Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ghosts of Elections Past

In 2001, Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives ran for senate against the incumbent, Democrat Max Cleland. Senator Cleland fought in Vietnam, leaving as a decorated war veg and triple amputee. In a campaign that even Lee Atwater would have renounced as below the belt and vicious, Chambliss attacked Cleland as unpatriotic and anti-American. Chambliss, who said his "bad knee" kept him out of the Vietnam War, was well schooled in the Rovian art of politics. He managed to come back from a 22-point deficit to win that election by questioning Cleland's commitment to national security through TV ads flashing photos of Cleland alongside those of Saddam Hussein & Osama bin Laden.

Among those who publically denounced Chambliss' ad campaign was another deocrated and wounded Vietnam vet, John McCain. "I'd never seen anything like that ad [it is] worse than disgraceful, it's reprehensible.”

Flash forward to 2008, when the senate race between Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin was so close that a runoff election is being held on Tuesday. Lo and behold John McCain has headed down south to support Chambliss in his hour of need. I guess all is forgiven. Chambliss has also received in-person support from the GOP's latest Barbie-doll, Sarah Palin.

Let's hope the good citizens of Georgia recognize Chambliss for the cowardly opportunist he is and throw the bum out.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"There is Only One President at a Time"

Does anyone remember a president-elect forced to say that on a regular basis? Does anyone remember a transition period where people looked again and again to the incoming president for input and answers instead of the serving president?

Can there be any doubt that if someone proposed a constitutional amendment to transfer power to the president-elect now it would speed through the system and be enacted faster than you can say "there is only one president at a time?" And at some level isn't that just sad as all get out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dying for a Bargain

A crowd rushing into a Long Island, NY, Walmart store crushed and killed a man working at the store. On the same news channel that reported this death was showing happy crowds of shoppers rushing into other stores around the country early this morning. The joy of capitalism apparently will not be marred by one death and a couple of injuries. The price of shopping can be high. Oh yes, and Walmart released a statement that they were "saddened" by the death of the 34-year old man who worked for a "temporary employement agency" serving the company. Interesting try to disassociate crushing death with Walmart. A co-worker, Jimmy Overby, told the NY Daily News that the man was "bum-rushed by 200 people. They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too ... I literally had to fight people off my back."

And a happy beginning to the season of mass consumer spending to all.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts on Mumbai Attack from Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria, who is a native of Mumbai, was interviewed on the recent attacks. Some of his thoughts offer insights not found in most of the reports we're getting, so I thought I would share them here.

NEWSWEEK: The events on the ground are unfolding rapidly. But knowing the country as well as you do, what strikes you about the reports we've heard so far?
I think one of the misconceptions we're seeing so far is the assumption that these attacks were aimed primarily at foreigners. Look at their targets. The two hotels they attackedthe Taj and the Oberoiare old, iconic Indian hotels. It used to be true that these places were affordable only by Westerners. But this is no longer true, and it's one of the big changes over the last ten years in India. The five-star hotels today are filled with Indians. Businessmen, wedding receptions, parties…these are real meeting places now, and even those who cannot afford to stay there often pass through the lobby.

So you think if the aim was to hit Americans, Brits or other Westerners, there would be more target-rich environments?
Absolutely. There's a Marriott, and a Hilton, a Four Seasons….The big American chains all have hotels there, and there are many more distinctly American targets. The Taj and the Oberoi are owned by Indians. My guess is that there will be a lot of Indians involved, and that this will generate a lot of domestic outrage.

The group that claimed responsibility called itself the Deccan Mujahedeen—a name that doesn't seem to register with many of the terrorism experts quoted in news accounts thus far. Does it mean anything to you?
This doesn't strike me as Deccan (the Deccan plateau stretches over much of central and southern India). I would be very surprised if the people who did this actually came out of the area. It's not an area of any particular significance for Islamic terrorism. It isn't as though there's a Deccan separatist region.

Any insight into where the terrorists might come from, then?
An Indian businessman who says he heard the attackers said he didn't understand the language that the young men were speaking. That means that it wasn't Hindi or Urdu… most Indians would recognize the major languages even if they couldn't speak one of them. But most Indians would be unfamiliar with what's spoken in parts of the Kashmir. That's a source of much of the terrorism. My guess is that ultimately this will turn out to be some outside jihadi groups who might also recruit among disaffected Muslims locally.

Happy Thanksgiving to All

No matter how or when you got here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We could get used to this, quite happily

One of the most acute observers of the United States plies his trade at the Guardian newspaper in London. His name is Jonathan Freedland, and his latest column highlights one of the best and most heartening aspects of the incoming administration: this is a group that prides itself on having the smartest guys in the room around them all the time. He writes in today's paper,

"First, we know the new administration will break from the old by valuing expertise and experience - quite a contrast after eight years of cronyism. Remember, Bush named as his point man for national emergencies one Michael Brown, fresh from his post as the judges and stewards commissioner for the International Arabian Horses Association. Obama's early nominees, by contrast, each boast resumés either packed with long years of relevant service or luminous with academic prizes - or both. After John McCain threatened the world with a putative vice-president who seemed to regard her own ignorance as a credential for high office, and after he granted Joe the Plumber the status of chief adviser on taxation policy, it's a relief that the US will soon be run by people with qualifications to do the job."

Competence and expertise wanted, indeed, ACTIVELY SOUGHT in the White House--what a concept!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This just in: the Catholic Church leadership, in its great wisdom, has finally seen fit to forgive the late John Lennon for his l966 observation that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. This pronouncement obviously did great, profound and permanent harm to the Church and religious people everywhere, so the generosity of spirit shown by the Vatican is truly overwhelming and worthy of all our admiration.

Uh, yes, i AM the face of crushing poverty in many areas of the world, several destructive wars, rampant injustice, oppressive and/or bad governments, widespread and blatant violations of the Golden Rule and destructive trends such as overpopulation, these are the kinds of issues that have the Vatican's full attention. That and the all-consuming obsession with abortion.

It's hard to believe the Church is still allowed to call itself Catholic, small or big c. It's gotten awfully petty and parochial in its old age.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Micro Loaning

I've been a Kiva (international micro loan organization) fan for a while now. Folks can lend as little as $25 to someone who needs the money to start, operate or expand their small business (and we're talking small businesses here). Your money is combined with other lenders to make the amount needed by the borrower. I'd like to share two of my most recent loan success stories.

Paulina Mbinga lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she runs a beauty salon, working from 6:30am - 9:30pm most days of the year. She makes about $300 a month from her shops. She borrowed $875 from myself and several other Kiva contributors to buy more products for her shops in April 2008 and repaid her loan in full this year.

Over in the Dominican Republic, Claudia (in the pink top), the mother of three grown children, runs a "colmado" business. Such stores, sometimes run out of people's homes, provide food, drink, cleaning supplies and other household products to the local community. Claudia is part of the Fe en Marcha group in the eastern part of her country. The 17 members of this group borrowed $3,525 from us last year, and their loan was also repaid in full. Claudia used her share of that loan to buy more rice, beans, sugar, bread, and milk for her store. This was Claudia's fifth successful loan, which has allowed her to support her children over the years. Money for this loan came from a computer analyst in Canada, teachers in Sweden and Poland, as well as people from Australia, France, and all across the United States (CA, TX, PA, WA, TN, NC, IN, & NJ to name a few).

Paulina and Claudia are just two of thousands of successful micro-loan stories. Saving the world doesn't always take governments or armies. Sometimes it just takes people working one on one, reaching out a hand to help someone else. As we enter into Thanksgiving week, I just wanted to give thanks for groups like Kiva that offer us the chance to get involved in new and useful ways.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Last week Father Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, South Carolina, has asked his parishioners who voted for Obama to repent before receiving communion. Those who don't, he says, risk their souls. There's nothing more fun than when religion jumps into politics, is there. Nothing more fun with the person who is disagreeing with you basically condemning you to hell because you disagree with him politically. Whether it's Jerry Falwell or Jeremy Wright, it just doesn't turn out well.

Newman told his flock:
Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.
Fortunately for those in Newman's church who voted for Obama, they do have the out of repenting for that "sin" instead of carrying such evil on their souls until the end of time. And while it appears that Newman has apologized for his remarks, he's still asking folks who voted for Obama to repent. Msgr. Martin Laughlin, administrator of the Charleston Diocese, repudiated Newman's remarks, saying:
This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena. The recent comments of Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C., have diverted the focus from the Church’s clear position against abortion. As Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings … Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.
Laughlin followed that up with comments to bring the issue back to the basics (is it any wonder that Newman felt free to say what he said?) ‘The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God. Sometimes God’s truth, as is the Church’s teaching on abortion, is unpopular."

Makes you wonder if God's truth has been present in Newman's church during the Bush reign. Did he ask his flock to repent if they voted for Bush whose policies have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Nah, silly me. Of course not. Bush had the right answer on abortion!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

On the other hand

...Republican voters nationwide think Sarah is the cat's meow.

Over at the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen is quoting a new Rasmussen poll that indicates some 90% have a favorable view of her, and 75% think she HELPED rather than hurt the McCain Presidential run. About 70% believe that she should be the frontrunner for 2012.

The Republican Party bills itself as the party that despises government. That must be why they put forth the most verbally challenged, incurious and rigid people in the country as candidates to run it. Their motto has truly become, "we don't know, we don't care, and we're damn proud of it!"

What a comedown for the party that gave us the likes of Wendell Wilkie, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerry Ford and even Ronald Reagan, if you consider his insistence that Mikhail Gorbachev was someone with whom he could come to some important agreements. I wonder if there's anyone out there who can resurrect the party as an institution with some tolerance for rationality, ideas and maybe even basic competence...

Wasilla Wordsmith(?)

Dick Cavett has another priceless column in the New York Times on what he terms "the wild wordsmith of Wasilla." Until I read through it, I had nearly forgotten what an unmitigated disaster Sarah Palin was just in terms of how she expressed herself. Every single utterance became a chance for a verbal 20-car pileup on the Beltway at rush hour, as Cavett laments:

"What on earth are our underpaid teachers, laboring in the vineyards of education, supposed to tell students about the following sentence, committed by the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High and gleaned by my colleague Maureen Dowd for preservation for those who ask, “How was it she talked?”

'My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.'

And, she concluded, “never, ever did I talk about, well, gee, is it a country or a continent, I just don’t know about this issue.”

It’s admittedly a rare gift to produce a paragraph in which whole clumps of words could be removed without noticeably affecting the sense, if any.

(A cynic might wonder if Wasilla High School’s English and geography departments are draped in black.)"

As Popessa says, there's our Sarah, in all her glory. Cavett ends his Palin riffs with the old Britishism, "I'm glad to see the back of her." I bet everyone who values the English language, to say nothing of general competence, salutes him!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Collins on Hill

Gail Collins of the NY Times is one of my must-read columnists, in part because she has a gift for putting a kind of loopy spin on all Very Serious Questions of Current Interest, such as Hill for Sec State. From this morning's column, her top four reasons why Mrs. Clinton is a great choice for State:

1. She would not let the vice president run our foreign policy. Joe Biden is no Dick Cheney, but we just do not want to go there again. We have scars.

2. Obama could live out his fantasy of following the Abraham Lincoln model and filling his cabinet with a team of rivals without having to make Sarah Palin secretary of commerce.

3. Clinton already has a supply of pantsuits sufficient to get her through six months of peace negotiations in the Middle East without coming home for a change of clothes.

4. She might do a terrific job.

I'd say Hill is uber-qualified just on the strength of criterion #3 alone...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Secretary of State Hil?

I have to say, I'm not a great fan of making Mrs. Clinton our Secretary of State. I am enjoying the fact that every talking head on television has at least heard of (if not actually read), Doris Kearns Goodwin's book on Lincoln's cabinet, "Team of Rivals," and seem to at least understand the book's basic theme, that Lincoln brought his opponents into government in order to hear all opinions and encourage everyone to work together for the greater good. (And while we're all applauding Doris' book, apparently we're all ignoring or forgiving Goodwin's round of plagiarism in "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" back in the 80s.) I would hope that if one felt the need to draw Clinton into the new administration, there would be a spot where she could do less damage than at State.

Colin Powell doesn't seem to want to take another swing at the job (who can blame him). I don't hear anyone mentioning Wesley Clark for the job, so that's probably just something that rolls around in my brain. Richardson would be interesting, and has the UN experience from the Clinton years. Then again, I'd like to see us reach beyond the obvious politicians into the category of thinkers. Dennis Ross, for instance, who has experience in dragging the middle east towards peace. Or Richard Holbrooke, who was a runner up to Madeline Albright as Clinton's S of State. Either of these gentlemen would be a better choice than Hillary Clinton for this job. How about finding her something that lets her finally focus (hopefully successfully) on health care?

Makes Me Think of That Old Joke

The one about the defendant accused of killing his parents who begs the mercy of the court because he's an orphan. That's what I think of when I think of the officers of companies like AIG. Where after requesting bail out money from the American public, AIG continues to show the chutzpa of that orphaned defendant, squared. Currently it appears that AIG is planning on paying out $503 million in deferred compensation to some of its top employees. Why? Because they have to use that money to "keep valuable workers" from leaving. Would these be the same valuable workers who led AIG down the path to failure and public begging?

When reached for comment, the company stressed that the $503 million is not government funds. Ok, I feel much better. It's only money that could be used INSTEAD of begging for government money if it wasn't going to pay for those "valuable workers?" Senator Harry Reid, said that "the $500 million plan would benefit the very AIG executives who led the firm to the brink of collapse. To reward executives with exorbitant paydays after poor performance, and to do so even indirectly with taxpayer dollars, strikes most Americans as fundamentally unfair and a misuse of their money." This is a sentiment that I agree with, while at the same time find woefully understating Americans' feelings. Replace "fundamentally unfair" with "pissed off beyond all possible belief" and I think you'll be closer to what we're thinking.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Omega, 11/11/18

A few months ago, I posted a photo of the gravesite of Private J. Parr, of the Middlesex regiment, British Expeditionary Force. Private Parr is believed to be the first casualty of the Great War, killed on August 21, l9l4 in the first skirmish with invading German forces. He was the Alpha of the Great War; now we see G.L. Price of Canada, whom experts believe was the last casualty, the Omega death. He was felled by a sniper's bullet at ten minutes to eleven on ll/ll/18. These two lie in the same cemetery, St. Symphorien, near Mons, in Belgium, and they are the sad bookend casualties of the "war to end all wars."

Our Newest Vets

In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an end finally came to what was called the war to end all wars.

Back before we knew enough to start numbering them the end of what would become known as World War I became known as Armistice Day. Today, the day is set aside to remember all of our veterans and their service. Sadly this administration which has created a new generation of veterans, has done little to support them. From sending our young men and women into Iraq for all the wrong reasons to Rumsfeld & Co.'s idiotic management of that war, for all of the breast-beating and "support the troops" flag waving, this administration has done as little as possible to actually support these brave people.

So it is little wonder that where the administration stepped aside, others stepped in. From the WaPo comes a story of veterans who have taken it upon themselves to demand what should be theirs. Read here about the Community of Veterans and their work. And here for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The Army Scholarship Fund goes further and supports arm vets' children by providing educational financial assistance. The Fund for Veterans Education provides scholarships for the troops themselves.

For those who want to help out by sending something to troops still overseas, SKIP (Special Kindness in Packages), Operation Care and Comfort, and Operation Troop Aid provide care packages for troops. Subscriptions for Soldiers lets you send troops subscriptions to magazines. Operation Soldier Assist asks supporters to commit "to writing a letter each week and sending a package once a month" to an adopted troop member through OSA. Homesick GI helps connect troops and their families so that "our deployed soldiers won't have to miss their child's birthday, another holiday, or any day while they are away." Net Pets helps find homes for troops' pets while they are deployed and can not find homes for them among friends or family members.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund gives you the opportunity to help injured service members and their families while they recuperate at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. Laptops for the Wounded provides computers with webcams to wounded vets so they can keep in touch with family and friends while recuperating. Operation First Response and Wounded Warriors Family Support both work to help wounded troops and their families.

Finally, Homes for Our Troops does just that, provides specially adapted homes for severely injured service members. Remember our most recent vets today - and if you can, take the opportunity to reach out and help them. Because the administration that sent them into harms way has not seen fit to do so itself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How High Can He Go?

Latest CNN opinion poll shows that 76 percent of Americans disapprove of how Bush is doing. According to CNN, "No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," says CNN polling director Keating Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."

I'm with David Letterman - please let Obama start early!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Laughing at yourself, it's a good thing

There is so much upside to President-elect Obama, you could write quite a lengthy book already. One thing that has particularly impressed me is his ability to laugh at himself, as he demonstrated the other night while talking to the press about the puppy he promised his daughters. He told the assembled multitude that the family would like to have a shelter dog, but all the dogs good for allergic kids were purebreds, and the shelters were full of "mutts like me," as he put it. That was a very light and becoming moment in that press conference.

President Kennedy made quite a few jokes at his own expense and invariably appreciated ribbing from other people. Once, on the stump in Iowa, Kennedy asked the crowd in his Boston accent, "What is the main problem for the American FAH-MAH today?" A wag in the crowd didn't wait for an answer, he shouted out, "He's STAH-VING!" Apparently Kennedy was absolutely convulsed with laughter, stomping around the platform, etc. He was also notably the guy who said, on arrival in Paris, "I do not think it inappropriate for me to introduce myself. I am the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris!"

Maybe self-deprecation is far down the list of desirable qualities, but I think it ought to be pretty high up there. First of all, it suggests that you remain aware that you are a falliable being, despite all the adulation surrounding you. Second, it hints strongly that you are not an absolute egomaniac, that you can see and admit faults in yourself. This would lead you to distrust knee-jerk reactions you might have and seek the advice and counsel of people who are smarter and wiser than you. Third, President Bush has never been known to make a joke at his own expense, and we know where his "leadership" has taken us. There's plenty NOT to emulate in his relationship to his own foibles.

So that's another indication that better days are Readers' Digest never ceases to remind us, laughter is the best medicine, especially for those charged with making our most crucial decisions.

Remembrance Sunday 2008

Today is Remembrance Sunday throughout the British Commonwealth, past and present. Tuesday is the 90th anniversary of the llth hour of the llth day of the llth month, l9l8, or the end of the Great War. I'm not sure how many people out there have been to the western front, but what you see below is a highlight: The Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge, near Arras in France, has stood for 62 years now as a tribute to the Canadian dead and missing in the Great War. You see above a figure called "Canada Mourning;" in her ineffable sadness, she is keeping watch over the body of a symbolic Canadian casualty below. Beyond her unfold the flatlands surrounding this high ground, so that you can get an idea of the dimensions of the task the Canadian soldiers faced in trying to dislodge German forces from there in the middle part of the Great War. It's just a small part of the war that cost the lives of nine million people worldwide and collapsed four empires.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A thought for E-day plus 4...

A lot of people have been waxing rhapsodic about the historic character of Barack Obama's election as first African-American President of the United States. I have often thought about his being born to a temporary resident of the United States, a would-be immigrant, in addition to his race...he really is the embodiment of the American dream. And so many people voted for him, it seemed that at least in part, they were endorsing multicultural America, the America that Langston Hughes hoped America would be someday--for EVERYBODY. Then there is a certain former high-level Carter admin official, who delivered himself of the following on the Stephen Colbert show:

“The world got so messed up nobody else wanted to really tackle it so then they turned it over to us.”

This person's name is Andrew Young, and he once was the first African-American UN ambassador. I guess this qualifies as the earthbound explanation for the Obama election...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nothing Else to Add

Chicago last night.

You must remember this...

...even if you didn't like last night's outcome. Jeff Jacoby is a conservative columnist with the Boston Globe and normally a reliably knee-jerk mouthpiece for GOP talking points. But I thought he struck exactly the right note in the concluding paragraph of this morning's column, when he declared,

"As a politician and policymaker, Obama distresses me; his extreme liberalism is not what the nation needs. But as a symbol - a son of Africa elected to lead a majority-white nation that once enslaved Africans and treated their descendants with great cruelty - Obama's rise makes me proud of my country. The anthem of the Civil Rights Movement was "We Shall Overcome." Impossible as it might have seemed scant decades ago, we have."

Everyone should be proud of this victory, because it offers fresh evidence of this country's ability to adapt, learn, change and re-invent itself. No other nation does that better.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The one word message I was just texted by a friend. Wow, indeed. A new day? A new dawn? A new chance for hope and a future we can look forward to with pride and joy? These are just some of the hundreds of thoughts running through my head ever since Jon Stewart announced Obama had won on his Indecision show (why watch CNN when you've got the Daily Show, I always say!). It's an amazing moment in an amazing day. One so many people did not think they would see in their lifetimes. A day we've triumphed over our fears and prejudices to look for what is best for the nation, best for the world, best for us. I'm happy and I'm excited. Above all - I just feel strange. Having been beaten down for so long, is it even possible to find joy in our leadership once again?But also nervous and afraid. There has been so much hate on the other side, I fear for our President-elect's safety. I want to push those fears into the back of my mind so I can scream and cheer like those outside of my window tonight. The pure joy of the moment.

For now - I will settle in to hear from Mr. Obama, words that I know will, as they do, inspire us again.


And no, I do not mean the football team :). Let's get it done folks - get your butts to the polls and vote to fix this country!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

And a Few Words From Sarah

Another Palin "goof?" or a Freudian slip of things to come? Which war with Iran does she mean?

From Palin's interview on safety channel Fox News where she was meandering through the McCain/Palin's first 100 days in office.
Ok, we're confident that we're going to win on Tuesday so from there, those first 100 days, how we're going to kick in the plan that will get this economy back on the right track and really shore up the strategies that we need over in Iraq and Iran to win these wars...
P.S., and speaking of goofs, enjoy this audio tape of a couple of goofy Canadian radio guys who prank called Palin pretending to be French President Sarkozy. Apparently Palin made it all the way through the six minute call without figuring it out, when the goofs took pity on her and revealed themselves.

A Few Words from John

Are You Kidding Me?

Some nitwits on the net are selling this image as a pro-Palin sign for your lawn. It speaks for itself, and certainly for the morons selling them.

Of Course He Understands the Dangers, He IS One of Them!

In an endorsement of McCain today, Veep Darth Cheney said that McCain "understands the danger facing America. . . . John is a man who understands the danger facing America, he's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."

Yes, McCain has looked into the face of Cheney a number of times and not flinched. For that he earns an endorsement from the scariest man in America (thank goodness the endorsement came today, not on Halloween, that would have just been too weird!). Showing us that Cheney hasn't lost his sense of freakish humor, he went on to say that "I'm pleased that he has chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness, and common sense." Ha ha ha ha. Funny stuff Chenster. Ever get the feeling that Cheney looks at Palin and thinks he's looking in the mirror? She's made it clear that he's her Veep model.

Just a day before this endorsement, one more of Cheney's staffers found herself responding to a subpoena to testify about her his efforts to hide his operations from historians. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are suing the administration to keep all records public. Of course they're up against Cheney's amusing assertion that the vice president's office is not an entity within the executive branch. (cue Sarah on the Veep running the Senate - a faux pas, or a prediction of things to come under McCain/Palin?)

Got civics? It's not obvious...

I think I am going to write Barack and suggest that one of his first initiatives--IF he wins Tuesday-- should be instituting the mandatory teaching of civics in elementary, middle and high schools of this country. If everyone, including and especially candidates for Vice President of the United States, were required to take and pass courses on the basics of the American political system, we would all presumably be spared the following rants:

Obama(or substitute any Democratic politician)is going to confiscate your guns. All by himself? Ever hear of Congress, or separation of powers, or even the old warhorse Second Amendment?

Obama(or substitute any Dem pol)is going to "rewrite the Constitution." Ever hear of Congress and the steps required even to AMEND it ever so slightly?

Obama(or substitute any Dem pol) is going to take people's wealth and redistribute it. All by himself? Ever hear of Congress? Have they ever just rolled over and surrendered on something like that?

Obama(substitute any African-American pol) is going to spring all Af-Am men from federal prison. Ever hear of Congress, or(a real stretch) the Department of Justice?

The Vice President has "flexibility" in what he/she can do and is "in charge" of the Senate, getting down in there with the legislators and making legislation happen. Ever read the Constitution of the United States, Sarah Palin?!!

Some of the people who repeat these phrases are just doing it to spread disinformation, but most people you see on TV are genuinely worried, even fearful that Obama will be able to take all these unilateral steps. The latter would be immunized against viral rumors AND better able to rest easy about their future if they had some knowledge about how ponderous and slow-moving the American governmental apparatus actually IS...

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