Watch:
Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow,
Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Lewis Black

Listen to:
Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes,
Tom Hartman, Ed Schultz, Mike Molloy

Remember, Remember the Fourth of November

November 4th, 2008

We’re coming down to the wire.  Only hours till the polls open.

Our job really begins on the Fifth of November...

Our job really begins on the Fifth of November...

(Just for fun, I’ve inserted some audio cues.  Just click on the links for a new wrinkle on the blogeroo!)

This is going to be a truly momentous election.  Either the people will vote for change – massive, historic change – or they will shrink from their date with destiny and vote to extend the status quo. 

I think my countrymen will step up and break through the veil obscuring the vision of our future, because despite our increasingly risk averse tendencies, our occasionally xenophobic reflexes, Americans are at their core adventurers and lovers of equity and fairness.

Sure.  There’s a significant minority who believe in the zero sum game, that if someone lesser gets a banana off the tree, that somehow impoverishes them, the superior ones, the real Americans.

When I first started this blog, I was in a race to get it out there before the election.  Now that it’s here, I’m relaxing a bit.  Because I know that whichever way the ballots fall, the job here will continue.

We’ll still pursue the facts and the ugly slivers of truth about the cabal that sank this nation into the deepest hole since the 1930s.  We’ll still press for justice, or – as they said in the Winslow Boy – that right be done.  acrazyperson

Dubya, Dick, Donald, Condi, Wolfie and the rest of the Neo-con Mafia need to be called to account.  If we extract some justice…

  • for those who have impoverished while hundreds of billions in profits are sucked into the maw of the black hole called Iraq;
  • for those who’ve paid with life and limb in pursuit of a criminal war;

… from those who, through intention, stupidity or just goddammed apathy let the financial wizards bet our farm on their game; then maybe we’ll have done some good.  sparetherod

I can’t remember a date in my life like this November 4, since the day I stood in the draft lottery for the Vietnam war.  On that day, in 1972, I knew that one way or another, life would never be the same when I awoke the next day.

Whether my number came up or not – which it didn’t – other young men I knew would be drafted or maybe forced to enlist to avoid combat duty that draftees almost certainly faced.  Some would leave the country to dodge the draft, an act of conscience or self-preservation that would follow them for the rest of their lives.  My birthday, whcih was the basis of the draft lottery system, came up 346 out of 365.  Yet I still applied and was nearly accepted into the Navy scholarship program. acrazyperson1

Yes, I may have been crazy, but I was a finalist.  And when I was washed out, two recruiters came after me, promising the world.  “Can you put that in writing?” I asked.  Our conversations ended shortly after.

Somehow, this time, it’s a little more important, it’s not about me, or any other individual person.  It’s about the impact of this nation in the larger world.  somethingwrong1

Actually, I’m exhilarated to contemplate what comes after the election.  The possibility of speaking out in pursuit of justice, of helping nail some really dastardly characters, is exciting.  afraidofgovernments

I’d like to leave you with this little audio grace note: remember2

May the Higher Power of your choice speed you to the front of the line, may your name be found without incident, may you exercise your franchise without fear or doubt, and may you sleep the sleep of the just, waking to an entirely new day.  Hopefully, a brighter one.

For Once, Rush is Correct, Not Just Right

November 1st, 2008

I saw this quote from The Rush on a Facebook Page for… The Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies? 

Art by Stuart Carlson

Art by Stuart Carlson

“Well, there’s one thing you can do with all this and that’s make sure you and as many other people as you can find vote. That’s all that it comes down to now, is voting. Very simple. This is a turnout election. It ain’t over. As I said, my gut’s talking to me. This is doable. I sense — can’t tell you specifically — I sense things happening that are making the Obama team uncomfortable and the Drive-Bys uncomfortable.”

He’s CORRECT about two things: it all comes down to voting, and this is a turnout election.

He’s CORRECT about things making “the Obama team uncomfortable and the Drive-Bys uncomfortable”.  It’s called the Palin-McCain “straight slime, all the time” campaign.  Obama’s more comfortable talking about issues than wasting time reacting to the worst political tripe since Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

I’m a cautious optimist.  Based on the state of our economy, the conflict and economic crisis that’s gripping the world, and the decline of our standing in the global community, this should be a runaway landslide away from the status quo toward reasoned change.

Don’t want your taxes to go up?  Then you should have told your government “No adventuistic, jingoist war to drain our troves of blood and treasure.  No deregulation, allowing financial geniuses to shoot craps with our nation’s savings and investments.  No ideological rampages to roll back the supposed encroachment of left wing influence like — social security, marketplace regulation and social beneifts like quality public education and equal access to health care.” 

You didn’t stand up for your principles, particularly those of you from the “smaller, less instrusive government is better.”  In this country, when you make a mistake, you’re supposed to pay for it.  Swallow your egos, tuck your questionable ideology in your pocket and step up.  Face the fact that because our administration involved us in a senseless war and let Wall Street run amuck, we’ve compromised not only our own security, but also infected the rest of the world with the virus.

It’s time to face facts.  If you went to the polling booth in the 2000 and 2004 elections and pulled the handle for Bush, you f–ked up.  And you f–ked the rest of us up.

If you can’t stand to vote for change, if your conscience is so atrophied that you think it’s okay to vote for Bushworld Act III, then do the world a favor.  Stay home on November 4 and listen to Rush.  Lock the doors, pad the walls and run around the house screaming. 

Because whether it’s a squeaker or a landslide, I firmly believe that November 5 will open the door on a new day and a new world, and on hope for change.  That this country can return to its position as a respected leader among nations and reitre our current image as an aggressive, drug-obsessed windbag, a bully that only wants to play if it can dominate the sandbox.

Don’t forget to visit our storefront at CafePress.  Roll your mouse over the thumbnails below and select an image that appeals to your inner sense of outrage or hope.  Order a memento of this historic election and support the work we do here. 

And if you’re on Facebook, in search of a horrifying, post-Halloween laugh, visit the The Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies.  I think Barry Goldwater and Bill Buckley are spinning in their graves to know this is what they’re represented by in today’s world.

May the Higher Power of your choice be your guide as we crack the books, studying for November 4 so we can exercise our franchise in an informed manner and make the right choices for this country.

The Best Argument for Campaign Reform

October 31st, 2008

An article in the Wall Street Journal, that liberal rag, ran an article and it really caught my eye.

At last, a fair fight...

At last, a fair fight... Photo: ABC News

A new survey shows most Americans are willing to pay more taxes if that’s what it takes to get the nation back on track.

Democrats say it’s an indicator that voters want change.  Republicans say it’s just marketing.

The Wall Street Journal, Barack Obama and the Republican Party have made a terrific case for substantive campaign reform.

The Wall Street Journal / NBC News telephone poll showed that voters preferred Sen. Obama – who Republicans have been accusing of planning tax increases to pay for his programs and to “spread the wealth” – over Sen. McCain, the putative fiscal conservative in the presidential race.  The mid-October poll showed voters preferring Obama by 14 points.

Republicans claim that Sen. Obama’s winning voters over by outspending McCain and by shifting his positions to confuse the issues.  If he is, he’s simply doing what Republicans have done for decades.

Obama is a phenomenon.  Since declining public funding, he’s raised record amounts of money, record amounts of small contributions.  He’s rewritten the book on political money, even more than Bill Clinton and Howard Dean, while McCain is limping along on a shoestring of federal funding forced on him by a tired, discredited message.  Even a Democratic pollster quoted in the article suggests that Obama’s rise is based on a tactical versus philosophical factors.  Meaning, money talks.

That may be true.  I’m not ready to concede that Obama’s message of change – and the congruency of his image and record with that message – are irrelevant, or that people are too stupid to understand that McCain’s voting record on the economy, on entitlements and on the war have been in virtual lockstep with the current administration.

But in fact, money is an issue, and we may be about to see the ultimate proof of that: Americans are willing to elect an African American.

Personally, I think that’s an amazing thing.  But if you think about what a monumental step that would be, it should scare the crap out of you.  And it should send us back to the drawing board on campaign reform.

One thing I really do like about Obama is that he’s literally raised tens of millions in small contributions.  People who have never been involved in the political process, much less contributed to campaigns, have suddenly appeared on the radar.   I love this.  If that could be controlled, if corporate, union and bundled contributions could be squashed, if strict conditions could be imposed on 527s and other PAC animals, that might be the way to fund our primaries.

But when it comes to the general election, it needs to come down to two fighters on level turf.  A limited campaign – I like that 90 day kinda thing the Brits have – and equal funding.  Bring back the fairness doctrine and free and equal time for candidates in the general election.  Get the handlers out of negotiating terms for debates: show up or don’t, face the fire from audience and moderator questions, with followups.   Let the American people see who’s up to the job and who’s an empty suit for special interests.

Institute federal election standards, and lose this electoral college tomfoolery.

Then I think we might approach something that vaguely resembles what our founding fathers had in mind in designing our electoral process.

If we get through a clean election that isn’t thrown into the courts, I hope that in the midst of the myriad debacles facing our next president, campaign reform won’t get lost in the shuffle, either in the minds of our leaders or in the minds of the electorate.

If we go through another lawyered, litigated and adjudicated electoral charlie foxtrot, and then do nothing, we will truly be getting the government we deserve.

I appreciate all the positive comments from people who’ve found this blog.  Please, don’t forget to go by our storefront and help support the work we’re doing here. Not only will you help us pay the bills, but by ordering a shirt, a bag or a mug, you’ll get a nice memento of an amazing political season.

May the Higher Power of your choice guide your deliberations as we all take our voter handbooks, study the candidates, the races, the propositions and issues, and then exercise on franchise next Tuesday.

Capitalism Meets Reality on the Plains of Armageddon

October 26th, 2008

Henry Paulson and Co. keep kicking the crap out of that seemingly dead horse called the economy,

Give him another jolt, Doc?

Give him another jolt, Doc?

administering jolt after blistering jolt of stimulus.

It’s not the economy, stupid: it’s the people running it.

Alan Greenspan treated us this last week to his stimulating econobabble once again, and the gist of it was that there was nothing wrong with the models.  After all, they were based on the work of Nobel Laureates and the best minds in global economics.  These infintely nuanced models of how the market would and should react under different conditions had one thing in common with an early attempt at applying artificial intelligence to human endeavors, called “expert systems”. 

What they had in common was… they didn’t work.  And they didn’t work because critical factors involving human motivations and tendencies were ignored or thought inconsequential to the larger and more elegant mathematical argument.

When pressed by legislators, the Maestro, as Bob Woodward and others have dubbed Greenspan, obliquely admitted that he may have been wrong in some respects. 

Two important things that the free marketers and the high-flying economists seem to miss consistently:

1)  Humans in these systems rarely act altruistically, and

2)  Corporations, though deemed persons under the law, are persons without moral grounding, without conscience, without native intelligence, and having only two imperatives – survival at any cost, and neverending growth without regard to consequences.

I don’t think I want one living in MY neighborhood.

The fact is that unbridled capitalism, that is a free-market system without restraint, will eventually destroy itself, just as a socialist or communist system with no room for individual expression or recognition will.

With any luck, we’re as close to economic Armageddon as we’re gonig to get.  The bottom may be soft, and the markets may muddle around for a bit longer – six months or a year at worst, hopefully – but the people making up this economy are sound, they are motivated, and maybe for the first time in many years, a lot of them are hungry, some literally, some figuratively.  

And it’s that hunger, that passion, that drive to thrive that will ultimately bring us back.

It’s the oversight and the leadership that has to change, as well as the culture of the business world.  Big business needs to be reminded – beaten like a rented mule if necessary – that with great power and great wealth comes great responsiblity.  Stockholders need to be reminded of this by management, and if reinvesting in people and in communities shaves a few percentage points off profits, well, that’s just part of good corporate citizenship.  It’s part of the price tag of the bargain between business and the taxpayers who are bailing out Wall Street.

The government has given the recalcitrant economic institutions the carrot.  Now, if they persist in their backward-looking and non-helpful hoarding of resources, continuing the credit crunch, the boys and girls in Washington need to bring out the stick.

It needs to be made abundantly clear to these companies that the taxpayer stake must be served, and if the existing management can’t find its way clear to endorse that, changes may be in order.

And now, for a shameless self plug…

TheManWhoBrokeTheWorld.com is a private endeavor.  It’s self supported, and one of the ways that it does that is by offering merchandise with the bawdy political images potrayed in the thumbnails on the web site.

Roll your mouse over the thumbnail images and you’ll see them appear in the main box at the left, where you can read the descriptions:

  • Sarah Palin – “She IS the bridge to nowhere”
  • Dick Cheney – “Go f–k yourself, I already did”
  • Barack Obama – “Believe he can change the world”
  • and all the rest.

Click on the image of your choice, and you’ll be whisked immediately to CafePress, where you can select from scores of different items to have your favorite image emblazoned upon.

You’re actually ordering the item from CafePress, and a small portion of the price comes back to TMWBTW.com.  But every penny helps defray the costs.

Now, as we’re running toward the finish line, wear your beliefs on your shirt, and preserve a bit of the insantity of the 2008 election for posterity.

We thank you for your support and may the Higher Power of your choice rock your day.  The finish line is within sight.

George Bailey, Where Are You When We Need You?

October 22nd, 2008

The consequences of the credit meltdown really started hitting

Not a good sign: George Bailey meets a black crow. Photo Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Not a good sign: George Bailey meets a black crow. Photo Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

me over the weekend.  Yes, I had some clients who were being really slow about paying, but they were being communicative, which always helps.

Imagine my surprise when I got not one but two letters from a major credit card vendor that I will not name, other than to say that part of its name rhymes with “sex-dress”.  This illustrious company, with which I’ve had a rather long relationship and mostly unblemished, basically slashed my credit to the balance on account on both my personal and business cards.  I’d always found them accomodating and even helpful.  Then – poof! – all that goodwill and business trust went out the effin’ window.  I was assured by a helpful supervisor – who I finally got through to after two days of calling and attempting to log in on the account web site – that it was not a reflection on me, or my payment history, or my performance.  It was just that based on a credit report from one of the credit agencies – whose name also strangely rhymes with “sex” – they decided that, for a number of reasons to cut me and millions of other cardholders – business and consumer users alike – off at the knees because the sky was falling.

To redirect my irritation while trying to get through to someone, I did some research.  Apparently this little exercise goes on annually, and in the past about 20 percent of cardholders got an adjustment in their credit line, either up or down.  Every time it’s happened to me, I’ve either gotten increased or left at level.  On some cards, I’ve actually asked them to reduce my credit line, because I had no use for the card but didni’t want to cancel it for fear of ruining my fine FICO score.

These days, however, that percentage of review has gone UP to 50%, and I’m guessing there were damned few who got their credit lines adjusted up.

Despite the kind blandishments of the very earnest supervisor that it was not a reflection on me, but a reflection on the market, I pointed out to him that based on a credit report – and studies have shown that your friendly neighborhood credit reporting agency can have serious errors in your report as much as 79% of the time – his company made a blanket decision that affected millions of individuals like me who were no different the day before we got their poison pen letter than the day after.

Here’s a link to that report, and the percentages of screwups and bonehead goofs will astound you.

http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/financial-privacy–security/financial-privacy–security/mistakes-do-happen-a-look-at-errors-in-consumer-credit-reports

In IT’S WONDERFUL LIFE, Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, the head of the local savings and loan in Potterville.  When the fiscal poop hits the fan and there’s a run on the S&L, George has to appeal to the kinder instincts of his long-time customers to not drain the coffers.  When a big deposit goes awry thanks to doddy old Uncle Billie, George contemplates suicide; but a benevolent angel named Clarence shows him the greater loss that would occur, not just to him but to people he cared about, and people he barely knew.

In the end, the money is found, the hometown institution and its customers are saved, and gee, it IS a wonderful life.

I sincerely believe that’s what we’ll come out of this current meltdown believing; because, dammit, this is a magnificent country with good people.  It’s just that there are people, both in and out of government, who have gone to great lengths to poison our faith in the system, sometimes out of greed, sometimes for ideological reasons. 

I’m not talking about capitalism.  I’m talking about something much greater.  I’m talking about the American Experiment, still in progress, where people of all races, colors, creeds, religions and socio-economic backgrounds live together, believe in themselves, in each other, and in our institutions.  In a country that believes in self-reliance, and also believes in giving neighbors, or strangers, or people they’ve never met and will likely never meet, a hand when it’s needed.

I have a friend.  He and I are polar opposites politically, but we are both men of good will.  He, on the eve of his retirement, went back to war.  At the age of 58, he’s working for a contractor “over there” teaching police and militia the principles of winning hearts and minds.  Every other day, I hear of a bombing or an attack not far from him, and I remember him in my prayers.  I am doing my small part, telling stories, running a few small businesses, working for a non-profit and sharing my thoughts on this blog as we run up to the election.  I have little doubt how my friend will vote, but I suspect this time it may stick in his craw a bit.   But that he and I could be friends says something.  As a matter of fact Yakov Smirnoff said it: What a country!

But back to my favorite credit institution.

Some day soon, this will blow over.  In a matter of months or a maybe few years, things will likely go back to something resembling normal.  And when it does, I won’t be taking my business back to the “sex-dress” company.  I’ll be looking for George Bailey.   Because surprisingly, there are a few of them out there, doing business the old fashioned way, tempering fiscal analysis with relationship.  And many of those banks and credit unions are doing well, they have money to lend.  And they will help people.

So, to the top management of Contrarian Sex Dress: you’d better fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride for you even when the storm is over.  People will remember how they were treated.

So, to the top management of the Republican Party: fasten your seatbelts and check the airbags.  Against my better judgement – because I know how adept you are at vote caging, registration deleting and all sorts of other neat tricks – I think you’re going to get your heads handed to you on a platter on November 4.

The British have a child’s poem, commemorating Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up Parliament:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I know of no reason gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/remember_remember_the_5th_november.htm

I’m trying to come up with one as good for this November 4th.  In the meantime, remember the big picture, the big story: The people who brought you here, won’t get you out.  And neither will the ones following in their footsteps.

Vote change.  Vote Obama.  Vote Biden.  Vote Democratic in your local and national legislative races.

And may the Higher Power of your choice vet your credit report and watch over your bank account.

Barry (Goldwater) and The Bomb

October 19th, 2008

Colin Powell has purchased partial redemption by crossing party lines to endorse Barack Obama.  His action is particularly timely considering today’s post.

Previously, I opined that McCain and Palin weren’t evil, just not good enough.

The stakes are too high to stay home

The stakes are too high to stay home

Because they support the status quo, and because of the unseemly crew lurking in the background.

With global economic chaos and political polarization not seen since the heyday of the Cold War, we need hope, a new direction, not more of the same.

There is a historical issue of huge significance, and it’s weighing on my mind.  I don’t hear anyone talking about it, and it may be paranoid to even bring it up.  But I think it highlights the absolutely critical need to make the right decision

When Barry Goldwater ran for president, his campaign ran off the rails for a lot of reasons.  But one memorable campaign ad pictured a small child in a field of flowers, followed by the blast of a hydrogen bomb.  See the ad here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyVn9k6d1og

Why am I concerned?

  • History repeats itself.  We tend to have somewhat predictable economic cycles.  And those cycles have reverberations in the aftermath.
  • About 75 years ago, we sank into the Great Depression, which was followed by a slow and painful recovery.  And then a World War. 
  • The toys of war in 1939 didn’t include atomic weapons, like those which brought down the curtain on World War II
  • The stars are now aligned for a return engagement

The 1930s were a time of incredible challenge.  John Steinbeck chronicled a small slice of it in The Grapes of Wrath, capturing the desperation of people who’d fallen from the bottom to the sub-basement of society.  The world is awash with such people these days.

The 1930s saw the rise of national socialism in Germany, facism in Italy and military adventurism in Japan.  Financial, social and political forces collided and the result was a global war.  One that was ended essentially by the use of atomic weapons.

Today, we’re seeing the resurgence of authoritarian rule and of radical theocracies, promoting values antithetical to those of democracy.

Now, suicide bombers are driving buses into government buildings.

Now, your neighbor could be cooking up a nuke in the basement.  Or the family room.

Has there ever been a clearer indication that the days of militarism other than for defense are over?

We need to extend our power by first recovering it, then recovering the respect with which America was once blessed.  We can only do that through fundamental change.  Then we need to go about the business of winning hearts and minds, not blowing holes in them.  Can you imagine the good the billions we’re flushing down the toilet in Iraq and Afghanistan could do – here and at home?

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are, in my opinion, the best instruments for change on the political stage.  Symbolically, Obama’s election would make history and demonstrate the achievement of a major milestone in our growth as a nation.  Obama’s idealism, Biden’s experience and the players supporting them have solid credentials in every sector of economic, social and political life.  They represent the best choice, the only choice if we want to change history.

At the end of the famous H-Bomb commercial, you heard the voice of Lyndon Johnson:

“These are the stakes – to make a world in which all God’s children can live, or to go into the darkness. We must either love each other, or we must die.”

“Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

History repeats itself.  Once again, we have a world on the brink.  And a candidate who once went by the name Barry.  But this time, the theme of that commercial should play in his favor

Vote for Barack Obama on November 4.  Ignore the polls: The stakes are too high to stay home.

And may the Higher Power of your choice present a clear vision for a better future to our leaders and the electorate.  The world is watching.

Are McCain and Palin Evil? There are Bigger Stakes…

October 18th, 2008

As we put the debates behind us and the rhetoric heats up in anticipation of

It's too important not to understand

It's too important not to understand

election day, it’s a good time to pause and take stock. 

During the debate Obama clained that McCain’s ads were 100% negative.  While not true for the entire campaign, it was apparently true for the 30 days prior.  It seems apparent, in the news, in the polls and to my own perception, that McCain and Palin are moving issues to back burner status and going negative.  This means we’ll probably be hearing and seeing some pretty evil stuff, particularly as the 527s flush their crap into the media. 

Because they’re going negative, are John McCain and Sarah Palin evil? 

That’s a valid question, and I think that clearly, they’re not.  I don’t think that’s the crucial issue. 

I do think that many of the people aligned behind them are just more of the same that we’ve seen from this and the previous Republican administrations, and they’re not the stars, not the conservative intellects. 

The targets of my concern are the nabobs of neo-conservatism that have been tearing at the heart of our democracy and our regulated captitalistic system in pursuit of a twisted global vision of American hegemony.  They are the rabid ideologues, the Project for a New American Century zealots and a whole host of other crazies.  I do  believe they are evil and that’s why McCain’s campaign needs to be stopped decisively, to send a message to this sector of the American political landscape and to the world at large, that this is not the vision of the American people.  They’ve brought us to the edge of the financial precipice, and they’ve brought us to the brink of global conflict over two critical issues: energy and theology. 

I have no doubts regarding the misguided corruption of the Bush cabal.  I think Tom Franks makes some credible arguments in his new book, The Wrecking Crew (http://www.amazon.com/Wrecking-Crew-How-Conservatives-Rule/dp/0805079882/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224343364&sr=8-1

I sincerely hope that Joe Biden will remain true to his word about investigating and pursuing any crimes perpetrated by them.  That would be an extraordinary service to this country, and establish an example for the future.

I reserve a lesser focus of my displeasure for the small – and hopefully shrinking – minority that voted for the Bush regime and would continue to do so, either for Bush or his proxies, which I feel McCain and Palin would be.   Clearly, the majority of these voters aren’t voting for the peace and prosperity we’re now enjoying, they’re voting in fear and hatred of “the other” represented by Barack Obama, the Democrats and people of progressive inclinations. 

Are John McCain and Sarah Palin evil?

No.  As a matter of fact, when you scrape away all the political feces, they’re probably decent people.  They’ve just succumbed to the political expediencies of the process rather than adhering to their base principles.   It’s about winning at all costs.  And we can’t afford that.

Would McCain and Palin even be just more of the same?  I’ll be charitable and say I truly believe, probably not. 

But they would be too much of the same to shift the course of history into a new path.  The momentum of our times has the characteristics of a super-carrier: only vast forces applied in a perpendicular plane can overcome the inertia of this massive flow of history.  Even with the best of intentions, which I would question, McCain and Palin would lack the directness of force in opposition to the status quo to steer us away from the precipice.  Their minions and proxies would undercut the effort to effect change, and in general, the GOP fails to inspire within me any degree of confidence that their plans could put us on the right course.

The bottom line is… They’re not good enough.  They’re wrong for the times, and they don’t know it.

And getting on the right path, or at least a less perilous path, is absolutely critical at this moment in time. 

Humans are supposedly less than 2 percent different genetically from chimpanzees.  I don’t have enough confidence in “good enough for government work” at this juncture. 

Nothing less than the best leadership we can lay our hands on will do.  For my money, the best men on the stage are Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  I honestly believe that Barack Obama can change the world for the better, and I have no doubt that Joe Biden is the kind of fighter we need, and a good man in the clinch.

We need leaders who have the courage to speak softly without brandishing the big stick, who realize that the world has changed.  Who know that despite our strength as a nation, we’re no longer in a position to speak and expect the global community to jump in line.  Because if we miscalculate this time, the potential for disaster is unthinkable.

So the choice you make now is incredibly important.  Forget the fact that in the future, some may look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

Decades ago, a guy shot another guy.  In one case, Archduke Franz Ferdinand took the bullet and it sparked the First World War.  In another case, John Fitzgerald Kennedy died, and a tide of change was weakened.

If you do nothing else of note for the next decade, go out and exercise your franchise come November 4.  Think long and hard before marking your choice. 

With the lessons of history at our backs, this could be the most important election of our lifetime.

So button up your rain coats.  The airwaves are going to get nasty.

I mentioned bigger stakes.  Watch for our next post.  It may scare you.

May the Higher Power of your choice keep the Light of Reason alive and fan the flames of peace.

P.S. – If you think we’re doing a good job, visit our web store at www.CafePress.com/TMWBTW and spread the word.  If a picture is worth 10,000 words, these images can spread a lot of truth.

McCain Shoots, He… Almost Scores

October 16th, 2008

In Wednesday night’s final presidential debate,

And the winner is...

And the winner is...

 John McCain  came away leading on points, almost scoring with the best zinger of the night.

“I’m not George Bush.  If you’d wanted to run against George Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Great line.  If Obama’s riposte – which I’ll paraphrase as, “If I mistook you for Pres. Bush, it’s only because you vote so much like him, and your plans are so similar…” – weren’t true, it might have given McCain a knockdown.  It didn’t.

McCain came out aggressive, and brought the new Republican poster child – Joe the Plumber – into the tag-team fray.  He also sought to bring the spectre of Bill Ayres into the debate, though Obama popped that balloon effectively.  McCain sent his player off the field, claiming he didn’t care about some “broken down terrorist”.  But I bet the Ayres shibboleth won’t go away amongst Republicans, and he’ll be suited up for the Palin-McCain road trips.

Personally, I would have liked Obama to have been more forceful, but on political terms, he was laying back blocking and occasionally counterpunching, in the knowledge that his job was not to score points, but to avoid a KO in the way of a major slip up.  In this situation, Obama’s head-oriented approach makes him appear tentative rather than thoughtful.

There was a lot of heat generated in this final debate, but I don’t know that much light was shed.  I think the immediate polling afterward – reflecting the audience opinions of McCain as aggressive, mean-spirited – pretty much captured the tone of the evening.  It was fascinating watching the real-time “movie preview”-style monitoring of viewer feelings during the segments, displayed in line graph form in a windown – and I was surprised by how relatively stable independent voters were, while Republicans and Democrats see-sawed up and down over the baseline. 

Even Republicans veered into negative ratings of McCain’s demeanor and behavior on stage, but it probably didn’t change any Republican minds.  In fairness, few Democrats were probably converted either. 

It does show, however, that polls be damned, the contest is not over.  McCain (Bush III) is still in the game, and the ability to capture independents will either ensure Obama’s victory, or enable McCain to squeeze into a photo finish for the record books.

I’ve seen Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the past two elections, when the deck was stacked against the Bush Regime.  I doubt that will happen this time.

McCain took his shot and he almost scored.  Close, but no banana.

Yet anything can happen in the next two weeks.  Just don’t let Obama or Biden near a tank in a goofy hat.  And be ready to lawyer up: this election for the White House – with the potential for a Democratic sweep in the Congress and potential Supreme Court nominations in the wings – is too important to lose.

May the Higher Power of your choice give you hope in the midst of the chaos of our days.  There is hope.

For My Friend, Ruth

October 13th, 2008

I spoke with my friend Ruth at my daughter’s birthday on Sunday.

I never realized she and I were on different sides of the political divide, which either says a lot about what a lovely person she is, or how uncurious and naive I am, or both.  But what she said affected me a lot.

She said she felt like she’d been under assault during this political season because of her fiscally conservative views, and she brought up some good points.

She didn’t think it was fair the current administration was being tarred with all the difficulties we’re currently facing: other presidents had a chance to change things and did nothing.

In all honesty, I think she’s right on that point.  But unfortunately, the stuff hit the fan on W’s watch.  And  his administration was in the tank for every deregulatory initiative that crossed his desk and many that didn’t.  Under the Bush administration, government agencies like the Dept. of Energy didn’t even enforce their own rules about alternative fuel vehicles in government and private fleets.  The EPA began rolling back hard-won environmental regulations.  They had to be sued and defeated by environmental groups to get any action.  And then you add on things like the signing statements – the President declaring soto voce whether his administration was going to enforce any law they had signed off on or not – and the picture of this regime starts to look like something out of a Tim Burton movie, just not so funny.  So I think it’s difficult to excuse the Bush cabal for their actions.  They pursued them with such vigor, and with such dishonesty.

And Bush might have skated, if we weren’t immersed in an international war against terrorism.  Granted, they attacked us.  But we attacked a country that had little or nothing to do with the events of  9/11.  We went after the country that our president and his father had a beef with.  And that war has sucked us dry.  If the war wasn’t costing us so dearly in blood and treasure, W and his friends might have gotten away with their escalation of the assault on the middle class.  But that war, combined with the collapse of the financial markets, has put our nation in peril.  The opportunity for unity, domestically and with the world at large, was squandered.  Our conduct of this war has put us in bad stead with our friends around the world.  It has polarized the nation.  And our fiscal conduct has been as bad or worse.

My friend Ruth was very worried that, if Obama were elected, small businesses would suffer because of the size of his proposed social programs: how can he cut taxes AND pursue all his proposed programs?  He won’t get to do all of them: he’ll be President, not king.  Besides, George Bush and his administration cut taxes in a time of war, which is unprecedented, as far as I know.

Why was there no outcry from conservatives about that?

Where was the shared sacrifice of those “good wars”?

How many legislators of either party had a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Honestly, I think that if Obama and O’Biden – as Sen. McCain referred to Citizen Joe in one of the debates -can get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, money will be freed up to do many constructive things.

And like other presidents, he won’t get his way in all things.  He’ll have to choose his battles.  His tax plans are targeted to benefit those earning less than $250,000 a year, whether they’re families or small businesses; and the majority of small businesses fall in that category.  If you’re making more than that, there may be an increased burden.  But frankly, some of those people have gotten a free ride for 8 years.  It’s time for the rest of us to get a break.  Particularly those who’ve been socked with the Alternative Minimum Tax.

After Ruth and I spoke, we were able to reassure each other that within our friendship and our privilege as Americans, we could agree to disagree and accord each other the respect we deserved.  I don’t think I changed her mind, although I think she did grant me some ground on the aspect of the war and its impact.

Monday morning, I got a pleasant surprise: Paul Krugman, a respected economist who also writes for the New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his earlier works.  Krugman is a determined and stalwart critic of the Bush administration’s economic policies.  But as deserving as he is, I think this award was also a message to all of us as Americans, that the policies pursued in our name are disliked by many governments around the globe.  We’ve paid a tremendous price in terms of our prestige and standing in the world over the past eight years.  It’s time to do something about that.

It’s time for a change.  A big change.  A change that John “Bush Lite” McCain can’t deliver.

I can respect Ruth’s position even if I don’t agree with it.  I don’t know if she’d agree with me that her party has sent us careening down the road to ruin and over the cliff.  But she’s an intelligent, compassionate human being and I respect her views.

Is Barack Obama the right man at the right time?  I don’t know.  But he is the best bet we’ve got in this election, and he’s my man.

In the meantime, God love you, Ruth.  You have a good heart and we disagree.  But that’s A-OK in this country.

May the Higher Power of your choice provide you good counsel and guidance in the big decisions to come.

Who We Are, and Why We Do What We Do…

October 12th, 2008

It being a slow news day, I’m going to throw in a change of pace post.

Howard Beal, we love you...

Howard Beal, we love you...

I’ve gotten a huge number of kind and supportive posts, and a few critical ones.  There were also a couple of wingnuts.  But overall, very positive.

One email particularly struck a note with me, and I wanted to share it by way of explanation of why we do what we do here. 

” You guys are such a relief. I’ve been sending your site link to everyone I know. And I consider myself very conservative, but not this fascistic neocon crap. Lately it’s looked like we were about two months months away from Fox News giving some rightwing goon’s opinion that we should round up the Jews because they forced the government to make bad loans to poor blacks in order to bankrupt the country so the Illuminati could take over the country. The article on free market’s in free fall would be a great basis for my contention that free market theory is not to blame, but rather it’s not having free markets for the last 30 years or so. They’ve all been rigged to concentrate wealth at the expense of the poor and middle class: media, health care, insurance, oil, banking, politics, in one big daisy chain of greedy cocksuckers, who co-opt for their own profit those benefits of the people that can only derive from a collaborative, just, elected capital, such as utilities, transportation, mail, defense, education, and safety. Why best derived from there? Because when profit instead of service is the motive, difficult or inconvenient parts of the population are ignored because they are not profitable. Well, I’d rather read what else you come up with than blather on about freedom, rights, and equality. But I do have a slight request that I think would make recommending viewer to your site more successful in terms of impact and repeat visits. I wouldn’t change a thing about the site. It’s true and cleverly done. But if the articles stuck to their very intelligent arguments without the self-indulgence of little jibes, more visitors would be stay to read, rather than getting their hackles up on what is after all a touchy subject, especially these days with all the cult of personality going on. Even something so slight as Reagan’s being said to skip on to the scene is at best self-indulgent and at least antithetical to your attracting a huge following, which I would like to see you do. Sincerely, A.S.”

First, I appreciate his comments in general, and I agree generally with his arguments.  And I understand his suggestions about the tone.  Believe it or not, I do consciously edit the tone in order not to offend the sensibilities of too many people. 

Because I’d like liberals, disenfranchised conservatives and libertarians to feel welcome in my audience.  And if communists, socialists and Presbyterians want to join in, the more the merrier.  I may have tremendous affection for Hunter S. Thompson, his writing and his gonzo sensibilities, but I similarly respect the pen of William F. Buckley, whose vocabulary, subtlety of expression and occasionally withering wit inspire my continuing efforts at refining my own sense of expression.

May the Higher Power of your choice open hearts and minds, and move us all to meaningful action


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