Quite a leap

We’re all so focused on the presidential campaign, I thought we would celebrate Leap Year 2008 with a little comic relief:

At George W. Bush’s press conference yesterday:

Q What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing …

THE PRESIDENT: Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?

Q A number of analysts are predicting …


Q … $4-a-gallon gasoline this spring when they reformulate.

THE PRESIDENT: That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I know it's high now.

THEN, just a few minutes later, when a reporter asked Bush whether there would be restrictions on contributions to his presidential library, whether he would accept foreign money:

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I'll probably take some foreign money, but don't know yet, Ken. We just haven't -- we just announced the deal, and I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like ON GASOLINE PRICES and, you know, my trip to Africa, and haven't seen the fundraising strategy yet. So, the answer to your question, really, I can't answer your question well.

OK. It would be funny if it weren’t so darn serious.


“DemWit” today: “Equal time for McCain”


Mo of the same

“ ‘Maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow,’ she said tartly in the debate here Tuesday night. She peevishly and pointlessly complained about getting the first question too often, implying that the moderators of MSNBC — a channel her campaign has complained has been sexist — are giving Obama an easy ride.

“Beating on the press is the lamest thing you can do. It is only because of the utter open-mindedness of the press that Hillary can lose 11 contests in a row and still be treated as a contender.”

I snatched these two paragraphs out of New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd’s anti-Clintons regurgitations this morning. (If you have an appetite for vitriol and vomit, you can read her here.)

That “contender” remark is pretty lame itself. That status is granted by voters, not the press.

“ … implying that the moderators of MSNBC — a channel her campaign has complained has been sexist — are giving Obama an easy ride.”


Apparently, Ms. Dowd doesn’t spend a lot of time – as I do – watching campaign coverage on MSNBC.

Then, too, Ms. Dowd, whose attacks on Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky affair are legend, has never forgiven Hillary for keeping her wedding vow. You know, “for better or for worse.”

While MSNBC spent the entire day yesterday beating Hillary Clinton into the ground and extolling Obama, regular viewers who see through the bias knew that Brian Williams and Tim Russert were locked head-to-head, trying to formulate THE question that could bring Senator Clinton’s campaign to its end.

Around mid-afternoon I sent an email to Hillary supporters on my list: “Keep an eye on Tim Russert.”

“Beating on the press is the lamest thing you can do.”

Come on, Mo, you’re a smarter woman than that.

Hillary was not, to use Barack’s word, “whining.” What she said, to use yours, was not “pointless.” She looked Tim Russert in the eye and gave him notice: “I am ready for you!”

And, Mr. Russert got her drift.

So, what, I’m sure, seemed to some another “silly season” remark set the “tone” for the evening and gave us – in this third meeting of the Democratic contenders – a real debate.

Now, Ms. Dowd, if you want to talk about who is “beating on” who, meet me in Ohio on March 4.

To paraphrase “The Godfather:”

“Leave the keyboard, bring the TV.”


Taking a moment

Mat, author of the blog “Papamoka Straight Talk,” is about the nicest Internet friend you’d ever want to make.

This dedicated blogger lives in Worcester, Massachusetts, in The House of the Six Women – his wife and their five daughters, ages 5 to 17.

I found Mat’s blog some time ago via Google and have enjoyed his honest and down-to-earth commentary on all things political. I don’t even mind that we sometimes disagree. I have never shied away from opposing viewpoints, and I trust Papamoka’s.

In one of his current posts, Mat selected a personal “Top 10” list: blogs he gives an “E for Excellent.”

What a lovely surprise while reading through his picks of such notable blogs as “Michael Linn Jones,” “Gun Toting Liberal,” “Bring It On!” and “Crooks and Liars” to find the road-less-traveled blog named “I See My Dreams.”

Papmoka writes: “Next on my list for 'E for Excellent' is, at number six, my good friend BJ at I See My Dreams. One of the things that makes me read a blog is the love of writing from the site owner. BJ is a retired newspaper editor in South Carolina, and I just love reading her posts. Liberal leaning and on topic with facts and links to back up all of her posts. In her heart is what is right and from her perspective is always an amazing read. I just love her work. Who loves ya, BJ!… Tag, you’re it, my friend! You can see her work at I See My Dreams and get addicted yourself.”


With almost 5,000 visitors to date – I’m a little fish in a big sea of bloggers - and some 300-plus posts under my belt, it would be easy to talk myself into hanging it up. After all, as Mat points out, we don’t do this for the money.

Funny how a spoonful of encouragement can inspire. It is you, dear reader, who keeps me from yielding to those “doggin’ bloggin’ blues.”

Thank you, and sincere thanks to Mat!

Papamoka’s “E for Excellent” picks: LINK

And, his informed and insightful blog: LINK


A quagmire by any other name

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday renewed for another six months the cease-fire keeping his Mahdi Army militia in check. (Associated Press, 2/22/2008)

For several weeks there has been speculation that Sadr would not continue the cease-fire, credited by Gen. David Petraeus with contributing to a reduction of violence in Baghdad.

The Iraqi parliament continues to be bogged down in factional in-fighting, which prevents any meaningful advance in legislation.

The Turkish military sent ground troops into Northern Iraq Thursday night in an effort to quell Kurdish militants – the first such incursion since the U.S. invaded Iraq. (New York Times, 2/22/2008, LINK)

The move, Turkey claims, is an attempt to prevent the militants – the Kurdistan Worker’s Party – from entering Turkey and attacking troops there.

This, of course, pits two U.S. allies against each other. (I was shocked to hear a Fox News report Saturday that the U.S. considers the Kurdish militants “terrorists.”)

While conservatives continue to claim “the surge is working,” U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians continue to die. We are just 28 troop deaths short of 4,000 American sons and daughters dying in Iraq. The strategic situation can only be called a quagmire.

Is the United States, then, putting too many eggs in the Sadr basket?

“Sadr,” according to The Progress Report, Center for American Progress, 2/22/2008, “has felt pressure from rank and file members of his Mahdi Army, who equate the cease-fire ‘with a loss of power and resources, believe the U.S. and ISCI* are conspiring to weaken the movement and eagerly await Muqtada's permission to resume the fight.’ “ (*BJ note: the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq – ISCI – is the largest and most powerful Shiite party in Iraq.)

What, then, is Sadr up to?

The Progress Report continues: “But, Vali Nasr, author of The Shi’a Revival, believes Sadr has a long-term strategy. ‘The game in Iraq is not over,’ says Nasr. ‘[Sadr] has been beefing up his strength.’

“Sadr has also been pumping up his religious credentials, studying in the Iranian seminary city of Qom in order to become a recognized religious authority. Once he achieves a higher clerical rank, Sadr will be more able to credibly challenge the Najaf establishment for leadership of Iraq."

Call it a “surge.” Call it a “success.” A quagmire by any other name is still a quagmire.

For more on the current strategical situation in Iraq, read the Progress Report’s “Iraq: A Precarious Situation,” LINK


Challenge the chant

(Reprinted with permission from Craig Crawford, Congressional Quarterly.)

Yes We Can WHAT?

By Craig Crawford, Congressional Quarterly February 18, 2008 6:00 AM

The news media’s long-awaited scrubbing of Barack Obama’s concrete plans for governing has begun and, not surprisingly, it doesn't take long. The Democratic presidential contender’s famously inspirational speeches offer little sustenance for wonks.

In a rare and much-heralded policy address last week, Obama attempted to get specific on economics but the details turned out to be so reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s proposals that an aide to Republican nominee-to-be John McCain stepped in to cry foul. “He basically took Clinton's words and Clinton's policies and called them his own,” McCain economic advisor Kevin Hassett said.

Obama’s supporters and advisers refer pesky policy inquiries to the campaign Web site, but it is difficult to connect the dots between this internet data dump and a candidate whose public comments reveal little evidence that he has read it himself. As Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, an Obama fan, concluded after examining the Web site, “I'm still puzzled about where to locate Obama on this policy map.”

No one expects Obama to use every opportunity to wade through the policy thicket that Clinton seems to enjoy navigating in her often mind-numbing stump speeches. The Illinois senator apparently intends to be a motivational president who stays above the fray. But on the stump he provides little guidance to the occasional voter who might be curious about exactly what he would do as president.

Politically speaking, it is probably true that Obama does not need to sweat the policy details. He has so far made it to the brink of success in the Democratic race without specifics. Instead, his admiring crowds appear content to chant “Yes We Can” without bothering to finish the sentence. –end-

For more of “Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix:” LINK

NEXT POST: ‘They are snakes’

'They are snakes'

In a perfect world, Americans could find unity in diversity.

Barack Obama told last night’s debate audience that Hillary Clinton’s “Let’s get real” slogan implies his supporters are “delusional.”

Well, there’s one thing Obama keeps promising that this old gal ain’t delusional about: I am not naïve enough to think he can unite the left-wing and the right-wing in this country.

Hillary or Obama, the right will go for the jugular.

Listen to these words from the right-wing’s guru Rush Limbaugh – his response to the New York Times story about John McCain:

“The important question for John McCain today is, is he going to learn the right lesson from this, and what is the lesson? The lesson is: liberals are to be defeated. You cannot walk across the aisle with them. You cannot reach across the aisle. You cannot welcome their media members on your bus and get all cozy with them and expect eternal love from them. You are a Republican. Whether you're a conservative Republican or not, you are a Republican. At some point, the people you cozy up to, either to do legislation or to get cozy media stories, are going to turn on you. They are snakes.”

(Expand Your Mind: read what else Rush had to say – LINK)

I do not want to be bedfellows – strange or otherwise - with Limbaugh, with Sean Hannity, with Bill O’Reilly, with Ann Coulter, with Michelle Malkin or any others of their ilk.

No group hugs with neocons.

I do have my pride. Let’s get real!


Whitewater: case closed

For the last couple of days I have been reading visitor comments on various blogs and news sites – to check the pulse of the American people.

Conclusion: there are a great number of people out there who are brain dead.

Aside from the apparent failure of our education system to teach spelling and proper grammar, these comments – from Hillary, Obama and McCain supporters - have had running themes:

1) Whitewater.
2) The Clintons killed Vince Foster.
3) Hillary has never accomplished anything.
4) If Hillary can't control her husband, how can she control the country?
5) Obama is a Muslim.

Let’s address theme #5 first. Are these people so ignorant and uninformed that they cannot distinguish “militant Islamic fundamentalists” from the one in every five persons on Earth who embrace the faith of Islam? Barack Obama’s father was an African Muslim who deserted his wife when Barack was two years old. In 1985, Obama joined the United Church of Christ in Chicago and became a Christian. He, his wife Michelle and their two daughters are members of Trinity United Church of Christ in southside Chicago.

As to comment theme #3 – Hillary has never accomplished anything – let’s just chalk that one up to stupidity.

The remaining comment themes are related to the Whitewater investigation, and are addressed in the following:

(Originally published on this blog 6/25/2007 – LINK)

Whitewater: case closed

Continuing to listen to Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life.” I transcribed the following excerpt from the tapes, because its subject is going to come up again in the run-up to Election 2008, and I want you, dear reader, to be aware of the other side of the story.

From Chapter 45:

“… (I)n mid-December the complete Whitewater story finally came out when the RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation) Inquiry from Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro was released. The report was written by Jay Stevens, who like Chuck Banks was a Republican former U.S. attorney, whom I had replaced.”

(See “RTC report exonerates Clintons,” Congressional Record, December 1995: LINK)

“It said, as had the preliminary report in June, that there were no grounds for a civil suit against us in Whitewater, much less any criminal action, and it recommended that the investigation be closed.

“This is what The New York Times and The Washington Post wanted to know when they called for an independent counsel. I eagerly awaited their coverage.

“Immediately after the RTC report was released, the Post mentioned it in passing in the 11th paragraph of a front-page story about an unrelated subpoena battle with (Ken) Starr. And, The New York Times didn’t run a word.

“The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Washington Times ran an Associated Press story of about 400 words on the inside pages of their papers.

“The TV networks didn’t cover the RTC report, though ABC’s Ted Koppel reported it on “Nightline,” then dismissed its importance, because there were ‘so many new questions.’

“Whitewater wasn’t about Whitewater any more: it was about whatever Ken Starr could dig up on anybody in Arkansas or my administration.

“In the meantime, some Whitewater reporters were actually covering up evidence of our innocence. To be fair, some journalists took note.

“Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz wrote an article pointing out the way the RTC report had been buried. And, Lars Erik Nelson, a columnist for The New York Daily News, who had been a correspondent in the Soviet Union, wrote, ‘The secret verdict is in: there was nothing for the Clintons to hide. In a bizarre reversal of those Stalin-era trials in which innocent people were convicted in secret, the president and the first lady have been publicly charged and secretly found innocent.’

“I was genuinely confused by the mainstream press coverage of Whitewater. It seemed inconsistent with the more careful and balanced approach the press had taken on other issues, at least since the Republicans won Congress in 1994.

“One day, after one of our budget meetings in October, I asked Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming to stay a moment to talk. Simpson was a conservative Republican, but we had a pretty good relationship, because of the friendship we had in common with his governor, Mike Sullivan.

“I asked Alan if he thought Hillary and I had done anything wrong in Whitewater. ‘Of course not,’ he said, ‘that’s not what this is about. This is about making the public think you did something wrong. Anybody who looked at the evidence would see that you didn’t.’ ”


And, Starr’s investigation was about more than Whitewater. In early 1998, Starr won authorization to expand his investigation to include the Lewinsky scandal, and questions about Monica Lewinsky's relationship with Clinton quickly overshadowed Whitewater matters.

Of note: in late 1998, when Starr presented his case for impeachment of the president for his attempts to conceal the Lewinsky affair, he indicated that his office had NO impeachable evidence in the Whitewater matters.

Starr resigned in October 1999 and was succeeded by Robert W. Ray, the senior litigation counsel in Starr's office. In September 2000, Ray ended the Whitewater inquiry, stating there was “insufficient evidence” to prove that President Clinton or his wife had committed any crime in connection with the failed real estate venture or the independent counsel's investigation into it.

The final report was issued 18 months later.

In February 1999, CNN’s Terry Friedan wrote:

“Expenditures by Independent Counsel Ken Starr's office have officially surpassed the $40 million mark, according to new Justice Department figures. … The figures show that Starr's office, through the end of November 1998, had spent $40,835,000. … Those figures do not include costs incurred by Starr's predecessor, Robert Fiske, whose office spent about $6 million before Starr was appointed to lead the investigation.” LINK

There are continuing allegations that the Clintons murdered their longtime Arkansas friend Vince Foster, although his death was officially ruled a suicide.

And, there is the ongoing reduction of the amazing life stories of Bill and Hillary Clinton into a two-word summary: Monica Lewinsky.

I was telling a yound friend how impressed I am with Clinton’s ability to recall life events and his skill at keeping the reader engaged, and her response was, “Has Slick Willy mentioned Monica?”

How very sad, I thought, that such a life could be so trivialized by one tragic flaw, especially by those who do not care to read the rest of the story.


Go figure!

This can get confusing!

We must obey the rules. Michigan and Florida cannot be counted because that’s the rules the DNC laid out to punish these states for holding early primaries. It doesn’t matter that voters in these states are disenfranchised.

We must break the rules. Superdelegates cannot count, although this system has been in place for years. The votes of U.S. citizens must count.

And speaking of superdelegates:

According to a report on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 (LINK), Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama “have both thrown cash - and a lot of it - into the campaign chests of fellow Democrats who also just happen to be superdelegates.”

A spokesman for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said he doesn’t believe the two candidates were trying to buy votes, but were “building relationships. They were doing what all politicians do.”

CNN correspondent David Mattingly reports: “Since 2005, the Center says that Senator Clinton contributed more than $280,000 to superdelegates and that Senator Obama handed out almost $700,000.”

According to the Center, there is a direct correlation between the amounts of money given and superdelegate support.

Oh, and according to Mattingly, “Democrats tell us this came at a time when there were a lot of Democrats helping other Democrats in a critical election cycle. Hillary Clinton herself was running for re-election in 2006. Guess who contributed to her campaign? Barack Obama, a total of $4,200.”



The press has had a role in American politics since this nation was founded. In pre-broadcast days, back in the days of “yellow journalism,” publishers made no attempt to limit endorsements of candidates to editorial pages.

An excellent source on how the press can control American politics is the book, “The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst” by David Nasaw. Argueably, Hearst’s most famous quote came in reference to the Spanish-American War, when he told a staff photographer, “You provide the photos; I’ll provide the war.”

For the first time in American history, with both an African-American and a female vying for the presidency, racism and sexism are issues to be confronted.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper hosted an excellent special, “Uncovering America: Race, Gender and Politics,” Friday night, 15 February 2008. Expand your mind: read the transcript.

Apparently, in covering the candidacies of Barack Obam and Hillary Rodham Clinton, cable news, which has made no pretext at objectivity, has decided that while racist remarks are certainly taboo, sexist remarks against Senator Clinton are “fair game.”

Media Matters for America, which has faithfully documented such off-putting remarks by MSNBC personalities, takes a look at a media watchdog program, which aired Friday on WNYC, in an article titled, “MSNBC's pattern of sexist/misogynistic comments highlighted.” READ THE ARTICLE.

A program guest, Rachael Sklar, Huffington Post media editor, talks about MSNBC’s pattern of gender-bashing and, hence, Hillary-bashing:

“Chris Matthews, the day after the New Hampshire primary and Hillary Clinton's victory, made the comment that she was basically where she was, quote, ‘because her husband messed around.’ And, Media Matters, which gets its teeth into these things and really shakes its head furiously, generated post after post about things that Chris Matthews had said, things that other people on MSNBC had said, comments from Joe Scarborough, comments from Tucker Carlson, very specific and discrete situations, but, when you put them all together, did seem to call for some sort of response.”

Chris Matthews, apparently under pressure, half-heartedly apologized for that particular remark. Reporter David Shuster sincerely apologized for trying to "be hip” when he suggested the Clintons were “pimping out” daughter Chelsea on the campaign trail. (Trying to be “hip” got Don Imus fired from MSNBC.) Shuster, whose reporting talents I admire, has been suspended until next week, while the egregious and on-going remarks by Matthews have gone unpunished.

A defensive Matthews had this to say Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (LINK):

“What she (Hillary Clinton) has to do is get rid of the kneecappers that work for her, these press people whose main job seems to be punishing Obama or going after the press, to building a positive case for her. I just don't think the kneecapping has worked. I think her press relations are lousy.

“I think if all you do is intimidate and punish and claim you'll get even relentlessly, people - all kinds of politicians, and, in full fairness, the press - human reaction to intimidation is, ‘SCREW YOU!’ (Emphasis Matthews’)“

Matthews’ sexism was apparent long before this campaign began. His snide remarks to veteran journalist Andrea Mitchell while ignoring her in an otherwise all-male panel of guests come to mind. Matthews, smart women who have something to contribute to your program don’t need you telling them how “pretty” they are.

Accepting such remarks by this sexist jerk and his MSNBC colleagues just because they benefit your candidate is UNACCEPTABLE!

Bill Clinton has a right to be angry: I sure as hell am!


'What about the loaves and fishes?'

“There was a boy there,” the Holy Bible says, who had a small basket of fishes and bread loaves as Jesus spoke to the multitudes. Jesus bade him to take his little basket and feed the thousands and thus performed a miracle.

Joe Klein, Time’s political columnist and author of six books, has quoted author, educator and Democratic Party activist Donna Brazile (LINK):

“All of which is very nice,” Klein says of Barack Obama’s online fundraising, “but it's now time to find out what the candidate actually stands for. As Donna Brazile told me a few weeks ago, ‘We know he can walk on water. Now, what about the loaves and fishes?’ "

In a more secular analogy and quoting a popular commercial at the time, Walter Mondale, on the campaign trail, asked, “Where’s the beef?”

History has proven many a great orator has failed at leadership, that essential characteristic needed most when the rubber hits the road in American politics.

Have you really listened to Barack Obama’s stump speech? Or, are you caught up in the platitudes and heart-jolting homily?

MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell recently related a conversation with a friend. When she asked him whether he would vote for Obama or Clinton, he replied, “My heart tells me Obama, but my head tells me Hillary.”

As we know, propaganda can be used for good or for evil purposes. The very definition of propaganda is: an expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends. Because the propagandist does not welcome scrutiny, efforts are made to appeal to emotions rather than to intellect. Obama is very skilled at using its “glittering generalities” technique.

In their hearts, Americans who have followed closely the grave results of the Bush presidency are desperate for a leader.

This dialogue from Rob Reiner’s “The American President” says it all:

Press Secretary (Michael J. Fox): “People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.”

President (Michael Douglas): “Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty, Lewis. They drink it because they don't know the difference.”

For God’s sake, folks, it’s crunch time. Know the difference.

The nominee-apparent of the GOP, John McCain, told his party last night, “We do not yet know for certain who will have the honor of being the Democratic Party's nominee for president, but we know where either of their candidates will lead this country, and we dare not let them."

Up against this old war hero, the party-that-loves-to-hate will go for Obama’s anti-war jugular just as it did John Kerry’s and Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan’s.

As Slate.com’s chief political correspondent John Dickerson (LINK) puts it, Obama is “the pet rock of the wealthy liberal wing” of the Democratic Party. Can a Democratic nominee who cannot win the votes of the working-class survive in November?

We are about to hire a chief executive in this country, and we had better be absolutely certain qualities of leadership are high on the resumé.

A starving nation – with so many wrongs to be righted - cannot be nourished with a cupful of hope. “What about the loaves and fishes?”


Lanny's Story: The Sequel

Back in May 2007 the name Lanny Davis caught my ear, because I have a first cousin named Lanny, and this was only the second male I’d ever heard of with the name.

Lanny Davis is proving to be an effective spokesperson for the Clinton campaign. He was particularly well-armed to ward off the negativity Mika Brzezinski threw at him on today’s “Morning Joe” (MSNBC).

The appearance this morning reminded me to follow up on my May 2007 post on Lanny and the Bush administration’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Read my original post, then hit “backspace” to return here for the follow-up on this important story: LINK


From CAMPUS PROGRESS, Center for American Progress (LINK):

Under The Shroud Of Secrecy
February 7, 2008

Value open government? Like your own privacy? Then do we have two stories for you today.

First Story: In 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended the establishment of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The board would ensure that any laws and policies the White House implemented under the name of national security would, in fact, appropriately protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.

The board is vacant. Even as the White House begins its massive push to get even more warrantless wiretapping powers, the privacy oversight board is… vacant.

The terms of the original members expired on January 30, 2008. No new nominations have been chosen to fill the empty spots.


Second Story: In December, President Bush “reluctantly signed a law” that required better enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act. [Washington Post]

The Freedom of Information Act says we have guaranteed access to public records. The new law says government agencies have 20 days to provide requested information. It also created an ombudsman, working out of the National Archives, who would act as a neutral party and make sure agencies were properly complying with the law and turning over public documents to citizens when asked.

President Bush, in his new budget, now wants to move that ombudsman over to the Justice Department, a move that would in effect kill the position. (The Justice Department acts as an advocate for agencies, helping them when people sue them for information.)

The secrecy-loving White House is not a fan of the Freedom of Information Act. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft went so far as to send a memo to agencies telling them to use all legal means necessary to fight any public document requests.

Why we’re not surprised: In 2000, the federal government spent $452,807 on contracts for paper shredding services. By 2006, that number skyrocketed to $2.9 million. And what the White House couldn’t shred, they stonewalled. Since 1998, the number of exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act cited to support the withholding of information increased 83 percent. Two out of five FOIA requests weren’t even processed by 2006. [USA Spending] [Coalition of Journalists for Open Government]

Tit for tat, White House. If you want to spy on us, we want to see your public files. It’s that simple. –END-

Just a reminder that while we political wonks are focused on this crucial election campaign, over at the Bush White House it’s business as usual.


Calm down, guys

It has been pointed out to me that my characterization of certain male conservative pundits as “numbnuts” is sexist in nature.

Actually, it’s got nothing to do with nature.

A search of various online dictionaries yields these definitions:

Idiot, stupid, moron, ignorant, untrainable, objectionable, contemptible, same as “numbskull.”

I just love quaint words, like “egad,” “balderdash” and “poppycock.” If they’re good enough for Dickens, they’re good enough for me.

DemWit today: Another MSNBC mea culpa


Best Hillary-bashing rebuttal

I wish I had said this. Wait a minute! I have! A thousand times!

Great thanks to the friend who sent me this AOL News column – the best rebuttal to Hillary-bashing I’ve ever read.

So, you don’t care for Hillary? Go ahead, read it. It might surprise you!

“Political Machine” column (LINK), AOL News – written yesterday before Super Tuesday results:

The Greatness of Hillary Clinton

By Tommy Christopher, POLITICAL MACHINE, Feb 5, 2008 6:40 AM

Senator Hillary Clinton is now neck-and-neck with Illinois Senator Barack Obama going into today's Super Tuesday contests, after what has been a hard-fought, turbulent campaign so far. Unless you live in a cave, you know that every move the candidates make, or the candidates' staffers, or their cousins, has been scrutinized and magnified by our conflict-starved news media, and the din from both camps of supporters has reached supersonic pitch.

It is easy to lose perspective at a time like this. A lot of criticism has been leveled at Hillary Clinton, some of it fair, most of it not. If you are an Obama or former Edwards supporter, you might feel the need to tear down their opponent out of a belief in your candidate, rather than explore why you may agree with all three, but with your guy more. No matter what happens today, I think it needs to be remembered that Hillary Clinton is a great American, a pioneer, and in my view, would have gone just as far or farther had she never even met William Jefferson Clinton. I think Hillary says it best when she says, "I may be the most famous person that you don't really know." The level of bile and hatred that has been spewed at her, dating back to her husband's first term, is truly astounding, and it is clearly motivated out of a fear of women.

I first became aware of a Hillary backlash when she began working on the Clinton healthcare plan in 1993. Hard to believe that was 15 years ago, but looking at that plan now, even if you disagree with it, you have to admit it was a bold and pioneering step toward addressing one of the major issues of our time. Almost immediately, the cry of, "Who does she think she is?" went up all across the airwaves.

From then on, the narrative on Hillary Clinton was set. Every misogynistic cliché in the book was applied to her. Some at least bothered to mask this with an ostensible concern about her not having been elected, but that was a thin veil, indeed. Of course, her plan was defeated by the Republicans and the health insurance industry, and labeled a failure in the press.

Since then, she has weathered a never-ending tsunami of scrutiny and criticism and hate from every quarter. What always surprised me was that the most virulent reactions to Hillary came from women that I knew, even before the Lewinsky scandal. Perhaps she represented a challenge to them to overcome their own marginalization.

Then, there was that "scandal." To this day, I can't figure out why, even if you cared about that business, why would anyone be resentful of Hillary? I remember at the time being so impressed with her composure in the face of all of that adversity. I was no fan of Bill Clinton, whom I felt did too much to appease the extreme right wing at our country's peril, but I was always impressed by Hillary.

She ran for Senate in New York at the end of her husband's term, and suddenly, everyone was calling her a "carpetbagger." I had to run and get my English-to-1930s-Slang dictionary (Roget's puts it out). But, as she campaigned, a funny thing happened. People liked her. She won the election, becoming the first woman senator from New York.

For me, the erosion of my support for Hillary was a slow process that began with this country's drastic shift to the right in the wake of 9/11. The events that unfolded after that pushed me to more progressive politics, and I saw Hillary as part of the wing of the Democratic Party that stood in the way of progressives like Howard Dean. To be clear, I didn't move left as much as the country moved right, and I ended up on the left. For a long time, I bought into a lot of the left's anti-Hillary rhetoric.

Hillary makes a strong argument that her ability to appease those elements, and to weather attacks from the extreme right, make her an effective agent to enact practical changes. There's validity to both arguments, really. For me this election is not about who I agree and disagree with, but rather with whom do I agree more? After last week's debate, the choice isn't so clear to me anymore, but it is also beginning to look as though both of these candidates will end up on the ticket, anyway.

Whomever you vote for today, just think about what you were doing in 1973, what your mom was doing, what your buddy's mom was doing. More to the point, what they were allowed to do. Hillary was graduating from Yale Law School. You can google a long list of her accomplishments, I won't waste time listing them, because they are tangential to the essence of my argument.

Hillary Clinton is a force of nature. When I saw her at the debate last week, it rekindled in me the admiration that I had felt for so long. I still have political and philosophical disagreements with her, although I do think she exposed a weakness in Obama's healthcare plan, and she may not get my vote, but I sure do think she's a great American. I don't see how you can deny that she would have been as successful, or more so, had she not been first lady. She has something innate that drives her to lead.

You can disagree with her politics, or with some of her campaign strategy, or her overarching philosophy, but if you want to talk about "fishwives" or cackling or crying, man, do I not want to hear it. History will record Hillary Clinton as a great American and a pioneer, and possibly the first woman president, or vice president. History will record those who smeared her with misogyny as clowns.

“DemWit” today: Congressional Quarterly’s Craig Crawford past midnight, Super Tuesday


Do a little digging ...

The truth is out there!

This post addresses readers’ comments to yesterday’s post regarding Hillary Clinton’s 22-state town hall meeting last night:



“I will have to think about how to pose my question when Clinton has said garnishing wages is how health care will be paid for. I thought the healthcare industry was to undergo a change, not the people.”


Senator Clinton has no plans to garnish the wages of Americans. This remark was made by Senator Barack Obama in the most recent Democratic debate:

OBAMA: You can mandate it (health-care coverage), but there's still going to be people who can't afford it. And, if they cannot afford it, then the question is, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to fine them? Are you going to garnish their wages?

Senator Clinton then went into detail about how health-care coverage would be made affordable.


BLITZER: Senator Obama, let me just fine-tune the question, because I know you want to respond. On this issue of mandates, those who don't, whether it's 10 million or 15 million, those who could afford it but don't wind up buying health insurance for one reason or another, they wind up getting sick, they go to an emergency room, all of us wind up paying for their health care. That's the biggest criticism that's been leveled at your plan.

OBAMA: If people are gaming the system, there are ways we can address that. By, for example, making them pay some of the back premiums for not having gotten it in the first place.

BJ: So, is Obama suggesting retro-mandatory?

I have put the “health-care coverage” section of the debate transcript in “Expand Your Mind: The Reading Room” for anyone interested in what was said in context: LINK


“On Healthcare, Primary Opponents Differ Less Than Parties Do,” U. S. News, 4 February 2008, LINK

“In Health Debate, Clinton Remains Vague on Penalties,” New York Times, 4 February 2008, LINK



“This one was filmed in my home town of Worcester, MA today!!! I wasn't able to make it to it but it was all over the local media over the weekend.”


“Hillary Clinton hosts a roundtable in New Haven, Connecticut, a rally in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a nationwide town hall from New York City.” Report, CNN, 4 February 2008: LINK

BJ: I believe the commenter honestly confused the rally with the live town hall meeting, but the comment left the impression that the Clinton camp had LIED about the broadcast being "live.” Clinton appeared at a rally at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. The “Voices Across America” town hall was broadcast live from New York City.


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Come one, come all to the largest town hall meeting ever held.

“Voices Across America” will be broadcast live Monday night on Hallmark Channel starting at 9 EST. Or you can watch it live on HillaryClinton.com.

Via satellite, persons in 22 states – Americans like you and me – will ask Hillary Clinton questions about issues of concern.

Questions are also being taken via the Internet.

Let your voice be heard! Submit your question HERE.

Invite your friends and kinfolks to join in this unique event.


The 9/11 whodunit

In Vincent Bugliosi’s (boo-lee-osi, please) book on Bush v. Gore, “The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President," the author talks about research for his book about the Kennedy assassination. When encountering conspiracy theorists, he asks two questions: “Do you believe the Warren Commission Report?” (resounding “no”) and “Have you read its 26 volumes?” (muffled “no”).

When I was approved to receive “Talking Books for the Visually Impaired,” the first book I ordered was “The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.”

I had seen Commssion hearings on TV and viewed several specials featuring Commission members. These persons, in my opinion, had a strong sense of mission.

The Report is an outstanding piece of work – the bringing together of reams of minutiae into a solid, highly readable volume.

The person responsible for the team which put the Report together was Executive Director Philip Zelikow.

Now comes what is being called “an explosive new book” which links Zelikow to the Bush White House. This was no secret and received much attention at the time the Commission was formed. To a person, Commission members had nothing but highest praise for Zelikow’s work.

Philip Shenon's new book, “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation” – due Feb 5 - will set conspiracy theorists afire.

The book alleges, among other things, that the executive director, who had worked with then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, had talked with Karl Rove on a regular basis.

As one Commission member put it on CNN this morning, “I hope he was talking with Karl Rove.”

I have a friend who is absolutely convinced the Bush administration planned and carried out the attacks of 9/11.

One thing about conspiracy theorists: they don’t want facts to get in their way.

I have asked this friend on three different occasions, “Have you read the 9/11 Commission Report?” To date, he has never answered the question.

As with the continuing theories surrounding JFK’s death, such cover-ups would have involved hundreds, even thousands of persons who have remained silent about their involvement.

Will I listen to this new book? Sure. You can bet your sweet patootie, the Interenet is abuzz over this new PROOF of a Bush cover-up. Before the first leaf of the new book is turned.


Raw Story’s take on the new book: LINK

The 9/11 Commission Report: LINK

“Conspiracy plots and paranoia,” my post on how and why conspiracy theories evolve: LINK


Debate winner!

The winner of the Democratic debate last night from Hollywood was the Democratic Party. The debate was substantive, civil and dignified.

For last night, at least, Barack and Hillary were a dream team.

By cmparison the Republican debate the night before was, well, scary. John McCain, the GOP frontrunner, attacked Mitt Romney on Iraq by making Romney’s case for him. Surreal.

Feeling great about my party and ready for Super Tuesday!