnant. What specific policies would you endorse to address the growing gap of “Haves” and “Have-nots” in our nation? – Submitted by Randy from Deer Park, TX

Cast your vote here.

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