Friday, May 30, 2008

Bob Dole's Fantasy

Jonathan Martin of reports an e-mail sent on May 29, 2008 by former Senator (R.-Ks.) and Repub presidential candidate Bob Dole. I repeat these excerpts from the message (confirmed by Dole spokesman Michael Marshall) because they are so entertaining:

There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don’t have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues. No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique.

In my nearly 36 years of public service I've known of a few like you. No doubt you will 'clean up' as the liberal anti-Bush press will promote your belated concerns with wild enthusiasm. When the money starts rolling in you should donate it to a worthy cause, something like, 'Biting The Hand That Fed Me.' Another thought is to weasel your way back into the White House if a Democrat is elected. That would provide a good set up for a second book deal in a few years.

(I won't read your book) "because if all these awful things were happening, and perhaps some may have been, you should have spoken up publicly like a man, or quit your cushy, high profile job.

That would have taken integrity and courage but then you would have had credibility and your complaints could have been aired objectively. You’re a hot ticket now but don’t you, deep down, feel like a total ingrate?"

Having no degree or professional experience in abnormal psychology, I can't comment much on the nature of the man behind these attacks. But the issue raised by Dole and others- why didn't he resign?- does remind me of one Cyrus Vance.

Cyrus Vance became President Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State in 1977. He resigned in a letter written to President Carter on April 21, 1980 in protest of the upcoming Operation Eagle Claw. On April 24, 1980 this secret military mission was undertaken to rescue the 53 American hostages held in Tehran, Iran. Eight U.S. servicemen and one Iranian civilian died in the failed venture, which contributed to Carter's defeat by Ronald Wilson Reagan in the 1980 presidential election. The resignation was announced on April 28, 1980.

Wilkipedia's entry for Operation Eagle Claw does not mention Mr. Vance, nor do most Americans remember him. He is little remembered, and less so commemorated, despite- or perhaps because- he had the integrity to resign when he strongly disagreed with a policy decision made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

So when the Bush Administration apologists, sycophants, and hacks castigate Scott McClellan for failing to "quit your cushy, high profile job" (as if they ever would consider such a courageous act), please remember Cyrus Vance. Someone has to.
Quote Of The Week

"No matter what went wrong, she was somehow able to keep her hands cleans."
Former Bush 43 Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan , in What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On McClellan

You've heard some of the prominent members of the Bush administration, past or present, criticize former press secretary Scott McClellan for the revelations in his new book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

Karl Rove (former Deputy Chief of Staff and chief strategist): "First of all, this doesn't sound like Scott. It really doesn't. Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else. It sounds like a left-wing blogger. Second of all, you're right. If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them."

Dan Bartlett (former White House counselor): "Scott McClellan was not the press secretary. He was the deputy press secretary who dealt with domestic issues. So, he would not have even been really have access to the types of meetings and deliberations that the president participated in."

Dana Perino (White House spokeswoman): "Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House. For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew."

Ari Fleischer (former White House press secretary): "I'm just scratching my head about this book. There are just parts of here that just do not sound like Scott McClellan. So it's got his name on it, and Scott knows that, he's said the chips will fall will they may. ... But on principle and on policy, this doesn't make any sense to me because if it did, I think Scott would have expressed it privately and repeatedly."

The attacks on McClellan have one thing in common: no one denies what he said- no one has said that it is simply not true. Fleischer comes closest- it "doesn't make any sense to me" obviously comes from someone not in a position to know one way or another. One of Rove's remarks is the most amusing: "if he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken out about them." Here the rhetorical question of MSNBC's David Shuster is appropriate: "are Administration officials trying to do with McClellan what officials did to war critic Joe Wilson?" And to the attacks upon Scott McClellan because he participated, however unwittingly, in the Administration's coverrup, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked "what's wrong with a whore escaping the whorehouse?"

But I give the Bushies some credit for their response to Scott McClellan's charges: in choosing not to deny categorically the accusations, they displayed an uncharacteristic reluctance to lie.
What Could McCain Be Thinking?

Alert The Wall Street Journal (and the mainstream media, generally): I am not a knee-jerk free trader, though some people have used a portion of that phrase to describe me. Even if I were, I would wonder whether John McCain is in touch with reality. In a speech delivered on May 20, 2008 in Miami, Florida for Cuban Independence Day, the Arizona senator said

We have made progress toward this vision by expanding the benefits of free commerce, through NAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and our free trade agreements with Peru and Chile. But the progress has stalled; our longstanding bipartisan commitment to hemispheric prosperity is crumbling. We see this most vividly in Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's opposition to the free trade agreement with Colombia. The failure of the Congress to take up and approve this agreement is a reminder why 80 percent of Americans think we are on the wrong track.

Maybe there are other reasons for Americans believing our nation is on the wrong track. Consider:

-the mortgage crisis- according to USA Today, "about 2.3% of prime loans were 60 days' past due in February, the highest level in at least a decade, according to data from FirstAmerican CoreLogic LoanPerformance. That's up from 1.4% a year ago."

-gasoline costs- according to U.S. government statistics, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline on 4/21/08- after prices began to rise- was 350.8 and on 5/26/08, 393.7, a rise of 42.9 cents; the average price of all grades of gasoline over the same period rose from 355.7 to 398.6, a rise also of 42.9 cents. That's an increase of over 8 cents per week.

-Persian Gulf II- There now are over 4,000 American soldiers who have died in Iraq with no end to this war in sight.

-Corruption- At least ten (10) officials of the Bush Administration have been indicted and/or found guilty of criminal offenses; another twenty-four (24) have resigned due to investigation or because of pending investigation or allegations of impropriety.

Still, the Repub who will be nominated for president believes that failure of Congress to pass the "U.S.-Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement" (Columbia Free Trade Agreement) is a reason that 79% of Americans believe the U.S.A. is on the wrong track and only 15% that our nation is on the right track. Either John McCain is divorced from reality, or he believes that he can delude us voters. But could he really be that elitist?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Task Ahead

While Barack Obama ponders whether to offer a woman such as Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius the nod as his running mate, the BBC's Katty Kay made on the May 25, 2008 episode of "The Chris Matthews Show" a comment with major implications for his decision. Kay stated of Obama:

And he's probably going to end up having a tougher problem with the poor white men who have voted for her than with the women who have voted for her.

It is almost self-evident that a large percentage of the women who have voted for Clinton in the primaries/caucus have done so in part because she is a woman and, probably, the vast majority are on the left side of the ideological divide. Consequently, they probably will return to the Democratic column in November. But most of the men who voted for the New York senator did so for a different reason: she is not Obama. Whether Obama is too liberal, black, cosmopolitan, patronizing, inexperienced, or gaffe-prone for them, men less so than women were embracing Hillary Clinton- and more were rejecting Barack Obama. Getting them to pull the Democratic lever in the fall will not be easy- and would be made even harder by putting a woman on a ticket already poised (with a black man) to make history.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pointing A Finger

What is it with Barack Obama and fund-raisers? It was at a fund-raiser in April that Senator Obama spoke these legendary words:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

And now at a fund-raiser in Florida on May 22, 2008 the near-certain Democratic presidential nominee said:

A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia. There’s a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic people doubled last year. If you have people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh ginning things up, it’s not surprising that would happen.

Now, putting Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh in the same phrase is bad enough, given that they disagree about trade, outsourcing, minimum wage, corporate regulation, education, taxation, affirmative action, gay rights (which Dobbs considers a diversionary issue), abortion (ditto), campaign finance reform, mainland China, health care, Iraq (on which Dobbs' views are a little hard to discern), the Bush presidency, and other issues I can't think of presently.

But the real problem is this: the people responsible for hate crimes against Hispanics are the people who have committed hate crimes against Hispanics. They are the people who should be held accountable and who should be prosecuted. Liberals are often, largely unjustifiably, accused of denigrating the concept of individual responsibility. It would not only be good policy, but good politics, for the nominee (presumably Obama) of America's liberal party to demand that individuals who commit criminal offenses- including hate crimes- face the consequences of their actions. That's a better argument than excusing their behavior because a talk show host or newscaster/advocacy journalist opposes illegal immigration.
The Republican Media- No. 17

On the May 25, 2008 edition of Meet The Press, host Tim Russert asked Jon Meacham of Newsweek Magazine "based on your reporting, on the polling you did, a simple question that leads the Newsweek Web site, "Is America ready for a black president?"

And Jon Meacham responded

In theory yes, in practice it's a toss-up. In theory, 70 percent of Americans, American voters, say they are ready. That's up from 37 percent just eight years ago. And yet, when you then go to specifics, Senator Obama is running even with Senator McCain. He--our pollsters polled a--went inside the numbers and looked at white Democrats who scored fairly high on something they called the racial resentment index. People expressing some hostility toward racial questions. Thirty percent, 29 percent of white Democrats fell into the high category there. And, of those folks, nearly twice as many were ambivalent, obviously, about Senator Obama as for Senator Clinton. And so you have a large number of people who are, in fact, still affected by the issue of race. To my mind it is one of the great questions of the campaign. It is very difficult to talk about. It makes white people very queasy and...

Later, Meacham would refer to the issue of race "going forward" (the most popular cliche of this political season). Nevertheless, note that Meacham seemed alarmed that "29 percent of white Democrats" are "expressing some hostility toward racial questions" (while "70 per cent of Americans, American voters" are open-minded). Leave aside the question of what criteria were established by- whom?- for this "racial resentment index" and the omission of consideration of what role race may play in the preference of black Americans. The stunning omission here is the reference to white Democrats- not Republicans, not independents, not the general electorate.... because, you see, it is Democrats who are racist- according to the impression the Republican-leaning media want to leave with viewers.
Without A Clue

Gwen Ifill of PBS on the May 25, 2008 edition of Meet The Press:

And the other thing those numbers kind of explode is the notion that black voters were always on board for the black candidate out of race pride. Black voters got on board for Barack Obama after it looked like he could win. It was really very simple, and it was pretty much the same. Maybe there was some race pride that kicked in later, but in all of the analysis, we, we tend to say, "Oh, well, we know black voters were always going to vote for Barack Obama," and that's not--just not true.

So before the very first vote- Iowa- of the campaign season, black voters, doubtful that a black person could be elected president of the United States of America, preferred the wife of "the first black President." Then when Obama won the Iowa caucus- remember, the first vote of the campaign- and the black candidate was on a par with the white candidate(s) with both having a chance to win, blacks began to rally around Barack Obama. And for Gwen Ifill, this means what- that this "kind of explode(s) the notion that black voters (acted) out of race pride?" Does this make any kind of sense? Obviously not. It would be better to argue that, yes, blacks have been voting for a qualified, viable black candidate partly because he is black and, given the context of America's racial past, that is understandable. Except.... then with the majority of white voters passing over Obama in favor of Hillary Clinton, it would be tough to accuse these individuals of racism. And we wouldn't want that to happen, would we?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Obama, The "Democrat" Candidate?

Appearing recently in Sunrise, Florida, Barack Obama asserted to an enthusiastic crowd of his determination to win the state in November, notwithstanding a recent Quinnipiac poll which had him behind John McCain 48% to 41% (while Clinton in the same poll came out ahead of McCain 45% to 41%). Nobody flinched when the Illinois senator declared "when we are unified, Sunshine, no one can stop us. There is no challenge we cannot meet, no destiny we cannot fulfill..."

No, he was not talking to a young woman with the cheerful, if a little odd, name of "Sunshine," nor basking in the bright sun in a typical day in Florida. He was talking in the city of Sunrise, despite his opening statement "I am so glad to be in Florida. I am so glad to be in Sunshine."

Enough with nitpicking, even if Obama did make the same mistake again and again- silly mistakes happen all the time. But when a Harvard law school graduate, a smarter individual than most of us could even imagine being, confuses an adjective with a noun, that's more serious. Move over, Rush Limbaugh, (Republican National Committee Chairman) Mike Duncan, Mitt Romney, and others. That was Barack Obama saying "We will work together to make sure that Florida goes Democrat in November and so does the rest of the country." Democrat, Senator, is a noun; surely, contrary to GOP talking point #1, you meant the adjective Democratic. We know you admire the aggressively anti-union, anti-middle class Ronald Reagan and are considering conservative Republican Chuck Hagel for your running mate, but would you please at least pretend to be a Democrat?

Friday, May 23, 2008


From a blog on the website of the Argus Leader daily newspaper in South Dakota comes the transcript of the relevant portion of the interview its editorial board held this day, 5/23/08, with presidential contender Hillary Clinton. In response to a question about her determination to continue the race, Mrs. Clinton referred to the June, 1968 of Robert F. Kennedy, then vying for the Democratic nomination for president.

This is the most important job in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere. I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition where we find ourselves and you know, I have been willing to do all of that during the entire process and people have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa and I find it¬¬-

EB: Why? Why?

I don’t know I don’t know I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it and between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this and you know historically that makes no sense, so I find it a bit of a mystery.

EB: You don’t buy the party unity argument?

I don’t, because again, I’ve been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June

EB: June

We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. Um you know I just I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is.

The argument of those aghast at Clinton's remark seems to be that she was invoking the specter of an assassination of Barack Obama. Or at least that's what I've been hearing, though it makes no sense. None. Nowhere in her remarks did the New York senator refer to Senator Obama, or crazed gunmen, or anyone or anything else that would leave an objective person to conclude that she was suggesting that Obama might be assassinated. Perhaps there are individuals who already have concluded that white Americans are inherently racist and that inevitably one of them will take a shot at Obama. If true, I think this reveals more about their mindset than that of the candidate the Obamites still fear might steal the nomination from their uniquely flawed candidate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


"Hillary Clinton is going to become the Ron Paul of the Democratic party. There’s no way the super delegates can take this away from Barack Obama. There will be race riots in the streets if he wins enough super delegates...."

Was this Bill Clinton, Bob Kerry, or Geraldine Ferraro talking? If it were, it would be all over the mainstream media by now. No, it was spoken on the Monday, 5/19/08 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" by Barack Obama admirer Michelle Bernard, an attorney, president of the International Women's Federation, and frequent Hardball guest. So there you have it: the super delegates should not exercise independent thought because if they do, according to Michelle Bernard (herself of Jamaican descent), black people will "riot in the streets."

Racist? probably not. Bigoted? maybe not. Ugly? Very.
Targeting Social Security

On the same day he dramatically appeared before 65,000-80,000 people in Portland, Oregon, Barack Obama spoke about social security to approximately 130 individuals at an assisted living facility in Gresham, Oregon. The Illinois senator declared:

Let me be clear: Privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George W. Bush proposed it; it's a bad idea today. That's why I stood up against this plan in the Senate, and that's why I won't stand for it as president.

The response of John McCain, unintentionally, was as clear as Obama's statement was. Spokesman Tucker Bounds accused the expected Democratic nominee of "misinformed partisan attacks" and stated:

John McCain has been clear about his belief that we must fix Social Security for future generations and keep our promises to today's retirees, but raising taxes should not be the answer to every problem.

Imagining that Social Security is "broken" and must be "fixed" is Repub orthodoxy, even a perennial litmus test, for the party's presidential candidates. But this statement is especially revealing, with its aim to "fix Social Security for future generations" (emphasis mine) while "keep(ing) our promises to today's retirees." At least we have been warned of this consequence of a McCain presidency: if you receive benefits now, you are fine. If you expect to collect in the future, don't bet on it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Missed Opportunity

Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, writing on May 15, 2008, argues

Put simply, had Reverend Wright been introduced to voters a few days before the Iowa caucuses, odds are Barack Obama would not be a hair's breadth away from clinching the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

And even if we assume Obama could have managed to hang on and win Iowa after the appearance of his good reverend, which is debatable, it's a near certainty he would not have won as many primaries and caucuses by as many votes around the country as he did in January and February.

In other words, it would be a totally different ballgame.

How did this happen? The easiest answer, which fits nicely with what we know about Clinton's subsequent mistakes, is that the campaign was guilty of laziness brought on by overconfidence and arrogance.

Bevan cites this New York Times article of 3/5/07 in which Jody Kantor noted that Mr. Obama cited the 2/22/07 Rolling Stone article entitled "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama" in rescinding the invitation to Jeremiah Wright to deliver the invocation at the Senator's announcement on 2/10/07 of his presidential candidacy. Bevan attributes Clinton's failure to raise the issue of her opponent's hysterical pastor to "laziness brought on by overconfidence and arrogance."

But that is only part of the story. Before the campaign began and in its nascent stage, Mrs. Clinton was viewed as a candidate very popular with the party's base of blacks and feminist women, but with huge negatives among the general voting public. Therefore, most of us believed, Clinton benefited by the presence in the race of not one, but two (Obama and John Edwards), legitimate and viable candidates. And so did her campaign.

Before long, however, the New York senator lost to Mr. Obama the support of blacks and young women, feminist or otherwise, and, to a lesser extent, the liberal wing of the party. Then Edwards dropped out of the race, leaving one plausible candidate. And as time went on (especially with the onset of the Wright story) Clinton became the candidate with a greatly reduced base- the default candidate, the choice of voters appalled, alienated, or outraged, by Obama. (Her support among the "white working class" is hard to rationalize otherwise.) Clinton is now the "other," more acceptable and less inspirational, candidate. So it's hard to recall 2007 when she was concerned about Edwards and by the possibility that, as a candidate with enthusiastic support among some and hardened opposition by others, she needed to avoid a one-on-one battle with a candidate, who would be the "anybody but Clinton" option. Therefore, the Clinton campaign disregarded the one issue which would have turned off enough voters that Obama would not have won that caucus, and likely would have finished third. And with New Hampshire, been finished off.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A New Slogan For The Right

Some things are so ironic that they are hard to believe. The conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, has been running a contest entitled "What Would Reagan Do?" It is being promoted by syndicated conservative Repub talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham who, like their right-wing brethren, have been fond of blaming liberals/Democrats for allegedly trying to evict religion from the public square.

"What Would Reagan Do?" sounds an awful lot like "What Would Jesus Do?" a motto popular among Christians who believe that Jesus Christ was in essence God and therefore without sin. So the righteous right simply substitutes Reagan for Jesus as they imply Reagan and Jesus really were the same.

Such a curious, and disturbing, argument advanced by stalwarts of the Republican Party.
Almost Over, Apparently

Campaigning on 5/14/08 in South Dakota, Hillary Clinton scolded the nation's two top Repubs for opposing a farm bill passed by Congress and which the President vows to veto. "When Bear Stearns needed assistance, she declared, "we stepped in with a $30 billion package," Clinton said. "But when our farmers need help, all they get from Senator McCain and President Bush is a veto threat." And the New York senator charged that Mr. Bush's effort to equate opponents of his foreign policy ( (taken as a shot at Senator Obama) with Neville Chamberlain was "offensive and outrageous, especially in light of his failures in foreign policy."

The following morning, NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" commented "for the first time now, her [Hillary] people, her closest aides, are saying, ‘she knows the reality, we know the reality.’ They’re acknowledging that she’s not going to win this―that she is really just going through the motions. And that’s a big change.”

It appears that Mrs. Clinton has transitioned into the post-primary, pre-convention strategy critics of hers have been demanding. No need to drop out, they say, merely refreain from criticizing the front-runner. (Note to Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, or others: If you're 12 points behind late in the fourth quarter, give up.) She may have altered her approach for reasons of altruism; for maintaining viability as a credible candidate for a Democratic Presidential nomination in 2012 or 2016; or to negotiate for assistance in retiring her considerable campaign debt, for leadership in the Senate on a health-care bill in an Obama administration, and/or for selection as the Vice Presidential nominee. Her more congenial tone, whatever the motive(s), doubtless comes as a relief to the Obama camp, which may later wax nostalgic about this campaign when it finds a general election campaign far more vicious than anything they've encountered from a fellow Democrat reluctant to alienate core Democratic voters.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The King Memorial

Washington Post Metro columnist Marc Fisher in his column of May 11, 2008 draws our attention to a nearly-forgotten matter, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and its centerpiece, the Stone of Hope.

The 28-foot statue is to be displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is being carved in mainland China with quarry from the tyrannical Communist nation under the aegis of the King Memorial Foundation, an arrangement pleasing to its president, Harry Johnson. But while King was alive, the Chinese government referred to him as "a revolutionary running dog" because he advocated nonviolent protest. Fisher cogently argues that the memorial should "be designed and executed by those who live in the country that King so inspired and changed."

Unfortunately, the columnist maintains also "so far, opposition to outsourcing the sculpture has come mainly from African Americans and the U.S. granite industry." Mainly, yes, but not completely. This is from a portion of a segment, which included a resport by CNN correspondent Lou Tucker, on the May 3, 2008 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:

The last monument to be built on the Mall was the World War II memorial. That memorial, which opened to the public in 2094, built using 100,000 cubic feet of granite. The primary contract supplier for the memorial: New England Stone. It placed a bid, by the way, we're told, to build the Martin Luther King memorial, but never received a response from the Martin Luther King memorial people.

The company says, quote -- "Given that there are over 50 active granite quarries domestically offering a full palette of colors, it boggles one's mind to think the selection committee couldn't find an American stone to represent one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century."

We found there is, in fact, plenty of granite produced in this country. In 2005, the United States produced 416 metric tons of the stone, valued at more than $100 million. And by the way, this building we're broadcasting from tonight, the Time Warner Center, home to our studios here, built with granite from New England Stone. Not exactly a small project either.

Americans -- well, they've got plenty to say about plans to honor one of America's greatest civil rights icons with a memorial made in communist China. The groundbreaking for the monument is set for December 2008. We'll continue to bring you all of the latest developments.

Credit goes to Fisher, Dobbs, and the other individuals who remind us that the sculpture depicting the U.S.A.'s greatest civil rights leader ought to be made in America, by Americans.
Saint McCain

"We vastly underestimate John McCain's appeal to the bloc of voters Barack Obama is having trouble with."

-Mike Barnicle on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 5/14/08
An About-Face On Abortion?

In discussing with a caller the idea of mandatory national service, Rush Limbaugh stated definitively today, 5/16/08, "I'm against everything compulsory." That would, presumably, include mandatory childbearing, which would suggest that Limbaugh is pro-choice. And I bet you thought Rush was a narrow-minded, reflexive right-winger!
Of Elitism


-belief in concept of superiority: the belief that some people or things are inherently superior to others and deserve preeminence, preferential treatment, or higher rewards because of their superiority (

-the attitude that society should be governed by an elite group of individuals (webster's-

-the belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources (

Since the remarks Barack Obama made on April 6, 2008 to a group of wealthy donors in San Francisco became public, he was skewered for an allegedly "elitist" attitude. Patronizing they were, as I wrote and believe, but "elitist" they are not. The comments did not suggest that Obama believes that those a society deems superior should dominate a government or be favored in any manner. That view would charcterize the Republican Party, whose leaders tend to believe that the wealthy and well-connected should dominate all facets of American government, if not the world.

This came to mind as we await Senator Obama's response today to comments made by President Bush, and obviously welcomed by Senator McCain, yesterday in Israel, implying that that Mr. Obama's policy toward the Middle East/Persian Gulf amounted to "appeasement" akin to that of Chamberlain at Munich. Bush stated:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.

We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

This politically incendiary charge was indirect, never mentioning Obama or even the Democratic Party, and therefore could have been ignored by the apparent nominee-to-be. But they are not being ignored, because Barack Obama apparently believes that the American people can figure out that he was being targeted and that they will respond to a sensible argument against a false analogy meant not to enlighten, and not largely to persuade, but primarily to scare, the electorate. An elitist certainly would not dive into this debate, one perpetrated by patronizing politicians of the right who believe the American people cannot recall history accurately, and do not care to.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reverend Hagee and William Donohue

apology- an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret (a public apology) (Merriam-Webster online dictionary); statement expressing remorse: a written or spoken statement expressing remorse for something (encarta)

The Boston Globe: "The Rev. John Hagee, an influential Texas televangelist who endorsed John McCain, has apologized to Catholics for his stinging criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and for having "emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews."

The Los Angeles Times: "An evangelical pastor who backs John McCain tried to put his controversial remarks about the Catholic Church behind him, apologizing to the head of the Catholic League and expressing "deep regret for any comments Catholics found hurtful."

The Wall Street Journal: "John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor who endorsed John McCain, will issue a letter of apology to Catholics today for inflammatory remarks he has made, including accusing the Roman Catholic Church of supporting Adolf Hitler and calling it “The Great Whore.”

The New York Times: "Mr. McCain said Tuesday that he had not been involved in brokering the apology letter from Mr. Hagee...."

Predictably, Hagee uttered the standard line of any public official who wants to avoid admitting a mistake but wants to be characterized as having offered an "apology," expressing "deep regret for any comments Catholics found hurtful." (Translation: the problem is not in what I said, but in how you took it.)

Doesn't any of these newspapers understand what an apology is?

Predictably, Hagee uttered the standard line of any public official who wants to avoid admitting a mistake but wants to be characterized as having offered an "apology," expressing "deep regret for any comments Catholics found hurtful." (Translation: the problem is not in what I said, but in how you took it.)

Hagee even boasted "in my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms. I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews...." (Translation: I made these remarks because I'm really a valiant soldier in the war against prejudice.)

And how did William A. Donohue, the zealot who is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, respond to this phony apology?

Well, miracles do happen. If I wasn’t a believer before, I sure am now.

Republican activists have been working with him over the last several weeks, giving him books and articles and getting him up to speed and away from the black legends about the Catholic Church. I have to assume he’s acting sincerely, and now understands
(that what he has been saying is wrong).

Someone who crusades against what he considers anti-Catholic or anti-Christian sentiment should understand this, at a minimum: a miracle is a supernatural act of God. If it is not this, it is not a "miracle." And Reverend Hagee's conversion of convenience is not a miracle, but a desperate act by a mere mortal hostile to homosexuals, blacks, Roman Catholics, and New Orleans and determined to divert attention from his pal, John McCain.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Classic Washington Politics

Barack Obama on the May 4, 2008 edition of Meet The Press:

This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick.

Barack Obama on May 13, 2008, according to Mike Dorning of The Swamp, a Baltimore Sun weblog:

So what is that on Barack Obama's lapel as he speaks at a town meeting in conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's hometown, Cape Girardeau, Mo.?

Why, it's a flag pin!

For the second day in a row, Obama has pinned the Stars and Stripes to his suit lapel. He also wore a flag pin yesterday at an appearance in Charleston, W.Va., in which he spoke about patriotism and veterans issues.

When is a "gimmick" a "gimmick?" Apparently when the subject is Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama.
An About-Face, Obama Style

Barack Obama, courageously, on October 3, 2007, according to

You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest.

Instead I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.

And Barack Obama on May 13, 2008 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, according to The New York Times:

Sure enough, Mr. Obama, wearing a flag lapel pin for the second day in a row, walked out of the building to the announcement of Mrs. Clinton’s victory and headlines calling it a blowout.

One day, "a substitute for true patriotism." Seven months later, standard attire. Sounds like typical Washington politics to me- oh, wait, that's what Barack Obama criticizes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mean-Spirited, And Weak

In my next life, I want to be a columnist for The New York Times. That way, I can launch a diatribe against a political family and accuse it of bigotry while cowardly eschewing use of the "r" word.

And so it was when Bob Herbert on May 10, 2008 railed against Bill and Hillary Clinton, citing Monica Lewinsky, pardons, gifts received and concluded "the Clintons should be ashamed of themselves. But they long ago proved to the world that they have no shame."

What appeared to set Herbert off, as he put it....

was Hillary Clinton cold-bloodedly asserting to USA Today that she was the candidate favored by “hard-working Americans, white Americans,” and that her opponent, Barack Obama, the black candidate, just can’t cut it with that crowd.

I don't know if Senator Clinton meant to imply that only whites are hard-working Americans, as it was worded, or if she was careless in use of the language, as most people, even many politicians, are these days. But I do have a pretty good idea what Barack Obama meant when he referred to his maternal grandmother as "a typical white person who, if she sees someobody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred in our experiences that don't go away;" or what Senator Obama was thinking when he lumped together gun owners and people of religious faith as "cling(ing)," as if they need a security blanket to satisfy some psychological need. In contrast, I don't know exactly why Obama remained committed to a congregation whose pastor asserted "God damn America" and accused the government of spreading the AIDS virus.

Still, there is enough concern among voters not to tar them, patronizingly, with voting for Clinton or against Obama primarily because of race. But Herbert "leaps" to the conclusion that

the Clintons, in their desperation to find some way — any way — back to the White House, have leapt aboard that sorry train.

He can’t win! Don’t you understand? He’s black! He’s black!

The Clintons have been trying to embed that gruesomely destructive message in the brains of white voters and superdelegates for the longest time.

If Bob Herbert wants to attack Mrs. Clinton on policy, he should go right ahead. And if he wishes to defend Mr. Obama against criticism for any of his more questionable remarks, that's reasonable. He's free even to imply a malevolent motive, even racusnm on the part of Senator Clinton. But if he's intent on sowing the seeds of racial hatred, Herbert at least needs to provide stronger evidence in support of his accusations.

The likely Democratic nominee for President deserves better than the support of individuals who themselves display a condescending attitude and "antipathy to people who aren't like them," as Senator Obama would characterize it.
A Changed Man

I noticed recently that Reverend John Hagee, as a prelude to the visit to New Orleans in April, 2008 by his most famous fan, John McCain, has amended his comments about Hurricane Katrina. On September 18, 2006 Hagee told Terry Gross of National Public Radio, as reported by's glenn greenwald:

JH: All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.

The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it would was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades.

So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the Day of Judgment, and I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

As of April 22, 2008 Reverend Hagee was unrepentant, as evidenced by this portion of a conversation (reported by with right-wing Repub syndicated talk show host Dennis Prager:

PRAGER: Right, but in the case, did NPR get, is this quote correct though that in the case of New Orleans you do feel it was sin?

HAGEE: In the case of New Orleans, their plan to have that homosexual rally was sin. But it never happened. The rally never happened.

PRAGER: No, I understand.

HAGEE: It was scheduled that Monday.

PRAGER: No, I’m only trying to understand that in the case of New Orleans, you do feel that God’s hand was in it because of a sinful city?

HAGEE: That it was a city that was planning a sinful conduct, yes

But a mere three days later, on April 25, 2008 Reverend Hagee had a sudden change of hart and did a huge favor for John McCain, asserting in an e-mail:

As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses. But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.

One could suggest that Hagee is a changed man, and rejoice in his redemption. Less generously, I'll take note of Reverend Hagee's flexibility in altering his view of divine sovereignty just as John McCain swooped down into New Orleans as part of his springtime public relations tour.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mrs. John McCain To Media: Drop Dead

What do the Kerrys, Clintons, and Obamas have in common? The Clintons, who file jointly, released to the public their tax returns for tax year 2007, as did the Obamas, who also file jointly. Teresa Heinz Kerry, who filed separately from husband John, released her returns for tax year 2003.

Cindy McCain is chairwoman of, and heir to, the family-owned Hensley & Co., the nation's third largest Anheuser-Busch distributor, and distributor of other brands of beer. She has not made her tax returns public and when asked in April if whe would release her returns if husband John becomes President, replied "no." On Thursday's "Today" on NBC, Mrs. McCain stated "You know, my husband and I have been married 28 years and we have filed separate tax returns for 28 years. This is a privacy issue. My husband is the candidate." (Senator McCain's federal tax return for 2007 indicated income of $405,409 and $84,460 in taxes paid.)

As heiress to her late father, Cindy is believed to own a majority of Hensley and therefore is worth at least $100 million. Further, as has reported, Mrs. McCain: 1) may share with John possessions she didn't inherit; b) owns with her husband a condominium , assessed at $847,800 in Arlington, Virginia; c) alone or with her children, owns also Anheuser-Busch stock, two condominums along the California coast worth a total of at least $3 million and Arizona investments in rental medical offices and a parking lot; d)has property worth nearly $1.8 million near Sedona, Arizona, which includes a two-story cabin (where her husband rencently held a barbecue for reporters) and 15 acres owned by her family's trust; e) a real estate partnership in her name.

Campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker assures us "Senator McCain very rarely, if ever, drinks alcohol," a personal rectitude that may conflict with his political interests:

Hensley executives are among the Arizona senator's top career givers. The Anheuser-Busch PAC has given McCain's campaigns at least $19,500 over the years. McCain's campaign fundraisers include Robert Delgado, Hensley's president and chief executive officer; Andrew McCain, the company's chief financial officer and John McCain's stepson from his first marriage, to Carol Shepp; and August Busch III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch's executive committee. Anheuser-Busch in 2006 gave $25,000to the International Republican Institute, a pro-democracy group chaired by McCain.

McCain's campaign still taps Hensley assets: His presidential campaign paid at least $227,000 last year to a limited liability company in which his wife and children are invested, King Aviation, for use of its private jet, according to campaign finance reports.

If we are lucky, the mainstream media will pursue this story to determine whether Cindy McCain (or her husband) has something to hide, or whether it is a simple matter of contempt for the American people, an elitist attitude by a member of the corporate elite married to an elitist Senator. Or instead the media will ignore the story in its self-anointed role as apologist for John McCain.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Proposal Selfishly Rejected

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today, May 9, 2008, that the executive committee of the Michigan State Democratic Party has proposed a plan to give Hillary Clinton 69delegates and Barack Obama 59.

As I would have expected, the Clinton camp, which has proposed that the New York senator receive 73 delegates and the Illinois senator 55, rejected the proposal. Clearly, Clinton needs a nearly cataclysmic event, a major Obama scandal, or the reemergence of Jeremiah Wright to have a realistic chance to overtake the frontrunner. Apportioning Michigan's delegates on a reasonable and/or fair basis, as suggested by the state party, would barely help Clinton. Neither would apportioning California's 211 pledged (non-super) delegates as they were won, 105 for Clinton, 67 for Obama, and 13 for Edwards, help her much.

The response of Clinton spokesman Isaac Baker to the Michigan offer is revealing: "This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted." An official accounting of the votes in Florida (where the candidates signed, and honored, a party pledge not to campaign) and in Michigan (ditto Florida, and Obama and Edwards had honorably taken their names off the ballot) would be necessary (though probably not sufficient) for an effective bid for HRC.

As the Michigan proposal would do little to help Clinton, it actually would bring Barack Obama one major step closer to nomination. Further, the Obama campaign will need to blunt the GOP's expected charge this fall that the Democratic Party didn't care enough to consider the sentiments of voters in these two pivotal states. And the Obamites had to have known that the Clintonites would reject the proposal, which would have left their own guy as the one candidate apparently willing to compromise in the cause of party unity.

Why, then, did the Obama campaign reject this possible solution? Perhaps it figured it was unnecessary, given the defeatist remark ("I don't see it going to the convention") of Clinton campaign manager Terry McAuliffe on the Today show on 3/8/08. Still, one could have expected Barack Obama to be a little magnanimous, even as he triumpantly, and dismissively, proceeds with his victory lap.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rush Limbaugh On: Political Correctness

During his infamous program of April 23, 2008 Rush Limbaugh advocated rioting during the upcoming Democratic National Convention in August to rival that during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. The following day, a caller named Lisa who was not amused at Rush's irresponsible comments called Limbaugh and had the following conversation, according to

Lisa: You were saying that you were hoping for a White Christmas if the Democrats choose Hillary over Obama and you even kind of sang your statement to the tune of White Christmas or did you mean a white country? What exactly did you mean by that statement yesterday?

Rush: Ho ho ho.

Lisa: Because I feel like all Americans, the American people want is what’s best for this country.

Rush: No, they don’t.

Lisa: Why does this have to be a hate-filled comment from you and other radio hosts?

Rush: Lisa, there’s nothing but love for people, care and concern for people.

Lisa: It didn’t sound that way yesterday.

Rush: Well, you’re picking a selective moment. How often do you listen to the show?

Lisa: I listen almost every day.

Rush: You do?

Lisa: Yes I do. So I was a bit surprised should I say shocked that you were so blatant with that comment.

Rush: I’ve made the comment before.

Lisa: Who wishes for riots, who wants that to happen in this country?

Rush: Who wishes for riots? I didn’t get the ball rolling, it is Democrats like Al Sharpton that there will be….

Lisa: Rush.

Rush: You need to be calling Rev. Sharpton…

Lisa: I’m calling the gentlemen who made the comment yesterday and sang to the tune of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. What, what was that about?

Rush: It was about nothing. You are, you are taking…

Lisa: You are an intelligent man and I don’t think anything you do is about nothing…

Rush: Lisa.

Lisa: Everything you say and do on your radio show has a purpose. I’ve been listening long enough to pick up on that, Rush.

Rush: What’s happening here is that your own racism and your own projection of racism is forcing you..

Lisa: I have never wished for riots in my country.

Rush: You are reading my mind. Between the two of us, you are the racist

Lisa: I’m tired of gas prices, I’m tired of truck drivers not being able to get to deliver goods. I’m tired of people getting kicked out of their homes. I’m tired. I just want what’s best for this country for everybody–white—black–Chinese—and I NEVER wished for riots.

Rush: I see Americans, you see colors and races…

Lisa: I didn’t say White Christmas or white country, which one?


Lisa: I wish you would take your comments back and just really start from scratch. Republicans, Democrats, we need to do away with both parties and what think what’s best for this country and all that would do is put Rush out of business with his hate filled discussions every day…

Rush: We need to put liberals out of business, Lisa. We need to put mush minds out of business like you.

Lisa: Why am I a mush mind? Why are you resulting to name calling, sir?

The website observed of Rush, "He had enough and ended the call. She forced him to blame Al Sharpton and then called her a 'mush mind.'"

This seems to be a pattern with Limbaugh. Not the name-calling, the obscene comments, or cutting off listeners who call him on it. I'm referring to the resort to the "racist" card, the idea that anyone you disagree with, about ethnicity or otherwise, must be a racist. Here, the caller was not talking about race, other than to suggest that it should not be an issue- "I just want what's best for this country for everybody"- and that set Rush off. There you have it- political correctness, Republican-style.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rush Limbaugh On: The American Voter

It's like shooting ducks in a barrel. Listen to Rush Limbaugh, hear idiocy. Today, Rush was breathlessly hyping his "Operation Chaos" in the Democratic nominating process. Limbaugh began talking to a self-described, proud "dittohead" and the conversation eventually deteriorated thusly:

CALLER: I just wanted to point out the ironies of the fact that the South is always being knocked as the region that will not vote for a black man. Yet, what is the only region where Democrats did not vote for a black man?

RUSH: Yeah, the elite, refined, sophisticated Northeast.

CALLER: Exactly.

RUSH: So your point, that's where the true racism resides?

CALLER: Oh, it's obvious, isn't it?

RUSH: I don't think there's any question.

Yes, that's the premier voice of Repub talk radio asserting that anyone who does not vote for a black man is a racist. Millions of individuals choosing to vote for United States Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, and they're all racist. That would make Rush Limbaugh simplistic and narrow-minded, but perhaps most of all.... elitist.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Gas Tax, Again

In his continuing campaign to demonize Hillary Clinton's advocacy of a "gas tax holiday" (once a windfall profits tax is approved), Barack Obama maintained on Meet The Press this past Sunday

This gas tax, which was first proposed by John McCain and then quickly adopted by Senator Clinton, is a classic Washington gimmick. It, it is a political response to a serious problem that we have neglected for decades.... Now, here's, here's the upshot. You're looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28. That's assuming that the oil companies don't step in and raise prices by the same amount that the tax has been reduced. And, by the way, I have some experience on this because in Illinois we tried this when I was in the state legislature, and that's exactly what happened. The oil companies, the retailers were the ones who ended up benefiting.

Look carefully: Obama did not say "retailers ended up benefiting," or "it was primarily retailers who benefitted," or "most of the benefit went to retailers." No, he said "the retailers were the ones who ended up benefiting."

Now to the facts, courtesy of a 5/6/08 article by George Frost on As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted for a temporary lifting of the gas tax three times but now calls it a mistake and is quoted as saying "I voted for it, and then six months later we took a look, and consumers had not benefited at all."

Frost refers to "the only scientific study done on the pass-through of the tax holiday savings to Illinois consumers (and those in Indiana, as well, whose citizens enjoyed a similar holiday)," when Illinois' 5% sales tax on gasoline was suspended from mid-2000 through the end of 2000. It was entitled "$2,00 Gas! Studying the Effects of a Gas Tax Moratorium" and was written by Joseph J. Doyle Jr. and Krislert Samphantharak for the National Bureau of Economic Research. They concluded "the suspension of the 5% sales tax led to decreases in retail prices of 3%compared to neighboring states. And when the tax was reinstated, retail prices rose by roughly 4%."

The cut, however small, in gasoline prices may have been facilitated because, as Obama told constituents, "gas retailers must post on each pump a statement that indicates that the state tax has been suspended and that this temporary elimination of the tax should be reflected in the price per gallon of gas." Placement of a similar advisory on gas pumps would be critical if there is a suspension of the federal gas tax, as suggested by McCain and, conditionally, by Clinton.

Obama's false assertion "the oil companies, the retailers, were the ones who ended up benefiting" smacks of a - dare I say it- "classic Washington gimmick," the old-style politics decried by Obama since his campaign began. Still, in Obama's favor, it does suggest that he might have been on to something when he preceded his remarks by explaining "you're right, Tim, this defines, I think, the difference between myself and Senator Clinton." Because, Barack, as John McCain's meandering statements. and now you, continually make clear, your opponent in this race to the nomination does not hold a patent on deviation from the facts.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

UCC Commercials

Now that the controversy pertaining to Jeremiah Wright has ended, continued, or gone away for now, we can look back at a controversy regarding Reverend Wright's denomination, the United Church of Christ.

The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination which formed in 1957 from the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. It follows a "congregational" church polity, in which nearly complete autonomy is afforded individual congregations, which would account for the existence of a particular church and pastor outside of the mainstream of Christian thought.

In 2004, the UCC released an ad entitled "Bouncer" and in 2004, an ad named "Ejector," both aimed to emphasize the denomination's commitment to diversity. Both ads were rejected by the three major commercial networks, whether because of they were of an "advocacy" or religious nature. Reports at the time(s) indicated that the commercials would be aired on some cable networks, though I never saw either and am not sure of the outcome.

Still, whatever one's view of the issues involved, these interesting and provocative ads are well worth the viewing. Here is a link, first, to the "bouncer" ad, then to the "ejector" ad.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Obama Corrects Himself

After watching a portion, and reading the transcript, of Barack Obama's press conference on 4/29/08, I got to thinking of his historic speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, given to respond to the concerns about his campaign engendered by the comments of his then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Obama had said of the African-American church:

Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety - the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright.

Now, at his press conference, Obama has said:

His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church (emphasis mine).

Much better. Reverend Wright's rants may or may not "portray accurately the perspective" of Trinity United Church of Christ, but they certainly do not portray accurately the black/African-American church. Good that Senator Obama set that straight, finally.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Not A Legal Divorce

In his April 29, 2008 press conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Barack Obama responded to Reverend Jeremiah Wright's appearance at the National Press Club by noting:

Yesterday we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago.

This apparently led Chris Matthews, who clearly prefers Obama to Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee, to ask NBC Political Director Chuck Todd that afernoon on "Hardball" "he forced him to divorce him, didn't he?" Matthews a moment later commented "he is completely cutting off personally this man who‘s caused him so much trouble, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright."

Three days later, conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, in a piece harshly critical of the Illinois senator, wrote "apparently, Wright's latest comments -- Obama cited three in particular -- were so shockingly "divisive and destructive" that he had to renounce the man, not just the words."

But did Senator Obama really "renounce" or "divorce" his former pastor? Definitions of almost all words differ, but in what appears to be the most relevant one of "renounce," defines the word as "to cast off or disown; refuse further association with; repudiate to renounce a son."

Obama did comment "based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either," "well, look, as I said before, the person I saw yesterday was not the person that I had come to know over 20 years" and "I do not see that relationship being the same after this."

But throughout the press conference Obama emphasized disagreement with Wright's ideas. Here are two examples:

His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs.

I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am. And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign's about, I think will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.

He finds "these comments," not Reverend Wright, "completely opposed" to his aims. The person he "saw yesterday" may not be the real Jeremiah Wright, Obama implies. Not convinced? Obama concluded by lamenting "and so, you know, I'm disappointed. All right? thank you, guys." Disappointed- because he expected so much better from a man he deeply respected (and, I think, otherwise still does) and whose words so contrast with the man he has known.

Splitting hairs? I don't think so. At Obama's heralded speech on race/Wright in Philadelphia, the Senator had declared " I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." Disowning, divorcing or repudiating Wright, then, would be tantamount to divorcing the black community. Further, at his 4/29/08 press conference, Obama spoke in a measured way cognizant of the possibility that the minister whom the nation has seen too much of already may come back, either to hurt the campaign or simply in disregard of whatever impact he might have on it. That is why Obama, wisely, (again) denounced absurd comments yet not the man. After all, "the person I saw yesterday" may return.
Quote Of The Week

"But when you call yourself a “dittohead,” it seems to me you‘ve already defined yourself as someone who is, let‘s put it this way, manipulable."

-Chris Matthews on Rush Limbaugh's Stepfords, on the Wednesday, 4/30/08 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Suspension of Gas Tax?

In an editorial today, May 1, 2008, the New York Times has blasted the call by Senators McCain and Clinton for a gas-tax holiday as "an expensive and environmentally unsound policy that would do nothing to help American drivers."

The Times should be lauded for noting "turning a tax off in May and on in September would be an administrative nightmare," a point I haven't heard, or read, elsewhere. Similarly, The Times correctly asserts "if a suspension in the excise tax reduced the price at the pump, it would encourage even more driving. This would simply push prices back up. Oil companies would be grateful, drivers less so."

Of course, if more driving would be encouraged, it would not be the "expensive" policy the Times cites because it still would bring in significant revenues from the gas tax- even more if it "would simply push prices back up."

The bigger problem with the Times eleven-paragraph editorial is its failure to represent accurately Mrs. Clinton's position on the gas tax. The Times itself, on its news side, had reported on Tuesday, April 29:

Mrs. Clinton said at a rally on Monday morning in Graham, N.C., that she would introduce legislation to impose a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and use the revenue to suspend the gasoline tax temporarily.

“At the heart of my approach is a simple belief,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Middle-class families are paying too much and oil companies aren’t paying their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump.”

The Times charged "Senators John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton have hit on a new way to pander to American voters." Failure to mention Senator Clinton's support for a windfall profits tax on oil companies- apparently as a condition for suspending the gasoline tax- is so negligent as to make it appear an effort to distort Clinton's position, to make it appear as unwise as McCain's position. Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman a day earlier had explained "the Clinton twist is that she proposes paying for the revenue loss with an excess profits tax on oil companies. In one pocket, out the other. So it’s pointless, not evil."

Suspension of the gas tax, with its administrative confusion and cost, is probably not a wise choice, even with a windfall profits tax, which would eliminate or reduce the budgetary expense. But The New York Times, Senator Obama, and other critics must consider the regressive nature of the gasoline tax and continually escalating cost of energy in destroying the hopes of poor and middle-class Americans in a deteriorating economy.

On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...