Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Two Cents: Congress Distracts (Again)

Most of us have heard that US Reps Henry Waxman and Tom Davis want a DOJ investigation into whether Roger Clemens lied under oath (to Congress). What ever happend to law enforcement handling this (alleged professional doping) problem? How does this rise to the level of a Congressional-level distraction?

Oh, that's right. Better to find something that Nancy Grace can fulminate about for the next year and that CNN, MSNBC and FAUX News can prattle on about the decline of the Western World. Then they won't have to report about the real issues in the New York Times story about John McCain. Or show how the "Straight Talk Express" isn't. Better NOT to investigate all those other things they are supposed to be doing such as --well:

--Whether DOJ itself used the department as a partisan whipping boy.
--whether Karl Rove meddled from the White House in the trumping up of a fake case against former Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL).
-- Whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to Congress just after 9-11 and to the present about the causes of 9-11 and the real risks and threats to this country.
--Whether impeachment charges should be filed. (What kind of precedent are they setting by caring more about baseball?)
--About what happened to the million emails that "disappeared."
--About the many millions that have disappeared in Iraq.

There are so many other examples. For now, though, Davis sinks into his ignominious retirement. And Henry Waxman needs to remember why he was a hero to so many of us. Is it an "audacity of hope" to think he will get it (once again)?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fight the Political Imprisonment of Former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL)

Over at Democracy Prevails Blog there's a sample letter you can use to fight the political imprisonment of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. 52 former state attorneys general (from both parties) from across the country have signed on in protest over the trumped up case with the alleged suspicious involvement of Karl Rove.

This past Sunday 60 Minutes examined the supposed case against Siegelman and illustrated the flimsiness of the prosecution, no persecution, of this man, for the "crime" of being a Democrat in a position the Republican Machiavellis coveted. First, Rovian clones trump up charges for a recall of Calif. Gov. Gray Davis. Then they hijacked the re-districting process in Texas. Now their handiwork turns more cynical.

Democracy Prevails has posted a sample letter you can write to end this travesty of justice. You can make a difference! Here's the link.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Morphing into Frank Rich

I've been under the weather for a while. And I'm finally beginning to feel like blogging again. But since I don't have my full energy back, today, I'll let Frank Rich speak for me. And he does it so much better:

Here"s the link.

And here's a sample:

It’s not just that her candidacy’s central premise — the priceless value of “experience” — was fatally poisoned from the start by her still ill-explained vote to authorize the fiasco. Senator Clinton then compounded that 2002 misjudgment by pursuing a 2008 campaign strategy that uncannily mimicked the disastrous Bush Iraq war plan. After promising a cakewalk to the nomination — “It will be me,” Mrs. Clinton told Katie Couric in November — she was routed by an insurgency.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tomorrow, the Buck Stops Here

[Note This is cross-posted at]

It's time we voters shoulder our moral responsibility. In 2001 many stood by as George W. Bush fear-mongered us into terror and war against a country having nothing to do with 9-11. Our country stood mostly silent as critics were silenced, called "unpatriotic" (when the opposite is true), and in some cases threatened.

Those who stood with courage included Barack Obama, but not Hillary Rodham Clinton. He risked his upcoming US Senate career. She risked nothing for herself, but everything for America. She risked our collective soul.

This was and is the issue of our time. There is no condoning it, no "do-overs," no pretending that Hillary "had to" (vote for the war) because she had to look tough on defense. One shouldn't use such an outrageous reason to vote for an immoral war authorization.

A smart woman such as Hillary Rodham Clinton knew the evidence. A woman who aspired to be president knew the evidence. Yet she pretends otherwise. She won't apologize or admit any wrong on her part, any bad judgment. But it was and is the worst of all failures, going to war not just by mistake, but by complicity.

A candidate who waits for Obama to vote on war funding or timetables and then votes herself, follows, but does not lead. A candidate who does not support a nuclear freeze, while Obama does, follows, not leads. This is the moral choice of our time.

It is also mirror reflection time. We as a people are defined by how we treat other people and nations. Do we treat them as if they are dispensable, the way some merely step over the bodies of the dead in Iraq? Do those voting for this war cry in the night for their sins? Do they not see what they did?

And what about the rest of us? Most folks posting here at RK opposed the war. That opposition prompted us to support 2004 primary candidates who opposed the war. At least we tried. We are not perfect, far from it. We have our own ghosts. (More on that in a moment.)

But what do the condoners and enablers see in the quiet recesses of their minds, hearts, and souls? Condoning Bush's actions is immoral. Condoning his enablers, including Hillary Clinton, is wrong.

We need someone who opposed this war, not one who supported it out of convenience or expediency. Not one who was too lazy to walk across the street to see the "evidence" that was so shaky a staffer could have debunked. Only six members of Congress did so. And that's appalling, and subject for another blog story.

It's too important to construe this election as Democrats needing a yes-woman to stand up to the warmonger McCain. That's not leadership. And it's a false choice for it's not a choice between warring against the wrong country or suffering from terrorism. And those who argue as much are not only soulless, but also responsible for making us less safe. Will the strongest country in the world stand strongly for what is right and against what is not? It's up to us now.

When the Clintonistas tell us women we should vote our gender, instead of our conscience, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and say to ourselves, "this must stop, and it stops with me and my vote." We cannot continue wars based on lies against countries which didn't or don't threaten us. We have no high ground if we condone Hillary's blank check to Bush over a second country, Iran. If we end the war in Iraq, much of the pressure over Iran will diminish. The refugee problem from the Iraq war currently threatens them. We have no high ground if we condone more refugees in Iraq. Already there are four million Iraqi refugees (two million internal and 2 million external). We cannot morally contribute to more deaths, already 4,000 of our own and nearly 1 million Iraqis, mostly civilians.

The time for real nuclear non-proliferation is now and it will only occur with Barack Obama as president. The beginning of the end of Bushisms' wost legacy--war without end-- comes now with my vote. The beginning of the end of permanent bases in Iraq comes now. Wondering each day whether our leaders will pick a fight with another country can end with my vote.

Hillary is not Bill, but what evidence do we have that she won't knee-jerk us into war. The previous Clinton administration actually bombed more countries than any president in US history did. "A president must have his war(s)," some Clinton supporters said back then. I am ashamed that I stood quietly then. By my passivity, I condoned. No more. I was wrong.

A new day can end the politics and leadership of destruction. A new day begins with our vote and the repudiation of candidates who let this happen, haven't made us more safe (as if such a venture ever could), and never will. It's my vote. I own it. What kind of a country we are begins with me and each one of us. What do we hold dear? What kind of a nation should we be? I don't really believe Americans want to be the kind of country that views the lives of innocent people so cavalierly. I think they are better than that.

And so we vote. It's more than a change we seek. With positive tranformational leadership, we'll become our best selves once again. The buck stops here. [Barack Obama for President: A Tranformational Leader for a Change.]-

The Stakes:McCain Going Out In the Twilight Zone

This video tells the story.

"Just say no" to more craziness-in-lieu-of-foreign-policy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sexist Tacgics of Some Hillary Supporters

[Note: A slightly different version of this is cross-posted at]

Yesterday I receive a forwarded email from a good friend. The email carried words suggesting that women not supporting Hillary should "challenge themselves" to think and do otherwise. What did I think of it, my friend asked:

Part I: Text of My First Response

Dear XXX
I don't know the writer of the original email. However, she seriously underestimates you by sending this to you. I believe you "challenge yourself" all the time. And anyone who knows you would never have written that. Also, I think that it is sexist in the extreme to suggest that thinking women, including feminists such as you and me, must think in lock-step--or else we must be self-hating women.

As for myself, I do not support Hillary for the primary and, as a blogger for Barack Obama, I have given it much more thought than I imagine the email writer has. I spend at least four hours a day reading and writing. I don't need her to "challenge me." And there is absolutely no chance I will change my mind.

And so, my suggestion is to make up your own mind, free and clear of such manipulation. In the long run, we should trust each other to vote for the one whom we think will lead us to the best place.

Sincerely, and in friendship (and respect),


[End of First Reply.]

Then I thought the better of of it. The original note needed a better response. This email contained a link. When you follow the link it is to a commentary by Robyn Morgan, who says she's not voting for Hillary because Hillary's a woman, but because, she, Robyn Morgan, is(a woman). Instead of sending it out, I decided to blog it (while protecting the names of the individuals doing the emailing).

Second (Unsent) Reply

I do not need to justify my preference to the if-your-a-woman-you-should-vote-in-lock-step voters. I have my reasons. And to me they are extremely important. Indeed because they are important, I cannot vote otherwise. Moreover, if we were to buy into that bigoted line of thinking, I believe, we perpetuate the same kind of sexism which we feminists have fought all these years. We have the vote to vote our highest ideals, the one whom, we think will best transform us to the nation we wish to be. We should not vote because of a candidate's gender (or our own, as Robin Morgan suggests). But there are many, more really important reasons too. Nor should we, obviously use race. There are some other variables we shouldn't use too: Familiarity, "liking," the most like me effect, restoration of a bygone era, nostalgia, or any other superficial and/or irrational criteria.

It is not about who lived in the White House as spouse. That doesn't count, or surely Laura Bush would have to be deemed qualified. And if pillow-talk qualifies as "experience," then I should be allowed to do my hubby's job (it's in a field I don't have a doctorate in). But suggesting I am so qualified is absurd. So too are claims that Hillary has more experience because she lived in the White House. I think it rather disingenuous that feminists are actually making this claim, after we fought for for women to be taken as their own selves. If, however there is a package deal, I do not want it. Nor is Hillary more experienced in job-relevant experience just because she is older. That would be ageism. Indeed in job-relevant experience, Barack Obama has more experience in lawmaking bodies than Hillary. One could also argue that Hillary's judgment in handing blank checks to George W. Bush (Iraq authorization, the un-Patriot Act and more) shows she has shown really poor judgment.

It is not that Obama is perfect. Indeed as both he and Hillary tack rightward in their appeal to independents and "Reagan Democrats," there was one week where I opined out loud about Obama. When will they stop using Democratic primaries to appeal to Republicans, I asked myself? And so I undertook an issue, by issue, reexamination of what mattered to me. And then it was clear, I must personally vote for Barack Obama. Here's just a sampling of why I will vote for Barack Obama.

Peace and War

* Barack clearly and strongly opposed the war before it started.

* He courageously attended and spoke at peace rallies before the Iraq war started.

* He supported Howard Dean, who opposed the war from the beginning, for president

* Obama risked his then-upcoming US Senate race to stand with courage at that time.
* No matter what Hillary says in hindsight, if I knew for a fact that the case. for the war was fake, she knew. But she lacked the courage and integrity to vote otherwise (wanted the presidency too much, just as Hubert Humphrey did in 1968).
*She will not admit she was wrong. At least Edwards did that much.
* Obama was asked if he would consider nuclear weapons against Pakistan if it was found that Osama Bin Laden were hiding there. He said he would be willing to send in a tactical force to get him, but that, NO, he would not use nuclear weapons against an ally. To this Hillary railed that Barack showed he wasn't experienced to run (paraphrase), that he should NOT have taken nukes off the table! By that she showed herself to be less qualified, by reason of her poor judgment. That's the second big stike against her judgment, just on war-related issues alone. But there's more.
* Barack Obama supports a nuclear freeze. Hillary does not. The US already has the capability to unleash a massive nuclear arsenal. We do not need more dangerous weapons. (Both of them are too open to the nuclear energy industry, though, BTW.)
*I believe Obama would be better diplomatically because his style is more conciliatory than Clinton's.

On Other Issues
I will vote for Barack Obama proudly and with confidence. I will do this primarily, but far from exclusively for the above reasons. He has the judgment to run, to be president, with judgment exceeding his adversaries from either party. I do not agree with him on everything. But, for me, on every single issue I care most about, his positions are superior to hers.

Health Care
Hillary had her chance. She cost Americans many years of a better approach to health care. Following the collapse of her proposal, she should have tried again, she had a term and a half to do so. But she did not. Now all these years later, when she has more health care industry donors than any other candidate (she was second when the movie "Sick" was filmed), we are led to believe she learned enough to get it right. Tell that to the nearly 50 million uninsured and to those who have gone bankrupt due to health care costs (one of the main three reasons why people go bankrupt).

I especially don't like her individual mandate for health care. It's an individual mandate like Mitt Romney's in MA. That program (already in place) in MA requires penalties to be assessed against individuals. Without price controls or any other supports, the plan alone (without the penalties) amounts to a takings from the pockets of individuals and transferring it into the pockets of insurance companies.

NAFTA promotes outsourcing, offshoring, and ratcheting down of wages in developing countries where jobs are shipped. The US manufacturing base has been hammered. But most of all workers have been harmed by exuberation over supposedly "free trade," (which isn't "free"). I believe in fair trade. Both Obama and CLinton are freemarketers, but I believe that, becaause of his record working for the poor, Obama will be more sensitive to the effects on the poor than Clinton.

Obama is the closest to the populist policies of Edwards.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch (Newscorp --FOX--Media Mogul). No good can come of this. For one thing Bill Clinton helped in the roll-back of media regulation that continues to cause more and more consolidation. It isn't entirely Michael Powell and Bush's fault.

Securities and Banking
* Robert Rubin under B. Clinton got the conflict-of-interest rules changed. The relaxation of the rules made easier for Pols (like Rubin) to move back and forth from government to securities and banking firms. Rubin, for example moved from treas to Citi Bank after only a short wait. This has not been good for the country over all, but very good for a small number of fat cats. We see the results of Citibank's reckless consumption of bad debt under risky home loans, for example. Citi has taken massive losses.

Social Security
Hillary's opposition to Social Security privatization is not nearly as emphatic as Obamas. She "opposes it." He not only opposes privatization, but has emphatically stated he would not even consider it. "It's off the table," he said. Bill Clinton actually considered privatizing Social Security and then decided not to (See the book Raw Deal by Joe Conason, who actually likes the Clintons). That it was even on the table is really concerning.

Mark Penn
Read The Nation article a few months ago concerning her chief strategist and pollster, Mark Penn.

These are just a few reasons. There are many more. Barack Obama is not a perfect candidate. Indeed I myself have posted one article chiding his campaign. I think he is too conciliatory to Republicans right now. There can't be "kumbaya" with them for the Democratic primary. The GOP has sold our country out. My point in writing the critical article was that both candidates will likely tack rightward after the primaries. So, the primary is as good as it gets for progressives. The rest will be downhill. I was pretty furious with him at that time. But looking dispassionately (to the extent that that is possible in an human being) across all the issues I care most about, he is the candidate for me personally.

It all boils down to whom I most trust on the issues most dear to me. The above are just some of the 100 or so reasons I will support Barack Obama. I also believe that we cannot reconstruct the 1990s, nor should we. That kind of nostalgia isn't useful and it clouds our vision from the real inequities arising from that time period. Sure they were made worse by Bush, but many of the policies ("Welfare Reform") were put in place under Clinton and with his signature. The 1990s look good contrasted to the worst president in US history. However, we can do a whole lot better than better than besting the worst in history. We can do that by moving forward with new leadership.

As I have said before, I defended Bill and Hillary Clinton on discussion boards (pre-blogs) for years in the 1990s. And I know full well the whole history and defenses of them back then. I was a very active defender. That was then. No dynasty's for me. If we get one, well then, we are no better than the Republicans who seek the same old names over and over. Useless nostalgia will sink us. Looking forward with courage is our only hope. Voting because of gender, race, liking, and/or familiarity effect demeans us, our candidates, and our country.

All the best,



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hillary In Financial Trouble

Hillary just had to infuse her campaign with $5 million of her own funds (Read about it here). Obama, on the other hand, is ascendant, both in the incline of his support curve, but also the closeness of the contest in the delegate count, and his out-raising Hillary 3 to 1. Obama also has the advantage of having more donations from small-dollar individual donations. As Obama has begun to out-raise campaign donations 3 to 1 over Hillary Clinton. Obama already had raised $32 million in January --before the end of the month even arrived.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Media Watch: Roanoke Times Finally Coughs Up Tardy Reporting

The Roanoke Times news division is a day late and a dollar short again. It's news reporting on real news, rather than puff pieces, is already in a downslide. The opinion page has sold out to right-wing forces. Dan Rsdmacher no longer has a regular column. (Tommy Denton took a buyout.) The local wrong-wing stiflers have trouble accepting any dissenting views in print. It's not enough that nationally, conservative columnists dominate op-ed pages. Many days one has to debate whether it's worth trees to consume this now-nearly useless product. Case in point:

Today, the RT fails us again. As today's "news" section ran with pictures all over page 1, and scant "news" elsewhere," it trots out as "news" what was known elsewhere for a week.

Those of us not depending entirely upon the so-called MSM for news already knew that Sept 11th Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow's appointment had rendered the Commission's finding suspect. But it gets worse. Last week we learned that Zelikow, a friend of Condi Rice, who's conflict-of-interests including conversing with Condi and frequent calls to the White House and Karl Rove, in particular. So, while the commission investigated administration claims, he confabbed with the White House, Rove, and Rice off the record, but wihtout disclosere. in 2004 Zelikow intimidated staff against writing anything damaging to Bush, or other administration members, when Bush was running for reelection.

It was not until this news was just about everywhere else, that the RT picks it up. Wouldn't want to have to say they never covered it. But sometimes, covering it this late, or burying it, as the RT did, in a small wire report story, it's just as bad. Here's the story:

In a new book, The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Shennon, a New York Times reporter says the White House tried to influence the final report and that Zelikow himself tried to prevent damaging (to the White House or Bush administration) material from getting into the Commission report. Indeed, it was not disclaimed that Zelikow had previously coauthored a book with Rice and that he went to work for her after the Commission disbanded and Rice became SOS.

And that makes the entire 9-11 Commission report suspect. But we already knew that.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Media Watch: Montel Williams Rips FOX and Then Loses His Show

Talk show host Montel Williams ripped FOX News recently and paid dearly. After Williams criticized the FOX emphasis son the celebrity death of Keith Legdger, he noted that twenty eight soldiers had died in Iraq that month.

The number of deaths on our side pale in contrast to nearly a million civilians dead and 4 million refugees (2 million internal and 2 million external).

Read more here.