Top news of 2007

I’ve always enjoyed year’s-end lists. Here are the top 10 news stories of 2007 as voted by members of The Associated Press (released 20 December):

#10 - IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: Worried that the ultimate goal is a nuclear arsenal, the United States and other countries pressed Iran to halt uranium enrichment. Iran said it never had a weapons program. A recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), prepared by 16 intelligence agencies, concluded there was such an effort, but it stopped in 2003.

#9 - IMMIGRATION DEBATE: A compromise immigration plan, backed by President Bush and Democratic leaders, collapsed in Congress due to Republican opposition. The plan would have enabled millions of illegal immigrants to move toward citizenship, while also bolstering border security. The issues remained alive in the presidential campaign.

#8 - PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: In a yearlong drama with shifting subplots, large fields in both major parties battled for support ahead of the caucuses and primaries that will decide the 2008 presidential nominees. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led among the Democrats; some polls showed five Republicans with double-digit support.

# 7 - BRIDGE COLLAPSE: An Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during the evening rush hour on Aug. 1, killing 13 people and injuring about 100. The disaster fueled concern about possible structural flaws in other bridges nationwide.

#6 - GLOBAL WARMING: Warnings about the consequences of global warming gained intensity with new reports from scientific panels and a Nobel Prize to Al Gore for his environmental crusading that included the award-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth." Across the U.S., many state governments sought to cap emissions blamed for global warming.

#5 - CHINESE EXPORTS: An array of Chinese exports were recalled, ranging from toys with lead paint to defective tires to tainted toothpaste and food. Despite the high-profile problems, America's trade deficit with China was running at record-high levels.

#4 - OIL PRICES: Oil prices soared to record highs, at one point reaching nearly $100 a barrel. The high prices, which burdened motorists and owners of oil-heated homes, nudged Congress to pass an energy bill that ordered an increase in motor vehicles' fuel efficiency. (BJ note: Under-reported is the effect of higher delivery costs on grocery prices.)

#3 - IRAQ WAR: The "surge" that sent more U.S. troops to Iraq was credited with helping reduce the overall level of violence. But, thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. personnel were killed nonetheless during the year, and Iraqi political leaders struggled to make meaningful progress toward national reconciliation.

#2 - MORTGAGE CRISIS: A record-setting wave of mortgage foreclosures, coupled with a steep slump in the housing market, buffeted financial markets, caused multibillion-dollar losses at major banks and investment firms, and became an issue in the presidential campaign.

#1 - VIRGINIA TECH KILLINGS: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, who had avoided court-ordered mental health treatment despite a history of psychiatric problems, killed two fellow students in a dormitory on April 16, detoured to mail a hate-filled video of himself to NBC News, then shot dead 30 students and professors in a classroom building before killing himself. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

If you disagree with the AP ranking or don’t see an important story on the list, please leave a comment. (The Bhutto assassination occurred after the list’s release.)

The AP list, an analysis of the reanking and the runners-up for top stories of the year: LINK



In “Earthbound,” one of my favorite Nintendo role-playing game (RPGs), my mission was to go into a village of conformist cult followers and break the spell which held them. Everything in the village was blue, from the faces of the faithful to the milk cow. The worshipers practiced “Happy-Happyism.”

Back in the 1970s a popular source of camp entertainment was the TV ministry of one “Reverend Ike.” Bedecked with gold chains and bracelets and diamond rings, Rev. Ike’s followers were encouraged to pray for new Cadillacs. His message: “You can’t lose with the stuff I use.”

New broadcast technology has drawn millions of followers under the spell of new-day “prosperity preachers.”

As a Christian, I am turned off by their message that money can, indeed, buy happiness, and if worshipers are “faithful enough,” they will be showered with earthly riches, good health and a problem-free life.

Out here in the real world, we know that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is not too keen on these pulpit panhandlers, either.

Grassley is investigating a number of these mega-church charlatans. The senator insists this is not about theology; it’s about the U.S. tax code, which allows these TV “preachers” to live in a world of Rolls-Royces, private jets and multi-million-dollar estates – tax exempt.

The ministries under review include Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, Fla.; Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas; David and Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo.; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga.; and Creflo and Taffi Dollar (for real!) of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Grassley points out, not a Rolls-Royce. And, he didn’t wear a Rolex, either.

In fact, Jesus talked about the poor more than any other subject – mentioning them some 700 times in his red-letter New Testament teachings.

The human tragedies in all this are the faithful – the contributors who become disillusioned and heartbroken when they find out their faith isn’t strong enough to merit such prosperity.

For further reading:

The Grassley investigation, The Associated Press.

The “Prosperity Gospel” and its victims, CNN.


Now, it's working ...

There’s a joke in upstate South Carolina about two Clemson University students riding around campus. The driver pulls over and asks his buddy to get out and tell him if his right blinker is working. The buddy yells back to the driver, “Now, it’s working; now, it’s not; now, it’s working, now it’s not.”

So, is the so-called U.S. troop “surge” in Iraq working – or not?

Can the surge be working when armed U.S. troops celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in the heart of a Muslim country?

Can the surge be working when a single American soldier looks into the camera and wishes his family “Happy Holidays” with tears running down his cheeks?

Can the surge be working when there are those who would have the United States become a fundamentalist theocracy while our soldiers are dying to prevent one in a Muslim country?

Can the surge be working when U.S. troops are fighting to liberate Iraqis from years of tyranny while the Bush administration has systematically chipped away at our own freedoms here?

Can the surge be working when major Iraqi factions cannot exist in harmony, and there are, quite literally, "warring" factions right here in America?

Can the surge be working as long as the neoconservatives who have shaped this administration’s foreign policy are building the world’s largest foreign embassy – a virtual fortress – in Baghdad with plans for a U.S. presence and U.S. bases protecting Iraq’s oil reserves for the unforeseeable future?

And, finally, you are hearing that the surge is working militarily, if not in terms of a successful Iraqi government. Is this true?

Examine six periods of this almost five-year war in terms of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq, verified by the DoD:

20 March 2003 through 1 May 2003 (end of major combat operations): 140 in 43 days

2 May 2003 through 28 June 2004 (sovereignty turned over to Iraq): 718 in 424 days

29 June 2004 through 30 January 2005 (Iraq elections): 580 in 216 days

31 January 2005 through 14 December 2005 (Iraq general elections): 715 in 318 days

15 December 2005 through 31 January 2007: 933 in 412 days

Beginning of the surge – 1 February 2007 to date: 811 in 328 days

Total deaths: 3,897 U.S. troops (Total coalition: UK, 174; other, 133)


'The Christmas Tree Regiment'

During WWII, Japanese-American citizens began to be moved from internment to relocation centers, entered the U.S. work force and just as quickly were fired when angry townspeople demanded it of employers.

“At the same time the number of Japanese-Americans serving in the U.S. Army continued to grow, reaching 33,000.

“‘I’ve never had more wholehearted, serious-minded cooperation from Army troops,’ Lt. Col. Faron Turner said of the all-Japanese 100th Infantry Battalion, which fought with great distinction in Italy and France.

“The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which also fought in Italy and France, was known as ‘The Christmas Tree Regiment,’ because it became the most decorated unit in the entire Army.

“In seven major campaigns, the combined 100th and 442nd suffered 9.486 casualties and won 18,143 medals for valor, including almost 10,000 Purple Hearts.

“In addition, almost 16,000 Nisei served in military intelligence in the Pacific, translating captured documents.

“At Topaz, Manzanar, Poston, Heart Mountain and other relocation camps, the parents of fallen heroes accepted the extraordinary honors on behalf of their sons. The color guard turned out as the medals of the dead were pinned on their mothers’ blouses

“The familiar sadness of the ceremony was multiplied by its setting: a tawdry, tarpapered barrack surrounded by strips of barbed wire, which denied the parents of the honored soldiers the very freedom for which their sons had died.”

- Doris Kearns Goodwin, “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in WWII.”


In this season of faith, love and hope, let our prayer ever be,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14


Method in MSNBC's madness

My veins still run with newspaper ink, and I still love the institution of journalism. Real journalism. Ethical reporting.

I confess: I have been addicted to politics and news since I was a child. Both were discussed at our family dinner table. I can remember lying on our living room floor reading the daily newspaper which landed on our front porch. The “Brenda Starr” comic strip led me as a kid to dream of a career in newspapering.

Because I love the Fourth Estate – and still believe in its potential power to right the wrongs – I am deeply troubled by what cable news is imparting under the non sequitur “news.”

Perhaps as a defense against spin, distortion and lies now disguised as “news,” I am compelled to keep myself informed.

This background leads me to this conclusion: MSNBC is swift-boating Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Opinion” shows such as “Morning Joe,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “Tucker” and “Live with Dan Abrams” aside, the personal attacks on this candidate for the presidency have spilled over into the so-called news segments throughout the day.

Those of you who despise Senator Clinton have your reasons and are entitled to them. But, if you approve the PERSONAL attacks on her and her campaign, you are turning a blind eye to ethics in journalism.

MSNBC has long been my cable news source of choice, although I do trust CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at 4 ET to give me a thorough and reliable daily news wrap.

From 5 a.m. up until the nightly tabloid, “Doc Block” at 10, I have heard reporting on Senator Clinton’s campaign which spins, distorts and takes out of context its every effort.

There is no attempt at subtlety. Whether her laugh is called a “cackle” or her campaign workers called “surrogates,” MSNBC’s campaign against Clinton is aimed at those who do not think for or inform themselves.

To my chagrin, I have seen long-respected journalists such as Tim Russert, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, David Shuster, join in these unrelenting jabs at the Clinton juggernaut.

(I hope you will remind yourself, dear reader, what this same select group did to Don Imus.)

There’s no need to even mention Fox News.

Big media is after the Democratic frontrunner.

Have you asked yourself “Why?”

There are two reasons, and they both involve profits.

The first, simply put, is “conflict sells.”

The other is a little more complicated. As you read this, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is ready to “open the floodgate” to further media consolidation.

Here’s what freepress.net has to say:

“If FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gets his way, your community will be inundated with even more mass-produced celebrity gossip and infotainment, and less local reporting and quality journalism: more of the junk news that is making us sick.

“Martin wants to ‘Super Size’ Big Media, allowing companies like Gannett, News Corp and Tribune to swallow up even more local TV, newspaper and radio outlets. Martin wants to let one company own both the major newspapers and a TV station in your hometown, drowning out the few remaining independent voices, so that media moguls like Rupert Murdoch can expand their empires.”

So, you ask, what has this got to do with MSNBC’s campaign against Hillary Clinton?

Well, everything.

When it became apparent that Senator Clinton was the frontrunner, outpolling candidates of both parties, cable news went into overdrive to stop the Democrat most likely to succeed.

By attempting to marginalize both Hillary and Bill Clinton and promoting candidates which, in my opinion, cannot carry the national vote, “big media” will keep in place an FCC which is favorable to both profits and expansion.

I remember the words of a former executive editor, who, when I complained our inside pages “news hole” (space left after advertisements are inserted) was too small, said, “It’s a business. If you don’t want it to be a business, you had better get out.” I did.

So, now you know: there’s method in MSNBC’s (and Matthews’) madness.

I will support and work to elect the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she is, but I did that in 2000 and 2004.

I honestly believe the one person who could win back the White House – and turn this country around - is at the mercy of an unethical media. If these personal attacks succeed, you just wait to see what they do to the Democratic Party’s nominee.

That “food for worms,” Benjamin Franklin, who chose “printer” as his sole epitaph, must be spinning in his Philadelphia grave.

And, when there’s a Republican taking the oath of office in January 2009, I will refer you back to this post.


Case study: Internet crap

Why in the name of God do people read the crap which circulates the world via Internet when these emails have no attribution or documentation?

This post, with a read time of about 10 minutes, cannot be appreciated unless you take the time to read the snopes.com analysis linked herein.

Involved is a particular bit of tripe from a man who claims a desire to publish his wife’s “beautiful” letter-to-the-editor because the Orange County (Calif.) Register ignored it. Basically, the email compares a Utopian view of late 19th- and early 20th-Century immigration with the blight of today’s unwelcomed hoards.

Snopes analyzes the letter with its usual dose of reality.

I wrote the following to the person who forwarded the letter to me – you know one of those emals where you have to plow down through countless email addresses until you get to its body and which always ends by demanding you keep it moving around the world.


I am so happy I read and studied Clyde Raymond Miller's "The Process of Persuasion," the acknowledged bible for identifying the various techniques of propaganda, because this CRAP is chock full of them. I read it and recognized it for what it is: xenophobic propaganda which is written to stir your emotions while blocking your ability to reason for yourself.

A rule of thumb on these Internet letters from NOWHERE is to delete them. If you do read them, look for the APPEAL at the end that asks the reader to spread it to "millions" and makes the reader feel less-than-patriotic if he or she doesn't send it along.

Actually, these letters are not from "nowhere," they are written by hired guns of advocacy groups which support or oppose an issue, a cause or a candidate. These people are very skilled at composing propaganda and setting it into circulation.

Why would you read these letters when you don't really know who wrote them?

Even if the content of this letter were TRUE, as a former editorial page editor I could tell you that the letter would have been rejected by any newspaper, because it's too long. When I write an occasional letter-to-the-editor to the newspaper here, the word limit is 250.

All that aside, you don't have to worry about persons coming here from Mexico just to make money for their families. Right now, the value of the U.S. dollar is plummeting, and when it drops BELOW the value of the Mexican peso, they will all go back home. Wall Street is very nervous over the continuing downward spiral of the U.S. dollar. Now, that's an issue for concern.

Here's what SNOPES.com says about this “letter” (and, dear reader, it will be worth your time to read the analysis!): LINK

Now, to take this to a personal level:

I have read best-selling books on the history of almost every American decade. It is a mistake to believe America - the America we grew up in and love - is and has been perfect, for it has not. There have been problems in every decade which have had to be rectified.

There have been systemic problems such as prejudices against blacks, Jews, American Indians and peoples of almost every nationality and faith.

There have been grave mistakes made when the U.S. has intervened in the affairs of foreign govenments (for example, the CIA-led coup to overthrow the elected Iranian leader and install the Shah or taking the side of the United Fruit Company in overthrowing the elected leader of Guatamala - to the advantage of a private business using near-slave labor).

So, as the SNOPES analysis points out the Utopia the letter writer would have you believe has never existed here. And, sadly, never will.

I am currently listening to noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in WWII," which is a documented record of the post-Depression 30s and the war-time 40s. During those decades Americans did sacrifice, but there were race riots and violent labor strikes.

Most notably, as a result of post-Pearl Harbor hysteria, the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-American CITIZENS in filthy and overcrowded "concentration" camps remains a blight on our history. The last camp housing these "suspected enemies" closed in 1946. (History and photographs, University of Utah collection). The U.S. finally paid these citizens retribution for what they went through.

I am struck by a common theme in each decade of our history: each has had the SAME problems to deal with – the same prejudices, fears and paranoia.

Hence, the French phrase Snopes.com uses:

"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

No, America is not perfect - as evidenced by all its current problems - but it's still a good country with good people, in my opinion, and I'm glad I was born here. I know you are, too.

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why?" Why were we lucky to be born here, when so many are born into oppression, disease, poverty and hunger?

I refuse to find fault with any persons who want to come here to find for themselves what we, by the sheer luck of birth, simply inherited, having done nothing to deserve it.


'There you go again!'

Today I’m featuring a favorite blogger, Papamoka, whose “Straight Talk” blog is always interesting and might be named “Common Sense” if that title had not been used by an earlier patriot.

In his 12 December 2007 post, “Grinch AKA Bush Kills Kids Health Bill Again” (LINK), Papamoka writes:

Separated at birth is our current Commander in Thief and the Grinch who stole Christmas. If you took the time to compare the two it might not be as far off a thought as you think. With his hefty and mighty veto crayon he swiftly cast the medical care of 10 million kids in the “Do Not Recycle” bin out in the back of the White House today... AGAIN!

His rationalization for vetoing the bill is that it is the beginning of socialized medicine? Maybe the President has not visited an emergency room in any city in America lately. Socialized medicine is already here! It’s just the most expensive form of medical health care there is and we all pay for the poor using the Emergency Room with every payment to our HMO provider whether we like it or not.

If there ever was a clear cut example of what not to do as an American President then this guy is going to be mentioned more times than anyone else. He clearly fits the phrase from the movie The American President where it was said “For someone who loves America but clearly cannot stand Americans”. Rough paraphrase but it fits W to a tee.

Bush vetoes children's health bill a second time
Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:02pm

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed a bill expanding a popular children's health care program for the second time, angering Democrats who are locked in a fight with the administration over the budget and spending.

Pushed by the Democratic-led Congress but also supported by many Republicans, the bill was aimed at providing health insurance to about 10 million children in low- and moderate-income families. Taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products would have been increased to pay for the aid.

Bush vetoed a version of the bill in October but Congress quickly passed another one that included some changes but not enough to satisfy the White House.

"Because the Congress has chosen to send me an essentially identical bill that has the same problems as the flawed bill I previously vetoed, I must veto this legislation too," Bush wrote in a message to the House of Representatives.

The fight between Congress and the White House over the health bill is one in a series of clashes over spending that have arisen as Bush approaches the start of his final year in office. -Reuters

One of the obvious problems with the bill is how it was to be funded and those funds discharged. There was no money in it for the “Bush Too” crew of political hacks. If Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi had linked some (more than half) of the money from the bill to be directly paid back to any oil company or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia then it might have had a chance at passing.

It is very obvious that this President does not care one iota about his own peoples’ health care. He does not even care about our own military wounded soldiers coming home for care in our military hospitals unless the Washington Post blasts the negligence across the front page to embarrass him. Even then he only tosses a white wash over the issue and moves on to where the money is.

Sometimes I wonder if he has CADD, that would be Conservative Attention Deficit Disorder. Federal programs that don’t send money his friends’way just cannot seem to hold his attention span long enough. Out comes the veto crayon, and he tries his best to color within the lines but those pesky flash bulbs always make him mess up.

Back to the emergency room, kids. Socialized medicine? Ridiculous!


For more of “Papamoka’s Straight Talk:” LINK


Demwit today: “Black eye”


WaPo A01


Media’s anti-Hillary blitz backfires: LINK

Eat your heart out, Chris Matthews.


Taking five

Working on Christmas projects and will see you in a couple of days. In the meantime, you might enjoy this post from 5 April 2007:

Whiskey at the good-old-boys club

Once upon a time at a certain daily newspaper in a certain Southern town, I edited the opinion pages.

In an editorial board meeting with the publisher and the executive editor, where plans were made for the week’s opinion pieces, I commented that Mississippi once taxed illegal liquor. There was a state tax collector, I added, whose salary was a percentage of the take.

Pretty confident of my home state’s history, I punctuated these remarks with “That’s how William Winter got rich.”

Maybe this newspaper had not yet gotten the word that women were becoming a force in journalism, for the publisher immediately put me in my place. “That’s ridiculous!” he retorted, “and I know Bill Winter. Bill Winter is not rich.”

When the publisher left the conference room, the editor, in front of the other board members, looked at me and snapped, “If you don’t know what you’re talking about, keep your mouth shut!”

I kept my mouth shut.

I did not tell him that my brothers-in-law Paul and Harold and my brother Leroy were friends of William Winter, former Mississippi governor, back in their Grenada, Mississippi, growing-up years.

Nor, did I tell him that William Winter had never in his life been called “Bill.”

Didn’t even mention that seen from the perspectives of a publisher and a lowly editorial editor, “rich” might be relative.

Heck, Mississippi politicians were among those who practically wore out the old Pearl River bridge connecting the state capital to “The Gold Coast,” a Rankin County road lined with wooden shacks dispensing illegal whiskey from drive-through windows.

A few days ago I ran across the delightful memoirs of retired Mississippi Judge Thomas Givens of Oxford.

Drawing me into Judge Givens’ stories were his title, “Whiskey, Chickens and Cherry Bombs,” and this on the Web site:

“Note from Ye Editor: Judge Tom Givens writes stories that are not only entertaining, but also give us a glimpse into a rapidly fading era of Deep South history. Readers will enjoy these four memoirs - and will learn a thing or two.”

Learn a thing or two, indeed!

With permission of Beth, whose Web site is usadeepsouth.ms11.net, I quote a few words from one of Judge Givens’ stories:

“As I said before, just about all the (Mississippi) Delta and River counties allowed liquor sales. You could walk into any of those establishments, and there tacked on the wall would be their black market tax receipt.

“Now, get this, they had a ‘State Tax Collector.’ His only job was to collect the black market tax, and his compensation was a percentage of the collection. In the 50's, Life magazine did a profile on him as the highest paid public servant in the United States. That was none other than the most Honorable William Winter. To Winter’s credit, he lobbied the legislature to do away with the position, which they finally did.”

Well, that makes two Mississippians who know what they’re talking about!

Thanks, Judge! Once upon a time a woman could get pretty lonely working at a good-old-boys club.


Girdles and coffee

In “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor: The Home Front in WWII,” the book I’m currently enjoying, Doris Kearns Goodwin points out the sacrifices Americans made during that war.

The two things they most hated to give up were girdles and coffee.

Because Japan had captured rubber- and coffee-producing countries, rationing became a necessity.

So great was the outcry over girdles - “sagging muscles in middle-aged bodies leave women without the energy to do their work” – the government capitulated on that restriction.

Coffee lovers were limited to one cup a day. (I would have demonstrated.)

By and large, Americans on the home front sacrificed. Society women had a new role model: Rosie the Riveter. The war was won on the beaches of Normandy, in the steaming tropics of the Pacific and on Main Street, USA.

Not much of that going on today with America at war in two countries.

Funny thing is: the people who thought the Iraq war was a great idea, the people who claim sole support for our troops are the very people most unwilling to pay taxes to fund it.

The Republican Party wants permanent tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, many of which are making megaprofits from the war.

Sacrifice doesn’t mean sugar rationing any more.

On this the 66th anniversary of FDR’s “day that will live in infamy,” maybe Americans could take time from life as usual to remember:

Uncle Sam still wants YOU.


DemWit today: “Wrong numbers”


The poop on Lou Dobbs

This winner of Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” (LINK) is just too good not to pass along:

(O)ur winner, Lou Dobbs of CNN, who has been teetering on the edge of madness for a couple of years now and last night stopped the teetering part.

A critic from the L. A. Times, CNN‘s partner in an upcoming debate, accused CNN of improperly tailoring the first half hour of its YouTube debate last week to reflect Dobbs‘ personal obsession with undocumented immigrants.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests the topic is only the fifth highest priority among American voters at 11 percent. The latest Pew Poll says it‘s only the sixth priority of Republicans.

Dobbs thinks it‘s the only one. The critic called CNN corrupt - strong language. But, of course, on this topic, Dobbs is corrupt and hypocritical, too, as we‘ll examine in a moment. First, though, let‘s play the tape of some of Dobbs‘ detonating, largely because, at this point, I‘m sad to say, my impression of him consists of only three words - I‘m Lou Dobbs.


LOU DOBBS, CNN Imagine that. We offended the little liberal lily. Not only was Rutten apoplectic that presidential candidates would actually have to deal with the issue of illegal immigration; but Rutten‘s tortured mind crushed his own sense of reason and managed to conclude that CNN focused on illegal immigration to create a larger audience for me. Did Rutten notice I was not involved in that debate? The candidates get a little nervous if I‘m in the same building.

Rutten, you either don‘t know how to read a survey, a poll, or you have no interest in the facts, or you‘re just another elitist partisan, and that explains why the L. A. Times continues to lose readers. You‘re a lousy media critic. We all knew that. But, now you‘ve stepped into advocacy, and you‘re even worse at that.

And, you don‘t even have the guts to come on this broadcast and discuss your corrupt reasoning and partisan activism disguised as media criticism. Too bad, we would have loved to have discussed the issues with you. But, you‘re not interested in reality or truth. You‘re a media critic, of sorts.


OLBERMANN: He sounds passionate about immigration, the way, say, Senator Joe McCarthy was passionate. But, actually it‘s hypocritical.

As noted in the book “A Sunday Horse” by Vickie Moon, Dobbs has two daughters who have for years been passionately involved in show jumping, the upper class, super expensive, elitist world of horses and hurdles. Show jumping depends on—and Lou Dobbs spends his money indirectly employing—hundreds of the very people he rails against each night.

After mentioning the Dobbs‘ family involvement, Vickie Moon writes of the sport, “This melting pot of international equine aficionados does not include the countless number of illegal Spanish-speaking immigrants who shovel the 40 tons of poop a day.”

In other words, weeknights, Lou Dobbs threatens illegal immigrants, and on weekends, he pays them to clean up after his daughters‘ horses.

So, Lou, get serious one way or the other. Drop your racism, thinly disguised as warnings and threats about illegal immigrants, or get your daughters and money out of a sport that could not exist without them. Better still, why don‘t you go clean up the 40 tons of poop a day yourself? On TV, you seem pretty good at shoveling it.

Lou “Do as I say, not as I spend” Dobbs, today‘s Worst Person in the World.

I continue to be amazed that, primarily, through the voices of Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan, who throw out statistics and don’t seem to back them up, the media has created the myth that ALL Americans are freaking out over illegal immigration.

Yet, current polls continue to show this is not the biggest issue on Americans’ minds. Legitimate polling shows the majority of Americans favor a “path to citizenship.”

Here’s is a question from a poll cited by Dobbs:

“Do you believe illegal immigration is an issue which needs attention?”

Well, of course, it is.

But, Dobbs will tell you that the 90 percent who answered “yes” to this question want all “illegal immigrants” shipped home. Not exactly a logical interpretation of the answer, huh?

Thanks, Mr. Olbermann, for pointing out the obvious: Lou Dobbs is a one-track fanatic.


DemWit today: “Untitled”


At the mercy of madmen

Writing a political blog can be overwhelming. This country is at the mercy of madmen, and the head honcho is sitting in the Oval Office. The madness rolls in in daily waves – of tsunami proportions.

Did some master propagandist like Karl Rove, who has recently shown he has no qualms about lying to rewrite history, sit down and tell this administration: if we do enough bad things on a daily basis, the people, the Congress and the media will be so overwhelmed they simply cannot or will not do anything about it?

This is not uninformed speculation on my part; I’ve been monitoring this bunch since January 2001.

First, there was Rove himself, blaming the Democrats for “pushing” the vote on Iraq and saying the GOP didn’t want “to politicize” the potential for war in the run-up to Election 2002.

Then, there’s Bush using our troops as a fulcrum to convince Americans that if Congress doesn’t continue issuing him blank checks for Iraq NOW, the military will run out of money. Secretary of Defense Gates himself has contradicted this claim in statements before Congress.

The president of the United States then insulted the U.S. Congress by saying it had “done nothing.” I watched on C-SPAN as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was the first to rise and speak as that body reconvened after its Thanksgiving break. Reid was incredulous that Bush would make such a blanket statement, then enumerated exactly what the legislative branch HAS done, despite Republican opposition and Bush vetoes.

Word comes next that Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war, after scandal led to his firing as president of the World Bank, will be brought back into the Bush administration – as an expert on, of all things, “weapons of mass destruction.” (Ironically, that was CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson’s area of expertise!)

Now comes the National Intelligence Estimate – the NIE - a product of 16 U.S. intelligence entities, with findings on Iran which are certain to make Bush and this country the laughing-stock of the world. And, Bush with his sabre-rattling talk of World War III, stated he only found out about the NIE’s findings two weeks ago.

If further proof of madness is needed, here’s what former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told Wolf Blitzer in CNN’s “The Situation Room” yesterday at 4 p.m. ET. (LINK) Read the following exchange and ask yourself if we can really wait until Bush leaves office in 412 days to put an end to this madness.

Blitzer asked war hawk Bolton if the NIE had changed his mind on Iran. (Bush told reporters yesterday that it had not changed his mind.)

“No,” Bolton said. “I think in the first place there is an artificial distinction in this Estimate between so-called civil activities and military activities.

“The Estimate itself says Iran continues its uranium enrichment program; and what that means is Iran is building up an inventory of at least low-enriched uranium, that it's at Iran's discretion when to convert that fissile material into a nuclear weapon.

“So, I think there are a lot of questions about this Estimate, which is only an analyst's judgment. And, I don't think I would change my view of the threat that Iran poses.”

Blitzer pointed out that the new NIE “clearly would indicate that the president and all of his top advisers who were so worried about Iran's nuclear threat were wrong.”

“Right. Well, that's one reason I'm suspicious about the conclusion here, that this took four years to find out,” Bolton said. “And, by the way, two agencies dissent from that conclusion. And, even what was published says that the NIE itself only has moderate confidence that the suspension in 2003 continues today, and that there are gaps in our intelligence. I think there's a real risk here of over-judging what the intelligence community found, and that there is a real risk of disinformation on the part of Iran.”

Blitzer asked Bolton for clarification: “You're saying that this new NIE … is potentially wrong? Is that what you're saying? And, that it was released for what, political purposes?”

Bolton replied, “Well, I think it's potentially wrong. But, I would also say many of the people who wrote this are former State Department employees who, during their career at the State Department never gave much attention to the threat of the Iranian program. Now, they are writing as members of the intelligence community, the same opinions that they had four and five years ago.”

President Bush, Blitzer pointed out, says he has confidene in the new NIE. He also reminded Bolton that, according to Bush, the entire U.S. intelligence-gathering community has been revamped since faulty intel led us into war in Iraq, and the president himself says he has “total confidence” in this NIE.

To that Bolton replied, “Well, I have to say I don't. I think there's a very real risk here that the intelligence community is like generals fighting the last war. They got Iraq wrong, and they're overcompensating by understating the potential threat from Iran.”

So, according to Mr. Bolton, when they got it wrong, they got it right, and when they get it right, they’ve gotten it wrong. Although the former ambassador recently declared, “I am not a neocon,” that sure sounds like neoconspeak to me.

Now, what could possibly be more scary than that? The fact that about 35 percent of the voting-age people in this country are not even registered to vote and only 65 percent of those registered actually vote. Far too many Americans have no idea all this is going on.

There might be one thing above all to be feared: a free press which has forfeited its mission as government watchdog.


See a brief, related quote on my blog, “DemWit:” LINK


One happy Imus fan

Don Imus returned to the air with apologetic remarks, then added, "Other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan, I'm back on the radio and the coffee’s still good at B. J.’s house.”

OK, I added that last part, but it’s true!

Like the night my “Friends” exited the apartment door or finally tossing my favorite old houseshoes, the absence of Imus and his crew in the morning was unsettling.

I had grown accustomed to the craggy-faced curmudgeon and stepped right back into the comfortable morning routine.

I once heard David Letterman say he liked “Beavis and Butthead” because “they’re consistent.” And both Imus and his fans know that is crucial to the new show’s success.

The I-man promised the show his fans came to love “is not going to change,” a remark which drew loud applause from yesterday’s live audience.

RFD-TV, which will simulcast Imus’ WABC-AM show, says 30 million viewers will tune in. The channel hopes to add “20 million urban viewers.”

RFD, for you city slickers, stands for the postal designation, “rural free delivery.”

A friend who gets the channel via satellite told me the program is being bleeped. Well, they ain’t gonna add urban viewers that way.

I buzzed the blogosphere to get reaction to the broadcast, and that hasn’t changed, either – you love Imus or you hate him.

I ran across a blog by a Jewish woman who was complaining about “that bastard Imus” and his new black female sidekick, Karith Foster, a Texas gal educated at Missouri’s exclusive Stephens College and Oxford University in England.

The Jewish woman was raising hell because Foster had joked on her Web site, “I'm really a Jewish girl from Long Island trapped in this body, which technically makes me a JAAP - Jewish African-American Princess."

Sometimes you’re just damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And sometimes, you just want to scream, “SHUT UP!”


Read the Associate Press coverage of the first show: LINK

Listen to Imus “streaming live” at WABC-AM, 6 to 9 ET weekday mornings. Go HERE and click on "Listen Live."

TODAY'S QUOTE: In discussing the issue of illegal immigration with Imus, GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee said, "We should get down on our knees every night and thank God we live in a country people are trying to break into and not trying break out of."


Imus on the air!

Listen to Don Imus, beginning Monday, 6 to 10 a.m. ET, on WABC-AM, New York, ABC radio affiliates, RFD-TV simulcast and STREAMING LIVE on your computer at: "Listen Live"

And, with apologies to Elton John, a message for Joe Scarborough:

Goodbye, “Morning Joke!” Your sarcasm burned out long before your program ever did.