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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

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SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Friday
Nov092007

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

    EDITOR'S NOTE:  My good friend George Evans took me to the woodshed on my comments regarding the ethical issues resulting from the conflict between private and public lives of politicians like Hillary and Bill Clinton. In the spirit of agreeing to disagree let me reprise George's points made in the Comments section with my own response.
    To set my comments in context I offer this quote on Plato's Republic from Mulford Q. Sibley, my mentor at the University of Minnesota, from his book Political Ideas & Ideologies, A History of Political Thought (1970):
    "...While the "eye of the soul" is always looking for the Form [of the Good], there is an overwhelming probability that it will not attain its goal in any society whose cultural emphasis is primarily on sense experience rather than on the Forms, which lie beyond sense.  Only a powerful and well supported educational scheme which looks beyond immediate sensual satisfaction can be expected to counteract those tendencies which keep the soul away from the good.  The soul, Plato suggests, is like a stringed instrument which a right education will tune correctly.  But an untuned instrument, however sound by nature, cannot be expected to produce harmony in either soul or polis..."  (p. 72)
    GE:  As the man once famously said, “There you go again.” You seem fixated on Ms. Clinton, and to the extent that you’re crossing over the line of reasonable and productive criticism.  How, for example, has she betrayed or deceived her husband?
    RAD:  George, I didn't say she betrayed Slick Willie.  She didn't, it's he who betrayed her and his marriage vows by his serial infidelity throughout their marriage.  
    Where Hillary went wrong is staying in a marriage for political reasons.  She made a decision to in effect "don't ask, don't tell."  But by defending her spouse she enabled him to lie about his not so secret private life to remain "politically viable" in his presidential campaign in '92 and on.    
    GE:  How did you come to that knowledge? And what authority do you bring to the argument that her marriage is ONLY one of convenience and political opportunism? What personal information do you bring to questioning her for remaining in what you call an abusive marriage? How can you (or anyone) speak for her on what she considers abusive? Isn’t this mostly conjecture, almost gossip, on your part?
    RAD:  The private life of the Clintons has been a matter of public record George since the Jennifer Flowers and Paula Jones accusations became public early in the '92 campaign. If you want to view the famous Jennifer Flower's news conference I've got the videotape.  
    More importantly, President Clinton in a deposition admitted his infidelity in the Monica Lewinsky affair citing the famous line "it depends what the meaning of "is" is".  But going back to the 60 Minutes interview of both Bill and Hillary, candidate Bill Clinton admitted that he'd made "mistakes" in his marriage and that the American people would "get it" without him going into the details.  
    The issue is not whether Hillary considers her husband's actions "abusive" per se.  Any competence psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage therapist or family counselor would consider this a class example of an abusive marriage.  
    GE:  Following your train of thought, are you going to question why Lincoln remained with Mary, his very troubling and, some say, abusive wife? Or why Eleanor remained with FDR or Mamie remained with Ike since both were treated rather shabbily at best? Or what about Tom Jefferson and his now well-known affair or treatment of his slaves?
    RAD:  The examples of other presidents you cite are not relevant to my analysis since there is no evidence, in contrast to the Clintons, that whatever issues there were compromised their presidencies as is obvious in the case of Bill Clinton.  
    The double life of Thomas Jefferson is troubling since his liaison with his slave mistress Sally Hemmings resulting in offspring went on while he continued to be a slave owner.  So his private life (as Ambassador to France, not president) raises all kinds of moral and psychological issues that deal with the contradictions of race relations in the USA.
    GE:  Once we cross the moral line of questioning you’ve drawn, there’s no telling where it will take you or us, but I’d suggest it’s the land of Lee Atwater and his disciple, Karl Rove, and personally I don’t want to go there.
    RAD:  I don't think so.  Atwater and Rove invented reality by distorting the facts.  What I'm discussing is again a matter of public record as are by the way your references to other presidents, although the example of Maime and IKE is more speculation than established fact.  
    GE:  By implication, it seems you’re suggesting that Obama, Edwards, and Romney have the moral authority to be president, but some relentless digging by political operatives might well turn up some skeletons (Obama and cocaine?), and then where are we?
    RAD:  If there are skeletons in candidate's closets one assumes the role of the press is to uncover them.  It would be better now for these skeletons to be discovered than after they are elected to the most powerful office in the world!  Again, men and women who run for president are grown ups, not children.  They know that the separation of their private and public lives is a fiction in today's 24/7-news cycle.  If they don't want the heat - don't run!  
    But again, the issue is NOT only what an examination of their private lives might uncover per se, it's a question of whether their private lives square with their public rhetoric - do they walk their talk?  And is there anything in their private lives that would compromise their capacity to govern?  
    Nobody in this life is pure and ultimately the American people will make the call.  But the American people deserve to know where the "bones are buried" to make a rational decision in how they vote.  We voted for Slick Willie knowing he was flawed but what we didn't bargain for was that he would squander his presidency and our aspirations by juvenile behavior in the Oval Office that seriously compromised his presidency.  
    GE:  Let’s go a bit lighter on the moral authority arguments and stick with other more useful and productive criticism.
    RAD:  George, I can't imagine a more important question than the moral authority of a president to govern.  What is more important than that?
    GE:  A few more words on moral authority. I’m not saying it’s an irrelevant concern in politics or daily life. I’m continually offended by ministers and politicians who lecture us on morality and ethics only to be outed in restrooms or exposed by partners, male and female, to say nothing of the men and women found guilty of some business or political malfeasance. Hypocrisy is an equal-opportunity employer, and hardly a day goes by that we’re not greeted with another example.
    RAD:  Precisely my point George.  But the hypocrisy of public figures - ministers, politicians or CEOs is not a purely private matter since these contradictions inevitably affect their public lives. 
    GE:  To take what I consider an absolutely clear and crass example, President Bush from time to time lectures other countries on various issues. In my view, because of his relentless and continuing attacks on the Constitution and abuse of basic human rights, he has surrendered for all time the moral authority to be lecturing other countries or Americans on morality or ethics or political issues. I’m embarrassed and ashamed when he does so.
    RAD:  I agree that President Bush has surrendered his ability to govern by his actions as president even though as far as we know he's led an exemplary life as a husband and father as president minus his abuse of drugs and liquor early in his married life.  
    But our critique of him involves his public not private life.  And I would agree that one's actions as a public official raises moral and ethical issues as does one's private life.  But that doesn't make the latter any less important.   
    GE:  Not so with Bill Clinton. He no longer has the moral authority to lecture us or other countries (not that he ever did) on love and marriage, but he did not, in my view, forfeit his right to speak eloquently and act on, say, civil rights or the importance of a two-state solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  And what president did more to achieve that end, only to be done in, in his case, by a corrupt and thoroughly discredited Arafat?
    RAD:  One can speak eloquently on many issues as Bill Clinton did for many of the right reasons.  But when as president he is the butt of late night TV comedian's jokes his ability to be convincing is compromised.  And keep in mind; it's not just the American public who is watching it's our allies and enemies.  
    I'm confident that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein considered Clinton so seriously compromised and American society so corrupt (from their myopic view) that this added to their willingness to push the envelope against us.  The private lives of politicians have public consequences. 
    GE:  Europeans, in particular, could never understand why Americans were so obsessed with Clinton’s private life failings, which the press, the public, and prosecutors felt necessary to elevate to a national obsession. We have a continuing legacy of Puritan self-righteousness that other countries find very offensive.
    RAD:  I would raise the alternative view, why do Europeans tolerate a double standard separating the public and private lives of politicians?  Isn't that indulging in hypocrisy or the Clintonesque mode of compartmentalization?  My problem with the Puritan ethic is not the moral compass its presumes of faithfulness to one's god and one's earthly obligations as much as with our cavalier attitude toward marriage and family.  We preach it but don't live it!  I plead guilty to being an old fashioned "family values" liberal! 
    GE:  What I’m saying is that we need to tread rather carefully when we examine candidates’ personal lives and come to conclusions about their moral authority or potential for being president. After all, our present president has, as far as most of us know, led an exemplary personal life as husband and father; does that make him a better man or president than Bill Clinton whose personal life is so morally repugnant?
    RAD:  I agree - if the choice were between Bill Clinton's reckless private behavior as president compared to George Bush's reckless actions as president, I'd take Bill Clinton anytime, any day!  But why do we have to make that Faustian bargain?  
    Why shouldn't we put politicians on notice that the double standard no longer works?  You are expected to lead an exemplary private and public life.   
    GE:  Would Romney, whose personal life is also, I gather, exemplary (and whose views on most issues change daily) be a better president than Bill or Hillary Clinton, whose lives seem to fall far short of Romney’s?
    RAD:  This is a decision for the American voters.  But given the reality of American politics unlike in the FDR era, one cannot separate life into private and public spheres like the Clinton's have done and survive politically.  Eventually the past catches up with you and as we found with Nixon the past is prologue.  The demons one brings into the presidency whether private or public will come to haunt them and ultimately us.  
    In the 24/7 media reality transparency is inevitable.  And in that regard if Hillary is the nominee, her past will become part of campaign '08.  She can try to run, but she can't hide.  
    In the end you and I get to decide.  I just don't want to hold my nose when I cast my vote.  Is that asking too much?  


Saturday
Nov032007

ETHICS & POLITICS

    In Oregon this week one couldn't read a newspaper, listen to local radio or watch local TV news without being subjected to claims and counterclaims about the private moral flaws of elected officials past and present.  The Halloween ghosts of Neil Goldschmit and Bob Packwood won't leave us alone!
    But the campaign season's goblins, ghouls and gremlins are not just local. 
    As one surveys the list of presidential candidates running for the Democratic and Republican nomination one should consider not only who is right on the issues or who appears most presidential but also who would have the greatest moral authority to govern if elected.
    For reasons we all are painfully aware of Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson don't pass the sniff test.  The Clinton marriage is clearly one of convenience and political opportunism.  Giuliani and Thompson for some reason can't seem to make a marriage work. 
    Why should we care?  Because as the religious right would say - if a candidate will deceive their spouse, lie to the public about their deceit or simply not be able to negotiate the challenges of married life, then do we have any guarantee they will be able to keep the faith with the American people?
    As Aristotle argues personal ethics and political values go hand in hand, the former is a mirror of the latter.
    Now in a society where 1 out of every 2 marriages end in divorce it's hard to cast the first stone.  But in the case of Hillary Clinton divorce is not the issue.  The issue is why has she remained faithful to a husband who has subjected her and daughter Chelsey to years of psychological abuse?
    For the voters why does Hillary Clinton's victim hood qualify her for the presidency?  Some pro-Hillary pundits claim that it has made her tough, cool, calculating even manipulative.  If those are the qualifications for the most powerful office in the world then we should elect Dick Cheney! 
    Why aren't six plus years of lies from the Bush administration enough to show us that a president's willingness to lie does not make one a good president?  But Hillary's defenders would respond that her private life is nobody's business but her own.  But presidents don't have private lives, they live in the fish bowl of 24/7.
    Besides, after Hillary is "swiftboated" by the GOP opposition team dredging up Whitewater et al do you think she will be able to rise above the stench?  Jimmy Carter ran on the platform in '76 of "why not the best."  Is Hillary Clinton really the best we can do?  Or are the Dems simply wanting to relive their fantasy of the Clinton years again?
    My anger at both Bill and Hillary is personal and political.  As lawyers they parced words about their marriage in the famous 60 Minute interview after the Super Bowl game in '91.  But the message was clear, Bill admitted making mistakes in his marriage and in effect they both promised that was the past.
    But of course the past became prologue to the future time and time again taking the focus away from the issues - the economy, health care, welfare reform - ultimately to be sidetracked by the Lewinsky affair.  Bill Clinton, a brilliant politician and policy wonk, squandered his presidency on the altar of personal lust.  Why give the Clinton's one more chance? 
    Now Giulani and Thompson have less exposure here.  They just seem to make mistakes in their personal lives about whom to marry.  But as Eugene McCarthy once said of Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara we should be forewarned when someone claims they only make "small" mistakes. 
    As a Bill Clinton supporter I was willing to look the other way when it came to Slick Willie's private life.  Wanting a Democrat to win so badly I was in deep denial about Clinton's personal moral flaws and not unlike Hillary I considered it all to be founded on a "vast right wing conspiracy."
   However, in the second Clinton term the story line of the Lewinsky affair eventually eroded even my most partisan instincts and after Clinton lied in a press conference about the affair in front of a coterie of powerful women standing next to him, my limit was finally reached.
    I said on air and in classes, that President Clinton no longer has the "moral legitimacy to govern" much like Nixon lost his ability to govern as a result of Watergate.  However, unlike Nixon what Clinton did was not a "high crime and misdemeanor" so impeachment was not the proper remedy.
    But Clinton could have saved his legacy and Al Gore's chance to be elected in '00 had Clinton resigned and turned the West Wing over the Al Gore.  This would have ended the impeachment spectacle and allowed Gore to run as an incumbent against then Governor George W. Bush.
    So here we are again at a crossroads in US history.  Hillary Clinton seems virtually unstoppable in her quest for the Democratic nomination and Rudy Giuliany would be her strongest GOP opponent.  But at the end of the day if campaign '08 is a contest between Hillary C and Rudy G will most of us vote for either "with fear and loathing?"
    The voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will set the tone for '08.  Midwesterners and New Englanders are known for their political savvy, common sense and moral values.  It would be sad for them to suspend their judgment by voting for the so-called "front runners" only to subject all of us to voter's remorse in November '08. 
 

 

Thursday
Nov012007

OPEN LETTER TO BARACK

    Editor's Note:  My good friend, retired English professor colleague, golfing partner and guru of proper syntax, George Evans wrote this to Barack Obama.  It deserves a wider audience.  Barack seems to be going more and more negative against Hillary. The cardinal rule of successful politics is to offer an alternative vision to your opponent not just wallow in the mash pit.   
    George Evans:  Senator  Obama:  Well, you’ve listened to your campaign staff and adopted their strategy: attack Ms. Clinton, the frontrunner. And the result, predictably, was to increase sympathy for her and decrease sympathy for you. In other words, the strategy didn’t work. And it won’t work.
    The enemy is not Ms. Clinton; the enemy is this administration and the almost irreparable damage it’s done to the country.
    Of course she contradicted herself; of course she defended the indefensible, and she will continue to do that for the rest of the campaign. It doesn’t matter.
    The voters that you’re interested in—independents and moderate Republicans— don’t vote on nuances, on slight and even large distinctions on policy issues; they vote on gut feelings about candidates. And that gut feeling right now, I’m afraid, is that she’s standing up to the male bullies; that she is articulate and informed, but others, all male, are attacking her for their own political and selfish reasons.
    I’m inclined to think that these debates are not useful for you and your candidacy. I think you’re best when you’re not the lawyer attacking another lawyer’s person and position.
    I think you’re best when you;re speaking to small and large groups of Americans with what you originally promised us: a campaign of hope, a campaign that emphasizes what we can do to restore hope in ourselves, and by, implication, points out what this administration has not done on so many vital issues like health care, the environment, respect for the rule of law, and, of course, Iraq.
    Please reconsider your present approach. Don’t do the Republicans’ work for them. To do so, conceivably, could give the general election to them.

Thursday
Nov012007

A FECKLESS CONGRESS

    By Jim Hightower, Commentary, November 1, 2007

    James Madison, renown as “The Father of the Constitution,” would be appalled by the fecklessness of our current Congress – specifically by its cowering in the face of an imperial executive who asserts that he is the war president and Congress must stay out of his way.
    Far from being powerless to counter an arrogant, reckless, runaway White House, Congress was deliberately endowed with real muscle by the founders so it could stand up to the likes of Bush and Cheney, especially in times of war. Madison, noting that history shows that the executive branch of any government is the “most prone” to war, stated that our Constitution “has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.”
    Only Congress, for example, is authorized to “declare war” – a phrase that means much more than saying, “Okay, start shooting.” Much more powerfully, this declaration clause of the Constitution authorizes Congress to limit the scope and duration of any war, and even to set the terms of military engagement – something that earlier Congresses have done and the Supreme Court has ruled to be proper.
    Congress has the absolute power of the purse – the ability to cut off financing for a war or any part of any war – a power that Congress exercised as recently as the 1970s to stop expansion of the Vietnam war. Lawmakers also have the enormous power of investigation and subpoena to hold the executive branch accountable, as well as the ultimate power to initiate impeachment hearings to rein in presidents, vice presidents, and cabinet officers who try to rise above the law.
    So, when your hear lawmakers today whine that they can’t stop the BushCheney war regime, don’t buy it. The founders clearly gave them the power to do the job – not as a political option, but as a Constitutional obligation. Having the power, they have the responsibility.
    Editor's Note:  Right on Jim!  The problem is that we are in an elongated election cycle and the Congress is fearful of using their considerable powers for fear of losing the next election by what might appear to be a partisan ganging up on the Bush administration or worse yet being accused of leaving our troops without the weapons to defend themselves.        
    But Congress has a "constitutional" duty to carry out regardless of the political consequences to any individual member or party!  And since the American people are now against this war the political risk is minimal, so what's the real excuse?    
    Follow the money!   
    Military appropriations line the pockets of major corporations and their employees who live, work and vote in congressional districts.  And defense industries and unions have PACs which make contributions to members of Congress. IKE warned us about the unfettered power of the Military Industrial Complex, now you know why? 

Wednesday
Oct312007

THE FRONT RUNNER

    Editor's Note:   Charlie Cook's analysis below is very convincing.  As Yogi once said, "it's not over, 'till it's over."  But short of some major political gaffe by Hillary the race to the Democratic nomination is Hillary's to lose.  At this point she seems to have all the keys to capturing the nomination.
    RealClearPolitics national and state by state polls shows she's ahead in every early primary state from New Hampshire to California and has pulled ahead in the Iowa caucus race.  And if one listened to the outakes on NPR of last night's debate, Hillary responded very adroitly to her opponents feeble attempts to pile on.
    Barack Obama's comments on her voting like a Republican were especially inept.  He's showing increasingly he's an amateur not ready for prime time.  By contrast Hillary in an interview on NPR regarding health care was smooth as glass.  She's hustling a version of her '92 plan but aside from policy wonks like moi, nobody cares, now.
    So the march to the coronation seems to have begun.
    One final point.  If the GOP is smart, not ideological, and nominates Rudy G - the race to the finish line in November will be close.  In most national polls Clinton leads Rudy G but only within the margin of error.  All other GOP contenders pale by comparison in one to one match ups against the Queen bee.
    The key will be can Hillary withstand her high negatives and the inevitable "swiftboating" of her past by the GOP opposition research team?  But Hillary increasingly looks like an American neo-liberal version of the Iron Lady of British Politics, Margaret Thatcher.  Her staying the course with Slick Willie seems to be paying off. 
    By Charlie Cook, OFF TO THE RACES, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007
    There's a vigorous debate going on these days over whether national polls that suggest Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is running away with the Democratic presidential nomination are correct or even relevant.
    Much of the conversation was triggered by a Gallup Organization analysis from Oct. 22, which said that "Democrats have rarely had a front-runner as dominant as Clinton."
    As is so often the case, most of the arguments appear to center around the validity of the polls and critics not agreeing with what the polls actually show. But among others, for example veteran Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, the argument lies in the fact that these national polls do not necessarily reflect what is going on in the early states, where the nomination is more likely to be settled.  
    Additionally, these critics argue that because Iowa has a caucus system and New Hampshire voters can choose to vote in either primary, these states are notoriously difficult to accurately survey.  
    While Mellman and others are absolutely correct that this isn't one national primary, two caveats should be added.
    First, there will be a national primary on Feb. 5, or "Tsunami Tuesday," when more than 20 states will vote in every corner of the country. This reflects what can be considered a pretty accurate microcosm of the nation. To this extent, it is not illogical to think the national polls are a reflection of reality at the time the poll is taken.
    Second, these aren't polls of voters on a different continent than the voters in the early states. There is an interconnectedness in the reactions to various candidates and in who is moving up or down.
    There are of course limits to this. For example, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is doing great in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, but is barely moving up in the national polls. However, on the Democratic side, the national polls have been pretty accurate measurements of which candidates have and don't have momentum and they haven't been disconnected from the Iowa and New Hampshire surveys.
    Finally and most importantly, what is happening in the national polls is not contradicted by any other aspect of the race.
    Clearly the race is closest in Iowa, where former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., led pretty consistently in the polls until the second half of the summer. Now, Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., are on roughly parallel tracks.
    Iowa is about the only important state where Clinton does not have a formidable lead. Most analysts and strategists agree that if Clinton wins Iowa, the nomination will almost certainly be hers. However, even if Clinton loses Iowa, she can survive and probably have better than an even shot at the nomination.
    This conclusion can be drawn based on her strong advantages in polls, organization and money.
    My hunch is that if Clinton wins Iowa, she will have an overwhelmingly likely shot at winning the nomination. If she loses the Hawkeye State, her odds drop, but she will still have better-than-even odds of securing the Democratic spot. Basically, she appears to be the only candidate at this point who can sustain a loss in Iowa, and her double-digit leads in many national polls suggest that she has a pretty formidable firewall behind Iowa.
    What is working against Obama in Iowa is that his support is found mainly among young, college-educated people and blacks. He runs evenly with Clinton on the national level in each of these groups, but she beats him among virtually every other constituency.
    While Iowa is a relatively highly educated state, the demographics do skew toward an older population, and there is not a large black population. The caucus balloting is also weighted heavily for rural and small-town areas and less so for the cities, another factor that works against Obama.
    To be sure, if Clinton is stopped, it has to begin in Iowa, but that no longer appears to be as likely as it once was.
    Some argue that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's formidable standing in the polls, including national ones, going into the closing days before the Iowa Caucus in 2004 is good reason to ignore them now. However, these critics forget that Dean's downfall began when the polls started to reflect doubts about his electability.   
    Those same polls do not show similar electability arguments working against Clinton. In fact, most Democrats see her as more electable than Obama.
    The critics are right that anyone focusing exclusively on the national nomination polls is making a mistake, but I'm not sure who is doing that.  
    The national polls, when they point in the same direction as the other indicators, become a useful and efficient way to assess the current political climate.
    In this case, the national polls reflect much of what is happening in the early states, with Iowa the one asterisk that has to be watched carefully for signs that it will pull the race in a different direction.