Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Al Quaeda leader murdered in America’s permanent robotic global war

Anwar Al-Awlaki

The Obama Administration is celebrating this morning the murder of yet another Al Quaeda leader, U.S. born Anwar Al-Awlaki, who had been operating from Yemen. 

Although it took a crew of Navy Seals to execute Osama bin Laden, American forces reportedly took out Al-Awlaki with a drone attack on a convoy in which he was traveling. 

But hold on: the AP reports that civil liberties groups are questioning our government’s authority to kill an American without trial.

We have to ask ourselves, where and when will the violence come to an end. In a post here several years ago, I quoted Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, who, in his book, Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen Response to Terrorism, wrote:

Many of us claim to be disciples of the Buddha, of Jesus Christ, of Mohammed, but we don’t listen to their teachings. Hatred cannot overcome hatred. Violence cannot overcome violence. The bible, the Koran, the Torah, and the Sutras teach us that. But we don’t always believe in our spiritual path. We must think that our spiritual teachings are not realistic, because we have put so much faith in military and financial power. We think that money and weapons can make us strong. But our country has a lot of weapons and a lot of money and we are still very afraid and insecure.

America’s love affair with drones as our weapon of choice in the so-called war on terror, both abroad and possibly here at home, is evidence of our escalating fear and insecurity. 

Tom Engelhardt offers a chilling post on the latest in guarding the empire:

In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around.  Others countries are desperate to have them.  Almost anyone who writes about them becomes a groupie.  Reporters exploring their onrushing future swoon at their potentially wondrous techno-talents.  They are, of course, the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators and Reapers

As CIA Director, Leon Panetta called them “the only game in town.”  As Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates pushed hard to up their numbers and increase their funding drastically.  The U.S. Air Force is already training more personnel to become drone “pilots” than to pilot actual planes.  You don’t need it in skywriting to know that, as icons of American-style war, they are clearly in our future -- and they’re even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Whatever happened to using military force as a last resort?

Admiral Mullen, retiring chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, photo courtesy of

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius raises an interesting question in his commentary on the retirement of Admiral Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ignatius begins:

WASHINGTON -- Talking to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his final week in the job, I found myself wondering if we are entering a "post-military" age, when our top officers understand that the biggest problems can't be solved with military power.

Time and again, versions of this theme surfaced in my conversation with Mullen. He has been, by widespread assessment, a very effective chair who restored the position to prominence in national security decision-making. But the problems he's leaving unresolved lie at the periphery of the military space, where conventional weapons can't reach.

Ignatius' column highlights the execution of bin Laden:

Military officers are by nature problem-solvers who like to fix things, or shoot them, or get around them some other way. So what brings a smile to Mullen's face, right off, is the feat of sheer military prowess in the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Mullen remembers the mess that was Desert One in 1980 -- helicopters that didn't work, aircraft that crashed, shortage of parts, bad training. Watching that fiasco, he recalls, "I sensed that we were in trouble as a military."

And Ignatius concludes:

As Mullen prepares to leave Friday, the federal government is shuddering with the politics of paralysis. So I ask him, as a last question, about the political divisions he has tried to bridge as a nonpartisan chair. He muses that it's odd to be lecturing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about governance when "there's a lot of things we don't get right" at home.

What America needs, he says finally, is the same requirement that makes the military work, which is "accountability for outcomes." A political system that works -- whether it's in Islamabad or Kabul or Washington -- is one that takes responsibility for solving the problems that do not yield to force of arms. 

Sane people continue to be troubled by the execution of bin Laden without giving due consideration to taking him prisoner. And mention of the use of Predator drones in Pakistan and elsewhere is noticeably absent from Ignatius’ column.  But it’s that final sentence that I find most disturbing, even frightening: “A political system that works -- whether it's in Islamabad or Kabul or Washington -- is one that takes responsibility for solving the problems that do not yield to force of arms.”

It sounds as if the political system that works, according to Admiral Mullen, is one that responds first with armed might and if that doesn’t solve the problem, then try other approaches; hopefully, that's not what the admiral meant. If so, it would contradict Ignatius' opening comment regarding a "post-military age."  

In any case, we've had just cause to wonder more than once in recent years as to whatever happened to using military force as a last resort?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Saudi King boasts increased political rights for women while flogging continues

Photo courtesy of
A Katalusis post last June highlighted the shame of Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive a car or ride a bicycle under penalty of flogging. Today, the CNN Wire Staff reported the barbaric treatment of women continues unabated despite King Abdullah’s recent announcement:

(CNN) -- Saudi King Abdullah announced greater political participation for women in the conservative kingdom this week, but Tuesday, a human rights group decried the promised reforms in light of a flogging sentence for a woman who dared to drive a car.

Amnesty International said a Saudi woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for getting behind the wheel. The group said the harsh sentence demonstrated the scale of discrimination against women in the Islamic nation, and it urged the dismantling of the "whole system of women's subordination."

"Flogging is a cruel punishment in all circumstances, but it beggars belief that the authorities in Saudi Arabia have imposed lashes on a woman apparently for merely driving a car," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

"Belatedly allowing women to vote in council elections is all well and good, but if they are still going to face being flogged for trying to exercise their right to freedom of movement, then the King's much-trumpeted 'reforms' actually amount to very little."

Read more:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fixing the economy: Bill Clinton’s new book, “Back to Work”

Photo courtesy of

Bill Clinton’s new book, “Back to Work,”  can only add to the current upsurge of buyers’ remorse over the Democratic Party’s sellout in the 2008 primary to the hip, cool Barack Obama while simultaneously trashing both the most popular candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill.  Bill, you recall, presided over an epoch of peace and prosperity during his administration.

Former president Bill Clinton's new book "Back to Work," scheduled for November release, will outline his plan to get the US economy back on track.

Former president Bill Clinton created a publishing phenomenon when his 2004 memoir “My Life” sold more than 2.4 million copies in hardcover.

“I wrote this book because I love my country and I’m concerned about our future,” Mr. Clinton is reported to have said in a statement. “As I often said when I first ran for president in 1992, America at its core is an idea – the idea that no matter who you are or where you’re from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have the freedom and opportunity to pursue your own dreams and leave your kids a country where they can chase theirs.”

SYD first tipped me off to the publication of “Back to Work,” which is getting wide coverage this morning. Here’s a sample from a quick Google search:


New York Times (blog) - 3 days ago
In “Back to Work,” Mr. Clinton will make the case for why government matters, explaining his ideas on energy, job creation and financial responsibility, ...

· - Cached
3 days ago – Former President Bill Clinton is Back To Work with a new book due out in November, via Knopf. The 200-page book examines the current ...

· - Cached
3 days ago – Former President Bill Clinton is offering up a plan to fix the economy and push the United States into the future in a new book to be published ...

· - Cached
3 days ago – Bill Clinton promises to look forward to the country's future in his upcoming book, Back to Work.

6 days ago – NEW YORK — For Bill Clinton, it is again the economy, stupid.

· - Cached
3 days ago – Former President Bill Clinton will detail a plan to get out of the current economic crisis and "lay a foundation for long-term prosperity" in a new ...

· - Cached
Jun 19, 2011 – Bill Clinton, Andrew Hetherington for Newsweek. 14 WAYS TO PUT AMERICA BACK TO WORK. Next week in Chicago, the Clinton Global ...

· - Cached
Bill Clinton is writing another book! Called Back to Work, it's going to tell everyone how to get America “back into the future business.” In a statement from Knopf, ...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obama campaign courts women’s vote by exploiting Hillary Clinton’s strong leadership

Secretary Clinton speaks at the host breakfast to honor women entrepreneurs who attended the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in the Franklin Room at the State Department. State Department Photo by Michael Gross.

So I didn’t notice that President Obama began his midwest bus tour in the Twin Cities, the home of Katalusis, until Rick Stafford, an old friend from way back, posted on Facebook: “Had the opportunity to visit with President Obama today at the American Legion Convention in Mpls. My advice to him was to be very, very bold with JOBS, JOBS, JOBS ideas!”

Good advice, Rick, given the toll the economy is taking on Obama’s poll numbers.

Evidently the Obama campaign is struggling to ignite the electorate, even among ethnic minorities and core liberals. According to Peter Wallsten at the Washington Post:

President Obama’s campaign is developing an aggressive new program to expand support from ethnic minority groups and other traditional Democratic voters as his team studies an increasingly narrow path to victory in next year’s reelection effort.

The program, called “Operation Vote,” underscores how the tide has turned for Obama, whose 2008 brand was built on calls to unite “red and blue America.” Then, he presented himself as a politician who could transcend traditional partisan divisions, and many white centrists were drawn to the coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.

Wallsten describes what the campaign plans to do about the tidal change in the electorate:

Operation Vote will function as a large, centralized department in the Chicago campaign office for reaching ethnic, religious and other voter groups. It will coordinate recruitment of an ethnic volunteer base and push out targeted messages online and through the media to groups such as blacks, Hispanics, Jews, women, seniors, young people, gays and Asian Americans.

The inclusion of women among those groups hit home:

A women’s page features a photo gallery of high-level female administration officials under the headline “Barack Obama’s Strong Leaders,” including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Here’s a news flash for the Obama campaign: Hillary Clinton took the job of secretary of state to serve her country, not to have her hard work and leadership exploited to win the women’s vote in 2012 by the same Democratic Party leaders who gave a thumbs up to the sexism and misogyny she endured in 2008; it's no thanks to them that Secretary Clinton is now the most popular politician in America. Um, that's the same female presidential candidate in 2008 that the DNC labeled as "too polarizing."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

US continues to kill Pakistani civilians with drone attacks while accusing that nation of “exporting violent extremism”

Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff

America’s troubled relationship with Pakistan may be due in part to our addiction to the use of Predator drones, which are estimated to kill 10 Pakistani civilians for every militant. Keep in mind that our use of drones has increased in the several wars we’ve participated in since the day when newly inaugurated Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

It should have come as no surprise as reported in The Telegraph that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently “accused Pakistan of ‘exporting’ violent extremism to Afghanistan by allowing militants to act as an ‘arm’ of the intelligence service.”

Today’s editorial in the NY Times titled The Latest Ugly Truth About Pakistan applauds Admiral Mullen for being a “truth teller,” but fails to mention the corresponding ugly truth of our drone attacks and the resulting civilian deaths:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a truth teller. He led the way among senior uniformed officers in urging repeal of the unconscionable “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military and pressed to shift more troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Now, as he prepares to retire next week after a 43-year career, he is telling another hard truth. On Thursday, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan’s spy agency — Inter-Services Intelligence — played a direct role in supporting insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul last week, killing 16 people. He also said that with ISI support, the Haqqani network of terrorists planned and conducted an earlier truck bombing on a NATO outpost that killed 5 people and wounded 77 coalition troops, and other recent attacks. 

This was a calculated revelation after Admiral Mullen and other top officials made countless pleas and remonstrances to Pakistan trying to get it to sever all support and ties with the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other extremists who are killing American troops and spreading mayhem on both sides of the border. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail (videos)

This just hit my inbox – check it out!


People in Massachusetts are frustrated with Washington. You can see it when they talk about their jobs, their bills, their homes, and their kids. I see it when I talk with people as I travel the state to talk about running for the U.S. Senate.

But frustration isn't the only thing I see. There's something else there, too: passion, hope, and the excitement that we are about to start something great.

I've spent my career teaching kids and fighting for middle class families, so I'll admit -- I haven't been to all that many political campaign launches.

But from what I saw across Massachusetts, I think this was different.

Take a look at the faces of the people I've been talking to. See for yourself.

With your help and your support, we can begin to look middle-class families in the eye again -- and fight to give them a fair shake.

Thank you for being a part of this,


Jon Stewart on class warfare (video)

The George H.W. Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, ME. Understandably, the former president’s son, George W. Bush, sponsored tax cuts for the rich during his presidency.

The cry of class warfare predictably raised in response to the Obama Administration’s most recent call to ask the rich to pay their fair share of taxes in a jobs plan that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare raises a question that wealthy conservatives have failed to answer persuasively if at all. So I continue to wonder why taxing the rich is seen as class warfare; whereas, dismantling programs that benefit the poor is called responsible governance.

Comedic genius Jon Stewart does a much better job of framing the question than I do. Watch the video below and laugh or cry as the spirit moves you:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Twenty years of Bob Schieffer is more than enough, thank you

Bob Schieffer

How well I remember CBS’s Bob Schieffer on camera in the 2008 primary cagily posing as a psychotherapist in order to align himself with his sexist, pseudo-liberal colleagues to support Barack Obama and shaft the Clintons. On that occasion, Schieffer wondered aloud if Bill Clinton was trying to sabotage his wife’s campaign.

The spin at Politico in their “On Media” section attempts to portray Schieffer on his 20th anniversary as moderator of Face the Nation as a spry old gentleman still having fun getting the best of the guests on his show, for example, his recent interview with Bill Clinton.

But if  you read Keach Hagey’s post carefully, it’s easy to see that despite Schieffer’s braggadocio following the interview, it was Clinton’s deft response to the final question that clearly demonstrated who was in command. Or as Maureen Dowd at the NY Times put it the other day, Bill showed Barry how the game should be played.

In other words, Mr. Schieffer, although you no doubt inadvertently gave him the opening, Bill Clinton was the star of your show, not you:

“Let me just ask you about one thing that our next guest on the broadcast, former Vice President Cheney, said,” Schieffer had asked. “He said your wife, Hillary Clinton, is the most competent person in the administration and suggested that maybe she would be a stronger candidate than Barack Obama. I wanted to give you a chance, if you care to, to endorse the vice president's statement.”

Clinton, being Clinton, handled it deftly.

“I very much agree that she's done a good job,” he replied. “But I also have a high regard for Vice President Cheney's political skills and I think one of those great skills is sowing discord among the opposition.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bill shows Barry how the game should be played

Bill Clinton on Rachael Ray show.

Yikes. Maureen Dowd is fast morphing into a Clinton supporter:

Whether Bill Clinton is being mischievous or helpful is never entirely clear. But the former president often manages to show the current president just how the game should be played.

When Barack Obama was languishing by the phone in July, yearning to hear from John Boehner on the elusive Grand Bargain, the Big Dog advised blowing off the obstructionists in Congress and invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. 

Clinton will often forcefully — and feelingly — frame the argument for Obama policies that would help the working class in a way that Obama himself, once hailed as a master communicator, can’t seem to muster.

On Sunday talk shows, Bill adroitly defended Barry against Dick Cheney’s sly jab that Hillary would make a stronger Democratic nominee in 2012 and against the Cajun ragin’ of James Carville.

And, on Tuesday in New York, as the airwaves thrummed with talk about whether President Obama provoked a “women” problem by letting the West Wing become too much of a frat house, Clinton showed how easy it is to get a roomful of women purring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elizabeth Warren leads Scott Brown in a general election match-up

She's got spine!

Breaking news from the Elizabeth Warren campaign in MA:

The first independent poll since Elizabeth announced her candidacy was released today:

The poll, by Public Policy Polling, shows Elizabeth Warren leading Scott Brown 46%-44% in a potential general election match-up.

Working men and women all across Massachusetts are frustrated with Washington and want someone on their side. They know Elizabeth will fight for them in the United States Senate.

But we know there's still a long way to go before any votes are cast in this election, and polls will go up and down. So we need your help to capitalize on our early momentum and build a strong grassroots campaign for the long haul.

Elizabeth Warren leads Scott Brown 46-44 in the latest poll. Join Elizabeth's grassroots campaign today -- and join the fight for working families!

Latest poll: @ElizabethForMA leads Scott Brown 46-44. Join her campaign for middle class families: Please RT!
People clearly responded to Elizabeth's call for Washington to stand on the side of working families as she traveled all across the state during her campaign kick-off last week. You could feel the energy and enthusiasm at every stop along the way.
What's important to Elizabeth is fighting for middle class families and changing the rules in Washington so working people in Massachusetts can get ahead.
Thousands of people like you across Massachusetts -- and across the country -- have joined Elizabeth to continue the fight on behalf of working families.
Now we need more people to stand up and fight, too.

Click here to share the news on Facebook or post on Twitter -- and help us build a strong grassroots campaign that can win on Election Day.

Thank you,
Doug Rubin
Senior Advisor
Elizabeth for MA

Monday, September 19, 2011

Progressive ideas off the table during 2012 campaign debates?

Blogging at the Christian Science Monitor, Robert Reich offers a disheartening forecast of the coming 2012 presidential race between either Romney or Perry and incumbent Obama (emphases mine):

Whether it’s Romney or Perry, he’s sure to attack everything Obama has done or proposed. And Obama, for his part, will have to defend his positions and look for ways to counterpunch.

Hence, the parameters of public debate for the next fourteen months.

Within these narrow confines progressive ideas won’t get an airing. Even though poverty and unemployment will almost surely stay sky-high, wages will stagnate or continue to fall, inequality will widen, and deficit hawks will create an indelible (and false) impression that the nation can’t afford to do much about any of it – proposals to reverse these trends are unlikely to be heard.

Neither party’s presidential candidate will propose to tame CEO pay, create more tax brackets at the top and raise the highest marginal rates back to their levels in the 1950s and 1960s (that is, 70 to 90 percent), and match the capital-gains rate with ordinary income.

You won’t hear a call to strengthen labor unions and increase the bargaining power of ordinary workers.

Read more:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The White House is a boys’ club!!?

Jon Favreau, Obama's head speechwriter on the left.

Tennessee Guerilla Women has the scoop:

Here's a surprise. According to a new book - by journalist Ron Suskind - the White House is a boys' club! The White House is a "hostile workplace" for women.

In that hostile boys' club, women are routinely ignored and excluded. Wow. Who could have ever predicted such a thing?

The author names names in “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President:”

Friday, September 16, 2011

America wakes up: 1/3 say we’d be better off with Hillary

Survey: Clinton the most popular political figure in U.S.

Well, what do you know? A nation hypnotized by chanting “yes, we can” in 08 is finally coming out of its Obama-induced trance. Mackenzie Weinger at Politico reports:

It should have been you, Hillary.

In a case of serious buyer’s remorse, one-third of Americans say the United States would be better off if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were president, according to a new poll Friday.

Clinton is the most popular national political figure in the country today, with 64 percent of Americans polled holding a favorable view of her, the Bloomberg poll shows.

And 34 percent say they think the U.S. would be in better shape if she had won the election over President Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elizabeth Warren announces her candidacy for MA Senate

Here's the news we've been waiting for:

How Team Obama plays the 2012 election game

The Hill’s Sam Youngman appears to be saying it’s just politics in his description of how Team Obama is maneuvering its man to win in 2012 – that would be the identical man that nearly the same team presented in 08 as the harbinger of the new politics.

So here’s  how Campaign 2012 is shaking out (highlights are mine):

 Youngman writes:

Sometimes it really doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. 

Team Obama is banking on it.

Because it’s like this: President Obama’s jobs bill isn’t going to pass right away.

And it won’t pass next week or likely even next month. 

And the dirty secret inside the White House is that while the jobs plan is what Obama really wants, he can live happily with the alternative — a fall battle that ends with Republicans voting against tax cuts for the middle class.

Because while Obama would love nothing more than another 1.9 million jobs, he feels like he can save his own job just by having the fight. And if he gets both the package and the fight over it, then Obama gets another four years at the White House. 

If that seems nakedly cynical for a man who promised hope and change, then welcome to the realities of reelection.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gov. Perry’s humble origins and his taste for lavish perks and travel

Well, thanks to Gov. Perry I could not have picked a better time to be reading "Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?”  And I can’t resist quoting her yet again this morning. Before you go to Ken Vogel’s piece at Politico on the governor and his perks, prepare yourself by reading this little gem on page 14 of Ivins’ book:

Texas legislators are natty dressers and careful about their attire. One West Texas legislator who was possessed of the appropriate committee chairmanship had the Highway Department build a rest stop at the exact edge of his district on the highway leading to Austin. The brick structure, which cost the taxpayers several thou, was not erected so motorists would have a place to relieve themselves. It was put up so the legislator would have a place to stop and change his gators (alligator shoes) as he drove back into his district from the capital. He feared the home folks would think he was gettin’ too toney if they saw him in his gators ‘stead of his boots.

Okay, now read this selection from Vogel’s piece and imagine how much fun Ivins would’ve had with the governor’s candidacy for the GOP nomination for president of these United States:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s humble origins and down home straight talk are central to his political identity, but for years Perry has enjoyed lavish perks and travel – mostly funded by a group of deep-pocketed supporters – that are allowed under his state’s lax ethics and campaign rules.

Some of the same Texas donors who have funded Perry’s political rise also have footed the bills for Perry and his family to jet around the world, stay in luxury hotels and resorts, vacation in tony Colorado ski towns, attend all manner of sporting events and concerts, and to maintain, entertain – and even pay the cable bill – at the 4,600-square-foot mansion with a heated pool that taxpayers are renting him at a cost of about $10,000 a month.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Obama and the doughnut doctrine of leadership

Charles Blow, op-ed columnist at the NY Times, was one of those collegial liberal pundits to gleefully pile on in the sexist trashing of Hillary Clinton and propel the woefully inexperienced Barack Obama to the Democratic nomination in 08.

In his critique of Obama’s jobs speech the other night, Blow speaks of his fallen idol this way:

He isn’t only battling a calcifying cynicism about the inefficacy of government in general, he’s battling the rapidly hardening public perception that he himself is a product of what I call the doughnut doctrine of leadership — soft, glazy, hollow in the middle and ideally suited for getting dunked.

Read Blow’s entire column here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

So the hope and change guy said the word "jobs" 37 times in 34 minutes last night

Susan Page at USA Today got it right:

WASHINGTON – Among the jobs President Obama hopes to save with Thursday night's proposals to a Joint Session of Congress is his own.

(text continues below video).

Page continues:  

There are no guarantees that the $447 billion American Jobs Act will be enacted, or that it would significantly reduce unemployment if it were. But the package of payroll tax relief, extended jobless benefits, and funding to repair schools, fix roads and keep teachers working at the minimum gives Obama a plan to extol — and to batter a "do nothing" Congress with if it fails to act.

He exhorted Congress to "pass this jobs bill" or "pass it right away" 16 separate times. And he said the word "jobs" 37 times in 34 minutes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A succinct and funny analysis of last night’s GOP debate

Romney and Perry at last night's GOP debate. (Courtesy of the Huffington Post.)

Confession: I had better things to do than watch the GOP debate last night after pedaling my exercise bike during the evening news. See, I was reading for the first time Molly Ivins can’t say that, can she? Published in 1991, how had I missed it? Here’s a quote from Ivins’s introduction:

One of my heroes is William Brann, the great populist, who edited a paper called The Iconoclast in Waco before the turn of the century. Brann, a fearless man, loathed three things above all others: cant, hypocrisy, and the Baptists. “The trouble with our Texas Baptists,” he once observed, “is that we do not hold them under water long enough.” But there he was in the Vatican City of the Baptists, and for his pains, one fine day in 1898, on a wooden sidewalk, an irate Baptist shot him in the back. Right where his galluses crossed. But the story has a happy ending, on account of, as he lay dying on the sidewalk, William Brann drew his own gun and shot his murderer to death. Me, I hoped to go like Brann. A martyr to honest journalism.

Anyway, NY Times columnist Gail Collins, who could be described as Molly Ivins without the Texas drawl, told me all I needed to know of what transpired at the Reagan Library last night. Go ahead and read it fer yoreselves:

It was a dark and stormy night.

Except in those parts of the country where it was dry and fire-prone. But what did America care about the weather when it had the chance to forget about its troubles on Wednesday night and curl up with eight candidates for the Republican presidential nomination?

The voters have a lot to figure out. What would it be like to have a president who continually tells the country he’s going to get the working class workin’? And is there something going on with Mitt Romney’s hair? The dark part is looking darker and those little white tufts around the ears are getting whiter. It makes his forehead look as if it’s levitating.

The Republican nominating campaign has thus far been one long primal scream from party members desperate to avoid making Romney their nominee. Really, they will look at anybody. Remember the Donald Trump moment? Michele Bachmann, Front-Runner? Who knows where their glazed eyes will turn next? Rudy Giuliani is now running around saying that he might get in the race “if I think we are truly desperate.”

Just the same, Collins didn’t miss Romney’s smackdown of Rick Perry:

And Romney cleaned Perry’s clock on Social Security. Young Americans, if you dream of someday running for president, try not to write any books calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Obama nowhere on the picket line; labor unions revolt against Democrats

AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumpka: Unions seeking independence from Democratic Party

During labor’s struggle in my neighboring state of Wisconsin in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s all out effort to destroy public-employee unions, I knew better than to expect President Obama to show up.

The AP’s Sam Hanahel reminds us:

It didn't help that Obama declined union invitations to go to Wisconsin, where thousands of protesters mobilized against the anti-union measure. Candidate Obama had promised to "put on sneakers" and walk a picket line himself when union rights were threatened.

So it should not be surprising that unions are not falling into line behind Obama for 2012:

But at the same time, unions have begun shifting money and resources out of Democratic congressional campaigns and back to the states in a furious effort to reverse or limit GOP measures that could wipe out union rolls.

The AFL-CIO's president, Richard Trumka, says it's part of a new strategy for labor to build an independent voice separate from the Democratic Party.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

“The name “Hillary Clinton” crosses lips

Obama is increasingly portrayed as a weak leader, and the bleak economic news is not brightening his outlook for 2012.  In his bi-weekly column, John Hughes, former editor of the Christian Science Monitor, reminds us:

He campaigned on a platform to change Washington, but as he himself admitted in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the atmosphere there is worse since he became president.

Hughes goes on to note: There is already some whispering. The name “Hillary Clinton” crosses lips.

Further, Hughes boldly goes where to my knowledge no mainstream pundit has ever previously gone to report the actual results of the Democratic primary in 2008:

In the curious way we elect our presidents – so bemusing to many foreigners – Hillary Rodham Clinton got more of the people’s vote than Obama in the primaries: 18,223,120 to his 18,011,877. Neither candidate received enough delegates from state primary races and caucuses to reach a majority at the party convention, but “superdelegate” votes pushed Obama over the top.

Remember the superdelegates? Those were the Democratic party leaders who with practically one voice declared in ’08 that racism was taboo, but the sexist trashing of Hillary Clinton by both left and right-wing extremists was acceptable. Don’t take my word for it, watch then DNC Chair Howard Dean apologize on CSPAN for the sexism after it was too late to make a difference.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Saying no to spiritual abuse

The wrath of God?

I’ve written elsewhere on the violence resulting from the perversion of religion, including here, here, and here. The topic arises anew every time the religious right chooses to respond to a natural disaster by blaming God for the havoc wreaked. Most recently Michele Bachmann evoked applause from her audience by declaring that God was speaking to us through Hurricane Irene.

I was pleased to come across this post at the Christian Century blog yesterday by Don Scrooby titled Spiritual Abuse. Scrooby offers some helpful insights on variations of this cruelty so often inflicted on innocent victims:

Just this last week I've encountered examples of what I can only describe as spiritual abuse. It saddens one, because what is meant to be life-giving, is turned in to death-like clouds of oppression, and that, by the very people who should know better.