Catholic Citizen

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Matthew 25 Network

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Just got back from Denver – 100,000 strong in attendance!

Friday at the Hillary rally for Obama in Aurora, we volunteered to work with the ADA group seating and wheeling those who were not fully capable into a special area (required by law).  Today (Sunday) we volunteered again to work with the ADA.  As we were working with the ADA people we had excellent position to watch and listen and clap and holler!  This is the view we had.  I was able to spend some time talking to a staffer from the Obama campaign, which was very interesting for both of us, as he was very curious about what 1968-72 were like, particularly the DNC in Chicago with the police riots and all.  He started with Obama when he was 30 points down in the Primary. The chanting of “Yes We Can!” was more hope than belief.  As we chanted it today, it felt very much like it was about to happen.  We pray, Oh Lord, keep Barack safe in these last 8 days, and the years to come as we bring to pass much of what we have worked for, for so many years since the assassinations of John, Bobby and Martin.  “Yes, We Can and Will Change this Nation and the world around it, God willing!”

For those who are cynical about politicians in general,friday, we had an old lady in a wheel chair who wanted desperately to meet Hillary and thank her for all she had done for Barack.  We grabbed Sen. Ken Salazer and got him to help us get they lady up to Hillary and she spent about 5 minutes speaking with her very graciously with her whole attention.  It was thrilling.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four years ago Time photographer Callie Shell met Barack Obama backstage when she was covering presidential candidate John Kerry. She sent her editor more photographs of Obama than Kerry. When asked why, she said, “I do not know. I just have a feeling about him. I think he will be important down the road.” Her first photo essay on Obama was two and half years ago. She has stuck with him ever since.


View the “Obama” Gallery

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Children Give Me Hope for the Future

LINK TO ORIGINAL [this brought me to tears.  RWS]

This morning Claudia and I were talking about voting. I explained to her that if you were over 18 and a United States citizen you got to pick who you wanted to be your leader. I tried to simplify it (I don’t even think I could explain the electoral college if I wanted to) and I told her that whoever got the most votes would win.

To illustrate this point I did what any good mommy blogger would do – I Googled a picture of Barack Obama and John McCain.

I pointed at each man and said this is Barack Obama and this is John McCain. Then we looked at a different picture of them and I pointed them out again. Then we looked at another.

I asked Claudia if she could tell which one was which.

She pointed at the man on the left “This is Narack Ofama” (meh, close enough for a four year old) “and this is John McCain. You know how I can tell?”

I asked her how.

“They have different color hair.”

While I sit here and worry that there are Americans out there that won’t vote for a good man just because of the color of his skin I can be assured that at least one of the next generation of voters didn’t even notice the difference.

That gives me hope.

October 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Bishop Sheridan, Colorado Springs Diocese

[Since I wrote this appeal, and copied Bishop Sheridan, I have been informed by those who are expert in the field that it is a violation of federal tax law for this material to be distributed by a church.  It should be noted that while Dobson attempted to disguise the fact that the material was from his organization by using a front out of Castle Rock easily traceable back to Focus, Sheridan blatantly distributed the information in a plastic mailer with the Catholic Herald.  Seeing as how the government is desperate to find ways to generate more income, it’s probably not a good time to be violating the laws which keep religious institutions tax exempt.  I would personally be disappointed in Bishop Sheridan, except he has done it before.  Both the Church and the federal government have forbad this type of activity, yet he apparently considers himself “a law unto himself” and will no doubt answer for it at some point.  There have been so many blatant examples by Right Wing religious organizations over the last several decades that it may be years before the feds get it all sorted out – if they want to.  I have to consider favoring removing the tax-exemption for religious organizations as a reasonable action in response to these willful violations of Church and federal law.]

Dear Bishop Sheridan,

We love you because you are our brother in Christ, and because, in our Church, we look to you for guidance and leadership in living the Christian faith.  However, since I have received materials from Dr. James Dobson, a Christian of a different political stripe than myself, included with my copy of the Catholic Herald, which is your newspaper for you to communicate with the people of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, I have been contemplating writing this letter.

I object to blatant political propaganda being sent out by my Bishop.  It may be appropriate to point out that the money it takes to print and distribute our newspaper comes from your people in the diocese.  I believe it is wrong to attempt to influence how people vote because of your own political persuasions using your office.  Certainly, you, like every American, have every right and responsibility to decide for yourself how to vote, and, as an individual citizen, you have every right to attempt to persuade others to believe as you yourself do.  But when you do it as Bishop, you misuse your position.  I believe JPII was pretty clear on that, and that Benedict has reiterated that the clergy should not be active in politics.  This would be particularly true, I think, of a Bishop.

Unfortunately, you are not the only one in America misusing your office.  Other Bishops across the nation have stated outright that if I as an American vote for someone who does not “toe the line” of Catholic theology in every detail, they should separate themselves from the Catholic Church and not receive at Eucharist.  This is a horrible prospect for most Catholics.  We love the Church, our Pastors and our communities.  They are our family.  We love the Lord Jesus Christ, without whom we would have no Life.  If we cannot receive his body and blood, then we are denied the most precious source of Grace we possess as Christians.

Yet, we are also persuaded in this particular election that an administration of the federal government under John McCain would be perhaps even more disastrous than that of the eight years under George Bush, if that were possible.  For most of us, a particular persons view on legal issues regarding maternity is secondary to the things that will effect all of us; economic policy, foreign policy, social policy.  We believe that Barack Obama, also a Christian by his account, who holds a different view on who should be making medical decisions for a woman than you do, is better equipped than the other candidate to help this country survive the awful situation the Bush administration has left to us.

I know “Right to Life” is very important to you personally.  It is to me too.  With Joe Biden, I agree and accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in my own life.  However, as an American, I also believe that others have the right to reach their own conclusions in these matters.  I also agree with the Supreme Court when it states that slavery in this country is illegal, and that when a conflict arises between the Mother and the unborn, the Mother, with her doctor, are the only ones who can make these decisions.  If the Mother chooses to involve a Priest, so much the better from my viewpoint.

However, in no way does my faith dictate that I have a right, nor the government, nor the Church, to impose into that situation my political religious views.  How arrogant to believe that anyone who is not directly involved in the situation at hand, including Congress or the President or the Bishop or Pope, has any right whatsoever to dictate their preferences to another citizen in what is a private medical decision.  How can a reasonable American citizen reach any other conclusion?

Just as slavery and lynching of those less fortunate than ourselves is absolutely unAmerican and certainly anti-Christ, just as witch trials and burning at the stake of unbelievers is not accepted in our society nor our Church, neither do we as a society or our government dictate to people what they can do with their own bodies in heartbreaking medical situations.

To tell your fellow Catholics from your position of power and influence that it would be a sin to vote for someone who does not meet the test of being “the right kind of Christian” is just wrong.  You owe your diocese an apology, and so do other Bishops across America.  Not only for this Presidential campaign, but for the previous two as well.

October 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

General Powell on hate

“I am also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is – what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards — Purple Heart, Bronze Star — showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.”

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obama’s random act of kindness

from Norwegian blog translated from a Norwegian newspaper, VG.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.

At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.  “You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway,” the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call. ” I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions,” says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.  “I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, ‘That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.'”

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before. He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man? Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man. He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.  She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back.

The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her. The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from.

Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out. He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling. She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes: ‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator’. The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

This week VG met her and her husband in the café that she runs with her friend Lisbeth Tollefsrud in Åsgårdstrand. It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president, says Mary delightedly. She has already voted for Obama. She recently donated 100 dollars to his campaign. She often tells the story from Miami airport, both when race issues are raised and when the conversation turns to the presidential elections. I sincerely hope the Americans will see reason and understand that Obama means change, says Mary.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A little insight into the real Bill Ayers

McCain continues to attempt to link Obama to terrorists by bringing up the fact that Obama was once chair of an advisory board of an educational program, paid for by the long time Republican supporter, close Reagan friend and multi-millionaire Philip Annenberg, which attempted to improve educational opportunities for the least among us.
Professor William Ayers, whose father is CEO of Commonwealth Edison, and who is a recognized expert in the field of education, also was a member of that same board.  And, oh yea, he lives down the street from Obama.
Okay – so even if you want to believe that an eight year old boy (as Obama was at the time) could somehow be seriously involved with “domestic terrorists,” here’s an interesting column giving some facts about the actual events, or rather, the non-events, of 40 years ago. Quite a bit different than the wild claims being made now.

It’s understandable how both presidential campaigns are handling the phony issue of Sen. Barack Obama’s connection with Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois education professor who, 40 years ago, helped found the militant anti-war group, the Weathermen.

McCain is blanketing Wisconsin and much of the rest of the nation with a massive automated telephone campaign claiming Obama “has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans.”

The reason McCain is spending so much money on deceptive charges that have nothing to do with the real issues in the presidential race is that McCain is on the wrong side of the real issues in the presidential race.

Obama, on the other hand, can only point out he was 8 years old when the Weathermen engaged in radical anti-war activities. And that his association with Ayers amounted to sitting on two boards distributing funds to improve Chicago schools and to support worthwhile community projects.

What Obama is not free to say during the presidential campaign is what anyone who knows the work of Bill Ayers over the past 25 years knows to be true—that Bill Ayers is a good man doing good work and no one running for president should ever have to apologize for associating with him.

If Obama were to utter that truth, it would immediately appear in another negative McCain ad, “Obama praises terrorist bomber!”

Since it’s politically impossible for Obama to give Ayers the accolades he deserves right now, allow me. I know Bill Ayers a little bit. I don’t pal around with him or anything, as the know-nothing Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claims about Obama.

But I interviewed Ayers in the late ’90s when I was editor of Shepherd Express alternative weekly, after he published a book, “A Kind and Just Parent,” about the need for reform in the juvenile justice system.

Later, Ayers participated in a conference on criminal justice reform at UW-Milwaukee organized by my wife, Kit, who is executive director of the Benedict Center, an organization that advocates for fairness in the criminal justice system and effective community alternatives.

Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, an honors graduate from Whitefish Bay High School, know about criminal justice first hand. They lived in hiding for 11 years to avoid federal charges connected to the 1969 Days of Rage anti-war protest in Chicago.

As a Milwaukee Journal reporter, I covered the emergence of Ayers and Dohrn from the underground in 1981 when they turned themselves in to then States Attorney Richard Daley, the son of their ’60s nemesis.

All charges against the two ended with a legal whimper after Dohrn pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge and was fined $1,500.

How does all that square with McCain’s inflammatory charge that Ayers bombed the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol and killed Americans?

No such deaths were attributed to any bombs connected to Ayers. The so-called bombing of the Pentagon amounted to a small bomb placed in the drain of a restroom toilet. But in 1970, a townhouse in Greenwich Village where bombs were being assembled exploded. The Americans killed were three friends of Bill and Bernardine, idealists like themselves whose passion against the Vietnam War somehow began echoing the violence of the war makers.

That event, more than any other, helped shape the rest of Ayers’s life.

“My deepest regret,” Ayers told me in 1997, “is the townhouse explosion where three very, very dear people were killed. I feel culpable. I feel responsible. And I don’t know what to do about that responsibility except to live forward. To make a fairer, more just, more humane world as they would have.”

When McCain began demonizing Ayers, I checked to see what Ayers had written in our copy of his memoir, “Fugitive Days.” It says: “To Joel and Kit, With admiration for all you do for social justice, and with hope—wounded but alive—for a world at peace. Best wishes, Bill Ayers.”

The same to you, pal.

Joel McNally is a syndicated columnist. His e-mail address is jmcnally@wi.rr.com.


Published at: http://www.GazetteXtra.com/news/2008/oct/20/little-insight-real-bill-ayers/

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The ‘real’ America, really” from the LA Times

According to Sarah Palin, she and John McCain “believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”

Um, very, um. … Yeah.

Palin later backed away from these remarks, but the McCain-Palin campaign’s staff and surrogates — and even the guy at the top of the ticket — keep hammering the same message: Some parts of America — and some Americans — are just more authentic and “pro-America” than others.

On Saturday, for instance, McCain advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer suggested that although northern Virginia may have “gone more Democratic,” “real Virginia” (the “part of the state that’s more Southern in nature”) will be “very responsive” to McCain. Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) joined the chorus, telling the crowd at a McCain rally, “Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.”

Hayes, like Palin, later forswore his remarks, but on Tuesday in western Pennsylvania — one of the few parts of the state where Barack Obama doesn’t hold a clear lead — McCain worked the same theme: Western Pennsylvania “is the most God-loving, most patriotic part of America.”

The GOP code isn’t hard to crack: There’s the America that might vote for Obama (a suspect America populated by people with liberal notions, big-city ways and, no doubt, dark skin), and then there’s the “real” America, where people live in small towns, believe in God and country, and are … well … white.

The divisive GOP rhetoric we’ve been hearing lately is hardly new. But with each passing year, the “real” America of GOP mythmaking bears less and less resemblance to the America most Americans live in.

About 80% of Americans live in metropolitan areas, not small towns. A third of us are ethnic and racial minorities, but that’s changing: Already,nearly 45% of children under 5 are minorities. Although 88%of us believe in God, 70% think that religions other than our own are equally valid routes to truth. And while 59% of us think that wearing an American flag pin is a decent way to show patriotism, even more of us (66%) think that protesting U.S. policies we oppose is a good way to show patriotism. These days, more than half of us say we prefer the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

Given this, why do McCain, Palin and their team keep pushing the message that the America where most of the electorate lives isn’t “real”?

The GOP hasn’t been the party of reality-based thinking for some time now. “When we act, we create our own reality,” a “senior Bush advisor” (assumed to be Karl Rove) told journalist Ron Suskind in 2002, and this became the administration’s version of a game plan. Thus Donald Rumsfeld’s conviction — shared by McCain — that we would be “greeted as liberators” in Iraq. For GOP leaders, the Iraq that erupted into a violent insurgency just wasn’t the “real” Iraq.

We’re now seeing the same pathology at work in the McCain-Palin campaign. McCain and Palin look at America and see what they wish was there, rather than what’s actually there: an America in which they’ll be greeted as liberators and rightful heirs to the mantle of leadership. America, after all, has been led by white Anglo-Saxons for the last two-plus centuries and, for the last 40 years, mostly by Republicans. For that to change is almost unthinkable. And so Team McCain just edits out the inconvenient America that doesn’t seem likely to vote GOP. That America’s not real. It just can’t be.

I’m not entirely without sympathy. Behind the anger and the us-versus-them rhetoric we’ve seen at recent McCain-Palin rallies, there’s a palpable sense of dislocation and anxiety: the anxiety of those who feel that things are slipping away from them, that the world is changing too quickly and too uncomfortably. Change has come fast — and change hurts.

But that’s how it’s always been. Our culture was built by immigrants and shaped by wars, social upheavals, economic crises and further rounds of immigration, each time from places that seemed deeply “foreign” to those who had already settled in. Each round of change was painful to those used to the temporary status quo — but each round of change also gave us a richer, stronger nation.

That’s the real America: a land of change and perpetual renewal.

Let’s stand up for it.

from the LA Times

October 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

McCain/Palin call Obama Tax Plan “Socialism”

“I’ll say anything to win” McCain continues to describe Obama as a “Socialist” because he incorporates into his proposals the promise to use the same tax system that the US has always had since the inception of the IRS; a progressive income tax.  It is a system where the more one makes, the more tax one pays, and the ones who make the least pay the least.  Any other alternative will not work.

A “regressive” income tax would be where the poorest pay the most and the richest pay the least.  How well would that work, do you think?  Who would pay the most for infrastructure than those who benefit from it the most?  “Redistribution of wealth” is something which goes on at every level – most of the wealth collected by Washington comes back to those who are taxed in the form of roads, bridges, schools, defense, etc.

It has never been otherwise except under Bush where an ever increasing transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy has taken place, to the point where the engine that drives the economy, the middle class, has been bankrupted under Bush. These are the people who pay for everything, not the wealthy.  These are the people making less than $250,000, the hourly worker, the middle manager.

These are not the blessed few who have more money than they know what to do with – who practice conspicuous consumption while the average family is trying to meet the mortgage, send their children to college, and maintain their health care.  Rolling back the tax changes made under Bush to the system under Reagan lowers the tax on the middle class and raises the tax on those that make more than $250,000 a year to Reagan levels, thus allowing the middle class to re-stimulate the economy.  Does that attack small business?  No, 90% of small business pays personal taxes, not corporate taxes, and do not net income more than $250,000 a year.  You can’t call Obama “socialist” unless Ronald Reagan is a socialist as well.  Warren Buffett, the richest capitalist in the world, endorses Obama, not McCain, who advocates more of the same.

That’s what got us to this point!

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Al-Qaeda site backs McCain

Al-Qaeda supporters have said they are hoping John McCain becomes the next US President, as the “impetuous” Republican candidate would be more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a message posted on the password-protected al-Hesbah website this week, Al-Qaeda supporters said McCain had “pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier”. He was the best choice for President, if Al-Qaeda wanted to exhaust the UD both militarily and economically: “Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush.”

The message also suggests that the best way to usher in a McCain presidency would be to carry out a pre-election terror attack.

“If Al Qaeda carries out a big operation against American interests,” the message said, “this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it.”

SITE Intelligence Group, based in Bethesda, Maryland, monitors the Web site and translated the message.  Reported by Newsdesk

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No to Abortion:Posture, Not Policy

If the church’s policy is simply “repeal of Roe,” it is a vacuous policy, since it does not address the legal effect of repeal. In Roe the Supreme Court in 1973 declared a constitutionally protected right of “privacy” in regard to abortion. If Roe is reversed, the legal situation would revert to the individual states, which would be free to legislate in the field of abortion. One could expect a wide range of state laws, from prohibitive to permissive. In short, repeal of Roe would not by any reasonable stretch of the imagination abolish abortion within the United States. Abortion would be like divorce in the old days, when one had to go to Reno for a quick and easy divorce. Oregon could become the abortion and euthanasia capital of the United States.

In seeking repeal of Roe, some may fancy an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have the same broad-scale effect as Roe but in the opposite direction: a ruling that would constitutionally ban abortion as a violation of a protected right of the fetus. Given the sharp divisions in the American populace over the legitimacy of abortion, the chances that any such amendment could muster the broad approval necessary for constitutional change are remote to the vanishing point.

Repeal of Roe would, therefore, result in the recriminalization of abortion either nationally-constitutionally (unlikely) or in certain states (very likely). As long as one is simply morally opposed to abortion, the scope of the legal restrictions and the problem of levels of criminality and punishment need not be raised, but they cannot be avoided if abortion is recriminalized. Will the church advocate a ban on all abortions? What will the church say about abortions for pregnancy after rape or incest? (There is significant popular support for this as a legitimate sanction for abortion, so allowance for that exception would no doubt be written into the legislation of at least some states.) What will church authorities consider proper criminal penalties for abortion? On whom will they fall? The abortion provider? The woman? The newly elected senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, M.D., has from time to time advocated the death penalty for abortionists. Now that would be a public policy! Would the church support this?

Thinking the matter through to the issue of criminality and its penalties should affect how one regards the moral gravity of abortion per se and the circumstances surrounding any particular abortion decision. If the harshest language of anti-abortion advocates were to be accepted, drastic penalties would seem to be appropriate. If abortion is a form of genocide, would not armed resistance to abortionists be legitimate? If abortion is simply murder of innocent life, as our parish priest affirmed one recent Sunday, there would seem to be no difference between abortion and infanticide. Would anyone having an illegal abortion be subject, therefore, to an extended prison term or even execution in states where that is the practice? If these drastic penalties seem misplaced, one can certainly continue to regard abortion as a moral fault (I do) but one of lesser gravity than genocide or infanticide. Lessening the gravity also would imply that there could be extenuating circumstances that could lessen the fault, if not wholly remove it.

A Posture, Not a Policy

I do not pretend that there are easy answers to any of these questions; but unless they are addressed, church opposition to abortion remains a posture but not a policy. Catholic bishops who threaten to excommunicate Catholic politicians who support Roe should be obliged to think through the issue of public policy, because public policy is the issue for politicians. In turn, the proper reply of Catholic politicians who support Roe should not be a statement of personal moral opposition to abortion. That is as much an avoidance of the policy issue as is the bishops’ moral posturing. The right reply from a politician is to insist on the policy question. They should ask the bishop: do you favor recriminalization of abortion? If so, who is to be penalized; what penalties are appropriate; are there extenuating circumstances?

There are further questions: Would the abortion issue be better treated in a patchwork of state laws—the most obvious outcome of repealing Roe? I do not believe there is an obvious answer to that question. While I believe that issues like abortion, gay marriage and the like are much better dealt with in the back and forth of the legislative process than by broad judicial decree, there is a significant price to pay for too great a discrepancy among multiple and varying state laws. Certainly the patchwork solution will not prohibit abortions; it will simply make them more inconvenient and expensive. Abortion will be readily available to those who can afford to travel; it may be de facto denied to the poor. Denial of access to abortion legally or financially in this or that jurisdiction will, one can be certain, cause the re-emergence of “back-alley” abortions. The trauma and danger of back-alley procedures will, of course, be confined to the poor.

I have suggested that the church’s policy position on abortion goes no further than “repeal of Roe.” That generalization is to a certain extent incorrect. If one were to derive a policy from the actual work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the policy would be more like “setting conditions on abortion.” Sometimes these efforts have been directed at the conditions of the pregnancy, as in the ban on “partial birth” abortion. Others have been directed at how the woman should be required to proceed in order to obtain an abortion: establishing a waiting period or requiring parental consent for minors. I am strongly in favor of these efforts, but there is significant lack of connection between these prudent efforts and the rhetoric about abortion most often heard from official church sources. As suggested above, if abortion is rightly characterized as “genocide” or “murder,” efforts to “set conditions” would be deeply wrong. One would not advocate a waiting period and parental consent for a young woman contemplating infanticide. As Aristotle pointed out long ago, there are some actions that cannot be performed better or worse. No doubt it is “better” on the whole that an execution be as painless as possible, but execution may not be the sort of thing one should do painlessly or painfully. Painless infanticide is no better for being painless.

The question of how to go about setting conditions on abortion poses a significant dilemma for the church. Either the official “murder” rhetoric is too drastic, or the ongoing attempt to limit abortions is too compromising. My view is that the rhetoric is at fault. Almost all decisions to abort are morally flawed. Some are deeply immoral and inexcusable—for example, the decision to abort because the fetus is the wrong sex. But if almost all decisions to abort are morally problematic, not all situations are equally immoral and deserving of condemnation as murder plain and simple.

Moving away from “murder” as a description inevitably leads into extremely complex moral assessments. Unwillingness to deal with complexity makes simplistic rhetoric a temptation. Assessing individual abortion situations on some scale of moral faults would include consideration of the highly varied circumstances of the woman. Why the pregnancy? Was it due to rape? What is her current economic, domestic or mental condition? Was she coerced by parents or by her sexual partner to abort? And so on.

The Moral Claim of the Fetus

Ultimately one cannot, I fear, avoid assessing the moral claim of the fetus at different stages in its development. This is certainly a “slippery slope,” but failure to recognize different moral positions for varying stages of life—for example, equating abortion and infanticide—avoids reality. Parents may grieve for a miscarriage, but not as they would over a crib death. The fetus has a strong presumptive claim to live to term, but unlike the claim on life of the newborn, the fetus’s claim may be overridden under certain serious conditions—for instance, indirect abortions, as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or the removal of a womb with a cancerous tumor. That statement is at the heart of the conflict over the moral legitimacy of abortion. One may, of course, deny that the fetus’s claim is any different from that of the newborn, but if so the whole array of assumptions and sanctions about murder must apply. Calling abortion murder may look good on a protest sign, but it is highly problematic as a criminal statute.

It would be helpful if there were some clear criteria for determining the exact claim of the fetus at various stages and how that claim would intersect with the woman’s situation. I doubt that any such a decision table could be devised, but that does not mean that one must retreat to overly simple, black and white criteria as a substitute—for example, the assertion that the fetus has from the moment of conception full personal rights similar to those of the newborn. The extraordinary complexity of the woman’s circumstances and the status of the fetus may be one minor argument for not trying to formulate elaborate legal structures around abortion and leaving it to her choice. Choice should, however, be placed within the complex moral framework that the highly particular situations of the woman may demand. There should be a waiting period, consultation and realistic support and adoption procedures to support carrying the fetus to term.

I would be less concerned with leaving the issue with “choice,” if it were not for the emptiness and amorality of the pro-choice rhetoric. I have accused church officials of posturing, but posturing is not confined to the opponents of abortion. It is equally the fault line in the “pro-choice” camp, but as the inverse of the “pro-life” advocates. If Catholics pronounce on morality to the neglect of policy, pro-choice advocates fix on policy to the exclusion of serious moral discourse. Concentrating on the public policy of choice ignores the question whether all choices are morally worthy. I certainly hope that pro-choice advocates would agree with me that abortion for sex determination is an immoral and inexcusable choice. Perhaps if the pro-choice advocates would stop posturing on “choice” and the bishops on “morality,” it would be possible to devise a public conversation as well as flexible public policies that would make abortion in the United States “safe, legal and rare.”

I noted at the beginning of this essay that moral positions do not automatically create public policy. I suggested that United States public policy on drugs was ineffective, counterproductive and immoral. One could make the same arguments about a simplistic attachment to the repeal of Roe. Certainly repeal would be ineffective in prohibiting legalized abortion within the United States. Concentrating on the impossible goal of prohibiting abortion is counter-productive insofar as it bars discussion with those, even in the pro-choice camp, who would support measures that thicken the moral context within which abortion decisions would be undertaken and agitate to ameliorate economic and social policies along with cultural expectations that force young women to seek an abortion. Finally, prohibition of abortion will lead to the immoral consequences attendant on “back-alley” procedures. These consequences are real. Abortion may be so heinous that the consequences must be tolerated, but they cannot be ignored.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Voter-Fraud Fraud

The idea that Democrats try to win elections by arranging for hordes of nonexistent people with improbable names to vote for them has long been a favorite theme of Rove-era Republicans. Now it’s become a desperate obsession.

Consider today’s fund-raising e-mail from Robert M. (Mike) Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Some snippets:

Every election, it’s the same old song and dance from the Democrats and their liberal allies when it comes to donor and vote fraud.They will soon be trying to pad their totals at ballot boxes across the country with votes from voters that do not exist. From Ohio and Florida to Wisconsin and Nevada, there are reports of fraudulent voter registration forms being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a liberal group that is dedicating its resources to electing the Obama-Biden Democrats.

The e-mail climaxes with this pledge, which one hopes is delivered with a Sarah Palin wink: “We will not stand for the stealing of the election—the tainting of our democracy—by those who wish to subvert the rule of law.”

ACORN has become the 24/7 story on Fox News, too, on account of reports that it has submitted several thousand phony registration forms to local boards of elections. These reports appear to be true. Nevertheless, the “scandal,” as Fox calls it, is itself on its face as phony as Mickey Mouse’s social security number.

During this election cycle, the Times reported today, ACORN has deployed thirteen thousand mostly paid workers, who have registered 1.3 million new voters. One or two per cent of these workers turned in sheaves of forms that they filled out themselves with fake names and bogus addresses, and, even though at least a hundred of these workers have already been fired, the forged forms have been submitted to election boards.

Sounds suspicious—unless you know that groups like ACORN are required by law to submit them, even if they’re obvious fakes. This is to prevent funny business, such as trashing forms that look like they might be Republican (or Democratic, as the case may be).

Sounds suspicious—unless you know that ACORN normally sorts through forms, flags those that look fishy, and submits the fishy ones in a separate pile for the convenience of election officials.

Sounds suspicious—until you reflect that the motivation of the misbehaving registration workers is almost always to look like they’ve been doing more work than they really have, and that the victim of the “fraud” is actually the organization they’re working for.

Sounds suspicious—unless you know that even if one of these fake forms results in a nonexistent person actually being registered, now under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, “any voter who has not previously voted in a federal election” must provide identification in order to actually cast a ballot. This will make it tough for Mickey Mouse, even if registered, to vote, no matter how big, round, or black his ears. Likewise, members of the Duck family (Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie) who turn up at the polling place will have a hard time getting into the voting booth. (Uncle Scrooge might be able to bribe his way in, but he’s voting Republican anyway.)

Sounds suspicious—unless you know that despite all the hysteria, from 2002 to 2005, only twenty people in the entire United States of America were found guilty of voting while ineligible and only five of voting more than once. By contrast, consider the lede on this story, published a week ago today:

Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.

And take it from Sarah Palin: the Times is “hardly ever wrong.”

from the New Yorker October 15, 2008

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Joe the Plumber

Welcome to your 15 minutes of fame.  It’s not everyone who gets his name mentioned 286 times in a presidential debate.  If you haven’t already, you simply must change your business’s name to Joe the Plumber.  That’s just good marketing.  Oh, and don’t forget to add the tag line, “As seen on TV!”

OK, Joe, so you had a conversation with Barack Obama and, while media reports are very sketchy about exactly what your circumstances are (not surprising), it appears you want to buy a business that “brings in” more than $250,000.  I have yet to find out if “brings in” means $250,000 in revenue or profit (a very important distinction, Joe), but let’s assume for a moment that it’s profit we’re talking about.  Under Barack Obama’s plan (as sketchy as it is on his website), a good guess would be that you would go into a higher tax bracket, paying about 3.6% more in taxes on every dollar you earn over $250,000, for a total marginal tax rate of 39.6% — exactly the same as it was in the 1990s.

UPDATE

It turns out that Joe is not a good businessman for a simple reason:  He doesn’t own a business, appears to have no immediate prospects to do so, has no plumber’s license, works for a small firm doing residential work (which means his employer is unlikely to be clearing $250k per year), and has occasionally talked to the owner about buying the business — someday.

Poor Joe.  He’s about to get ripped to shreds by the media, and he seems like a pretty decent guy.  I feel for him.

On the other hand, Joe is a great example of those who are so terrified that they’ll get rich some day and owe an extra 3.5 cents on every dollar over $250,000 that they spend a lot of time worrying about it.  Joe doesn’t know that he is unlikely ever to make that kind of money.

UPDATE #2

It just gets better and better.  Bloomberg is reporting that Joe owes around $1200 in back taxes, and there is an Ohio lien filed against him.

But let’s take a closer look at your situation, shall we Joe?

You say you’re planning to buy this business, and it must be a very large small business, indeed, if it covers salaries, expenses, trucks, inventory and the like and still yields a $250,000 + profit.  I’m going to guess that you don’t have the cash to buy this business outright, Joe, and if you do, I think you’re holding back on us.  I think you’ve inherited some money.  But let’s assume that you’re borrowing a fair amount of money to buy the business, using its book value (what the business is worth if you sold all the assets and paid off all your debts) as security and using the revenue stream to pay off the loan.  Let’s also assume a business this size is incorporated.

Here’s what you do, Joe.  First off, you have your corporation pay you a salary of, say, $249,000 per year.  Now you’re not in the higher marginal tax bracket, right?  Payments on the loan you took out to buy the business are fully tax deductible, so profits will be reduced by that amount.  If you still have more than $250,000 in profit, we’re talking about a rather large business here, and probably a very large down payment (which suggests that you can manipulate your down payment to reduce your taxes, doesn’t it?)

But here’s the thing, Joe.  When you own a business, you can do all kinds of things to reduce taxable income (profit).  For instance, you can buy more equipment, which can then be depreciated over the years, providing a tax deduction and increasing the company’s book value and, thus, your wealth.  Even fully depreciated equipment can generally be sold, in the future, for something.  You can spend more money on advertising and hire on a new plumber or two.  The advertising costs and the employment costs are generally fully tax deductible.  Well, let me take that back.  If you provide your employees with health insurance, your costs for health insurance won’t be tax deductible under John McCain’s plan, but who’s counting, right?

By advertising and hiring on, you can drastically increase your revenues (the amount of money coming in) while keeping profits below the $250,000 mark.  The increased revenues will make the resale value of your business much higher than it already is, increasing your wealth without getting taxed on that increase.  If you want to take more wealth out right now without paying taxes, there is a cornucopia of tax-free or tax-deferred retirement options, benefits, and the like that can move money right around the IRS’s outstretched palm.

Eventually, Joe, your company will be so large, and you will be so wealthy, than an extra 3.5 pennies in tax on each dollar on income you earn over $250,000 will be chickenfeed to you (if it isn’t already).  But, hey, it’s up to you.  Increase the underlying wealth in your company without paying taxes, or take cash now and pay a few additional taxes on it.

But, please, don’t complain to me about paying more taxes.  All it says to me is that you’re not smart enough to run your business’s financial side.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where Are We Going with this Bailout?

I’m not an economist, but I have been paying attention. Here are the sequence of events as I saw them happen:

At some point, by some means, Secretary of the Treasury Paulson and Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Board Bernanke, became aware that AIG – the largest insurance company in the world – was floundering financially. In fact, I understand that AIG approached treasury because they said they could not raise enough capital privately.

Now it should be noted here that, at least to my understanding, one division of AIG had a “liquidity” problem, and that other divisions were, in fact, profitable, and could have “bailed out” the division in trouble without bothering the US taxpayers and their money at all.

Enormous assets are held around the world by this conglomerate of many different companies, and if the cash wasn’t readily available, assets could have no doubt been liquidated to cover the “temporary shortfall.”Additionally, there are the protections offered for companies in bankruptcy of which I understand AIG is well aware, having been there before. So why was this time different? I don’t know and can’t find out anywhere any particular situation being different that would have necessitated the federal government to step in this time. In fact, from what I can see, it is probably true that AIG could loan the federal government money rather than the other way around. This country is technically financially “bankrupt” in the sense that the only “product” the government produces, our currency, is valued as less every day by traders around the world. It is, after all, the primary task of the Fed and Treasury to ensure that American dollar value remains high.

But here comes AIG asking for a handout, and since they received that handout, they continue to send their employees on expensive junkets, at taxpayer expense, instead of taking seriously the fact that, partly due to them, the public deficit has now doubled in the last few weeks!

Nevertheless, as I understand it, Paulson and Bernanke and perhaps Cox, Chairman of SEC, decided to make available $85 billion in loans at a rate of over 11%. I can understand why the President would tell them to go ahead with what needed to be done – that’s why a President has advisors and department heads, to be experts in their field.

According to Paulson and Bernanke, they watched as the credit markets froze after making this deal with AIG and as they allowed Lehman Brothers, the oldest investment bank in Wall Street, to be liquidated. Why didn’t Lehman Brothers go into bankruptcy protection instead of immediately falling like a corpse picked apart by vultures?  I can’t find an answer for that either.

So now we have the situation where a few investment banks have gone belly up because they were gambling with other peoples money and got caught short. To me and I suspect the general public, it looks like the federal government has chosen to front some money to each of these “for profit” corporations so they could belly back up to the table and keep gambling so they can try to recoup their losses. This is the behavior of someone who is addicted to gambling, just before they blow their brains out in their unpaid for motel room.

Has the so-called “credit crisis” eased since the actions of Treasury and the Fed?  Not that I have heard. The stock market continues to tumble, which was not what the government was attempting to address, as I understand it. Are the billions that were added to the public debt being used to buy up the “toxic debt” which originally was said to be causing this problem?  No, it has been funneled to very wealthy banks and they have been told to start lending to corporations and the public. I have not heard that that is happening yet, at least.

Like many, I am trying to determine in my own mind whether we just have an awful example of rank incompetence on the part of those who have engineered this fiasco so far, or if there is something systemically failing in our system of government and economic practice. If, as some say, the market got the way it is through “capitalistic free-market” principles, why isn’t the solution free market and capitalistic as well?  When the government starts acting as instigated by corporations, or acting “in partnership” with corporations, are we not far afield from capitalistic principles?  I have heard some say that it is “socialism.”

Actually, from what I can see, it is by definition “fascist” according to the definitions I have included below.

Fascism
“A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.” (From The American Heritage Dictionary)
Socialism
An “economic, social and political doctrine which expresses the struggle for the equal distribution of wealth by eliminating private property and the exploitative ruling class. In practice, such a distribution of wealth is achieved by social ownership of the means of production, exchange and diffusion.” (Rius, Marx for Beginners (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976), 152.)
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic theory which stresses that control of the means of producing economic goods in a society should reside in the hands of those who invest the capital for production. It is a system based on the production of goods and services for exchange rather than use. Private ownership and free enterprise supposedly leads to more efficiency, lower prices, better products. Adam Smith popularized this theory in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations.

As far as rank incompetence on the part of Paulson and Bernanke, I believe they are both rather new in their positions. Bernanke, I understand, is a professor with zero experience in business, and Paulson was CEO of Goldman-Sachs, one of the investment banks involved in this who have now changed to a “regular” bank, now insured by the FDIC (which is us). I am under the impression that he is not an economist but a trader and business man whose focus has always been on making money, not understanding the economy from a theoretical standpoint.

So if a Democrat administration had been in charge, what would have been different?  Would Bernanke still be in charge of the Fed?  We know Paulson will leave with the outgoing administration, so we can assume he would not be appointed by a Democratic President. Perhaps former Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin or Larry Sumner would be in Treasury. Perhaps former Fed Chair Volker would be in the Fed. (I’m ignoring Greenspan because he was in for so long before Bernanke that it is likely that Greenspan’s policies have much to do with the present situation.)

So what do Rubin and Volker say about the present situation? I can’t really find anything indicating a policy statement by Rubin, but an article from Financial Post is instructional:

Rubin Sees End to Crisis

Eoin Callan, Financial Post Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It takes a brave soul to call the bottom in the depths of a global financial crisis, but yesterday Citigroup Inc.’ s Robert Rubin ventured a cautious prediction the end was in sight after his institution agreed to buy Wachovia Corp.’ s banking operations in a government-backed rescue.

As shock waves from the financial implosion on Wall Street continued to topple institutions around the world, the former U. S. Treasury secretary said governments had the power to “stem the immediate crisis of confidence” in world markets.

Speaking as the future of a US$700-billion bailout package was cast into doubt, the Citigroup director said it was within the gift of policymakers to restore stability, predicting the U. S. banking system would “weather” the turmoil.

“If we don’t, we are all in a new world,” said the Citigroup director.

The view from the boardroom underlines the pivotal role bank executives expect world leaders to play in halting the worsening credit crisis, and came after George W. Bush, the U. S. President, approved an emergency rescue of Wachovia, the sixth-largest U. S. lender.

The rescue follows a dramatic wave of consolidation in the global banking industry brought on by an unprecedented seizure in credit markets and concentrates control of more than a third of the U. S. retail branch system in the hands of three banks: Bank of America Corp., JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup.

The deal protects depositors but decimates Wachovia shareholders, setting a fresh precedent that spooked investors in financial stocks who see the terms as a model for how authorities will handle failing banks in the absence of a comprehensive bailout scheme.

As high-political drama yesterday on Capitol Hill gave way to in-fighting, shares in Citigroup fell 12% as the wider U. S. financial sector dropped 11% and Canadian financials slid 5.6%. While heavyweights Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia were the biggest contributors to the decline in Canadian financials, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bank of Montreal shares were the worst performing big banks, dumping 8.5% and 9.4% respectively.

The rescue of Wachovia will land a direct hit on Toronto-based financial institutions such as Manulife Financial Corp., which has $600-million in exposures to the bank.

The terms of the takeover allow the branches and deposits of Wachovia to be picked up at a fire-sale price of US$1 a share, or about US$2.2-billion, but mean Citigroup will absorb up to US$42-billion in losses on a US$312-billion pool of tainted loans, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. assuming losses beyond that point.

“I think it was the right decision,” Mr. Rubin, the Citigroup director, told the Financial Post after a 6.30 a.m. board meeting yesterday to approve the deal.

Outlining the tense 48 hours leading up to the agreement, Mr. Rubin said the Citigroup board had met twice on Saturday to assess the situation and again on Sunday to strategize before a marathon negotiating session that continued until just before dawn yesterday morning.

With minimal time to assess the risks lurking in Wachovia’s books, the Citigroup board appears to have been guided in part by confidence that credit markets would start to stabilize in six to 12 months.

Mr. Rubin said that as former U. S. Treasury secretary he had witnessed first-hand crises when markets enter “a state of deep psychological duress and at some point begin to heal themselves.”

“I think public policy should be able to stem the immediate crisis of confidence,” he said after flying to Toronto to address an industry conference hosted by the Financial Times.

An article in MarketWatch gives us a sense of Volker’s opinion of government bailouts. Former Treasury Secretary Sumner seems to share Volker’s philosophical bent in the same article.

Volcker: Fed’s role should be above politics of whether to support markets

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 5:13 p.m. EDT April 9, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday challenged recent moves by the central bank, including its $29 billion bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. and interest rate cuts, saying both could create more problems than solutions.

Last month’s rescue of Bear Stearns and the subprime mortgage mess that led up to it illustrate sharp differences between investment and commercial banks, with the latter better capitalized and regulated, and therefore better able “to protect against these crises,” said Volcker, speaking at the Harvard Club of New York City.

The Fed intervention also calls into question what role the central bank might be expected to play if and when other such scenarios arise, said Volcker, who chaired the Fed from 1979 to 1987.

“Taking this kind of action in an emergency does create a precedent in people’s minds… the more you support the market, the more political concerns arise. The Federal Reserve is supposed to be above all that,” said Volcker.

“Financial crises don’t come along unless there are underlying problems,” said Volker, who pointed to years of the U.S. consuming more than it produces, with U.S. debt financed by money from abroad and Americans buying cheap goods from overseas.

“The only trouble is you can’t go on forever spending more than you’re producing,” he said.

Volcker, whose Fed is credited for halting the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, also maintained the central bank’s interest rate cuts won’t be an easy fix to current financial problems. “The history of markets is littered with the idea you can solve problems by raising inflation,” he said.

Addressing the same audience, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said the U.S. economy is “currently in recession,” but the next administration would likely inherit an economy on the cusp of recovery.

“In a technical sense the recession will have ended when the next president takes office,” although the climate may not feel much improved, said Summers, a Harvard University professor who led the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration.

David Walker, up until recent weeks the country’s comptroller general, lashed out at the “imprudent and immoral practices of the Federal government,” saying the current policy of low taxes and high government spending means “tomorrow’s taxpayers will pay the bill, (including) those too young to vote and some of them not born yet.”

For a financial system to work, it needs to have incentives “for people to behave the right way,” adequate transparency, and individual and institutional accountability when things go wrong, said Walker, who for a decade headed the Government Accountability Office.

So what do Rubin, Sumner and Volker say about the present situation?  Note that this instruction came clear back in April, but certainly applies to what has occurred in August and September and continues on into October.

It seems clear that a Democratic administration would not have intervened in the troubles of Wall Street, which has now spread to the global markets. Barack Obama, who voted for the bailout, has said that if and when elected, he will be reviewing every line of this bailout, and may change the rules once able to do so.

from MIKE ALLEN, Politico 9/28/08 7:59 AM EDT
Hours after a tentative congressional agreement on a mortgage bailout program, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday morning that he is likely to support it but might seek changes in the program if he is elected.

“If elected President, I will order a thorough review of this plan to make sure that it fully lives up to the principles I’ve laid out,” Obama said. “And I will also move quickly to upgrade our financial regulations for the 21st century, establishing new rules of the road and tougher oversight to ensure that the American taxpayers are never again forced to put their money and their futures at risk because of bad decisions in Washington and on Wall Street.”

Suggesting he will support the plan, Obama said: “While I look forward to reviewing the language of the legislation, it appears that the tentative deal embraces [four] principles [he had advocated].”

Obama’s statement began: “The breakthrough between Congress and the Administration is the culmination of a sorry period in our history, in which reckless speculation and greed on Wall Street and lax oversight from Washington led to a meltdown of our financial markets. But regardless of how we got here, a failure to deal with the current crisis would have devastating consequences for our economy, costing millions of Americans their jobs and retirement security.

“To understand how this tentative deal was reached, it’s important to remember how this all began. The Bush Administration initially asked for a blank check to respond to this problem, which I strongly opposed. It would have been unconscionable to expect the American people to hand this Administration or any Administration a $700 billion check with no conditions and no oversight when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess. If the American people are being asked to pay for the solution to this crisis, their tax dollars must be protected.

“That is why over the past ten days, in conversations with the President, Secretary of Treasury and leaders of Congress, I laid out the four core principles I believed had to guide any solution: oversight by an independent board; protections for taxpayers to ensure that they are treated like investors and that they receive any profits – and recoup any losses – from this plan; measures to help homeowners stay in their homes; and rules to make sure CEOs are not being rewarded at taxpayers’ expense. While I look forward to reviewing the language of the legislation, it appears that the tentative deal embraces these principles.

“When taxpayers are asked to take such an extraordinary step because of the irresponsibility of a relative few, it is not a cause for celebration. But this step is necessary. Now Washington has to show the same sense of urgency in dealing with the crisis facing Main Street and the middle class by passing an emergency economic stimulus plan that would create jobs by rebuilding our crumbing roads; shore up flagging state budgets to prevent drastic cuts in education and health care; and extend expiring unemployment insurance benefits for those who’ve lost their jobs in this downturn and cannot find new ones.”

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GOP’s latest ugly fable

If the economic situation weren’t so grim, it’d be darkly amusing watching conservatives hunting for a scapegoat other than Bush administration True Believers. Hey, they’re all Brownies now. Heckuva job. For a generation, devotees of the very bad novelist Ayn Rand have assured us that greed is a virtue and government oversight of financial institutions an impediment to genius. In the “ownership society,” financial regulations were for pantywaists. In GOP-think, governments exist purely to drop bombs and monitor other people’s sex lives. Financial deregulation has been the Republican miracle elixir since Ronald Reagan. Back in March, Sen. John McCain reassured The Wall Street Journal that despite being “aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight” in debacles like the sub-prime lending crisis, “I am fundamentally a deregulator.” In between winks and shout-outs to “Joe Sixpack” during the vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin also wanted it both ways. She praised McCain for “pushing for even harder and tougher regulations.” Then she said patriotism means saying, “Government, you know, you’re not always the solution. In fact, too often you’re the problem, so government… get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper.” Meanwhile, naïve, otherworldly progressives argued that mortgage lenders needed regulators in the back room for the same reason they needed locks on the front door. You’d think that any adult who’d ever bought real estate, avoided losing his life savings to Nigerian e-mail scams or even spent rainy afternoons playing Monopoly as a child would understand this fundamental fact of human nature: If you make it easy for people to steal, they’ll steal everything, including the silverware and Grandma’s dentures.

Alas, too many heeded pie-in-the-sky GOP theology. The miracle-working market absolved us all from sin; hence, from the Reagan-created savings-and-loan crisis onward, corporate financial scandals have grown steadily larger and more dangerous. But abandon dogma ? Never.

Now come GOP apologists to identify the real perps of the Wall Street meltdown: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, feckless black folks, Mexican Americans and U. S. Rep. Barney Frank, who’s evidently been covertly running Wall Street all this time.

See, while you fretted over Bush screwups in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans, a sinister, dusky cabal built a speculative bubble in ghetto real estate. Overpriced luxury condos were constructed with borrowed money in fashionable Harlem, Watts and the south side of Chicago; also, downtown Atlanta, Newark, St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia. In Monopoly terms, the entire U. S. economy drained into a black hole of defaulted loans on Baltic and Mediterranean.

So how come you haven’t heard this before ? Maybe because you don’t spend enough time watching FOX News or listening to GOP talk radio. In those precincts, the real cause of the national (and world ) financial debacle turns out to be an obscure 1977 law known as the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA.

Intended to end the practice of “redlining,” i. e., refusing to make creditworthy loans in “bad” neighborhoods, the CRA was enacted under President Carter. To conservative pundits such as Charles Krauthammer, Jeff Jacoby and Laura Ingraham, that’s where all the trouble started.

Supposedly, left-wing activists intimidated bankers into making risky loans to improvident minorities, which caused the whole debacle. Supposedly, too, President Clinton made things worse by revising the rules back in 1995.

Leave it to Ann Coulter to spell things out most clearly. Thanks to Democratic interference with free markets, see, sound methods of appraising mortgage applicants’ ability to repay loans were replaced by “nontraditional measures of creditworthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named ‘Caylee.’” As a result, she recently wrote, “Middleclass taxpayers are going to be forced to bail out the Democrats’ two most important constituent groups: rich Wall Street bankers and welfare recipients.” The brutality of this argument is matched only by its stupidity. An alert child would wonder why a 31-year-old law suddenly started causing trouble in 2008. Wouldn’t a lot of those loans already be paid off ? Wouldn’t the same apply to actions that Clinton supposedly took 13 years ago ? Besides, with Republicans controlling the government for the past eight years, how come they didn’t fix it ?

Mainly because it’s utter nonsense. CRA regulations apply only to FDICinsured banks, not the mortgage companies and investment banks, which made 83. 4 percent of sub-prime loans responsible for the crisis. The 1977 law also has nothing whatsoever to do with fraudulent packages of “securitized” mortgage debt taking down investors worldwide. Those are a Bush-era innovation.

Rick Pearlstein, author of the brilliant history “Nixonland,” calls this ugly fable “a modern-day equivalent of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ a Big Lie narrative that blames a despised, outcast social group for problems they had nothing to do with.” A naïve person might imagine that these people would have some shame.

—–––––•–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

October 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Man Behind the Whispers About Obama

The most persistent falsehood about Senator Barack Obama’s background first hit in 2004 just two weeks after the Democratic convention speech that helped set him on the path to his presidential candidacy: “Obama is a Muslim who has concealed his religion.”

That statement, contained in a press release, spun a complex tale about the ancestry of Mr. Obama, who is Christian.

The press release was picked up by a conservative Web site, FreeRepublic.com, and spread steadily as others elaborated on its claims over the years in e-mail messages, Web sites and books. It continues to drive other false rumors about Mr. Obama’s background.

Just last Friday, a woman told Senator John McCain at a town-hall-style meeting, “I have read about him,” and “he’s an Arab.” Mr. McCain corrected her.

Until this month, the man who is widely credited with starting the cyberwhisper campaign that still dogs Mr. Obama was a secondary character in news reports, with deep explorations of his background largely confined to liberal blogs.

But an appearance in a documentary-style program on the Fox News Channel watched by three million people last week thrust the man, Andy Martin, and his past into the foreground. The program allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.

An examination of legal documents and election filings, along with interviews with his acquaintances, revealed Mr. Martin, 62, to be a man with a history of scintillating if not always factual claims. He has left a trail of animosity — some of it provoked by anti-Jewish comments — among political leaders, lawyers and judges in three states over more than 30 years.

He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000. Based in Chicago, he now identifies himself as a writer who focuses on his anti-Obama Web site and press releases.

Mr. Martin, in a series of interviews, did not dispute his influence in Obama rumors.

“Everybody uses my research as a takeoff point,” Mr. Martin said, adding, however, that some take his writings “and exaggerate them to suit their own fantasies.”

As for his background, he said: “I’m a colorful person. There’s always somebody who has a legitimate cause in their mind to be angry with me.”

When questions were raised last week about Mr. Martin’s appearance and claims on “Hannity’s America” on Fox News, the program’s producer said Mr. Martin was clearly expressing his opinion and not necessarily fact.

It was not Mr. Martin’s first turn on national television. The CBS News program “48 Hours” in 1993 devoted an hourlong program, “See You in Court; Civil War, Anthony Martin Clogs Legal System with Frivolous Lawsuits,” to what it called his prolific filings. (Mr. Martin has also been known as Anthony Martin-Trigona.) He has filed so many lawsuits that a judge barred him from doing so in any federal court without preliminary approval.

He prepared to run as a Democrat for Congress in Connecticut, where paperwork for one of his campaign committees listed as one purpose “to exterminate Jew power.” He ran as a Republican for the Florida State Senate and the United States Senate in Illinois. When running for president in 1999, he aired a television advertisement in New Hampshire that accused George W. Bush of using cocaine.

In the 1990s, Mr. Martin was jailed in a case in Florida involving a physical altercation.

His newfound prominence, and the persistence of his line of political attack — updated regularly on his Web site and through press releases — amazes those from his past.

“Well, that’s just a bookend for me,” said Tom Slade, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, whom Mr. Martin sued for refusing to support him. Mr. Slade said Mr. Martin was driven like “a run-over dog, but he’s fearless.”

Given Mr. Obama’s unusual background, which was the focus of his first book, it was perhaps bound to become fodder for some opposed to his candidacy.

Mr. Obama was raised mostly by his white mother, an atheist, and his grandparents, who were Protestant, in Hawaii. He hardly knew his father, a Kenyan from a Muslim family who variously considered himself atheist or agnostic, Mr. Obama wrote. For a few childhood years, Mr. Obama lived in Indonesia with a stepfather he described as loosely following a liberal Islam.

Theories about Mr. Obama’s background have taken on a life of their own. But independent analysts seeking the origins of the cyberspace attacks wind up at Mr. Martin’s first press release, posted on the Free Republic Web site in August 2004.

Its general outlines have turned up in a host of works that have expounded falsely on Mr. Obama’s heritage or supposed attempts to conceal it, including “Obama Nation,” the widely discredited best seller about Mr. Obama by Jerome R. Corsi. Mr. Corsi opens the book with a quote from Mr. Martin.

“What he’s generating gets picked up in other places,” said Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., who has investigated the e-mail campaign’s circulation and origins, “and it’s an example of how the Internet has given power to sources we would have never taken seriously at another point in time.”

Ms. Allen said Mr. Martin’s original work found amplification in 2006, when a man named Ted Sampley wrote an article painting Mr. Obama as a secret practitioner of Islam. Quoting liberally from Mr. Martin, the article circulated on the Internet, and its contents eventually found their way into various e-mail messages, particularly an added claim that Mr. Obama had attended “Jakarta’s Muslim Wahhabi schools. Wahhabism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging jihad on the rest of the world.”

Mr. Obama for two years attended a Catholic school in Indonesia, where he was taught about the Bible, he wrote in “Dreams From My Father,” and for two years went to an Indonesian public school open to all religions, where he was taught about the Koran.

Mr. Sampley, coincidentally, is a Vietnam veteran and longtime opponent of Mr. McCain and Senator John Kerry, both of whom he accused of ignoring his claims that American prisoners were left behind in Vietnam. He previously portrayed Mr. McCain as a “Manchurian candidate.” Speaking of Mr. Martin’s influence on his Obama writings, Mr. Sampley said, “I keyed off of his work.”

Mr. Martin’s depictions of Mr. Obama as a secret Muslim have found resonance among some Jewish voters who have received e-mail messages containing various versions of his initial theory, often by new authors and with new twists.

In his original press release, Mr. Martin wrote that he was personally “a strong supporter of the Muslim community.” But, he wrote of Mr. Obama, “it may well be that his concealment is meant to endanger Israel.” He added, “His Muslim religion would obviously raise serious questions in many Jewish circles.”

Yet in various court papers, Mr. Martin had impugned Jews.

A motion he filed in a 1983 bankruptcy case called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”

In another motion, filed in 1983, Mr. Martin wrote, “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.”

In an interview, Mr. Martin denied some statements against Jews attributed to him in court papers, blaming malicious judges for inserting them.

But in his “48 Hours” interview in 1993, he affirmed a different anti-Semitic part of the affidavit that included the line about the Holocaust, saying, “The record speaks for itself.”

When asked Friday about an assertion in his court papers that “Jews, historically and in daily living, act through clans and in wolf pack syndrome,” he said, “That one sort of rings a bell.”

He said he was not anti-Semitic. “I was trying to show that everybody in the bankruptcy court was Jewish and I was not Jewish,” he said, “and I was being victimized by religious bias.”

In discussing the denial of his admission to the Illinois bar, Mr. Martin said the psychiatric exam listing him as having a “moderately severe personality defect” was spitefully written by an evaluator he had clashed with.

Mr. Martin, who says he is from a well-off banking and farming family, is clearly pleased with his newfound attention. But, he said, others have added to his work in “scary” ways.

“They Google ‘Islam’ and ‘Obama’ and my stuff comes up and they take that and kind of use that — like a Christmas tree, and they decorate it,” he said. For instance, he said, he did not necessarily ascribe to a widely circulated e-mail message from the Israeli right-wing activist Ruth Matar, which includes the false assertion, “If Obama were elected, he would be the first Arab-American president.”

He said he had at least come to “accept” Mr. Obama’s word that he had found Jesus Christ. His intent, he said, was only to educate.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Palin’s Breathtaking Naivete

On Saturday, Representative John Lewis, one of the heroes of the civil rights movement, made the comparison himself. Lewis, now a congressman from Atlanta, took the McCain-Palin campaign severely to task for “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” He said: “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on a Sunday morning (in 1963) when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

The climate of hatred claimed many other victims as well. Most famous among them was Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed in April, 1968. Two months later the victim was Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of the assassinated president, who was himself running for president. A Kennedy biographer, Thurston Clarke, wrote this week that Robert Kennedy was “demonized before he was assassinated.” Clarke reminds us that a leading newspaper editor had called Kennedy “the most vicious and dangerous leader in the United States today.”

Worse, a newspaper columnist and self-proclaimed bigot, Westbrook Pegler, had expressed the wish that “some white patriot … will spatter (Kennedy’s) spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies” — an outright incitement to murder. In the end, of course, it was a disaffected Palestinian who killed Kennedy.

Sarah Palin has suggested no such thing as murder. She would no doubt be horrified at the thought. Yet it is a measure of her blithe ignorance — and of the tin ear of her speech writers — that her acceptance address at the Republican National Convention quoted Westbrook Pegler’s famous line: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity.” The sentence sounds harmless until you consider that, in the context of a nearly all-white Republican convention, the words will be understood, even if subliminally, as an attack on America’s cities, many of them dominated by black political leaders.

The fact that Palin could throw out even an anodyne quote from someone as discredited as Pegler (she called him simply “a writer,” as if no one would check) is another sign of her naivete at a time when America has finally broken with its painful history and nominated a black man for president. How inflammatory can her careless rhetoric be? Thurston Clarke raised the question: “Has Sarah Palin Put a Target on Obama?”

God forbid. And cut it out with the cheap shots, Sarah. An atmosphere of character assassination and cultural clash helps no one. In Governor Wallace’s case, the bitter whirlwind turned, finally, against him, too. In May, 1972, while running for president, Wallace was gunned down in an assassination attempt that left him in a wheelchair until his death in 1998. (from DerSpeigel)

October 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The “Terrorist” Barack Hussein Obama

NY Times

If you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.

Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.

What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.

By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.

That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.

We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed “patriotic” martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.

Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when he expressed concern last week that “a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.” To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.

It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.

From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.

McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.

No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”

This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.

The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.

There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is “a microcosm of America” without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.

Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.

To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year — the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died — The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell “between slim and none.” Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.

But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What if…?

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating
class?

What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said “I do” to?

What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no
longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain
killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5*?

What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election
numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does.  It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes
positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in
another when there is a color difference.

PS: What if Barack Obama had an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter….
*******
You are The Boss… which team would you hire?

With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a
weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises,
bank foreclosures, etc.

Educational Background:

Obama:
Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Biden:
University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)

vs.

McCain:
United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899

Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester
North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study
University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester
University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

——————————————————-

Kinda makes you take a step back and think about things doesn’t it? If you’re leaning McCain, think for a second about why you’re even considering McCain and make sure it’s not because Obama is black.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sen. McCain, Ronald Reagan Called. He Wants His Legacy Back.

by wmtriallawyer

Geez, Senator McCain, when the wheels come off the Straight Talk Express, they really come off, don’t they?

Word comes today, after your campaign essentially said that you wouldn’t “go there” with respect to Obama-Ayers, that you decide to go there with a 90 second web ad. Not unexpected, given the lying and hypocrisy of your campaign.

But what really jumps the shark is this segment of the ad:

Ayers and Obama ran a radical “education” foundation, together.
They wrote the foundation’s by-laws, together.
Obama was the foundation’s first chairman.

Radical? Really? President Reagan on line one for you, Senator.

I have a feeling President Reagan would probably take you task pretty harshly.  The picture below, as they say, is worth 1,000 words, and explains why:

Photobucket

That photo is from 1981, and it shows President Reagan with Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Walter Annenberg was a billionaire, philanthropist, and a pretty well known Republican, friend of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Why is this significant? Because the so-called “radical education foundation” that Obama and Ayers served on was actually the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an initative started by the Annenberg Foundation to promote public school reform that was the brainchild of Annenberg himself.

Here’s another delicious nugget, Sen. McCain, if you consider the program “radical.” The program was actually a pretty unique hybrid that in many ways espoused the conservative viewpoint of using private money, rather than public funds, to reform education.  Indeed, this was one of those “private-public” collaborations that Republicans were fond of promoting (or least used to be fond of promoting until you came along, Sen. McCain).  The Annenberg Foundation matched 2-to-1 every public dollar spent on the project.

Annenberg, that pesky radical, started the program with this goal in mind:

“Everybody around the world wants to send their kids to our universities. South America, Asia, Europe, all of them. But nobody wants to send their kids here to public school. Who would, especially in a big city? Nobody. So we’ve got to do something. If we don’t, our civilization will collapse.”

So Annenberg ponied up the dough, and the Annenberg Foundation solicited grant applications from around the country.  Guess who’s grant application won? That’s right, William Ayers

I mean, my God, Senator McCain…Walter Annenberg, friend of the Reagans, gave nearly $50 million dollars to a well known terrorist? To improve public schools?  Did the Reagans know about this? What could the implications possibly be???

And this is where you, Senator McCain, have become the radical in this debate.  You try to spin “public-private” partnership, established by one of the pillars of the Republican Party, as “radical.”  You attempt so much guilt by association that you ignore that by your logic, Annenberg and by extension Reagan, associated with terrorists.  You have become a disgrace to your party, and your country, with this incidiary rhetoric and lies.

You, Senator. Not Barack Obama.

So I have no doubt that given the personal friendship President Reagan had with the Annenbergs, he would tell you to stop using his name as a primary example of whose legacy you really want to follow.

And while were on the subject, Teddy Roosevelt is on line two.  He wants a cease-and-desist order as well…

because your radical rhetoric is the furthest thing from speaking softly Teddy has seen in years.

UPDATE: Oh, Sen. McCain? Leonore Annenberg on line three.  As has been pointed out by several commenters, she is a donor to your campaign.  Given that you’ve now called the Annenberg Foundation “radical,” does that mean you are associating yourself with radicals, too? Just checking…

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Secret Service is following up on media reports today…

…that someone in the crowd at a McCain/Palin event suggested killing Barack Obama, according to Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley. The shout of “kill him” followed a Sarah Palin rant on Obama’s relationship with radical Chicagoan Bill Ayers.
Wiley says the Secret Service did not begin looking into the matter until press reports, namely Dana Milbank’s article in the Washington Post, surfaced today, because no agents at the event heard anything. “The Secret Service did not hear any threatening statements directed at targets under its protection and no threatening statements were reported to us by law enforcement or citizens at the event,” Wiley told Radar. Also unclear: whether the remark was directed at Obama or Ayers if the words were actually “kill” and “him.”

In the latest instance of inflammatory outbursts at McCain-Palin rallies, a crowd member screamed “treason!” during an event on Tuesday after Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of criticizing U.S. troops.

“[Obama] said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are ‘air raiding villages and killing civilians,'” Palin said, mischaracterizing a 2007 remark by Obama. “I hope Americans know that is not what our brave men and women in uniform are doing in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is fighting terrorism and protecting us and protecting our freedom.”  READ THE DISTURBING REPORT

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

McCain’s Accusation Regarding the Project

John McCain accused Barack Obama of a seemingly outlandish request for Chicago’s planetarium during the second presidential debate Tuesday, saying that the Democratic candidate backed a “$3 million [earmark] for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Ill. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

The AP fact-checked the claim:

McCain’s phrase suggests Obama spent $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that projects charts and text on a wall screen. In fact, the money was for an overhaul of the theater system that projects images of stars and planets for educational shows at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. When he announced the $3 million earmark last year, Obama said the planetarium’s 40-year-old projection system “has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.”

But McCain’s remark was enough to make Adler Planetarium officials issue a statement defending the scientific validity of the request:

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation.Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure
national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to
pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Senator McCain’s statements about the Adler Planetarium’s request for federal support do
not accurately reflect the museum’s legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama.

Sen. Dick Durbin and six Chicago-area Congressman, three of whom are Republicans, also agreed to sponsor the unsuccessful $3 million earmark.

Planetariums in New York and Los Angeles recently replaced their Zeiss projection systems with federal funding, the Tribune reports.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obama dares McCain, “Say it to my face…”

From his interview with Charles Gibson.

GIBSON: Change the subject for a moment. John McCain has unloaded on you in the last 72, 96 hours as has Sarah Palin. McCain is saying, essentially, we don’t know who Barack Obama is, where he came from. I’m an open book, he’s not.OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: Were you surprised, A, that he didn’t bring it up last night at the debate and use that line of attack? And, B, since you must have prepared for it, what were you going to say?

OBAMA: Well, I am surprised that, you know, we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face.

But I guess we’ve got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that — that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.

The notion that people don’t know who I am is a little hard to swallow. I’ve been running for president for the last two years. I’ve campaigned in 49 states. Millions of people have heard me speak at length on every topic under the sun. I’ve been involved now in 25 debates, going on my 26th. And I’ve written two books which any — everybody who reads them will say are about as honest a set of reflections by, at least, a politician as are out there.

So, you know, I think that, you know, Senator McCain’s campaign has been focusing on me primarily because they don’t want to focus on the economy. And they’ve said as much. I mean, you’ve had their spokespeople over the last couple of days say if we talk about the economic crisis, we lose.

I mean, you can’t be much more blatant than that. They want to change the subject. And I understand it because the fact is that John McCain has subscribed, for the most part, to the same economic philosophy as George Bush, the same economic philosophy that has governed over the last eight years and has helped to get us in this mess.

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When you just can’t say “ni…ni…”, say “That One,” as though picking out a new mule

Campaign 08

The proper, respectful and appropriate description for an foe in a debate between two senators is “the senator” or — if there is a desire to get flowery — “my distinguished colleague.”

But Arizona Senator John McCain, who after a quarter century on Capitol Hill surely knows the political etiquette, could not bring himself to refer to Illinois Senator Barack Obama as he would any other colleague.

Discussing a 2005 Senate vote, McCain said, “There was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one,” he said, motioning toward Obama. “You know who voted against it? Me.”

That one?

That one?

If Obama had referred to McCain as “that one,” he would have been attacked for showing disrespect or ridiculed for being so new to the Senate that he did not understand the basic behaviors of the chamber.

Either way, it would have been a devastating moment.

And it should be for McCain, as well.

Understand what the Republican nominee was doing.

He did not slip up.

The McCain campaign and its media acolytes have for weeks been spinning the notion that Obama is running as some sort of messianic character who sees himself in something akin to Biblical terms.

In internet advertisements, campaign spin and talk-show commentary, Obama is mocked as “the one.”

A McCain Web commercial from earlier this year compared Obama with the Nazarene. That ad opened with the announcer declaring, “It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed. They will call him ‘The One.'”

The ad proceeds to ridicule Obama’s high-minded rhetoric before closing with the narrator telling Americans: “Barack Obama may be ‘The One.’ But is he ready to lead?”

That commercial has long been recognized as one of the more amateurish cheapshots from a campaign characterized all too frequently by amateurish cheapshots.

Now, John McCain has brought the cheapest of the cheapshots to the debate stage.

It was, for a senior senator who has embarrassed himself too many times during this long campaign, a uniquely embarrassing moment.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senator Hothead?

“The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” Cochran said. “He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”  Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, one of McCain’s conservative Republican colleagues and a man who’s worked with McCain for years.

“I think John McCain is well-known for ‘losing it’ in a variety of circumstances.” Former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig

MORE?

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some say “devout,” some say “lapsed”

The nun who prays and washes the leper with her wrinkled, arthritic hands.  The pious Sicilian peasant woman for whom it is second nature to invoke the Virgin when her little bambino skins his knee.  The simple Joe who goes to Mass every day he can, spits and swears, but would give a stranger his kidney if he thought it would help give another Joe a break in this crazy world.  There’s room under the Big Tent of Devoutness for these sorts of people and a lot more like them.

But is devoutness an infinitely big tent?  Is everybody (or at least every Catholic) devout?  It would appear so, judging from MSM and blogosphere usage of the term.  So, for instance, it turns out Michael Moore is a [1] “devout Catholic” despite the fact that he holds some rather important aspects of the Church’s teaching in contempt and tells absurd lies in order to score political points.

[2] King: What about how he’s handled the Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright thing?

Moore: Jeez, you know, I mean I go to Mass still.  I’m a practicing Catholic.  I’ve been that way all my life.  But if I had — if I had gotten up every time I heard a priest from the pulpit in my travels around the country say things like I’ve heard them say, that birth control is a sin, that women should not be priests, that women should have a different role in church …

King: You’d be walking out all the time?

Moore: I would have been walking out so much — that would have been so much aerobic activity for me… I wouldn’t look like this.    READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

September 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

-Woodrow Wilson, after signing the Federal Reserve into existence

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campaign Now Claims McCain’s Admitted Keating Five Wrongdoing a Smear

Back in 1999, John McCain acknowledged his role in the 1980’s Keating Five savings and loan scandal that rightly stained his career. “The fact is,” he said, “it was the wrong thing to do, and it will be on my tombstone and deservedly so.” But again facing withering criticism as a second financial crisis grips the United States, his campaign today instead claimed McCain’s intervention 20 years ago with federal regulators on behalf of future convicted felon Charles Keating was merely “a political smear job.”

As AmericaBlog and Politico reported, the campaign deployed McCain’s lawyer John Dowd to rewrite history on his client’s behalf during a conference call Monday:

McCain lawyer John Dowd described McCain’s “former relationship with Charles Keating as ‘social friends,'” and called the situation a “classic political smear job on John.”

Sadly for McCain, Dowd’s yarn matches neither the facts nor McCain’s self-proclaimed resurrection as a reformer in the wake of his near-death experience in the Keating Five imbroglio.

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe summarized McCain’s close relationship with Keating and his decision to intervene with federal regulators on his behalf:  read the rest

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hockey moms in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

by Keith Olbermann

Last Wednesday, Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home of a woman in Akron, Ohio named Addie Polk, in order to evict her. After 38 years in that house, Ms. Polk had fallen behind on paying the mortgage. It was so bad that the company that held that mortgage, Fannie Mae, had foreclosed.

In fact, it was far worse than anybody knew. Addie Polk couldn’t bear it any more. So, rather than be evicted, she shot herself in the chest.

Evidently she will survive. And, after Congressman Dennis Kucinich brought her plight to the floor of the House, Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant you and I and all the rest of us pretty much own now, agreed it would forgive Addie Polk’s debt and, when she gets out of the hospital, let her go back and live in her home again.

That this is already a gothic horror story, you’ll agree. But I left out one detail. Addie Polk is 90 years old.

In the self-pronounced area of expertise of the Governor of Alaska—energy—the real experts of both parties are at a loss to figure out any way, even’drill, baby, drill’, that might lower gas prices before 2018. We are at war in two countries and a lame duck President with no reason to check his own imbalance still has dreams of one more.

And a 90-year-old woman, trapped in the middle of a financial meltdown, shoots herself and she’s still in better shape than the economy. Yet, the Governor of Alaska wants to talk about somebody Barack Obama doesn’t know very well, and what this somebody Barack Obama doesn’t know very well, did, during the year Obama was eight and the Governor of Alaska was in pre-Kindergarten.

And she wants to talk about Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And she doesn’t object to being introduced with a reference to Barack Obama’s middle name. Well, this is my suggestion. In much the same way we, America, in the corporate persona of Fannie Mae, have forgiven poor Addie Polk of Akron, Ohio.

We, America, also need to forgive poor Sarah Palin of Wasilla, Alaska.

They are both in situations that are beyond their ability to cope.

They are both stuck in a crucible caused by forces they cannot comprehend. They are both unable to understand what they are doing.

After stumbling through a clumsier version of it at Englewood, Colorado, the Governor of Alaska said Saturday at Carson, California:

“Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.”

She later defended the remark by adding this was an “association that has been known but hasn’t been talked about.”

Governor, Conservative groups have thus far spent ten million dollars this year trying to make something, anything, out of the brief interaction on a charity board between Sen. Obama, and a rehabilitated former domestic radical from the ‘60s and not even Conservatives have been stupid enough to buy the snake oil, that this was either a close relationship or a nefarious one.

But of course, you know better, Governor. You’re smarter than the rest of us. A reporter asks you a horrible gotcha question like’which newspapers do you read’ and it takes you four days to come up with an answer, and somehow it’s the reporter’s fault.

The reporter asks you to name one Supreme Court ruling with which you disagree other than Roe vs. Wade and even though you’d commented on just such a case from Alaska no less not three months ago your eyes turn into a big neon sign reading “Vacancy” and you insist it’s because that evil media asked the wrong question.

So you’re the genius Governor, and it’s your supporters and the undecided voters who are the dopes who are now going to believe the same mickey-mouse crap that Sen. Clinton couldn’t get to stick, and Sean Hannity couldn’t get to stick, just because it’s you adding that word “terrorist” and that phrase “palling around” and dropping the “g” in pal-ling.

And of course, Governor, those same dopes, and we media morons, we are not smart enough to ask about that pesky Alaskan Independence Party, and why you recorded a speech for its convention last March, and why your husband remained a registered member of it until 2002, even though it was founded by a man named Joe Vogler who wanted Alaska to secede from the United States. The way the South seceded, precipitating the Civil War.

The same Joe Vogler who once said:

“The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government, and I won’t be buried under their damn flag.”

And who also said:

“I’m an Alaskan, not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”

Shoot, Governor, them’s strong words, hah? Did he wink as he said ‘em? You betcha! So, where does Joe Vogler rank on the scales of “terrorists who would target their own country?” Your opponent’s guy Ayers wound up on a volunteer anti-poverty committee in Chicago.

But your guy Vogler wound up founding a group that wanted to rip one of the stars off the American flag! Well, ok, Governor, Vogler’s more your husband’s guy. So it’s your husband who’s been “palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

But I’m assuming you’ve been “palling around” with your husband. But, gee willikers, Governor, you know what’s best. You’re not one of these Washington insiders who would notice that though that’s a straight line connecting you, your husband, and this Alaskan secessionist, you’re standing under a banner with the campaign slogan “Country First” and if somebody out there puts two and two together they might just ask, “which Country dja mean? The Country of Alaska?”

“The heels are on,” you said with another smile. “The gloves are off.”

Well, if you’re telling William Kristol you want to talk about Jeremiah Wright fer sure! So, Governor you don’t mind addressing whether this Pastor Muthee is a terrorist? Do you? We’ve told you before about Pastor Thomas Muthee.

He’s the preacher who visited the Wasilla Assembly of God church a couple of times while the Governor was there, ironically enough, just about as many times as Bill Ayres has met Barack Obama and, see, there was this one time where Pastor Muthee actually laid hands on the Governor.

And I’m sure that sounds like just some crazy anecdote, except there’s videotape. And of course the Governor talked about this moment, the laying on of hands, just last summer.

It was in October, 2005, as the video indicates, when Muthee put his hands on Sarah Palin’s back and said, ”“make a way for Sarah, even in the political arena. Make a way, my God. Bring finances her way, even if for the campaign in the name of Jesus.

“Every form of witchcraft, it will be rebuked in the name of Jesus.

Father, make her way now.”

And the Governor said that ”bold” approach of Pastor Muthee was one ofthe reasons she became Governor and she gives him just oodles ofcredit for puttin’ her on the path.

The problem for the governor is that in 1999 The Christian Science Monitor reported that Pastor Muthee had gotten his start a decade earlier in Kenya, in the Nairobi suburb of Kiambu.

Kimabu was crime-ridden. So this character Muthee showed up, and announced it was the fault of this woman in town who he had decidedwas a witch. And Muthee gave the witch a choice: either be saved, or get out of town.

And the woman initially chose none of the above, but this became lessthan a viable option when Muthee got 200 of the townspeople togetherand they decided, heck, you know, Muthee’s right, she probably is awitch, and the next thing you know the police are raiding her houseand reportedly shooting her snake because if she was a witch, thesnake had to be a demon, and then the woman left town and everybodysaid crime went down and most of the bars closed and this is not onlyhow Pastor Muthee got started but he’s proud of it and he tells thestory in his testimonial videotapes and people in that church inWasilla where he laid hands on the Governor knew all about it.

And they think it was just a Joe-Six-Pack, Hockey Mom kinda thing todo, to let a guy who branded some woman in Kenya a witch, demand thatGod make some different woman the Governor of Alaska!

Governor, what would you call someone who arrives in a suburb, blames a resident for the local crime, organizes a mob to threaten the woman,convinces the authorities to go and raid her home, and then chases her out of the suburb?

C’mon Governor, just give us one answer that has something to do withthe question you were just asked. That’s right you’d call him aterrorist. And since it was in his own country, that would makehimmmm? Yes, very good, a domestic terrorist.

So, you, Governor, you’ve been ”“palling around with terrorists whowould target their own country.” Say it ain’t so, Gov! Say it ain’tso! Of course it is.

The Governor of Alaska ignores Addie Polk and the American tragedythat is a 90-year old woman shooting herself out of shame and panicand who knows what else. Over the mortgage!

Instead the Governor of Alaska wants to start calling peopleterrorists and insisting of Sen. Obama that quote ”“this is not a manwho sees America like you and I see America” and whose rhetoric likethat, and the ”“pallin’ around with terrorists” line were rightlydescribed by the Associated Press yesterday as a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing kind of way of slipping racism into the equation, because it’s a nifty trick to remind the white folk that(psst) Obama is black.

But overriding this sleaziness and dog-gone it, the Governor of Alaskahas got to be the sleaziest politician working the stage at themoment, there is the sheer blessed stupidity of letting herself becomethe bomb-thrower when her own life is full of domestic terrorists.

Governor? Bill Ayres? Your hubby was in this secessionist hate groupfor which you recorded a video.

Governor? Jeremiah Wright? That pastor you credit with helping you become Governor, is either a con man or a psycho who believes he can tell which woman in the village is the witch, and which woman is the governor.

And Governor, there’s also ”“The U.S. Council On World Freedom.” You should ask Sen. McCain about that outfit and why he had to scat away from it 22 years ago.

Or, ask him why yesterday his own brother Joe referred to Northern Virginia as quote ”“communist country.” Or you could ask him about Pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley. Or about why Sen. McCain said about introducing Jeremiah Wright into this campaign, ”“there’s no place for that kind of campaigning, the American people don’t want it,period.”

Or don’t ask. You know best. You’re the one selling the patent medicine. Those of us out here, we’re just the suckers pulling out our greenbacks. Go on talking about this man Ayers and trying to link Obama to that word ”“terrorist.”

But be prepared for others to ask you about your pastor and terrorism.

And for still others to ask you about the First Dude and terrorism.

But not me, Governor.

I forgive you. You are about as guilty here as poor Ms. Addie Polk inAkron. And I hope that after what you’ve done to yourself, you recover as well as she seems to be doing, and that you too get to go back and live in your own home again.

Because if you think the terrorism con, and the racism sting are going to do anything but bury you and Sen, McCain, you need to pick up one of those how-many-ever newspapers you reed and check the headlines to find out what people are really worried about right now.

Otherwise, when you said ”“the heels are on, the gloves are off,” you got as close to telling the truth as you’ve ever gotten, and without really knowing it.

Because, for you and Sen. McCain, Governor, it’s not the gloves that just came off.

Obviously—it’s the wheels.

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Church v. Politics

Without citing sources, which are readily available, I will just state without fear of contradiction by any informed person that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church continues to insert itself into American politics, attempting to convince Christians that they cannot vote Democratic without being party to murder.  This is, by definition, absolutely false, of course.  It is one thing to accept the discipline of the Church in ones own belief system, it is entirely another to attempt to tell those around us who are obeying the law of the land that they cannot participate in legal activity without separating themselves from God and the Church.

This is, of course, a matter of conscience for each believer.  While we look to the hierarchy of the Church for guidance in spiritual matters, when we have those in power who have their own earthly political agendas, who cannot admit the “greater evil” of the activities of those in power in Washington, who have fallen to the temptations of wealth and power on this earth from the Prince of Darkness himself, who fail to police their own house for illegal and immoral activity (including, but certainly not limited to, the rape of children), then we must reject those individuals as not worthy to speak for Christ and His Church, of which we are members, and no man can separate us from that to which Christ has appointed us.

Shame and condemnation should be heaped upon those Bishops who use their diocesan authority to communicate their political agenda as the word of God, with the (false) threat of separation from heaven for disobedience to their edicts.

When asked his view on when life begins, Joe Biden stated…”For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my church.” He was condemned for this statement by the hierarchy.  What more can the hierarchy demand than obedience in our personal life?  Are we to go out and “impose the Gospel on every creature?!”  I don’t think so.  When the Supreme Court rules on the law of the land in the United States of America, that decision is not subject to review by the Bishops.

It would be a different matter if people were forced to receive abortions by the government, as they are in China.  Our freedom in the US is of God.  We do not live in a theocracy, nor is that our goal as Christians.  The American people will decide what is best for this nation; economics, security, international relations, our standing in the world, energy, transportation, jobs, human rights, health insurance – these are just some of the many issues facing this country.  This cannot be decided on one issue only, no matter what the Bishops believe.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Palin’s posing is a disservice to women’s rights

The burning issues of the most important election of our lifetimes are being eclipsed by Sarah Palin’s pretty face. Her pro-family posturing, hollow claims of gender bias and feigned proven toughness weave an emotional narrative particularly persuasive to women. I’m struck by the irony. The very people whose issues have no place in her agenda are being gamed for their votes. How sad this is for all women — past, present and future.

The fight for women’s right to vote in this country was long and brutal. Suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and others called out our government in 1848 at a historic assembly at Seneca Falls, N.Y., but it took another 72 years for the 19th amendment to pass. The suffrage battle of 1917 was the consummate dark chapter in the struggle and carries with it shades of Abu Ghraib — including beatings and forced feedings. Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Dora Lewis et al are little-known patriots whose story should be taken to heart this election season.

In January 1917, the National Women’s Party began a peaceful protest across from the White House. Their relentless demonstration over the months became an international embarrassment for our “democracy” and police were ordered to disband them. Arrests (218 total) began on June 22 with trumped-up charges of “obstructing traffic,” and culminated with a Nov. 15 “Night of Terror.”

Months before this infamous night, the suffragists had been incarcerated with women infected with syphilis and tuberculosis — forced to drink putrid water from a common pail and eat food infested with worms. Their toilet was a bucket not emptied for days.

On the night of the 15th, 40 prison guards went on a rampage. Lucy Burns was beaten — her hands chained above her head as she was left hanging for the night. Dora Lewis was hurled into a dark cell, smashing her head and knocking her unconscious. Her cellmate, thinking Lewis dead, had a heart attack. Affidavits also give accounts of guards dragging, beating, choking, slamming and kicking the women.

Gender politics in this election is making a mockery of this hard-fought battle for democracy, and could permanently subvert what real progress for women means.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain, in cynical deference, introduced Palin for vice president by saying he was proud it was “in the week we celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage.” This from a man who (1) voted against a measure to help women get pay equality, (2) voted against extending insurance coverage to pregnant women and infants, (3) voted against funding breast cancer research and (4) voted repeatedly against funding to fight domestic violence — just to name a few.

Palin’s record regarding women is McCain-compatible. Reports from Alaska say she’s done nothing to address rampant sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence. While mayor of little Wasilla, women (mostly poor) were required to pay from $300 to $1,200 for testing to prove they were raped. More shocking, Palin opposes abortion even for victims of rape or incest. According to public-safety experts, Alaska is one of the worst in the nation for rape and sexual abuse of children, with 25 percent of rapes resulting in pregnancies. Are we to suppose that Palin believes the state should force a 10-year-old child raped by her father to endure a pregnancy? Would we want such a draconian law for our daughters?

This “pro-family” small-town woman is a fictional creation — one her handlers hope women voters will buy. She’s scripted and rehearsed for public consumption. But privately she’s receiving a crash course in neoconservative governance: corporate state at home, military hegemony abroad. In other words, she’s being groomed for a seamless VP transition — Dick Cheney in “lipstick and a skirt.”

Women should take heart. While we disagree on a variety of religious and social issues, a common historic struggle unites us. Let’s not forget the grinding work, the thankless sacrifice, the silent pain, the dogged determination of our foremothers that bind us together. They came from all ranks — educated, uneducated, well-heeled, destitute. Their spirit is embodied in the likes of the suffragists Mary Lease, Mother Jones and Rosa Parks. Given our current economic meltdown, it’s ironic that Lease, in 1890, carried on a grass-roots revolt against the corporate predators of her day, calling on farmers to “raise less corn and more hell.” This is the spirit that brought us our democracy.

Sorry, Sarah, threatening a war with Russia or field-dressing a moose does not demonstrate the toughness necessary to defend our Constitution. You’re in need of counsel from women who, armed only with grit and guts, had the courage to face down power and demand that our country live up to its creed.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bush era coming to a close – but maybe not soon enough?

As the world’s economies reportedly teeter on the edge of collapse after the resounding “NO”  by House Republicans to the hurriedly revised plan presented to the House for a vote, it seems an appropriate end to the GW Bush administration.  The American people have continued to function under the circumstances of 9/11, years of useless wars, and dropping economic values amid constant lies and misrepresentations up and down the chain of command.  It seems as though to participate in any position in the Bush administration one had to start with the requirement of having bad character. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Libby – many others.

As a Christian, it hurts me that this came from a man who claimed to be a “born-again” Christian, saved from alcoholism and a purposeless life. This President, who sent the highly respected General Colin Powell to the UN to falsely assure the world that Iraq was an imminent danger to itself and others, now asks us to believe that if we don’t double the already massive debt this nation faces for generations to come, economic disaster will result.  Not even his own party believes him anymore.  One would expect that many Democrats would vote against his plan, but the fact is that his party gave him an overwhelming “NO” when told “We must do this or the country will fall into depression.”

A day after the most precipitous drop in the market in one day ever, the market has regained half of what it lost yesterday at this writing.  Does the market need a bailout or not?  We are told the only way that this will work if almost a trillion dollars is used to buy up bad mortgages.  And because of these bad mortgages, the “credit market” has “frozen.”  Now no one can get a loan.  Small business can’t get short term loans to make payroll, so people will need to be laid off.  (The economy has already lost a record number of jobs this year.)

So what kind of a finale can our President come up with?  How about declaring emergency martial law, dissolving the Congress, nationalizing all banks and financial institutions?  Is it possible that this is an attempt to put the country into such massive debt that many of the “social programs” on the Obama agenda can never be implemented, locking up domestic policy as he has tried to do with foriegn policy?  Is it just a money grab by him and his cronies on the way out the door?

This is what happens when the bond of trust between a government and it’s people is broken.  After 9/11, the people would have accepted the decisions of our leaders no matter what they said needed to be done.  And so this President led us down the wrong road, and as he leaves office, he leaves our relationship as a country with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Korea, Russia and many others in much worse shape than he found it.  He leaves our monetary situation as a government in much worse shape than he found it.  The cultural wars that he and his supporters stirred up have divided the country in a way never seen before.  There is no trust between the government and its citizens, the right and the left.  We are no longer a country united with a common purpose defined by a Constitution.  The Constitution has been denigrated and trampled on by this administration.  We the people have become party to torture.  Perhaps a million Iraqis have died in the name of “freedom and democracy.”  More Americans have died than in Vietnam.

And now the working people, who work for less and less, if work can be found at all, as more and more jobs are moved overseas to maximize corporate profit, are supposed to take on the failures of these same corporations in the form of a $700 billion bailout?  Can we at least force these Corporate Masters of the Universe to “re-create” some jobs in this country?  Can this country start producing “something” that it can export beside exporting our jobs?

Maybe we should restart the “Always Buy American” campaign of years ago.  I know it would be hard to find all the things we need made in America.  I understand there are no American shoes anymore.  I wonder if the Garment Workers Union still has any living members?  Do they still make steel in Pittsburg, Buffalo or Gary?  Are any car parts actually made here anymore, or do we assemble them in Mexico?  Are their any family farms left, or has all the land been sold to foreign agribusiness corporations?  Are any computers made in this country, or all they all imported from China?  Are there any corporations that actually open manufacturing plants in America left?  Or are we supposed to bail out these millionaires and billionaires while working in the “service industry” for $12 an hour?  Or has America itself been outsourced?

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Bailout No One Wants Except Wall St. Corporations

“I suspect that part of what we’re seeing in the freezing up of lending markets is strategic behavior on the part of big financial players who stand to benefit from the bailout,” said David K. Levine, an economist at Washington University in St. Louis, who studies liquidity constraints and game theory.

It becomes clear that no one on either side in the Congress wants to do this bailout.  In fact, Bernanke, Paulson and Bush seem to be the only ones who do want it in Washington.  Corporations on Wall Street want it because it would give them that much more capital with which to gamble on derivitives.

I am not an economist – just an ordinary worker (in the tech industry).  But from what I see, hear and read, this proposed bailout seems to be a solution in search of a problem.  Yes, the economy is struggling, but still growing slowly.  Confidence in the dollar would no doubt be alot stronger if Washington and Wall Street showed even the slightest interest in fiscal responsibility.  We see in the rest of the world alot of interest in moving to another currency beside the American dollar globally.  I have seen indications that if that were to happen, the dollar would lose about 90% of its value.

We do have Americans who are in trouble, often through their own doing, such as taking on a mortgage they cannot afford, substantial credit card debt, and other indications of irresponsible budgetary activity, just like the federal government.  Nevertheless, there are indications by those in the industry who claim it costs the economy a quarter of a million dollars per household when mortgages go bad.  So, apparently, it would be in the interest of us all to reduce the number of families who are losing their homes.

Does the corporate bailout Wall St. favors do anything for these families?  Not that I know of.  In fact, from what I understand, the most likely scenario is that the bailout would be used by corporations to make more bad mortgage loans.  What’s to prevent it?  Certainly nothing in the original administration proposal to Congress.

So, can we agree that a legitimate use of at least a portion of that $700 billion would be to implement some sort of mortgage relief for a certain group of American families in trouble?  Then why aren’t the Congress and administration working on something of that nature?  What other problems do we have in the economy in which relief or assistance from the feds would make a difference to the taxpayers?  Employment is one; how about a program to jumpstart “green” industry and create jobs?

I am sure there are other instances in our society where assistance could be directed to those having the problem, addressing the actual issues needing assistance, rather than a handout to Wall Street so they can continue “business as usual.”  How long will it be before they need another bailout?

Neither of the Presidential candidates from the dominant parties or either party in the Congress seem to have a problem with the corporate bailout of Wall Street in principal.  There just seems to be details that need to be hammered out until this is a done deal.

And exactly what is the problem they are addressing again?  Banks going bankrupt?  That’s what happens when bad business decisions are made.  Other banks who can do business better will certainly take their place.  Why would we not allow those businesses that have earned bankruptcy by the way they do business go the way of Lehman Brothers, and let Wall Street sort itself out?  The mess will be cleaned up by those causing the problem.

No corporate bailouts!


Issue of currency should be lodged with the government and be protected from
domination by Wall Street. We are opposed to…provisions [which] would
place our currency and credit system in private hands. – Theodore
Roosevelt

September 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wall Street Drunk? All of Washington is Drunk!

by BearCreekChronicles

The more I think about last week’s announcement by Sec. Paulson that the taxpayers “must” bail out Wall Street, the more I think President Bush was right some months ago when he said that “Wall Street got drunk.”

I think perhaps at this point the Secretary and the President may still be drunk.  As I understand it, there are persons on Wall Street who made commissions as high as one hundred million dollars while knowingly selling worthless bonds to Fanny May and Freddie Mac.  Also, the individuals purchasing these instruments knew that they were worthless (or had a pretty good idea that the bond rating was phoney) and the underwriters that rated these bonds as high as AAA knew they were making phoney ratings.  The underwriters could do this with a “clear conscience” because insurance companies (such as AIG?) were paid to make the bonds “secure.”  We call that fraud where I come from.  The Secretary was CEO of one of the major players, Goldman Sachs.  The White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolton, was (is?) an officer of the corporation.  So this would indicate to me that it is more than likely that the President himself knew what was going on on Wall Street as well.

If I am correct in my description, we have fraud at the very highest levels of government.  And now the taxpayers are supposed to hand another trillion dollars to this administration on their way out the door to do with what they will – distributing it as they see fit to their friends!?  Does anyone besides me believe that several billion will find it’s way into some of these pockets once they leave office?  Sort of a “finders fee,” I guess.

No way should the taxpayers be on the hook in any way, shape or form for this scam!  By now, the FBI should have many hundreds of those who benefited the most in custody.  Congress should be holding impeachment hearings, not making plans to distribute their constituents money to the perpetrators of this fraud.

Both candidates for President should be as far away from this as possible, not meeting with the President to join the conspiracy to defraud the American people.  Oh, that’s right.  They both received millions of dollars from FM/FM already.  They are already deeply involved!  They already had prior knowledge.  John McCain’s Chief of Staff was on the payroll of one of the FM’s right up to yesterday!

Is there one honest Senator or Representative who will call this what it is?  The greatest fraud in the history of the earth!

September 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Voting Against Self-Interest

I personally cannot fathom that anyone would want to return the Bush administration to power after the next election.  Yet, evidence is, a McCain administration would be more of the same, except more so.  The players in the Republican Party have all moved from the Bush administration into the McCain campaign.  I’m talking about people whose names we don’t know, except for Karl Rove.  We know that McCain wanted to choose Lieberman or Ridge for VP, but was told he could not do either – Lieberman because he is a Democrat, of course, and agrees with little in the Republican agenda other than staying in Iraq, and Ridge because he is what is called “pro-choice.”  So he chose Sarah Palin, believing that many women who had been enamored of Hillary Clinton would see Palin as a “consolation prize” when Hillary did not get the nomination or the VP spot on the Democratic ticket.  I suspect there are some women who will vote for the ticket with a woman on it just because of Palin.  The vast majority of women who supported Hillary are Democrats, however, and once learning Palin’s view of the issues, could not possibly support someone who has views like hers on Christianity, Choice, Health Insurance, Equal Pay, and so many other issues where she is a world away from Hillary’s well-known positions.”

If we hold the President accountable for things that happened under his administration, which is what we do, that’s why they call it an “administration,” (President Bush called himself “The Decider,”) then we have to look at the things that happened and ask ourselves if we want more of the same.  There is little debate at this point that the invasion of Iraq was not justified by the events of 9/11.  There is no debate that our economic situation as this administration comes to a close is as dire as could be without total collapse, (which may yet happen in the next few days).  Domestically, almost no one except the very, very rich (the top 2-3% of the population) could claim that they are better off than they were eight years ago.  We know that a massive surplus as Clinton left office has been turned to a deficit with so many zeros that most of use can’t even say the number (and which double shortly with the action of Treasury) has been run up by the Bush years.  Unemployment is historically high.  Bankruptcy, foreclosure and collapse is the norm in business, rather than the exception.  The scale and depth of the collapse makes the Great Depression look like kid’s day at the zoo.  The Congress can share in the blame; 6 of 8 years had a Republican majority in both houses and a Republican president.

I don’t believe that anything could be considered “improved” in the last 8 years.  The price of energy has skyrocketed, even though individuals use less and less.  International relations with friend and foe alike have never been worse, even during world wars.  Many fundamentalist Christians believe the tribulation has already started and they were “left behind.”

With these conditions, doesn’t it seem as though that those who cannot bring themselves to vote Democratic would be voting for Bob Barr, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader or None of the Above?  Yet, the polling needle stays tied day after day.  I cannot understand it, except for the abortion issue.

Years ago, Republicans realized (as well documented) that they could not get people to vote against their own self interest without a hook of some sort.  The “Right to Life” movement has been that magic bullet – that’s for sure.  No more emotional issue has captured the public’s imagination.  Horrible stories are told of children being murdered after birth.  Infanticide, they call it, and they accuse Obama of favoring infancticide.  (As far as we know, abortions are performed by doctors, not presidential candidates.)  What ever the truth of the issues, does it make sense that evangical and fundamentalist Christians vote for those who (knowingly, I believe) lie about what action they are going to take to outlaw abortion, birth control, sex education and other related issues?  Yet, nothing changes.  Why?

I believe that it is a misunderstanding of the provisions of the constitution.  Slavery is illegal in this country.  To tell a woman that she cannot control her own body, ensuring that she is not impregnated, or if impregnated, prevent giving birth, is to make a woman a slave to someone else.  The legislature or the courts would have to tell a woman that she cannot regulate her own health issues because the society has an overriding interest in those decisions.  That would make a woman in our society little more than a brood mare.  Who are you, or who am I, to tell another individual, a fellow citizen, what decisions they must make to ensure a healthy body?  Those are decisions that are decided by doctor-patient, or the patients representative in case of being disabled, in every other medical situation.  There are no men who can bear children.  It is solely a woman’s issue.  Your decision regarding your body may not be the same as your neighbors, but you must defend your neighbors right to make that decision for herself just as each person is guaranteed the right not to be arrested for protected speech.

We as Americans are guaranteed “freedom,” and many of our fellow citizens have given their lives to protect that freedom.  There can be no justification for attempting to take that freedom away.  The question is not “when does life begin” but rather “when there is a conflict between the rights of a woman and an unborn potential child, whose rights take precedence?”  The unborn, as a symbiot or parasite, dependant totally on the woman’s body for life, cannot have a prior claim to the life and welfare of the mother, any more than a citizen can go out and kidnap a fellow citizen (or any other human being) and enslave them against their will for their own benefit.

The Supreme Court ruled correctly on these issues, both in Roe v. Wade, but in many other decisions prior regarding slavery.  As long as Americans continue to revere our Constitution, a different decision will not be made.  It is the very foundation of what makes us Americans.

I believe the Republican leadership knows that they cannot change what has been codified constitutionally and in federal law.  Yet they continue to attempt to appeal to the emotions of those of us who have a heart, and believe it wrong to take the life of a Terri Shiavo, not to mention an innocent child.  As a result, they are able to convince citizens to vote against their own interests, but in the interests of the very, very rich.  As a result, approx. 3% of the worlds population control more than 90% of the material wealth of the entire world, leaving the other 97% of us to subsist (or not, in many cases) on 10% of the worlds wealth.

How many children starve as a direct consequence of an unjust monetary policy?  Many millions more, I dare say.  Many millions more.

I implore my fellow citizens, please reconsider your vote.  See if does not make sense to bring in the kind of people who made the 8 years under the Clinton Administration one of the most properous this country has seen, and not just this country, but many citizens of many other countries as well.  Let’s make a rising tide that lifts all boats, not just a very few.

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So, Who’s to Blame for this Mess?

In the long run, I think there is a chance that the Treasury Dep’t. will actually make some money selling all these defective instruments they will buy up from the banks so the economy can get back to work.  I think there is also a chance that everything the treasury ends up absorbing is pure junk, and that generations to come will end up paying for the last 8 years for many years to come.  Time will tell.

But who is to blame for this mess?  I think there is much blame to go around.

1.  George Bush financed two wars on the credit cards instead of making the Iraqis pay for it.

2.  Allen Greenspan made money cheap and advised banks to get that cheap money into the communities to stimulate home sales to folks who would normally not have been able to get a mortgage.

3.  The Congress failed to oversee the activities of FM/FM, the Bush administration and the Fed.

4.  The housing industry failed in due diligence when making these loans.

5.  Most of all, individuals failed to monitor their own finances.  Americans who should have realized that just because someone will extend credit doesn’t mean it should be taken.  But self-control is not a baby-boomer trait, and we have certainly not passed it on to our children, or their children.  We’ve heard all our lives that we are entitled to the American Dream.  Nobody mentioned that previous generations had to work for it.

And so now we must share in the burden, whether we as individuals were responsible or not.  Let’s pray that the worst that happens is that we and generations to come will end up paying for this party.

By the way, I never did get my invitation.  Come to think of it, I never got the one to the Reagan party either.  Maybe this time, we will learn from our mistakes.  Naaah…

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Governor Palin’s Reading List

It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list.

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

I watched with interest this morning after Sec. Paulson’s statement regarding working with Congress to take action on the financial crisis in the next week, to see what the first statements coming out of the campaigns would be.

I saw McCain’s reaction first; a reaction which was non-specific as to whether Paulson’s action was the right action in response to what is happening to the markets.  McCain’s response was to attempt to tie the crisis to Obama, without specifics as to how he reached that conclusion.

Obama’s reaction was to the point.  It indicated that the campaign recognized that the response Paulson proposed to Congress was the only response that can be made which will address the issues behind the crisis.

The American people should take note that at a time when, without overstating the problem, our economy hangs on the edge of immediate and unrecoverable collapse, the McCain campaign attempted to continue to play politics, without even addressing whether they believed Paulson’s action was the correct action, and, if not, just what action should be taken in their view.

What is happening, to my understanding, is that the economy, which runs on the engine of credit, is bound and is coming to a standstill because of the bad mortgage loans that are out there.  In order to get those bad mortgages out of the system and allow credit to once again flow, the federal government must create an entity to purchase those mortgages from the various holders, and will then sell them at auction at a very reduced price.  The best analogy I can think of as a layman is that it is like taking a fleet enema, or perhaps, like a dam which has formed of logs and mud, and that must be removed before the flow can be restored.

As I understand it, it is the only action which will be effective, and Congress will have no choice to act in a bipartisan manner to quickly remove the bad debt from the system so that Wall Street can get back to generating profit and jobs.  It is no time for politics as usual.  It is very inconvenient at this time of crisis to change Presidential administrations.  Paulson should be kept on by the new administration until this patch is implemented to the system.

If you ever want your money market or 401k to regain it’s value from the 10% or so that it has lost, or for the economy to again create jobs and money, then this is what has to be done, according to every expert in the field that I can find.  It is not a time for withdrawing money from the system (at a substantial loss).  It is a time to just be patient.  It may be 10 years before we see a full “recovery,” but even before the full recovery, the economy will begin to operate in a healthy way again.

That’s my analysis in a nutshell.

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What does Barack Obama Know about Global Finance?

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s time as a “community organizer,” sometimes, I think, forgetting that he practiced law in the traditional way for 7 years and was a law professor at the prestigious University of Chicago, where he was offered tenure several times.

However, I believe few are aware that Barack Obama’s first job after graduating from Columbia University was with the Business International Corporation (1983-84), a publishing and advisory firm (which has been rumored to be a CIA front) dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. He held a position as a research associate in its financial services division, where he edited Financing Foreign Operations, a global reference service, and wrote for Business International Money Report, a weekly financial newsletter.

Obama rarely talks about his time spent within the arcane sphere of global finance as an editor and researcher for Business International Corp., In a recent biographical campaign ad, Obama says he chose to “pass up Wall Street jobs and go to Chicago instead,” suggesting that after graduating from Columbia University he cast aside material pursuits in favor of self-sacrifice as a community organizer.

But in the years since, Obama has demonstrated an economic worldview bearing some common priorities with the first company for which he worked. At some points in his legislative career and presidential campaign, Obama demonstrated a willingness to let markets run their course when some other Democrats had sought a more forceful government hand. He rejects mandates for adults to buy health insurance and encourages the expansion of global exchanges for carbon-emissions credits. He has helped make it easier for private companies to take over public housing projects.

“I think that back in the ’60s and ’70s, a lot of the way we regulated industry was top-down command and control,” Obama told Fox News Channel in April. “And I think that the Republican Party and people who thought about the markets came with the notion that, you know what, if you simply set some guidelines, some rules, and incentives for businesses, let them figure out how they’re going to, for example, reduce pollution.”

As a political science major at Columbia concentrating on international relations, Obama took a senior seminar focused in large part on aid and capital flows between the first and third worlds. “It was a subject everyone was talking about,” said Michael Baron, who taught the seminar.

Obama recently told CNN that “it was natural for me to be interested in international affairs,” given the influence of his mother, an anthropologist he described as “a specialist in international development, who was one of the early practitioners of microfinancing . . . helping women buy a loom or a sewing machine or a milk cow to be able to enter into the economy.”

The job at Business International Corporation provided a crash course in market economics.  “We definitely learned our ABCs of the financial markets,” said Beth Noymer Levine. She was hired shortly before Obama and reported to the same boss. “I like to say Michelle Obama will be first lady, but I will always be first colleague.”

Levine and Obama worked on a variety of newsletters for companies doing business overseas. The newsletters were aimed at senior executives and had arcane titles like “Financing Foreign Operations” or “Investing, Licensing, and Trading Conditions Abroad.” Even in a company filled with smart people, Obama made an impression.

“I always say, he was very smooth and smart and together, and I was 23,” Levine joked. “I felt like a human train wreck next to him.”

Obama was even younger. But colleagues say he was mature beyond his years. True to its name, Business International had a global flavor. It was located near the United Nations, and many of the staffers, like Obama, had degrees in international relations rather than MBAs. It was the kind of place where a young person could take on a lot of responsibility, and you quickly learned to speak the language of the financial professionals for whom you were writing.

“You were thrown in the deep end, and you learned a lot, and you had to pretend to be more of an expert than you were,” said Dan Armstrong, who supervised one of the newsletters.

In his memoir, Obama recalls writing an article about interest-rate swaps — financial contracts in which parties agree to swap fixed and floating interest rates. His time at Business International rates only a few pages in the memoir, mostly as an example of the road not taken, when Obama opted for community organizing instead of what he called “stocks and bonds and the pull of respectability.”

Armstrong said Obama’s book exaggerates just how respectable Business International was, with its description of suits and ties and meetings with German bond traders. There was no dress code, Armstrong said. And there was nothing corporate about it.

“It was a company full of low-paid, hard-working, fun-loving young people,” Armstrong said. “It wasn’t part of a high-powered consulting or finance world. It was a little sweatshop.”

Armstrong was shocked when Obama quit after a year, without even having another job lined up. Most news accounts of Obama’s career omit the New York chapter altogether. Levine says she understands that.

“I can see why CNN would skip over it,” Levine said. “I mean, a lot of people had stops along the way in their careers that don’t exactly fit the rest of the story. And maybe it was enough of an exposure for him to the corporate world to be like, ‘OK, that’s not exactly what I want.’ ”

Still, researching and writing about hedges and forwards and currency fluctuations did give Obama at least a passing familiarity with the financial markets — and that knowledge is still evident today. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was surprised to learn that Obama had worked for Business International, which is now part of The Economist Group. But he wasn’t surprised that Obama is a quick study.

“My impression, at least, is that he’s got a good feel for financial markets and how they might react to what government does,” Rubin said.

Financial markets have grown much more complex since Obama was writing about them in the 1980s. And maybe he would have developed that same feel for the markets even without the job at Business International. But first colleague Levine thinks it was a good start.

“We were sort of thrown in. But when I reflect on it, we were all smart enough, and we had to learn by the seat of our pants,” she said.


References:

  1. Obama’s Early Brush With Financial Markets : NPR

    Jul 9, 2008 Barack Obama’s life is the year he spent writing about financial markets But the job at Business International Corporation provided a
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92337754
  2. Barack Obama’s Résumé

    1983-1984 Writer/Researcher for Business International Corporation. Barack Obama has introduced nearly 300 bills during his time in the U.S. Senate,
    obamasresume.org/

  3. FactCheck.org: Obama Polishes His Resume

    Jun 21, 2008 Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s first ad of the general election But Obama’s work at Business International Corporation,
    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_polishes_his_resume.html

  4. Obama shows hints of his year in global finance – The Boston Globe

    Aug 6, 2008 Obama rarely talks about his year spent within the arcane sphere of global finance as a junior editor for Business International Corp.,
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/08/06/obama_shows_hints_of_his_year_in_global_finance/

  5. Barack Obama’s Story Works as Editor at Business Internation Corp

    Apr 17, 2007 Directly after graduating, Barack Obama worked for one year at Business International Corporation. He held a position as editor in its
    http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=223121

  6. Business International Corporation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Business International Corporation (BI) was a publishing and advisory firm United States Senator Barack Obama‘s first job after graduating from Columbia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_International_Corporation

August 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Roots of the Crisis – How did Wall Street get into this mess?

To me, this seems like the first rational explanation for what has gone on with the “Mortgage-Backed Securities Crisis.”  If correct, it would indicate that Bernanke and Paulson are incompetent and need to be replaced now by some one who knows what they are doing before this drags the whole world into a collapse that never needed to happen. [Editor]

Michael Flynn

The unexpected 228-205 defeat of the housing bailout in Congress Monday threw a curveball across Wall Street. It contributed to a large sell-off on Wall Street, where the bailout had already been “priced” into the market. The Dow shed just over 6 percent, the 18th largest drop in its history. But given the dire warnings about financial chaos that would result unless there were a bailout, this seems fairly modest.

Let’s be clear: This is a Wall Street crisis, not a national economic crisis. The overall economy, while a bit weak, is still growing. Some politicians are comparing the current environment to the Great Depression. But in 1932, when the federal government last moved to bail out the banking sector, economic output had fallen 45 percent and unemployment was a staggering 24 percent. Today, economic output is actually up and unemployment is a historically modest 6.1 percent.

The overall economy doesn’t even face a liquidity crisis in the current turmoil. Consumer, commercial/industrial, and real estate loans are all up over last year. Main Street is doing fine. The liquidity crisis is confined to Wall Street, between and among investment banks, insurance and securities firms, and hedge funds. There is the possibility that the contagion could spread, but in a global capital market, this is hardly certain.

It is the intersection of several underlying trends that have brought us to this point, not a breakdown in any specific part of the financial sector. The fundamental flaw with the bailout approach is that it ignores these trends and simply seeks to shore up the finances of certain Wall Street institutions.

Mortgage-backed securities (MBSes) are the principal source of pain in the current environment. Investment houses would bundle individual mortgages from several banks together into a bond-like product that would be sold to individual investors. Mortgages have historically been seen as among the safest investments. In an era of rising house values, “safe” became “guaranteed returns.”

One of the major factors pushing investors into these securities was the Federal Reserve’s weak money policy. Immediately after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Fed began a sustained period of easing interest rates. Its efforts went so far that, at one point in 2003, we had effectively negative interest rates. Institutional investments needed a place to park money and earn some kind of return. Mortgage-backed securities became a favorite investment vehicle. Under traditional models, they were very safe and, because of Fed policy, even the most conservative fund could earn better returns than they could on treasury notes.

In the early years of this century, mortgage-backed securities exploded. Their growth provided unprecedented levels of capital in the mortgage market. There was a lot more money available to underwrite mortgages. At the same time, investment houses were looking to replace the healthy fees earned during the dot com bubble. MBSes had fat margins, so everyone jumped into the game.

The additional capital to underwrite mortgages was a good thing…up to a point. Homeownership expanded throughout the decade. Over the last few decades, the American homeownership rate has been around 60 to 62 percent. At the height of the bubble, homeownership was around 70 percent. It is clear now that many people who got mortgages at the height of the bubble should not have. But Wall Street needed to feed the MBS stream.

At the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were going through a crisis. In 2003 and 2004, an accounting scandal was revealed. The two public-private partnerships were cooking the books to show phantom profits. The Bush administration and its allies on the Hill pushed a strong bill to reform how these institutions operated. The measure came very close to passing, but Fannie and Freddie cut a deal. They would refocus on expanding mortgages for low-income borrowers if the feds kept out of their operations. The bargain worked. Virtually all the Democrats and a few Republicans backed the two companies and the reform effort failed.

Fannie and Freddie then went on a subprime bender. They made it clear that they wanted to buy all the subprime or Alt-A mortgages that they could find, eventually acquiring around $1 trillion of the paper. The market responded. In 2003 subprime mortgages made up less than 8 percent of all mortgages. By 2006, they were over 20 percent. Banks knew they could sell subprime products to Fannie and Freddie. Investments banks realized that if they laced ever increasing amounts of subprime mortgages into the MBSes, they could juice the returns and so earn bigger fees. The rating agencies, thinking they were simply dealing with traditional mortgages, didn’t look under the hood.

Unfortunately, after several years of a housing boom, the available pool of households who could responsibly use the more exotic financing products had dried up. In short, there were no more people who traditionally qualified for even a subprime mortgage. However, Fannie and Freddie were still signaling that they wanted to buy these products. At the same time, activist groups were agitating for more lending to low-income families. Banks realized they could make even more exotic loan products (e.g., interest-only loans), get the activists off their backs, and immediately diffuse their risk by selling the mortgages into MBSes. After all, Fannie and Freddie would buy anything.

Everything worked as long as housing prices continued to rise. The most pessimistic scenarios on Wall Street showed a leveling off of housing prices; no one foresaw an actual decline in prices. Suddenly, though, there weren’t enough buyers. In hot real estate markets, builders raced to bring inventory to market that they thought was inexhaustible. But at this point everyone (essentially) who could possibly qualify for a mortgage had received one. At the same time, the first wave of the more exotic mortgages began to falter. Interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages moved higher—the Fed was finally tightening the money flow—and mortgages that were initially interest-only were close to resetting, with monthly payments jumping to include principal. A not insignificant number of these mortgages moved into default and foreclosure.

The overall numbers moving into foreclosure were small. Someone simply looking at housing stats could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. Nationally, the number of mortgages moving into foreclosure is just around 1 to 2 percent, suggesting that 98 to 99 percent of mortgages are sound. But the foreclosed mortgages punched way above their weight class; they were laced throughout the MBS market.

Then the MBS market collapsed. The complexity of these financial products cannot be overstated. They usually had two or three “tranches,” different baskets of mortgages that paid out in different ways. Worse, as they moved through the system—being bought and sold by different firms—they were sliced and diced in varying ways. A MBS owned by one firm could be very different when it was sold to another.

No one fully understood how exposed the MBS were to the rising foreclosures. The market for them dried up. No one traded them. The market became effectively “illiquid.” American accounting standards, however, required firms to use “mark-to-market” to value their assets. This means that you value your assets based on what you could sell them for today. Because no one would trade MBSes, most had to be “marked” at something close to zero.

This threw off banks’ capital requirements. Under U.S. regulations, banks have to have a certain percentage of assets to back up the loans they make. Lots of banks and financial institutions had MBS assets on their books. With these moving to zero, they didn’t have enough capital on hand for the loans that were outstanding. They rushed to raise capital, which raised fears about their solvency and compounded into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We should pause here to note that two simple regulatory tweaks could have prevented much of the carnage. Suspending mark-to-market accounting rules (you could use a 5-year rolling average instead, for example) would have shored up the balance sheets. And a temporary easing of capital requirements would have provided banks breathing room to sort out the MBS mess. Although it is hard to fix an exact price for these in this market, they aren’t worth zero.

Alas, the Fed and the Treasury decided simply to provide the capital to meet the regulatory requirements. They moved into crisis mode, making a series of tactical moves to deal with specific, present challenges. The first misstep, in March, was to force a hostile takeover of Bears Stearns. The Fed put up $30-40 billion to back JP Morgan’s takeover of the investment bank. In the long term, it probably would have been better to let the bank fail and go into bankruptcy. That would have set in motion legal proceedings that would have established a baseline price for MBSes. From this established price, banks could sort out their balance sheets.

It is worth noting that immediately after the collapse of Bears Stearns, rumors quickly circulated on the Street of trouble at Lehman Brothers. Lehman went on a PR offensive to beat back those rumors. The company was successful, but then did nothing over the next several months to shore up its balance sheet. Their recent demise was largely their own doing.

The collapse of the MBS market now started to pollute other financial products. (The Fed moves did nothing to deal with the MBS market, but simply provided temporary means to cope with it.) Credit default swaps and derivatives, both of which amount to hedges against the risk of bonds defaulting, came due. Suddenly, stable firms like AIG were overexposed. Insurance companies regularly sell these swaps, as an insurance policy against bonds defaulting. Traditionally they are fairly conservative investment products. These developments threw off the accounting in one division of AIG, threatening the rest of the firm. Given a few days, AIG could have sold enough assets to cover the spread, but iron-clad accounting regulations precluded this. So the government stepped in.

The one-two punch of Lehman’s failure and the government’s $85 billion bailout of AIG on September 16 seriously spooked the Street and the Bush administration. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac already in government receivership, there were fears that the MBS weakness would spread through the entire financial system. There was a big sell-off on the Dow. The next day, the government announced there would be a bold rescue plan. The market rebounded. Details emerged over the weekend. On Monday, the Dow had another sell-off. But, the most important signal was the rise of oil. The spot price for October delivery of oil jumped $25 a barrel. Some of this was covering trades, but a sizable amount of this appreciation was probably a “flight to quality,” a place to park money while everything was sorted out. It was also a signal that the government’s plan might not work.

The original plan crafted by Treasury would authorize the department to spend up to $700 billion to buy MBSes and other “toxic” debt and thereby remove them from banks’ balance sheets. With the “bad loans” off the books, the banks would become sound. Because it was assumed that the MBS market was “illiquid,” the government would become the buyer of last resort for these products. There is a certain simple elegance to the plan.

Except that no market is truly illiquid. It just isn’t liquid at the price you want to sell. This summer, Merrill Lynch unloaded a bunch of bad debt at 22 cents on the dollar. There are likely plenty of buyers for the banks’ bad debt, just not at the price the banks would prefer. Enter the government, which clearly intends to purchase MBSes at some premium above the market price. That was the nature of the bailout that failed on Monday.

Congressional leaders have vowed to bring a new proposal for a vote, possibly as soon as Thursday, proving yet again that Washington is fertile ground for really bad ideas. But with the market rebounding—as of this writing the Dow was up almost 300 points—and public opposition hardening, signs are emerging that banks are starting to clean house. The crisis may have already peaked. Of course, Congress’ ability to further screw this up can’t be overstated.

Mike Flynn is director of government affairs at the Reason Foundation.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“End Times” Theology

Many fundamentalists Protestants practice a Biblical interpretation of what they call “End Times” theology that has characteristics similar to those listed below.

1. False Bible teachers would be money hungry. They would be smooth talkers, have many followers, and slur the Christian faith (2 Peter 2:1-3) See some at: Fakemessiah.com

2. Homosexuality would be increasingly evident at the end of the age (2 Timothy 3:3)

3. Earthquakes would be in diverse places (Matthew 24:7)

4. Stress would be part of living (2 Timothy 3:1)

5. Many wars would erupt (Matthew 24:6)

6. People would forsake the Ten Commandments as a moral code, committing adultery, stealing, lying, and killing (Matthew 24:12)

7. There would be a cold religious system, in denying God’s power (2 Timothy 3:5)

8. Men would substitute fantasy in place of Christian truth (2 Timothy 4:4). This is so evident at Christmas when the birth of the Savior is lost behind the myth of Santa Claus.

9. Deadly diseases would be prevalent (Matthew 24:7). The worldwide increase in AIDS deaths is almost inestimable. Over 160,000 Americans die of cancer each year.

10. The fact that God once flooded the earth (the Noahic flood) would be denied (2 Peter 3:5-6). There is a mass of fossil evidence to prove this fact, yet it is flatly ignored by the scientific world because of its uncanny implication.

11. The institution of marriage would be forsaken by many (1 Timothy 4:3)

12. There would be an increase in famines (Matthew 24:7)

13. Increase in vegetarianism would increase (1 Timothy 4:3-4)

14. There would be a cry for peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

15. The possession of Jerusalem would be at the center of international turmoil (Zechariah 12:3)

16. Knowledge would increase (Daniel 12:4)

17. There would be hypocrites within the Church (Matthew 13:25-30)

18. There would be an increase of religious cults/false teachers (Matthew 24:11 & 24)

19. The future would seem fearful to many (Luke 21:26)

20. Humanity would become materialistic (2 Timothy 3:4)

21. There would be many involved in travel (Daniel 12:4)

22. The Christian Gospel would be preached as a warning to all nations (Matthew 24:14)

23. Jesus said Christians would be hated “for His name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9)

24: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26).

25: Youth would become rebellious. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (2 Timothy 3:2)

26: Men would mock the warning signs of the end of the age saying, “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4). The Bible even reveals their motivation, they love lust (verse 3). They fail to understand that a day to the Lord is as a thousand years to us. God is not subject to the time that He created. He can flick through time as we flick through the pages of a history book. The reason He seems to be silent, is because He is patiently waiting, not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.

I was raised on this and so have difficulty separating it from my attempts to think rationally.  Much of what is contained above would hold true in one degree or another no matter what time we are in, although I can certainly see that it seems like the degree of these things have increased exponentially in recent years, particularly in the last 20 years.

It has been my considered observation that many of the “evangelists” who preach such things also tend to be those that have their hands out for donations, and practice what I consider “suspect” healing practices, and such.

As a Roman Catholic, I so much appreciate the unchanging nature of the teaching and practice of the Church.  As in most what I call “orthodox” churches, the teaching and practice does not change based on what is going on in the world.  And when in this world or the next, when I get up and when I lie down, I want to be in the House of the Lord celebrating His Eucharistic Sacrifice with the Communion of the Saints.  It does not matter if it is here on earth, or in the place He has prepared, that is the center of true existance.

At the same time, I believe Jesus was pretty clear that we needn’t be worrying interpreting the signs of the times, but rather going along with our lives living in the light of the Beatitudes.  For you see, for those who believe, eternity has already begun.

The Rapture

from “Catholic Answers”

Are you Pre, Mid, or Post? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you’re probably a Catholic. Most Fundamentalists and Evangelicals know that these words are shorthand for pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. The terms all refer to when the rapture is supposed to occur.

The Millennium

In Revelation 20:1–3, 7–8, we read, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while. . . . And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth.”

The period of a thousand years, the writer tells us, is the reign of Christ, and the thousand-year period is popularly called the millennium. The millennium is a harbinger of the end of the world, and Revelation 20 is interpreted in three ways by conservative Protestants. The three schools of thought are called postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism. Let’s take a look at them.

Postmillennialism

According to Loraine Boettner in his book The Millennium (he also wrote the seriously defective anti-Catholic book Roman Catholicism), postmillennialism is “that view of last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace, commonly called the millennium.”

This view was popular with nineteenth-century Protestants, when progress was expected even in religion and before twentieth-century horrors were tasted. Today few hold to it, except such groups as Christian Reconstructionists, an outgrowth of the conservative Presbyterian movement.

Commentators point out that postmillennialism is to be distinguished from the view of theological and secular liberals who envision social betterment and even the kingdom of God coming through purely natural, rather than supernatural, means. Postmillennialists, however, argue that man is incapable of building a paradise for himself; paradise will only come about by God’s grace.

Postmillennialists also typically say that the millennium spoken of in Revelation 20 should be understood figuratively and that the phrase “a thousand years” refers not to a fixed period of ten centuries, but to an indefinitely long time. For example, Psalm 50:10 speaks of God’s sovereignty over all that is and tells us that God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” This is not meant to be taken literally.

At the millennium’s end will come the Second Coming, the general resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment.

The problem with postmillennialism is that Scripture does not depict the world as experiencing a
period of complete (or relatively complete) Christianization before the Second Coming. There are numerous passages that speak of the age between the First and Second Comings as a time of great sorrow and strife for Christians. One revealing passage is the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43). In this parable, Christ declares that the righteous and the wicked will both be planted and grow alongside each other in God’s field (“the field is the world,” Matt. 13:38) until the end of the world, when they will be separated, judged, and either be thrown into the fire of hell or inherit God’s kingdom (Matt. 13:41–43). There is no biblical evidence that the world will eventually become totally (or even almost totally) Christian, but rather that there will always be a parallel development of the righteous and the wicked until the final judgment.

Amillennialism

The amillennial view interprets Revelation 20 symbolically and sees the millennium not as an earthly golden age in which the world will be totally Christianized, but as the present period of Christ’s rule in heaven and on the earth through his Church. This was the view of the Protestant Reformers and is still the most common view among traditional Protestants, though not among most of the newer Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups.

Amillennialists also believe in the coexistence of good and evil on earth until the end. The tension that exists on earth between the righteous and the wicked will be resolved only by Christ’s return at the end of time. The golden age of the millennium is instead the heavenly reign of Christ with the saints, in which the Church on earth participates to some degree, though not in the glorious way it will at the Second Coming.

Amillennialists point out that the thrones of the saints who reign with Christ during the millennium appear to be set in heaven (Rev. 20:4; cf. 4:4, 11:16) and that the text nowhere states that Christ is on earth during this reign with the saints.

They explain that, although the world will never be fully Christianized until the Second Coming, the millennium does have effects on earth in that Satan is bound in such a way that he cannot deceive the nations by hindering the preaching of the gospel (Rev. 20:3). They point out that Jesus spoke of the necessity of “binding the strong man” (Satan) in order to plunder his house by rescuing people from his grip (Matt. 12:29). When the disciples returned from a tour of preaching the gospel, rejoicing at how demons were subject to them, Jesus declared, “I saw Satan fall like lightning” (Luke 10:18). Thus for the gospel to move forward at all in the world, it is necessary for Satan to be bound in one sense, even if he may still be active in attacking individuals (1 Pet. 5:8).

The millennium is a golden age not when compared to the glories of the age to come, but in comparison to all prior ages of human history, in which the world was swallowed in pagan darkness. Today, a third of the human race is Christian and even more than that have repudiated pagan idols and embraced the worship of the God of Abraham.

Premillennialism

Third on the list is premillennialism, currently the most popular among Fundamentalists and Evangelicals (though a century ago amillennialism was). Most of the books written about the End Times, such as Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, are written from a premillennial perspective.

Like postmillennialists, premillennialists believe that the thousand years is an earthly golden age during which the world will be thoroughly Christianized. Unlike postmillennialists, they believe that it will occur after the Second Coming rather than before, so that Christ reigns physically on earth during the millennium. They believe that the Final Judgment will occur only after the millennium is over (which many interpret to be an exactly one thousand year period).

But Scripture does not support the idea of a thousand year span between the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. Christ declares, “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done” (Matt. 16:27), and “[w]hen the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . . And they [the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:31–32, 46).

The Rapture

Premillennialists often give much attention to the doctrine of the rapture. According to this doctrine, when Christ returns, all of the elect who have died will be raised and transformed into a glorious state, along with the living elect, and then be caught up to be with Christ. The key text referring to the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, which states, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Premillennialists hold, as do virtually all Christians (except certain postmillennialists), that the Second Coming will be preceded by a time of great trouble and persecution of God’s people (2 Thess. 2:1–4). This period is often called the tribulation. Until the nineteenth century, all Christians agreed that the rapture—though it was not called that at the time—would occur immediately before the Second Coming, at the close of the period of persecution. This position is today called the “post-tribulational” view because it says the rapture will come after the tribulation.

But in the 1800s, some began to claim that the rapture would occur before the period of persecution. This position, now known as the “pre-tribulational” view, also was embraced by John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism. Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.

Eventually, a third position developed, known as the “mid-tribulational” view, which claims that the rapture will occur during the middle of the tribulation. Finally, a fourth view developed that claims that there will not be a single rapture where all believers are gathered to Christ, but that there will be a series of mini-raptures that occur at different times with respect to the tribulation.

This confusion has caused the movement to split into bitterly opposed camps.

The problem with all of the positions (except the historic, post-tribulational view, which was accepted by all Christians, including non-premillennialists) is that they split the Second Coming into different events. In the case of the pre-trib view, Christ is thought to have three comings—one when he was born in Bethlehem, one when he returns for the rapture at the tribulation’s beginning, and one at tribulation’s end, when he establishes the millennium. This three-comings view is foreign to Scripture.

Problems with the pre-tribulational view are highlighted by Baptist (and premillennial) theologian Dale Moody, who wrote: “Belief in a pre-tribulational rapture . . . contradicts all three chapters in the New Testament that mention the tribulation and the rapture together (Mark 13:24–27; Matt. 24:26–31; 2 Thess. 2:1–12). . . . The theory is so biblically bankrupt that the usual defense is made using three passages that do not even mention a tribulation (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:52). These are important passages, but they have not had one word to say about a pre-tribulational rapture. The score is 3 to 0, three passages for a post-tribulational rapture and three that say nothing on the subject.
. . . Pre-tribulationism is biblically bankrupt and does not know it” (The Word of Truth, 556–7).

What’s the Catholic Position?

As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been “amillennial” (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called “millenarianism” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism “cannot safely be taught,” though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.

With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word “rapture” to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term “rapture” is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—”we will be caught up,” [Latin: rapiemur]).

Spinning Wheels?

Many spend much time looking for signs in the heavens and in the headlines. This is especially true of premillennialists, who anxiously await the tribulation because it will inaugurate the rapture and millennium.

A more balanced perspective is given by Peter, who writes, “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. . . . Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Pet. 3:8–14).

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Compare Palin to Obama

1980 – 1984
Obama: B.A. in political science with a specialization in international relations from Columbia University.

Palin: Wasilla High School, captain of the state-champion basketball team. Miss Wasilla, runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, also Miss Congeniality, although that is now disputed.
Him: Ivy League degree.
Her: tiara.

1985 – 1990
Obama: moved to Chicago; became a community organizer as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization on Chicago’s far South Side. During his three years as the DCP’s director, its staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization.

Moved to Boston to attend Harvard Law School. Selected as an editor and then elected president of the Harvard Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law review’s staff of 80 editors.

Palin: Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, with a minor in political science from the University of Idaho. Brief stint as a  sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations; left to join her husband in commercial fishing.
Him: sterling legal education.
Her: sportscaster.

1991 – 1995
Obama: graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School; received contract and advance to write a book (“Dreams from my Father”) as well as  a fellowship at the University of Chicago Law School. Directed the Illinois Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain’s Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of “40 under Forty” powers to be. Appointed as a Lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development. Active in several community organizations, usually as a board member.

Palin: member of the Alasaka Independence Party which advocates “Alaska First”. Elected to Wasilla city council.

Him: Expert on our nation’s fundamental legal principles.
Her: plotted to leave the Union; thinks Pledge of Allegiance was written by our founding fathers, doesn’t know what a Vice President does.

1996 – 2000
Obama: promoted to Senior Lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.  Elected to the Illinois Senate. Sponsored more than 800 bills. In 2000, lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.

Palin: elected as mayor of Wasilla (population 5,470), defeating the incumbent by a total of 616 votes to 413. Town budget, $8 million (3 millionths of the Federal budget), approximately 100 employees. Reduced property taxes but increased sales taxes. Fired the Wasilla police chief, citing a failure to support her administration. (He then sued Palin on the grounds that he was fired because he supported the campaign of Palin’s opponent, but his suit was dismissed when the judge ruled that Palin had the right under state law to fire city employees, even for political reasons.) Hired a DC lobbyist to bring $27 million in earmarks to the city.  Wasilla had zero debt when she entered office but she left it with indebtedness of over $22 million, including $15 million-plus for construction of a hockey center which was built on a piece of property that the city didn’t even have clear title to, a matter that is still in litigation. Attempted to ban books from the city library.
Him: sponsored 800 bills.
Her: swayed 616 voters.

2001 – 2004
Obama: reelected in 2002 and became chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

Publicly spoke out against the invasion of Iraq BEFORE the congressional authorization in 2002, and then again before the actual invasion in 2003.

Wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

November 2004: elected to the US Senate, receiving over 3.5 million votes, more than 70% of total.

Palin: elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.  Unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor, coming in second in a five-way race in the Republican primary, receiving 19,000 votes. Appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, served as chairman from 2003 to 2004 and also served as Ethics Supervisor. Resigned in protest over the “lack of ethics” of fellow Republican members. Exposed the state Republican Party’s chairman, Randy Ruedrich, for doing party work on public time and working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. Director of Ted Stevens’ 527 group.
Him: demonstrated the wisdom to oppose the Iraq folly before it even began.
Her: hasn’t really though much about Iraq – despite the fact that 17 Alaskans have died there

2005 to present
Obama: Sworn in as the fifth-ever African-American U.S. senator. Worked with Republican Senator Lugar to author and implement a program to locate and dismantle stray Russian WMD’s. Designated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as the party’s point man on ethics. Worked with Russ Feingold to pass a major ethics/lobbying reform bill. Cosponsored, with John McCain, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. Called for increased fuel efficiency standards (3 percent every year for 15 years).  Assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Homeland Security. Chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on European Affairs. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Waged a tremendous battle to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Currently manages 2,500 campaign employees and a budget of $40-$50 million/month.

Palin: 2005: board member, Valley Hospital Association, which runs the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Wasilla.

Became youngest and first female Governor of Alaska, taking office in December, 2006. Received 114,600 votes. The population of Alaska is 683,478 and more than 50% of the state budget comes from oil revenues, not taxes as in other states. Gross State Product: $44 billion (including the oil revenue). Ranking 45 of 50.
Auctioned off the Governor’s jet on eBay. Took on fellow-Republican Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings. Promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska. Helped pass a tax increase on oil company profits. Formed a sub-cabinet group of advisers to address climate change but does not accept that it is man-made.  Objected to listing polar bears as an endangered species because it might hurt oil and gas development in the bears’ habitat. Was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. However, Alaska kept the federal money. Denied her daughter was pregnant before she confirmed it. Supported abstinence-only education.Currently under a bipartisan investigation for abuse of power for dismissing Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner. Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard, but has played no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. (The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.)

Obtained her first passport in 2007 to perform visits to the Alaska National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. (Foreign experience so limited that a stopover in Ireland listed on her resume.)

Him: Impressive figure on the national stage who knows how Congress works and is engaged with foreign policy issues.
Her: small state governor for 21 months; “next to Russia”, but that is just 1 of the 190 countries in the world she has never been to.

Conclusion: the word “executive” is not some kind of magic force multiplier when placed in front of the word “experience”.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bishops take exception to Biden statement of faith

As reported by Associated Press;

Two prominent U.S. Catholic bishops said Tuesday that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden contradicted church teaching by saying in a weekend interview that determining when human life begins is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith he would not impose on others.

The statement from Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Lori said Biden, who appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” is the latest case of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy correcting a Catholic politician.

Asked on the program about when life begins, Biden said: “Look, I know when it begins for me. It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my church.”

He added that while he believes life begins “at the moment of conception,” it would inappropriate to impose that view on others in a pluralistic society.

The bishops said Biden was right to say human life begins at conception. But the church “does not teach this as matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact,” they said.

“Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice,” they added.

Personally, I take exception to the Bishop’s taking exception to Joe Biden’s statement of faith.  I take exception to the statement that the church “does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.”

As I have related in a previous post,

“The Roman Catholic Church considers life to begin at conception, when an egg is fertilized by a sperm. Therefore, abortion is seen as a form of murder, making it a sin. Any Catholic that obtains or takes part in an abortion is considered to be excommunicated from the Church, although they may be allowed back if they ask for forgiveness for their sin. In addition to an actual abortion procedure, the Church views other actions, including the use of an IUD, the Morning After Pill, RU-486; embryonic stem cell research, and IVF, as acts of abortion because they have the potential to destroy an embryo. Yet, the Church also distinguishes between what they consider to be a direct abortion and an indirect abortion.

A direct abortion is an act that purposely ends the life of an embryo or fetus. These forms of abortion are always thought to be morally wrong, thus making them a sin. An indirect abortion refers to an act that is used to save a woman’s life but that indirectly causes an unborn child to die. For example, a woman dealing with an ectopic pregnancy would need to have part of her fallopian tube removed in order to save her life. Although the fetus is not destroyed by this act, it will die because it is taken out of the body. However, this type of situation very rarely arises thereby making the majority of abortion procedures a grave sin in the eyes of the Church.”

I have also expressed my opinion that this stance cannot be justified by a reasonable person.  Someone has to take responsibility for all the unwanted, accidental children which would result if the entire world’s population were to model their lives on such a policy.

To call out a true “Son of the Church” in such a public manner for his attempt to serve his fellow man and recognize the laws of the country he lives in is contemptible, and I reject it.  As a Catholic and an Obama/Biden supporter, I suspect the “callout” by the Bishops as being politically motivated.

It is the height of the ridiculous for the “Church” to take a position supporting those who claim the “right position” on abortion, birth control, etc., when those same people are responsible for the death of thousands in war.  Rome has prohibited Bishops around the world from getting involved politically in government.  These gratuitious statements by Bishops each time they have the opportunity to “call out” the candidates of one party while elevating those of another on the basis of “Church Teaching” is unacceptable and a violation of Rome’s prohibition on political activity, cloaked in the guise of “Guidance to the Faithful.”

As Joe Biden said, “For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my church.” That is a personal choice, and one that I agree with.  Citizens of the United States of America who are not Roman Catholic are not bound by the doctrines and teachings of the Church, nor the opinions of the Bishops.  Outside of the Church, the Bishops opinions hold no more weight than any other citizen.  As leaders of the Church, their “political statements” should be silent, other than to preach the same Gospel as Joe Biden is a witness to.  He should be supported by the Bishops, not criticized in public.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Republicans steal flags, accuse DNC

Interesting local news item from Saturday, 09.06.08 – McCain/Palin landed in Colorado Springs Saturday morning and met briefly with 7,000 supports in a hanger near the airport.  We know it was 7,000, because there were only 7,000 tickets.  After the event, the campaign was reporting that 13,000 were in attendance.  We know people who worked the event, setting up and taking down and selling bumper stickers and such, and know how many people were there.  But that’s not the interesting part necessarily.

Attorney Dan Caplis, a local radio personality on KHOW in Denver, who introduced McCain/Palin, warmed up the crowd with a tale of a Republican-sympathizing janitor at Invesco Field on the last night of the DNC who “rescued” many thousands of hand-sized American flags from the ground and the trash after the event.  The story was a big hit with the partisan crowd at the hanger.  We found out later from the DNC that the flags were in fact stolen from the DNC by Republicans, and they did not know where they had gone until they surfaced down here in Colorado Springs, being passed out to the Republican crowd.

As we know, those who lie about the small things are going to lie about the big things also – and the entire campaign is based on lies and hypocracy, as shown by the fact that McCain/Palin are now claiming to be the ticket of “change,” despite the fact that Karl Rove is running the campaign and the policies remain identical to the Bush administration, which has left our economy teetering on the brink of disaster, and our country mired in two wars, without improvement in security since before 9/11.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The words “Under God” were not in the Pledge until 1954

Q: Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance

When John McCain’s grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906, the Pledge of Allegiance, as first written, was only fourteen years old. It would not be made the official pledge of the United States until 1942, six years after John McCain himself was born.

When John McCain was born, the words “Under God” were not in the Pledge. They would not appear there until 1954, during McCain’s senior year of high school.

August 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have struggled with the problem of voting for someone who “supports abortion.”

In my view, there is no question that a child is a child whether living in or out of the womb.  Modern science tells us that, we can see it with out own eyes very early on, and I believe the tenets of Christianity teach that.  For me, if I were a women, I cannot imagine aborting a child of mine except under the most difficult circumstances.

Yet, I am not a woman.  I would never, under any circumstances, feel entitled to force my opinion on another responsible adult.  I may discuss options, share beliefs, read from scripture and church doctrine.  But let’s think about what we are talking about here when we say we believe the law should prohibit an abortion.

That means that if a majority of the representatives in the legislature believe that I should not have a medical procedure, then, whether my doctor, husband, or myself  agree or not, I am subject to the terrors that may accompany that decision whether I like it or not.

We don’t do that to our worst criminals.  And becoming pregnant is not a crime in this country under any circumstance.  So if we restrict the pregnant persons ability to choose what to do, we are saying that the rights of the child, once conceived, supercede the rights of the mother.

Laws that force women to bear children not only rob women of their bodily integrity but make women, as a class, involuntary servants to fetuses.  Since only women can become pregnant, only women are affected by laws that dictate whether and under what conditions childbearing should occur. By limiting only women’s right to make personal decisions, laws that prohibit or restrict abortion discriminate on the basis of sex in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

We just don’t accept that kind of inequity in this day and age.  In fact, we call it crime when women are discriminated against because of their gender.  As a Christian, I am very aware that Jesus placed no different value on men than he did women, and I know he said to let the children come to him.  He did not say let the boys come to me, but to heck with the girls.

It is no surprise that in the Catholic Church, the hierarchy still treats women as second class citizens.  It is shameful.  I am of the opinion that if there had been some women watching over things, there would have been a lot fewer child molesters in the priesthood.

The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution guarantees individuals the right to all citizens personal autonomy, which means that a person’s decisions regarding his or her personal life are none of the government’s business. That right, which is part of the right to privacy, encompasses decisions about parenthood, including a woman’s right to decide for herself whether to complete or terminate a pregnancy, as well as the right to use contraception, freedom from forced sterilization and freedom from employment discrimination based on childbearing capacity.

There are reasons why the laws have developed the way they have; because in the past there has been tyranny based on gender and race.  The Bill of Rights guarantees that fundamental rights cannot be abrogated by the will of the majority. For example, even if the majority of a state’s citizens wanted to ban the practice of Catholicism, the constitutional right to free exercise of religion would forbid the legislature from enacting such a ban.

Similarly, the privacy right that encompasses reproductive freedom, including the choices of abortion and contraception, cannot be overruled by referenda or legislation.

Moreover, we learned during the years before Roe v. Wade how women suffered in states where abortion was illegal. Affluent women were able to obtain safe abortions by traveling to states where they were legal, while poor, rural and young women — a disproportionate number of them women of color — were left to dangerous, back-alley abortions or forced childbirth. Such discriminatory conditions are unacceptable.

Our courts have always held that the government cannot compel an individual to use his or her body as an instrument for preserving people who are already born, much less for preserving a fetus in the womb. For example, the government cannot force a relative of a child afflicted with cancer to donate bone marrow or an organ to the child, even if the child is sure to die without the donation.

Obviously, if the state cannot force someone to undergo a bone marrow or organ transplant for a person already born, it cannot force a woman to continue a pregnancy that might entail great health risks for the sake of a fetus. As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated in a 1989 decision, “surely a fetus cannot have rights superior to those of a person who has already been born.”

Enforcement of the idea that a fetus has legal rights superseding those of the woman who carries it would make pregnant women second-class citizens with fewer rights, and more obligations, than others. Moreover, application of the “fetal rights” concept has already had devastating effects on women’s right to bodily integrity. For example, cancer patient Angela Carder, forced by the District of Columbia Superior Court to undergo a caesarean delivery of her 26-week-old fetus, died prematurely as a result. Under the banner of “fetal rights,” pregnant women have been prosecuted for failing to follow medical advice, and even for failing to get to a hospital quickly enough after the onset of labor. The concept also inspired industrial employers to adopt “fetal protection” policies, whereby the capacity to become pregnant, and pregnancy itself, became the bases for closing off certain jobs to all women of childbearing age who refused to be sterilized. Fortunately, the Supreme Court struck down this discriminatory  practice in a 1991 decision.

“One’s right to life, liberty…. free speech…. freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” — (1943 Supreme Court decision in West Virginia State Board of Elections v. Barnette)

By the same token, it appears to me that no matter how many times the population of a state votes against “homosexual marriage,” it will always be overturned because of the Equal Protection Clause.  I may not like it, and can continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong, but as long as no one is forcing me to participate, it is not up to me.

So, yes, because we live in a country where our freedoms and rights are protected by the Constitution, the law, and the courts, I will want as president and as my representatives in the legislature those who will commit to protecting the freedoms guaranteed for all, even if I personally believe the way some people live their lives is wrong.  I can express my opinion, but no one can force others to do things their way without it being tyranny.

What would really be tyranny would be if people were forced to have abortions, such as in China.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Martin Niemoller

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling into question John McCain’s judgment would certainly be warranted …

…under the circumstances of his pick for VP.  One supposes that he believes that his choice of a female for VP, any female, will appeal to those who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was not victorious.

What John McCain does not understand is that very few women supported Hillary just because she is female.  They supported her because of who she is, what she cares about and her experience level.  So his pick is not a attractive to voters who intelligently parse the issues – male or female.  The issues that Hillary cared about are represented strongly by Barack, and it is likely that Hillary will play an important role in the administration.

The choice tells us alot about John McCain, however, and it would not surprise me if the Republicans at the convention next week at least attempt to choose someone else as their presidential candidate.  I really hope they do.  Finally, the choice of this woman disrespects all the other qualified women who were available.

August 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Best line of the campaign so far…

Richards: “A woman voting for John McCain would be like chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.”

That was the best line during Cecile’s speech at the Woman’s Caucus.

During her address to the DNC she talked about how John McCain just doesn’t get it when it comes to women’s health. If you missed it — we’ve got it for you on YouTube.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment