Friday, December 28, 2012

New York Times reporting goes over the cliff on fiscal debate.

 Though it might seem like a broken record, it still needs to be pointed out as often as necessary the colossal ineptitude and incomprehensible incompetence in the mainstream press and too often with the New York Times when it comes to reporting news that matters, or not reporting it, or if they do, inevitably getting it wrong.

The most recent example is a the front page lead story in the Times on how the Tea Party has been so weakened they are having no influence on the fiscal debate taking place in Washington.

Yes, the Tea Party has been signicantly diminished in the aftermath of their failures in the last election,  and they are well on their way to being neutered in terms of their influence in general elections. And there are those in the Republican party getting fed up with them in light of all they have cost the Republican party in loss of seats in the House and senate. .But as far as the Tea Party's influence right now on the fiscal debate is concerned, the Tea Party is the single biggest reason, in fact the  only reason Boehner's Plan B failed, they are the biggest obstancle to making a deal before Jan.1 and they are giving Boehner serious heartburn.

They are, right now, the biggess influence on the fiscal debate because it is Tea Party members of the House who are the obstacle to a deal, and what the Times reporter and editor missed was an article in The Hill where Tea Party Republican House members admitted  that it was threats of primary challenges from the Tea Party in 2014 that has kept them entrenched in their "no tax rate increase" stance on the deficit negotiations. The real story which the Times missed, is that only one month after being elected, Tea Party conservative Republicans are more concerned with their own re-election two years away then in doing what is best for the country. We know this for a fact because of the incomprehensible illogic of their position, saying they will not vote for anything that includes an increase in tax rates, even for millionaires, when their position is a vote for an increase in tax rates for everyone.

The Times assertion that the Tea Party is having no influence on the fiscal debate in Washington is the Times itself, their reporter and editor,  going over the cliff in its reporting.

In another time, when journalists actually had a backbone, these Tea Party conservatives would have been mocked by news organizations and, singled out and held in contempt for obstructing a deal on the deficit in putting their own political self interests ahead of the country. But to say they have had no influence on the debate is a journalist  more enthralled with his own disconnected musings or assumptions than reality. One more example of the current crop of journalists having the powers of observation of a drunken sailor on shore leave in Samoa.

The reporter who wrote the front page nonsense about the Tea Party having no influence in the fiscal cliff debate, a story placed in the most prominent positon on the NY Times front page, and a story picked up and talked about on MSNBC as if it were reality by other journalists,   is by a reporter appropriately named -- no kidding --  Trip. That's his name. Trip Gabriel.   You can't make this stuff up. So Trip tripped on his reporting, tripped and went over the journalistic cliff and took the  NY Times, its editors and readers lwith him. As mainstream journalists always seem to do and have been doing for 20 years.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There is no Second Amendment right to own a gun and there never was.

In the 224 years since the Constitution of United States was ratified, and the Supreme Court of United States was created, every Supreme Court in every one of those 224 years, when faced with an issue related to gun ownership and whether the second amendment applied to an individual right to own a gun, every Supreme Court in 224 years ruled it did not. Most people would find that a pretty amazing fact given that almost everyone who speaks publicly about gun control  from both the left and right, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat and the news media, the NRA and people who have never owned a gun,   have all assumed there is something in the second amendment that grants people the right to own guns.  They are completely and utterly wrong.It does not. And it never did.

We know this not only from the plain language of the amendment itself which contains words and meanings that seem to be too much to understand for current politicians and lay people, but also from the fact that the original debate at the constitutional convention in 1789 that created the second amnedment was recorded and written down, at times verbatim and that transcript exists, is in the Library of Congress and can be read by anyone. It is absolutely clear from these debates, along with a basic understanding of the English language, that the clear intent of the Founders who wrote the amendment was to solely to give the states the right to keep and maintain their own regular militias and guaranteed this states the right to have whatever weapons of war they wished. It had nothing to do with guns. Because the word "arms" has nothing to do with guns. In fact the creation of the word itself predates the invention of the gun by more than a thousand years. The word "arms" meant in 1789 what it means today, what it meant during the cold war, and what it meant in 789, It means weapons of war. Implements of warfare. All implements of warfare. And in the case of the congress that created the second amendment, that was not just about guns, but included cannon, cannon balls, powder, bayonets, rockets, even warships and forts. That is the meaning of the word "arms" and giving the states the right to keep and use those arms was the sole purpose and intent of the second amendment, And every Supreme Court in 224 years decided that way.

The lone exception to this 224 year Supreme Court precedent were the current five conservative members of the Supreme Court who were the 5-4 majority in a Court decision that is clearly the most constitutionally, judicially, and intellectually corrupt, dishonest, decision since the Dred Scott decision in 1859.

That the second amendment has nothing to do with an individuals right to own a gun is not a matter of opinion . It is an absolute irrevocable inarguable and easily provable fact as American history and the doctrine of Original Intent , the cornerstone of conservative jurisprudence, easily proves.

This is not some liberal, anti-gun interpretation of the Second Amendment. Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger, a conservative appointed to Chief Justice by Richard Nixon, said of  the idea that the second amendment conferrs an individual's right to own a gun, " the second amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest peices of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, ever perpetrated on the American public by an interest group in my lifetime."

The interest group he was referring to obviously, is the NRA.

Burger also said in 1992," the second amendment doesn't guarantee the right to have firearms at all".

In 1990, Burger wrote another article on the Second Amendment, referring to " the carnage" taking place with guns in America that is even more eerie to read now in light of the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the massacre in Aurora, the shooting at the Oregon mall and that Burger wrote his piece 22 years ago.

What makes the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision so intellectually and constitutionally dishonest is  that it  flies in the face of and ignores the very constitutional philosophy embraced and touted by conservatives -- original intent --  a philosophy conservatives use to vilify liberal justices who stray from it with cries that they are "legislating from the bench" or finding or inventing rights in the constitution that don't exist. Which is exactly what the Roberts court did with their recent ruling on the second amendment.

 The doctrine of Original Intent is a precept which states that where the intent of the founders who wrote the constitution is clear, where the meaning of their language is clear,  it is that intent and purpose that must be applied.Knowing the true and only intent of the Founders in creating the second amendment,  it is impossible to find that the 2nd amendment applies to an individual right to own a gun.

 During those constitutional debates that created the second amendment which took place over a period of three weeks in 1789,  not once at any time did the issue of an individual's right to own a gun even come up for discussion. It was in no way ever part of the debate.

When reading the amendment, or any part of the constitution, the first thing to understand is that it was written by and ratified by people who had a command of the English language and a precison in using it that is far beyond anything we see in congress or the media for that matter today. People have referred to Jefferson's words in the Declaration and the preamble to the constitution as  American scripture because the words still stir people and have resonance even today. These people were a lot smarter than anyone currently in government.

 Understanding this, and how careful and precise they were with words,understanding that they meant every word they wrote,  it's useful to know that the 2nd amendment, which is one long run on sentence, was re-written seven times and all seven versions are also in the Library of Congress. What's striking about all seven versions is that they are all virtually the same except for a word change here and there, showing that the people who wrote and constructed it wanted to be absolutely sure that their intentions were clear and specific and that every word meant what they intended.

The amendment reads: " A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

It's clear that the subject both of the sentence and the amendment is "a well regulated militia". Not an individual's right to own a gun.

That's because the clearly stated purpose of the amendment, clearly stated in the debates by the congress that created it,  was to give the states the unlimited right to create and maintain their own well-regulated, well-drilled militias as a counter measure against the threat posed by a standing federal army. The amendment was created to give the states their own armies.  "Well regulated" meant a militia made up of well-drilled and well trained soldiers and a militia that had a clear command structure.  We know all this  not only from an understanding of the english language but also from the transcripts of the debates which began the creation of the second amendment when a representative from North Carolina stood up and offered this as a  proposition to congress: " The federal government maintaining a standing army is a threat to liberty".

It was a proposition all in congress agreed to. What came next was what to do about it.

 The first solution offered, according to the transcripts of the debates, was to ban the federal government from having a standing army at all. That was voted down as unwise. The next solution offered was to allow the federal government to organize an army but only after being authorized by a two-thirds vote of congress. That was defeated as well as being impractical since by the time congress voted to allow the creation of a  federal army to defend against an invasion or threat  it would probably be too late.

 The solution that finally passed was giving each state the absolute and unalterable and unlimited right to have their own organized, well drilled, "well regulated"  and well armed militias that were capable of waging war on the same level as a federal army and that could not be restricted or impeded in any way.

Understanding this last point is crucial because there are words in the 2nd amendment whose meaning most people think they know, but don't. And the most crucial of these are the words, " the right to keep and bear arms".

Most people regardless of political persuasion seem to believe with certainty that those words have something to do with an individual keeping a gun in his house. Those words means none of that. There are people who wrongly think that because the revolution was first started with militia men who brought their own guns to the fight, that the second amendment is conferring a right to the indivdual to keep his own gun to bring to the fight. "The right of the people to keep and bear arms" means none of that. If that's what it meant the people who wrote and ratified " We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal", could have written, "the right of the individual to keep and own a firearm for his own defense and that of the state" could have said just that. They didnt. As pointed out before, the word "arms" does not mean guns. The "arms race' that took place during the cold war between the U.S. and Soviet Union was not about which country had more people with guns in their closets. It had to do with which country and more nuclear war heads and the missiles to deliver them.  There is a world of difference between an "arms dealer" and a "gun dealer". An arms dealer sells Katusha rockets, RPG's surface to air missiles and shoulder fired missile launchers along with Ak-47's. They do not sell Glocks or hunting rifles. The word "arms" in 1789 when the constitution was written meant the same thing then as it meant in the 8th century and  the same thing it meant in the 20th century and the same thing it means now--  "arms" means weapons of warfare. Not the gun you have in your drawer. Not the gun in your closet. Not the gun under your bed or the gun you take hunting or for target practice. "Arms" meant in 1789 as it means now and has always meant, weapons of war.  Any and all weapons of war.
The term  "to bear arms" in 1789  as used and understood by the founders also had a very specific meaning and doesn't in any way mean an individual using a gun for their own lawful purposes. "To bear arms"  doesn't mean to go hunting or target shooting. It doesn't mean to shoot a burglar in self defense or to keep a gun in your glove compartment or to show off your gun to your neighbor.   "To bear arms"   meant  only one thing to the founders because there was only one true meaning of the term --  "to bear arms" meant to go to war.And to engage in battle. To bring to bear the force of arms.

When Paul Revere rode through the Massachusetts countryside shouting " To arms!  The British are coming", he meant it was time to go to war and engage in battle. He wasnt telling the colonists only to grab their muskets,  but to assemble the cannon and the powder and bring it to bear.That is the meaning of  "to bear arms" and that is the meaning of the second amendment's " right to bear arms".

The 2nd amendment also gave the states the absolute and unlimited right to keep any weapons of war they wished without interference or limitiation by any future federal government and the right to use those weapons in the hands of their "well regulated" militias if necessary.  It doesnt mean to simply own and use a gun.

 " The right of the people",  is also often distorted or miscontrued. "The people"  does not mean an individual. It is how the constitution refers to  states rights and uses the collective term " the people" to indicate a states right, not an individual right. Which is why the preamble to the Constitution begins " We the People of the United States".  When the constitution refers to an individual right, it uses the word "person".  As in "a person's right" to be secure in their homes and their effects in the 4th amendment ban on illegal search and seizure. And the 5th amendment right against self incrimination which states: "No person shall be compelled to be witness against himself".

 The Second Amendment clearly had nothing to do with an individual's right to own a gun. A right to own a gun was never even discussed during the debates. And why would it be?  In 1789 America, almost everyone owned guns. There was nothing controversial about it.  Owning a gun was as common as owning an ax or a horse or a hammer.  People used guns to hunt for food. They  used guns to  protect livestock from predators. And they were used for self defense especially against Indian attacks. Owning a gun in 1789 America was as controversial as owning a barbeque grill in Scarsdale. Does anyone really think  the greatest minds in the history of self-government sat around for three weeks debating, re-writing seven times and adding to the  Bill of Rights an amendment  giving people the right to own a barbeque grill?

The recent Supreme Court decision by the five conservative justices not only betrayed publicly stated conservative philosophy in order to bring about a poltically desireable decision, but Sam Alito, in his written opinion for the majority incomprehensibly, didnt even use the constitution as the basis for his opinion. Alito cited"Blackstone's Rights of Englishmen" in his opinion, a document not only non American in origin, but written more than 100 years before the creation of the country. Had liberal justices ruled on a constitutional issue by using a document other than the constitution,  and one not even American in origin and written before the country even existed,  conservative members of congress like Orin Hatch, Jeff Sessions or Lindsay Graham would be screaming for their impeachment.

The five conservative judges who ruled for the first time in American history that the 2nd amendment applied to individuals, may also have opened a Pandora's box they may regret. That box is the infringement clause which states that the right granted in the 2nd amendment  "shall not be infringed" meaning it cannot be reduced, modified, altered, obstructed or limited in any way.  It is specifically an unlimited right which was created as a protection against the power of a federal army in the hands of a tyrant. Its whole purpose was to give the states the unlimited right to have their own armies and weapons of war capable of standing up against a federal army. To allow a future congress to limit or reduce that right in any way would defeat the whole purpose of the amendment.

Consequently if the 2nd amendment is to apply to individuals, then, based on what the amendment literally says,  every gun law in the United States would be unconstitutional since it "infringes"  or limits in some way the right enumerated in the 2nd amendment. You can't have it both ways. That Justice Scalia tried to modify and backtrack on the court's ruling by saying, " Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited"  shows just how corrupt and dishonest the 5-4 ruling really was.  Because the amendment makes clear in plain English, that it is in fact unlimited,  and that no limits may be placed on it even in the future as the words "shall not" make clear. It would make no sense to give the states the right to protect itself against an unlawful use of force by a federal army sent by a tyrant and at the same time stifle it or insure its defeat with limitations that would put it at a disadvantage.

It seems that so far even the NRA doesnt want to push their luck by going so far as to say that based on the recent court ruling all gun laws are unconstitutional,  but they would be well within the ruling of the Roberts court to do so. "Shall not be infringed" means what it says.  Not what Scalia says. But what the constitition says.  But congress or any other legislative body  can  close the Pandora's box  by doing the obvious --  ignore the Supreme Court ruling and pass whatever gun laws they wish. Then, if someone wants to challenge it and take it back to the Supreme Court, they can do so.The Court would likely welcome a chance to clairify and modify and undo the potential damage caused by their ruling.

The fact that there is now a debate about stricter gun laws is proof enough that on some level people understand the second amendment has nothing to do with an individual right to own a gun. If it did there would be no debate about gun laws because there wouldn't be any.

With the country reeling from the horrors of the school shooting in Newtown, there is a well publicized resurgence in a desire to pass new and stricter gun laws, perhaps banning certain kinds of  automatic weapons, strengthening the criteria for purchasing weapons ( there is a lot that can be done in this area to reduce obtaining weapons illegally) or banning certain kinds of magazine clips. Up to now those opposed to stricter gun laws have used the 2nd amendment as their shield. That should come to an end.  Gun laws in this country, for 225 years have been a local issue decided by elected officials in individual states, cities, towns and villages. And if another gun related constitutional issue comes before the Supreme Court its not likely the Roberts Court will make the same mistake twice.

Other conservative judges have taken note of just how dishonest and hypocritical the decision of Scalia, Thomas, Alito  et al has been and the preposterous opinion of Alito. A prominent conservative judge, Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals said of the decision that the majority "read an ambiguous constitutional provision as creating a substantive right that the Court had never acknowledged in the more than two hundred years since the amendment’s enactment. The majority then used that same right to strike down a law passed by elected officials acting, rightly or wrongly, to preserve the safety of the citizenry.”

 He added, as pointed out here,  that the decision completely undermined conservative jurisprudence which is based on Original Intent.  It not only undermined it, it made a mockery of it.  Scalia's attempts at rewriting the amendment by talking about "limitations" when the amendment itself clearly states that there can be no limitation on the right enumerated, further erodes any confidence people should have that the decision was not politically motivated. But by injecting the idea of limits,  Scalia is almost begging for a court challenge so they can get a do over and get it right.

The amendment is about militias and weapons of war, not guns and hunting, target shooting and personal self defense, despite the self delusion of people like Larry Pratt, head of another gun owners organization who thinks the amendment is about arming people against the government ( it isnt -- it was about creating and arming state militias to go to war against a tyrant taking over the government. ). And the amendment does not give people the right to have their own militias. Those who have tried ended up infiltrated by the  FBI and carted off to prison.

Even the NRA leadership knows they blatantly lie about the Second Amendment. Which is why they lop off the first sentence of the amendment in their logo. But there is more than that. Even David Keene, president of the NRA knows what the second amendment really means even though he will never say so publicly.

He revealed it in a roundabout way talking about another subject. The NRA opposes an international treaty to restrict the international trade in "arms". Keene stated his opposition when he said, "biggest problem with the treaty is that it regulates civilian arms, not just military weapons". So he clearly understands there is a clear distinction between civilian guns and military weapons. The Second Amendment is clear about that also. Which is why it uses the word "arms" and not "guns".  The amendment is distinctly about military weapons not civilian firearms. Which is another reason why former Chief Justice Warren Burger called the NRA the perpetrators of a "fraud" on the Second Amendment.

For now,  there is one thing people, the congress, legislators, journalists and ordinary people  need to know: the second amendment as it was created, as it was constructed and as it was intended has absolutely nothing to do with an individual's right to own a gun and never did. It does not confer that right. And in the debate about guns and laws everyone should proceed and act accordingly. Legislatures should feel free to enact any gun laws they wish, let someone challenge them if they choose and let the court try again. And the NRA is free to use whatever resources it has to try and elect legislators friendly to their position. But there is nothing in the constitution that supports it or guarantees it. Which is what makes politicians statements about the second amendment so laughable.And for people who swore on a bible to preserve and protect it,an  embarrassment.

In coming up with gun control recommendations made by his task force, Vice President Biden issued a statement prior to the release of those recommendations which stated that "your second amendment rights are alive and well".  Which begs the question, what second amendment rights are those? The rights that every Supreme Court in 225 years said had nothing to do with an individual right to own a gun? The only right an individual has regarding the second amendment is the right to join the army. Or their own state National Guard.

Wyatt Earp banned guns completely from Tombstone for years and required people to leave their firearms at the Marshall's office and pick them up when they left. And in more than 100 years, no one  ever accused Wyatt Earp of being unconstitutional or violating anyone's rights.And neither would a ban on any gun a legislature decided had no business being sold at your local gun store and had no business being in the possession of an individual citizen.And there is nothing in the constitution that would prevent it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Egypt's president Morsi made the mistake of believing CNN.

While Egypt's president Morsi was instrumental in negotiating a cease fire in Gaza that saved Hamas from what would have been devastating losses and destruction by the Israeli military in response to the Hamas rocket attacks, there was no cessation of worthless opinions coming from CNN that painted Hamas and Morsi as the big winners in the conflict, reducing, as the press likes to do, matters of war and peace and life and death to the level of a tennis match.

Nic Roberts at CNN made the point that the cease fire was a big win for Hamas because "members of the international community" rallied to Hamas, and sent emissaries to Egypt to meet with Morsi and Hamas leaders to show their support. This show of support from the "international community" was comprised of Turkey and Qatar.

Nevertheless, this " show of support from the international community" for Hamas and Morsi became the endlessly disconnected from reality narrative coming from CNN as reported by Robertson, Wolf Blitzer, Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper, Ben Wederman, all reiterating the opinion that Morsi and Hamas were the big winners and that both came out more powerful and influential and more credible  on the international stage than before.

Morsi, the CNN line went, because of negotiating the cease fire which was really nothing more than convincing Hamas to come to their senses rather than endure a ground invasion that would result in massive destruction and the killing of Hamas leaders and soldiers ( and the civilians Hamas uses as shields)  had emerged as a hero, a now powerful and influential world leader on the world stage - a major player in world affairs, to use the shopworn cliche of the news media.

The lone exception to this silly disconnected and overblown point of view relentlessly aired by CNN was Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution,and  an authority and writer on Middle East issues who is a frequent voice on CNN. Ajami, who knows the region, its people, their thinking, and in general the geo-political causes and effects better than everyone at CNN combined rejected the CNN line about Hamas and Morsi coming out the "big winners' of the cease fire.

Ajami  pointed out how the momentary celebrations and instant gratification was over only a Pyrrhic victory and that visits by Turkey and Qatar meant little or nothing in the long run and did not mean a place in the sun for Hamas or Morsi. Ajami's voice, the lone dissent, was soon missing from the droning at CNN about Hamas and Morsi's new found stature and "clout" in what CNN insisted on calling  " the international community".

The problem for Morsi is there is a good chance he believed  everything he was hearing on CNN and  decided it was a good time to use his new found prestige and " international support" and make the most of it in a power grab, granting himself new sweeping authority that trumped the Egyptian judiciary and constitution.

Unfortunately for Morsi , while it looks like he believed everything CNN was saying about him, the Egyptian people didn't . Morsi made his powe grab and the Egyptian people  rioted, revolted against Morsi and recently set fire to his headquarters.  Now he has a full fledged crisis on his hands and tanks in the streets of Cairo.

But it's possible Morsi did learn a valuable lesson, one that most people in the U.S. already know --don't believe what you see and hear on American cable TV news.It can get can you in hot water. Which recalls the famous line from Will Rogers, " it's not what people know that gets them in trouble, it's what they think they know that ain't so."

NOTE: As of 6pm est today Morsi has announced he is recinding his decrees. It is not known if he is still watching CNN.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Gaza conflict, news media are more interested in pictures than the truth.

We've seen the pictures over and over. We see them every few years. Members of the news media wearing flack jackets but standing at a recommended safe distance from actual shelling, their cameras rolling give their reports of the latest barrage of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas from Gaza and the latest on Israeli retaliation and its aftermath and are on the scene quickly to record the carnage, the pained faces and the destruction.

What they never get to is the truth as if they are actually afraid to ask the right questions, the most important questions. The questions are there  to be asked but they never ask them.

 This was apparent a few days ago as CNN showed a home in Gaza damaged by a nearby Israeli missile strike and the Palestinian woman who lived in the home saying to the journalist and the camera, "what did we do to deserve this"?

It was the single most telling and important question of the conflict and one that had an answer. But the reporter on the scene didn't answer her question when the reporter clearly could have.

What is so poignant and important about the Palestinian woman's question of "what did we do to deserve this"? is that it was clear by her question that she didn't know. She seemed to not know that Hamas initiated the conflict and caused the retaliation by firing rockets into Israeli civilian populations, into apartment buildings, into homes and have tried to hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinian woman gave every indication that she didn't know.

If she didn't know, it would have said a great deal about Hamas and their control over the news media and the free flow of what information gets to the Palestinian people. But the reporter could have told her. And the reporter could have asked the woman some critical questions.

The CNN reporter could have asked if she knew about the rockets Hamas had launched into Israel. The reporter could have asked her if she held Hamas responsible for the damage to her home and what the Palestinian people are now going through because of the rocket attacks by Hamas.

Whatever her answers would have been, they would have been crucial to understanding just what the real issues are regarding this outbreak for Palestinians living in Gaza. It would have been crucial to know whether this woman supported Hamas and their attacks or not  because  it would have given insight into how much support from Palestinians in the street Hamas really has for its actions and whether Palestinians in Gaza are willing to pay the price for Hamas rocket attacks.

If, upon learning of the Hamas rocket attacks, the woman did blame Hamas or felt they bore some responsibility for the retaliatory Israeli missiles coming into Gaza including the one that hit her home, it would have an enormous effect on how third parties and the rest of the world would view the conflict and whether Hamas is truly acting in the name of the people who elected them.

On the other hand if the woman said she did support the rocket attacks by Hamas the next logical question would have been, " and did you expect Israel to just absorb the rocket attacks and do nothing to retaliate or try and stop them"?

In the unlikely event the woman said yes ( unlikely, since if she had known about the rocket attacks in the first place she never would have asked " what did we do to deserve this"?) then the rest of the world would know what Israel is up against and be clear about the will of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In either instance, the CNN reporter didn't ask, didn't inform her or answer her questions about why her home was damaged.  The reporter could have told the woman  that what happened to her house was the byproduct of Israeli retaliation for the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, initiated by Hamas. The woman could have been asked her feelings about that and did she support what Hamas did and does she understand now why her home was damaged.

Instead all the CNN reporter wanted to bring you were pictures. Pictures of grief. Pictures that say war is bad as if anyone needed to be told, and  using pictures of this woman's grief and the grief and damage of those on the Israeli side brought to you for your viewing pleasure.

 Does it really take more courage to ask a question in Gaza than to put on a flak jacket? Apparently it does.

NOTE: an addendum to CNN's coverage: Suzanne Malvaeaux was her usual smiling self during her reporting of the Gaza conflict seemingly unable to contain herself and was especially smiley promoting a Piers Morgan interview to be aired with Shimon Peres on the Gaza crisis. Anyone watching Malveaux's smiling coverage might rightly ask what she thinks is so funny. Malveaux who can never stop smiling no matter what she is reporting is one of those TV journalists who seem to think she is always making an audition tape. Someone should remind her she got the job.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

New documentary to expose media, NCAA and Penn State Board dishonesty in Paterno role related to Sandusky charges.

 An upcoming documentary will expose the self-serving and blatantly dishonest ratings- first- truth- last reporting by the news media as it pertained to Joe Paterno in the Sandusky matter as well as the rank dishonesty of the NCAA, the Freeh Report and the actions of the Penn State Board of Trustees as it all related to Jerry Sandusky.

 While the media coverage of Paterno and a false and dishonest Freeh Report pushed for by some members of the Board of Trustees, a report that clearly had an agenda that had more to do with covering up for others ( possibly even Freeh himself given his own connection to Sandusky) while pinning blame on people who were not in a position to defend themselves, was one of the most dishonest, incompetent and self-serving examples of unethical media coverage in recent memory, the fallout has gone further resulting in the NCAA punishing students and student athletes most of whom were in the 3rd grade when Sandusky committed his crimes defying both logic, decency, common sense and any principle of justice.

 These are punishments that fits the crimes,  not of Sandusky, but the crimes of  the  NCAA, Penn State Board of Trustees, the  Louis Freeh, Governor Tom Corbett and the news  media as a whole who thought it just to selectively punish students and athletes who had nothing to do with Sandusky or his crimes.

 While there is still much more to be said and more to be exposed and more wrongs to be righted, from the clearly dishonest and manipulative Freeh Report, including getting to the bottom of why Freeh, a man with a documented history of smearing people and unethical conduct (and the subject of a Justice Department recommendation of official censure) was chosen in the first place, and why the NCAA acted on the report, as well as exposing more of the dishonest and self serving media coverage, this upcoming documentary could be a catalyst for getting these events re-examined and eventually hold the real culprits accountable, none of whom is named Joe Paterno.

 The 32 minute documentary preview can be seen by clicking on the image above.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Election rejection and dejection for Republicans, conservatives, the Tea Party and Big Money.

The party is over, literally and figuratively for the Tea Party,conservatives and Republicans. If you're a Republican you might want to point out that the popular vote in the presidential election was close. If you're a Democrat when you hear that you roll over laughing.

 This election was as decisive a rejection of conservative principles, Republicans in general and the Tea Party most specifically, as one could get.

 Yes Obama won the popular vote by a narrow 3 million while winning a decisive and very large electoral college vote. But only weeks before the election, in national polls which proved to be reliably accurate this time around, when asked if Obama deserved re-election, 54% said no. And understandably so given Democratic voter disgust with his first four years in office and all that could have accomplished and wasn't when he had super majorities in congress his first four years.

 Yet given that 54% said Obama didn't deserve to be re-elected, he was re-elected anyway given the voters choice between Obama or Romney whose vice-presidential candidate drafted Tea Party endorsed economic proposals that the rest of the country soundly rejected.

 That isn't just rejection or losing an election. That is repudiation. And that is in spite of tepid, even weak Democratic campaign commercials and political strategy. In the end the election was about people making up their own minds. Had Democrats had better strategists who knew how to hit harder, the margin of victory would have been much larger, especially in the House.

 Along with Obama's win, the Democrats substantially increased their control of the senate in an election where Republicans thought they would take control. Instead they lost 3 seats, the long held Republican seat in Indiana thanks to the Tea Party and a candidate who replaced Richard Lugar who  said a pregnancy from rape was a gift, Elizabeth Warren beating Scott Brown in Massachusetts and a pro-choice independent who took Olympia Snowe's seat in Maine and will caucus with the Democrats giving the Democrats and liberals a 55-45 majority. 

 Then there was good old Todd Akin another Tea Party candidate who made medieval comments about rape and was landslided by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

 Along with the Tea Party and Republican conservatives the other big loser was Big Money. No one got less for their money than Karl Rove, his super PAC and  other Republican and conservative PAC's.

 The Koch Brothers poured hundreds of millions into this election and lost big. Republican Linda McMahon who ran for the Senate in Connecticut reportedly spent $100 million of her own money. She was destroyed by the Democratic candidate in a landslide defeat.

 According to post election statistics, the NRA, once but probably no longer feared by Democrats who oppose their agenda, spent over $7 million and received a 0.018% return on their investment based on money spent on candidates and who won. Conversely, Planned Parenthood, constantly and irrationally attacked by conservatives saw a better than 99% return on investment in terms of  money spent on candidates they supported and candidates who won.

 The corrupt and preposterous Citizens United 5-4 Supreme Court decision in which conservatives on the court undid years of precedent and declared that corporations were people and therefore had the same right of freedom of speech as individuals ( a proposition utterly preposterous since corporations employ thousands even tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of people none of whom have a say in who the corporation decides to support, a decision generally made by one person) in the end, gave corporations enough rope to hang themselves.

 The hundreds of millions they spent trying to push candidates and ideas the majority didn't want made the alternatives look even more attractive. So it all backfired.

 Their money bought nothing. And it proved to Democrats as well, who kept sending out hysterical fund raising emails about being outspent and begging for more money, that as I kept telling them, it wasn't about money but message.

 In the end, the election was clearly more about a rejection of conservatives than an embrace of Obama. A majority decided they would prefer to give Obama another chance at not being a political cigar store Indian and actually do some of the things he promised rather than see a Republican in the White House implementing polices most didn't want.

That Obama won in this economic environment is testimony to just how unattractive Romney, Ryan,  Republican and Tea Party polices both econimic and social really are. When facing a choice between a failed Democratic president and Republican ideas and polices, a majority chose the failed Democratic president. Again, not just rejection but a resounding repudiation.

 So, does that mean that voters will now see the liberal ideas and policies they voted for  become reality? Not exactly. Because now that the election is over, Democrats and liberals still have to face the very sobering fact that the person in the White House is Barrack Obama.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Presidential choices: a waste vs. a wasteland part II.

There can be no arguing that Barrack Obama's first four years in office has been a waste. The same kind of waste that was predictable given his previous 11 years of elected office in which he accomplished absolutely nothing. Given the super majorities Obama had in congress in his first two years he could have accomplished anything he wanted. Instead he accomplished what he has always accomplished as an elected official - nothing. And that nothing is the single biggest reason Democrats lost their super majorities and in fact, any majority in the House.

 What could have been his legacy, a public health insurance option and real health care reform the most important piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act in 1964, was sold out to health insurance lobbyists. In its place was Obamacare which every Democratic senator, 55 of whom publicly pledged to vote for a public option had it been brought to the senate floor, could only call "better than nothing". Nancy Pelosi, who was instrumental in engineering a dishonest 2008 Democratic primary season and DNC convention to give Obama the nomination, had to use a broomstick to whack Democratic members of the House over the head to get them to vote for Obamacare since most of them said they would not vote for any healthcare reform bill that didn't contain a public option. The list goes on and on.

 But the other choice is Romney and a Republican party which, if it had its way, would turn the country into a wasteland.

 If the country was divided into two countries -- red state and blue state, Blue State America would now be living in economic prosperity, buoyed by the multi trillion dollar surplus left by Bill Clinton, a balanced budget and a zero deficit. Unemployment would be low. There would be enough money to take care of any contingency. There would have been no 911 attack since it was Bush and the Republicans who dismissed terrorism as a real threat prior to the attack. The cost to the country in lives, way of life and trillions in economic resources including the war in Iraq, a war the country was lied into, are costs that are all the result of Republican ideology.( It is still a fact that Bush and the Republicans were the first and only government in American history to take the country to war --   an unncessary one -- and cut taxes at the same time. That did more damage to the country and the economy than anything Al-Qaeda was able to do.)

 Conversely, unlike Blue State America, Red State America under Republican conservative ideology would look like and function like a third world country. The education system under Red State America conservative ideology would be a mess. Like Texas who dropped Thomas Jefferson from their school curriculum because Jefferson's contempt for the church made it impossible for Texas to teach their students the country was founded on Christian values and principles. Red State students would know nothing of the philosophy of the man who authored the Declaration of Independence. Red State students,unfettered by liberal challenges,  would have a school system that taught creationism over evolution, and curriculums would be based on political and social beliefs and propaganda as in many middle eastern countries. Their schools would also be choked with 50 students or more to a class in order to accommodate tax cuts resulting in fewer teachers and lower teacher salaries as they want to do in Wisconsin.. The overall result would be Red State America students with inferior educations making them unable to compete globally.

 While the economy of Red State America governed by conservative Republican principles would be choking on enormous deficits, high unemployment and soaring inflation, they would be without most government services ( like Departments of Education and Departments of Transportation that conservatives want to do away with)  because they would no longer exist. There would be no FEMA so any natural disaster like Katrina, the wild fires in Texas or a disaster like Hurricane Sandy hitting Red State America would put them in a position of having to depend on the charity of other nations to help them through.

 In Red State America, governed by economic policies that have  already caused the worst economic crisis since the Depression, the differences between the assets of the wealthy vs. the middle class would deepen the divide and make Red State America no different than a banana republic.

 Socially, with abortion outlawed for the last 20 years because it is condemned by a church that Jefferson, Adams, Paine and other Founders wanted to insure never had an official say in the government of the United States, thousands if not tens of thousands of unwanted children, many of whom uncared for, some the result of rape that Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock thinks is a "gift",  would grow up without love, guidance or a good education with many ending up roaming the streets and resorting to crime. Under conservative Republican policies Red State America would lead the western world in prisons built and people incarcerated and have the biggest drug problem in the western world, putting another huge drain on the already depleted financial resources of a Red State America government. In Red State America, building more prisons, yes, schools no.

 With conservative ideology at the forefront, Red State America would be a society where the idea of "right to life" ends at birth since these are the same people who during a Republican presidential debate  cheered the idea of letting someone who couldn't afford health insurance simply die.

 This is what the country would be like under a strictly conservative Republican government, a government put in place by people who call themselves "values voters',  but whose values are filled with hypocrisy and predicated on what they don't want other people to have. Values rejected by most in Blue State America, and most of the western world as well and "values" that were anathemas to the Founders of the country.

This is what a Red State America would be like and the best reason to vote against and reject Romney and the Republicans and the damage they would cause in every area of American life.

 The unkindest cut of all for Romney and the most telling, is that in Salt Lake City, the heart of Mormonism, the Salt Lake City Tribune today, Sunday, endorsed Obama and called Romney "shameless" in his embrace of right wing Republican conservative ideology which they said would be bad for the country.

That the polls show a close election is a testament to the almost universal distaste among Democrats and Democratic voters for Obama's personal failures and weakness as president. It's also a the result of the underhanded tactics used by Pelosi, Donna Brazille and others in the DNC and the press who wanted to insure they gave the nomination to Obama in the first place without his having honestly earned it.

But that said, while Obama has been a waste as a president for what he could have accomplished and didn't, a man who may not accomplish much in the future ( unless Democrats regain control of congress and force Obama to actually do something) the alternative is a Republican wasteland based on values that are and always have been anathema to the country and those who founded it, values that former Supreme Court justice and Republican Sandra Day O'Connor said was " destroying the country" and would make even worse the kind of damage Republicans have already caused.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Republicans pressure government agency to withdraw report that discredits Republican economic policy.

 While Democratic groups politically have proven they can be as dishonest as Republicans at times in their spin and distortions, (when they don't have to) it's left mostly to Republicans to chronically lie about their policies and the provably negative effects these policies have on the country as a whole.

 In the past Republicans have both credited and discredit the same agency and their findings depending on whether those findings were favorable to Republican positions and ideology or unfavorable.

 During the health care debate, the CBO scored the public option and said that it would actually decrease the overall deficit by $160 billion ( a far cry from the projections of Obamacare, Obama's poor political substitute which will inevitably cost people more).

 Republicans were apoplectic since they had staked out a position as deficit hawks and opposed health care reform at the same time and this undermined both positions. So they discredited not just the CBO's numbers but the Budget Office itself as being partisan and unreliable and even incompetent. Except when Republicans regained control of the House, CBO numbers on another issue, favorable to Republicans, were touted by Republicans as accurate and used as a political weapon against Democrats.

 Now the New York Times is reporting that Republicans pressured the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan agency and arm of the Library of Congress, that issued a report that found no correlation between tax cuts for upper income earners and job creation or economic growth, substantially putting the lie to what many already knew -- Republican trickle down economics, the idea they use to justify their tax cuts for the upper 1% of income earners is a fiction and would be the same failure under Romney that it was during the Bush years.

 Democrat Charles Schumer pointed out that " they ( Republicans) didn't like the report and instead of rebutting it made them take it down".

 Though the research service is non-partisan Republicans protested the reports use of the words " Bush tax cuts", and "tax cuts for the rich" and used that,and charges that those words proved the report was political, as part of the reason they pressured the agency to withdraw the report.

 The real reason of course is they don't like what the report says since it undermines every aspect of what was already proven to be a failed economic approach. They also discredited the Tax Policy Center which put out a report that Romney's proposal to cut tax rates 20% while cutting the deficit was mathematically impossible.

 No matter what math is used, it all adds up to the same thing - Republican unable to support their ideology with facts, truth, or reality, and try and repress anything that proves their ideology and policies wrong. They have proved in the past they will resort to anything , any subterfuge to try and push their ideology through and what makes their policies dangerous is that they have shown they really don't care whether their ideology solves problems or not -- its the ideology that matters not results.

 So anything that discredits their ideology or policies in turn gets discredited by Republicans whether its economics, unemployment ,climate change, or anything else. Which really becomes the best reason in the world for voters to decide this election that its the Republicans and their ways of doing business that no longer matters. And to keep in mind the admonition that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will Hurricane Sandy put Romney under water?

Every presidential election  those involved in politics wait for what is known as the "October Surprise", the incident, or piece of information, something that no one saw coming that comes out right before the election and sways voters in one direction or another and decides the election. This year that surprise for Romney may have been Hurricane Sandy and his own words from a year ago which may now come back to haunt him.

In a Republican presidential debate in 2011  Romney said, using the usual anti-big government mantra which is the staple of Republican thinking,  that he would get rid of FEMA and not just take the responsibility away from the federal goverment and have the states handle it themselves, but even better, take it away from the states and let "the private sector" handle it.

Forget the fact that this is just one more shortsighted Republican idea which if implemented would make a bad thing worse. The timing given the devastation caused by the storm and it's proximity to the election and with FEMA about to take an active role in the recovery in states affected by the storm, both Romney's words as well as the storm may be enough to sink Romney.

New Jersey which was hit extremely hard has a Republican governor, Chris Christie. Christie has made a point of saying, in almost every news conference, that he has been on the phone with Obama 3 times a day since the storm made landfall in New Jersey,  trying to coordinate the federal disaster response to the storm. Christie has given assurances to people in New Jersey that Obama will cut through the red tape and that assistance  from FEMA will be provided as fast as possible. Obama in fact is visiting New Jersey today.

 If Democratic political strategists and those responsible for getting Democrats elected in terms of strategy and money spent have even half a political brain, which in the past they have shown they do not, they would spend every last dime on TV commercials showing that Romney answer in 2011 where he said he'd get rid of FEMA  under footage of the disaster and its aftermath.

Commercials showing that Romney's views on disaster relief from 2011 over footage of the devastation in in the northeast could cost Romney every state from Maine to West Virginia, and could turn voters in many other states sympathetic to the plight of those affected by Sandy in the northeast against Romney and Republican ideology especially if the commercials are executed correctly on both an emotional level as well as how Republican policies, which tend to put money and budgets ahead of people, are bad for the country.

 If Democrats are smart, while the storm may be over for residents hit by Sandy in the northeast and the recover begins, they can create another storm, this one just for Romney and the Republicans, a storm from which Romney might not recover, and a storm from which FEMA will not save him but might actually sink him.

NOTE: Unfortunately, many Democratic support groups and sites like Daily Kos, are resorting to the ugly Republican trick of taking a statement out of context and twisting the meaning for their own purposes. Republican strategists have made that a staple of their political campaign strategy which given the results of Republican polices is all they have.  Unfortunately, many Democrats think imitating that is the way to win. Daily Kos is saying in their fund raising emails that Romney called funding FEMA "immoral". That is simply not what Romney said. He was referring to the deficit and that borrowing to add to the deficit was immoral, Yes, he thought  FEMA was an unncessary goverment agency whose funding was adding to the "immoral" deficit but did not specifically call FEMA funding "immoral".  What Romney said is damaging enough. Distorting what he said is no way to win at anything, even if Democrats think it is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do Republicans think battleships are food stamps?

In 1996, when Trent Lott was the Republican senate majority leader he forced through an earmark attached to a defense spending bill that allocated $1.6 billion for battleships to be built in the shipyards of Mississippi that the Navy said emphatically it didn't want and didn't need.  Lott did it again in 2004 and this time was attacked for it by John McCain after Lott earmarked $370 million for a helicopter carrier to be built at the Mississippi shipyards that the Navy again said it didn't want and didn't need.

 Lott pushed through these earmarks on a regular basis. At one time he tried to get the Navy to buy a cruise ship that was built in Mississippi and refurbish it into a command and control ship. None of this ever had anything to do with national security. It had nothing to do with military readiness. What it had to do with was how Lott himself described the appropriations to build these battleships and other vessels the Navy said they didn't want, in the shipyards of Mississippi. He called it "bringing home the bacon".

 And it was.And he did.  That $1.6 billion in 1996 and $370 million in 2004 put a lot of bacon on the tables of people who worked in the shipyards of Mississippi. But since the Navy made it clear it didn't want or need any of these ships, "bringing home the bacon" in Lott's words, could easily be characterized for what it actually was --  a Republican version of food stamps disguised as military readiness.

And it's happening again. We're hearing the same kind of nonsense from Republicans over Obama's retort to Romney's accusation that the Navy now has fewer ships than it did in 1916 -- that we also have fewer horses and bayonets. The meaning was clear. We dont have as many ships because we don't need them. We didn't need the ships Trent Lott forced tax payers to build either.

 Predictably, the lower end of the Republican party,this time led by Republican governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell, showed, like Lott,  his main interest was not national security or the military but "bringing home the bacon", in his case to Virginia.

 McDonnell said, " his (Obama's) flippant comment about horses and bayonets is an insult to every sailor whoever put his or her life on the line for our country".

 Actually it wasn't. It was McDonnell's comment that was an insult to the intelligence of every sailor and every human being for that matter, not to mention tax payer, in the United States since this isnt about the Navy or the country's security or military readiness,  its about the same thing it was for Trent Lott --  the Republican version of food stamps using national security as the cover for "bringing home the bacon".

 Building battleships the Navy doesn't want especially in times of economic distress just to bring in money and put people to work whether it's Mississippi, Virginia or Florida,  is using the U.S military and the country's  national security for what it really is --  Republican food stamps and hand outs by another name. Yet these are the same people who opposed the stimulus and government spending on infrastructure projects like roads and bridges which the country does need and which would also have put people to work. These are also same people who denigrate food stamps and the people who need and use them.

 This is not a defense of Obama and his duplicity, political dishonesty, policy failures, capitulation, and spectacular betrayals of Democratic ideas and principles or his chronic lack of conviction and broken promises in his first four years. But it is one more example of gross Republican hypocrisy and dishonesty and more proof that they have no real solutions for righting the ship no matter what kind of ship it is. And one more reason to reject them at the polls. Especially in congress.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Biden's political error inadvertantly strikes out both Obama and Romney on foreign policy.

Reminiscent of Casey Stengel's lament over the 1962 New York Mets, "can't anybody here play this game", vice president Biden, in making the rounds of the morning talk shows to defend Obama's positions on foreign policy following Monday night's debate managed to do the opposite. At the same time, being the truly honorable man that he is, Biden might have been telling the truth.

On the Today Show following Monday night's debate Biden said that Romney "proved he was not ready to be commander-in-chief" because Romney demonstrated a shallow understanding of foreign affairs and the military.

 "He ( Romney) demonstrated an overwhelming lack of understanding of the international community, he demonstrated a lack of understanding of the military".

 Unfortunately, Biden's criticism of Romney for not having any understanding of foreign affairs and the military was based on Biden  accusing Romney of  " rushing to agree with everything the president has done already".

 Biden said on the Today Show that he was hard pressed to see where Romney would act differently than Obama.

 "He agreed with everything we've done in Iran ( actually not true), he agreed with everything we've done in Syria, he's agreed with everything we've done in Libya".

 He went on to say that Romney "didn't demonstrate any breadth of understanding" when it came to foreign policy. Which may very well be true. But according to Biden, if Romney's lack of understanding and his shallowness is that he agreed with everything Obama has done on foreign policy, well, you get the idea.

 Unfortunately almost everything Biden said was probably true. About both candidates, though Obama did have the line of the night in terms of pointing out how antiquated and backward Republican thinking can be when Obama said in response to Romney's criticism of having a smaller navy than we did in 1916, "yes we have less ships than we did in 1916. We also have fewer horses and bayonettes".
But in terms of playing politics, Democrats, who have facts, history and principle on their side, are still playing like the 1962 New York Mets.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Democrats need isn't more money, it's a message.

 The emails I've been getting from Democrats and Democratic support groups continues to highlight the sheer ineptitude and incompetence that passes for Democratic political strategists and strategy and as a result, they are starting to sound desperate. Which is bad news because with Obama, admittedly a disaster as president for Democratic policies and beliefs, and with Romney's Republican policies a clear and present danger to the health of the country, it is who wins congress that will matter more than who is president.

 But in spite of the clear message that Democrats need to send which so far, they have been inadequate in sending, ( for a variety of reasons) the content of the emails I've been getting highlight only one thing -- how much Republican PAC's are spending in this race and that Democratic candidates are being outspent and can you send more money because the polls show they are losing or losing their lead.

 The problem is, this is not about money or a product of Republicans spending more than Democrats. It isn't more money Democrats need. It's a message, a strategy a clear point that resonates with voters by using something Democrats other than Obama have on their side that is worth more than money -- facts. What Democrats needs is to start using them in a forceful and convincing way and start using the part of the male anatomy that James Carville pointed out was missing from Obama. It's doesn't take big money, it takes big ideas. And knowing how to communicate them.

 When I was Executive Director of the Denver Group during the 2008 presidential primaries, I created ads and TV commercials attacking the DNC for their backdoor plan to try and push Hillary Clinton off the ballot at the Democratic National Convention and not even allow her an honest roll call vote as part of a strategy (which has since backfired) to present a false picture of party unity by pretending that everyone supported Obama, which was clearly not true.

 With a very low six figure budget from individual donations, a budget miniscule by political advertising standards, I created ads and TV commercials that demanded enough attention and had a big enough impact to generate a lot of media coverage which resulted in media articles about our work, the advertising and the political goals they were designed to achieve. These ads and commercials resulted in interviews in mainstream media outlets with myself and co-founder Heidi Feldman, like the New York Times ( twice) Huffington Post ( twice) the Hill, Congressional Quarterly, ABC News, Fox News multiple times, the BBC, the Toronto Star, various radio outlets, local Washington DC TV news stations, news outlets as far away as Japan, and we were the Question of the Day on the Cafferty File on CNN. Howard Dean was besieged with reporters questions during his bus tour about Clinton and if she was going to be on the ballot at the convention and all this as a result of well timed, well placed, high impact ads and TV commercials on a budget so small by political standards, it wouldn't pay for the Koch Brothers cell phone bills for a month. So its never about money. Its about message and how to get it across.

 The latest plea for more money in my mailbox from Democrats came on behalf of Missouri senator Claire McCaskill. The email, from NY senator Kristin Gillbebrand, pointed out the latest poll numbers between McCaskill and her Tea Party right wing opponent, Todd Akin showed McCaskill now behind 49-45. And according to the email, "this after Akin's offensive comments about 'legitimate rape' and whether Claire is 'ladylike enough' to be a senator. We have to absolutely do something about this".

 Yes you do have to do something about it, but whose fault is all of this? Not having enough money? Akin having more? Or McCaskill's decision which was roundly and severely criticized here at the time, to not go after Akin over his ignorant and offensive remarks about rape and a woman's body "shutting down" to prevent pregnancy and make that a focal point of McCaskill's campaign.

 Within 24 hours of his remark Republicans were calling for him to quit the race and the Republican senate campaign committee said they were going to cut off money for his campaign. Akin was on the ropes. But Akin stuck to his guns ( as offensive as his guns are), stood up to the media as well as the Republican establishment, stood by his comments and McCaskill did little or nothing about it instead of using it in every way possible against him.

 McCaskill and her "strategists" let Akin off the hook, never went in for the kill, never used a weapon that was handed to them on a silver platter and now they are complaining that Akin is ahead because they don't have enough money.

 The truth is Republicans know how to go in for the kill and Democrats don't. In fact Democrats seem to know very little about how to go after Republicans with a tough message and win a campaign. Instead my mailbox is filled every day with the same old song from MoveOn, the PCCC, Democracy for America and pleas for money from various candidates around the country who feel they are victims of Republicans outspending them, as if that and that alone has anything to do with anything.

 There are a lot of ways Democrats can win and most Democratic candidates except for Obama should be far ahead of their Republican opponents. If they aren't, its not because they don't have enough money. Its not knowing what to do with the money they have. It's not knowing how to formulate a strong and honest message, get it across forcefully and convincingly, and attack their opponent with the facts,while being honest .

 It would also help to be honest and straightforward with disappointed and disaffected Democrats about Obama's presidency and his failures in selling out of the Democratic and progressive agenda with promises to do something about it if they regain control of congress, and just as importantly, point out the dangers in the policies of the opposition in an honest, factual and forceful way. Instead we see dull, ineffective, predicatable and easily ignored TV commericals by MoveOn and others with a plea to send $5 to help air them.

 What Democrats need is not more money. Its strategy, ideas, and knowing what to do with the money they have. So far, a lot of them don't.

Conservatism as it exists today and the Tea Party in particular, almost all of whom are completely ignorant as to what actually motivated the orginal Boston Tea Party, are and have been, anathema to everything the country stands for and has ever stood for as well as the principles and beliefs of the Founders. None of the founding principles of this country has anything to do with anything the Tea Party conservatives stand for and the same is true for the individual principles of Jefferson, Adams and the other Founders. They are a fat and easy target and if there is any goal for the upcoming election it should be to stamp them out as a political influence with resounding defeats everywhere. And doing it would, under normal circumstances be easy to do. But Democrats and their paid strategists seem to be befuddled over how to do it. Hopefully they will figure it out before it's too late.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Obama or Romney: the waste vs. a wasteland.

 There is a good case to be made that this years choices for president are the worst in American history. George W. Bush is generally regarded as the country's worst president  having caused more catastrophies because of his policies than all U.S. presidents combined. But in both 2000 and 2004 the country had better choices in Gore and Kerry. In two very close elections the country chose poorly and paid the price, but much of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the gross political incompetence and ineptitude of Democrats and their political  strategists, something that continues to this day.

The problem with Obama, as everyone knows, is that Obama has no principles, no values and no convictions.

The problem with Romney and conservatives is that they do. And those convictions, values and principles if allowed to be implemented would not only result in the same disasters the Republicans visited on the country during the Bush years, given the current state of affairs, it would turn the country into a wasteland in almost every aspect of American life, from economics, to the culture,  unemployment, and the values and liberties upon which the country was founded but which conservatives have always opposed.

 Obama's dismal record speakes for itself and he has been an embarrassment to the Democratic party. Especially to Pelosi who famously said in 2008 that Obama was qualified to be president "from day one". That should forever automatically dismiss anything Pelosi offers in terms of her political judgement borne out by the fact that  even though Obama had the biggest congressional majority of any president in 60 years, Obama did virtually nothing of value and betrayed the agenda on which he was elected. And congressional Democrats led by Pelosi let him get away with it. Compared with what could have been accomplished, his four years have been a waste. And given his 15 year history in which he had accomplished absolutely nothing, there is no reason to think another four years would be any different.

Obama's saving grace is that  what he would fail to accomplish over the next four years would still be  better than what Romney, Ryan and the Republicans would accomplish if they controlled the government. What Obama would fail to do for the country would still be better than what Romney and the Republicans would do to it. Which makes this election about the lesser of two evils - the waste that is Obama and that was on display during the first debate,  versus the wasteland the country would become under a conservative agenda.  The caveat to all this might be who controls congress, which for the first time in history becomes more important than who is president. A good case can be made that a Democratic congress standing up to a Romney presidency could be more effective than a Democratic congress capitulating to Obama who in turns capitulates to anything that moves. But chances are, if Obama does win, it will be on the coattails of a Democrats winning congress and not the other way around.

Had Romney run as the moderate Republican he was as governor of Massachussetts, there is a good chance he could have landslided Obama, winning over disaffected Democrats fed up with Obama and his reneging on promises and then lying about it. Instead Romney went to the right during the primaries and his convention speech, then chose Paul Ryan, a Tea Party darling and himself a well documented ( by Fox News of all places) political liar. So now it will be a close election with many independents still undecided

In the first debate, a debacle for Obama, Romney  was the clear winner and based on polling, in not just staggering numbers, but historic numbers with Romney chosen the winner by the biggest margin of victory since Gallup started polling the question after debates. The number was 77% who said Romney was the winner versus 22% for Obama.  Obama's incompetence and lack of conviction which was his presidency in microcosm, was clearly on display and  the result of that debate is that Romney has closed the gap in presidential preference polls and in the most recent Pew poll, the most reliable and unbiased of polls, Romney now has a 2 point lead.
But the reason for Romney's surge is not just Obama's wet dishrag performance but because Romney became more moderate, more the politician who was the former governor of Massachusetts , not the politician who pandered to the Tea Party and the anti-American beliefs of the extreme right. So which is the real Romney? The answer is it may not be worth the risk to find out, though Obama still faces polls where 54%  rightly say he doesnt deserve to be elected.And he doesnt. The real question is who would be worse?
 Its up to Democratic strategists, the New York Jets of professional politics, to convince people that Romney's apparent move to moderation is a phony. One of the best ways to prove it is with Romney's choice of Ryan as his choice for running mate. No matter how much Romney tries to sound moderate, Democrats can make Ryan the ball and chain shackled to Romney's ankle that he can't shake.
Another way to prove it, is to hit Romney hard on his seemingly innocuous statement during the debate, mentioned almost as an aside,  that he would defund Public Broadcasting and with it Big Bird. It might seem like a small inconsequential thing but it isn't and it reflects the worst of Republican thinking.  First, PBS is the only independent television broadcaster in the country something that frustrates Republicans when they cant use it to disseminate political and policy distortions. But more than that,  America probably gets a bigger return on Big Bird and Sesame Street than any other American export. Sesame Street has not only taught tolerance to American children and the value of accepting people who are different from themselves, it teaches the same thing to children in other countries around the world, since Sesame Street airs all over the world. That can pay big dividends in the future in terms of the world we live in,  which makes Sesame Street  one of America's most valuable exports.  To do away with that based on its infinitesimal budget in the name of austerity and fiscal responsiblity is the most short sighted and misguided example of Republicans knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. If they are ready to put Big Bird out of work, dont think for a minute their policies wont do the same to millions of others.
 The  Democrats greatest asset right now is Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and his past pandering to the  Tea Party and others on the extreme right.
Obama's presidency has surely been a waste, something Democrats need to acknowledge and not insult the intelligence of Democratic voters by trying to say otherwise.  But the wasteland that would be America, from unrealistic tax policy, changes in Medicare, overcrowding of schools,  higher unemployment and government interfering with personal choices that are none of governments business if Romney and the extreme right controlled the government, would be worse than a do nothing Obama if Republicans maintained control of the House. The real issue now is whether or not there are Democrats smart enough to keep it from happening and can find an honest message that can help Democrats gain control of congress. Clearly Obama is not one of them.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Presidential debate as an Obama train wreck.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, after watching the first presidential debate between Romney and Obama, the fact is, to put it inelegantly, Obama got his ass kicked. A 10th grader running for class president could have done better.

 His rhetoric about ankle high, he was unprepared, rambling, at times almost incoherent and never had an answer for any of Romney's assertions, true or not,  even though he had a warehouse full of ammunition he could have used and didn't. Or wasn't aware of.

What was on display was the elected official who voted "present" more than 100 times to avoid having to vote for or against anything when he was in the Illinois state senate. What was on display is what happens when a candidate has no convictions, no principles, nothing he really believes in.

If anything, Obama's performance was his first four years in office in microcasm.

 Romney came across confident, knowledgeable and assertive. Obama came across wishy washy and weak and showed no leadership skills which, as he demonstrated in his first four years in office,and all his previous years of elected office,  he never had in the first place.

 On taxes Obama kept accusing Romney of wanting a $5 trillion tax cut and $2 trillion increase in defense spending and asked a logical question: how do you do that and reduce the deficit without making Draconian cuts in programs people want and need? Romney's answer was that he never proposed a $5 trillion tax cut, essentially calling Obama a liar, and Obama had no answer. All Obama could do was repeat the $5 trillion tax cut assertion. He couldn't say where that $5 trillion figure came from, he couldn't quote Romney or any of his advisors, so in short Obama made the claim but couldn't substantiate it, leaving it up to individuals if they so choose, or the media to look into it and decide who was right. But it shouldn't have come to that. If Obama's figures were right he should have been able to pin them on Romney and didn't. If they weren't, if they were smoke and mirrors, he had no business quoting them in the first place.

 When it came to taxes and the economy, a half way decent Democratic debater could have eviscerated Romney and  would have not just attacked Romney's proposals but the entire Republican party and their ideology. Obama could have gone back to 1992 when Republicans en masse voted against Bill Clinton's budget, the budget that eventually eliminated the deficit and resulted in the greatest economic expansion in history and Clinton did it with a tax increase. And then there was all the ammunition from the Bush years.

 Obama should have and could have attacked not just Republican philosophy but their abysmal economic track record and then forced Romney to either defend the Republican record or disown it. Obama did neither.

 Obama was completely steam rolled by Romney on just about every topic discussed.

 Romney went especially hard after the middle class and presented himself as their protector and defender while Obama still had no answer. On one of the two main issues where Obama had enjoyed a substantial advantage in the minds of the voters, taxes and the middle class, Romney came out the winner.

 Most people expected that at first opportunity Obama would have brought up Romney's "47%" remark to neutralize Romney's claims as the great defender of the middle class. In two hours of debate not a word from Obama about the "47%". Nothing.

 On Medicare Romney made the oft repeated accusation that Obama was cutting $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and that he, Romney would restore it. While Obama had been saying previously that the $700 billion were cuts in payments to providers and not benefits, Romney made a case for how that cuts could result in fewer doctors accepting Medicare. Obama had no answer for that either. He also never pointed out that Romney's own running mate, Paul Ryan had made the same $700 billion Medicare cut in Ryan's proposed budget. Romney's pledge to restore that $700 billion would have given Obama a great opportunity to exploit a rift between Romney and his running mate and put Romney on the defensive and challenge his credibility and to explain why he says one thing and his running mate says another. Obama didn't do that either.

 What made Obama's performance border on the farcical, is that on the two major issues that he and Democrats are supposed to have a decided advantage, Medicare and the economy, Romney came out the big winner, making it sound as if he, Romney,was the one to preserve Medicare and not Obama, and that he, Romney, was going to be the defenders of the middle class, not Obama and that he, Romney, knew how to create jobs and not Obama.

 Obama had no answers for any of it. And no message. He couldnt defend his first four years in office ( though admittedly no one, not even Democrats could) and he couldnt attack Romney and Republican proposals.  Obama rambled, had no command of facts, sounded defensive, and took no advantage of all the opportunities Romney had given him over the last few months which had so worried Republicans. Not a word about the "47"%, not a word about the differences between what Romney was saying now about Medicare and what he and his running mate had said previously -- nothing to attack Romney's credibility. Which left Romney's credibility intact. And Obama's hanging by a thread.

 Romney also repeated the same old Republican bromides on job creation which have already been discredited-- cut taxes on business and they will take the additional revenue and create jobs. That is fantasy. More than 80% of the GDP is consumer spending. Consumer demand for goods and services is what drives the economy and  creates jobs, not tax cuts for businessess. Middle class tax cuts, an increase in tax cuts on upper income earners earmarked for deficit reduction is what would create jobs. So would a government run public healthcare option which would have enabled businesses and individuals to opt out of private insurance which would have put more money into the pockets of both workers and businesses, stimulating the economy and jobs and according to the CBO would have reduced the deficit by $160 billion, but Obama screwed that up too. And when Romney attacked Obama for passing a healthcare bill without a single Republican vote, Obama, behaving like he was in a coma, neglected to point out how Republicans had vowed to obstruct any healthcare law. Instead, Obama defended his own attempts at trying to compromise with Republicans and sounded like Bill Macy in the movie "Fargo" when he said during an interrogation, " I'm cooperatin' here".

 Democrats got more bad news from 500 self described independent voters who said they had not yet made up their minds and who agreed to be part of a CBS News instant poll after the debate. On just about every issue and aspect of the debate including personal traits these voters by a wide margin, gave the advantage to Romney.

 Democrats had better recognize they are in trouble and on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as they have done so many times in the past because they lack strong political leadership at the top, and lack political strategists who know what they are doing, know how to formulate a message, get it across and go on the attack.

 And one of the best ways for Democratic candidates to handle that is not to lie, not pretend and admit that Obama's performance at the debate, like his first four years in office,  was a lot less than what one would have hoped but still run against Republican ideology that has been a proven disaster in the past and would be in the future.

 One can admit the truth, that Obama's first four years in office was not what it should have been but that Republican policies would be worse. Then make the case for a Democratic congress that would take the reins and do what should have been done in the first place. At least that would have credibility. Trying to defend Obama does not.

 Given Obama's dismal debate performance it should be clear to Democratic candidates they are on their own and not to expect any help from Obama. He was unqualified to be the Democratic candidate from day one, he was a product of news media hype and dishonesty and the emotional agenda of electing a president of color despite character flaws that would have sunk any other presidential candidate and ignored by the media and it all came home to roost during the debate.

After four years of a presidency that cant be defended, highlighted by Obama selling out and reneging on promises on tax policy, betraying the public option and in it's place creating a health care bill that even Howard Dean said he hoped would be over turned by the Supreme Court, if Obama does win another term, it will be on the coattails of Democrats running for congress not the other way around.

As for the debate itself, Chris Matthews, an Obama cheerleader from the beginning asked, "Where was Obama"? The answer is, the same place he's been for 15 years, you just never noticed.