Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Thanksgiving Outrage!!

Why is it the government always wants to control and interfere with our live? Our families? Our schools? Our personal lifestyles?

And big business, too! The big corporations certainly think they know what's best for all us "little people." I'm old enough to remember the old adage "What's good for General Motors is good for the USA."
This is paraphrase of an actual quote by Charles E. Wilson, the President of General Motors who went on to become the Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower. The exact quote is often attributed to satirist and newspaper cartoonist Al Capp who created a character in his comic strip "Lil' Abner" modeled after Charles Wilson and named "General Bullmoose."

And, if you'll allow me one further digression, there was another Charles E. Wilson who also was the head of a major US Corporation, General Electric, who also became Secretary of Defense just a few years earlier under President Truman. The two are often confused.

But back to our story of outrageous Governmental and big business interference and meddling in our lives. I know you think the country is divided today... but this dictatorial act of over reaching Presidential power really did divide the country, often pitting father against son, brother against brother and created a real battle of wills between the states!

I'm not joking. And I'm not taking about the civil war. But, rest assured this story is exactly and absolutely true.

Thanksgiving is a truly American Holiday and a wonderful American tradition. According to generally accepted history the first Thanksgiving happened in the fall of 1621 when Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered together to celebrate a successful harvest. The exact date is actually unknown but is generally believed to be sometime between September 21 and November 11. It was a three-day feast. I wish we hadn't lost that tradition!

But, in reality,Thanksgiving was never an official "National" holiday. In 1863, when President Lincoln was looking for ways to unite the country, he issued the first "Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation" and set the last Thursday in November to be a day of "thanksgiving and praise."

The Thanksgiving Holiday was embraced by the public and for the next 75 years each President issued his own Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of Thanksgiving.

Ahhh, but here's where big business and politics intervened. By 1939 President Roosevelt was fighting the Great Depression with every weapon he could muster. And, in 1939, the last Thursday of November was going to be November 30, the final day of the month.

As you know, even today, retailers, especially the big corporations, do everything possible to increase and enlarge the length of the Holiday Shopping Season. And, as you also know, most people really object to the move by business to further commercialize and extend the Christmas season.

When the various big retailers and business associations complained to President Roosevelt that, with Thanksgiving on the 30th of November, there would be only left 24 shopping days to Christmas, Roosevelt was receptive to their pleas. If only the President would move Thanksgiving one week earlier, it would add a full seven days to the Holiday Shopping Season!! It was, the retailers claimed, a win-win situation because if the public spent more money it would help their profits and help end the depression!

Roosevelt agreed! In 1939, he declared the date of Thanksgiving to be Thursday, November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of the month!

What seemed like a good idea quickly turned into a political and commercial nightmare. Roosevelt made several mistakes, the most important of which was messing with an established tradition. But there were other problems. First he issued the Proclamation way too late. Calendars were now incorrect. Schools who had planned vacations and tests now had to reschedule.

And even in 1939 Thanksgiving was a big day for football games, much as it is today. It wasn't such a great idea to interfere with college football. And Roosevelt's decision caused many games to be scheduled on a working weekend.

Of course, political opponents questioned the president's right to change the holiday and stressed the breaking of precedent and disregard for tradition. Sounds a lot like controversies today doesn't it? Many believed that changing a cherished holiday just to appease big businesses was selling out to the corporations.

The not particularly loyal opposition called the new early date "Franksgiving" in dishonor of Roosevelt himself.

If you think this is some silly little argument and the Wizard is making all this up, I'm not. This was a serious issue of the day. And it quickly got a lot more serious.

Since Thanksgiving was not a legally legislated Holiday, each states Governor normally issued a Proclamation for their own state. So in 1939, many governors, who did not agree with Roosevelt's decision, refused to follow his lead. The country became split on which Thanksgiving day they should observe.

Twenty-three states followed Roosevelt's decision and declared Thanksgiving to be November 23.

But exactly twenty-three other states disagreed and kept the traditional date for Thanksgiving, one week later.

The two states that the Wizard calls home, Colorado and Texas, actually decided to honor both dates. Was that the 1939 version of "politically correct?"

At any rate the idea of two Thanksgivings split some families, because not everyone had the same day off work. School Holidays were messed up and so were vacations.

And everybody ended up hating the retailers who caused this mess in the first place. Holiday shopping did not improve in either group of states!

The controversy continued in 1940 and in 1941 when Roosevelt again chose the third Thursday for Thanksgiving.

But finally, after much negotiation and public pressure, a bipartisan group in Congress came up with a compromise. Congress finally made Thanksgiving a real legal National Holiday, taking away the President's right to set the date!

The new law declared that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November, a split between the old and new dates.

The Congressional compromise insured Thanksgiving would never fall on either the 29th or the 30th. But it generally would fall on the last Thursday of November in traditional fashion.

I hope you all have a wonderful, peaceful and stress free Thanksgiving.

A big thanks and a tip of the Wizard's pointly cap goes to Jennifer Rosenberg's, whose article, A History of Thanksgiving, is located in

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We Should Leave Iraq........ Never!

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was just plain stupid. It was unnecessary, poorly planned and badly executed. If George Bush wasn't a fool, he certainly made foolish decisions. As for Rumsfeld, he was criminally incompetent.

Hindsight is a wonderful tool. But ninety percent of Americans supported the invasion of Iraq. And nearly every Democrat either strongly and passionately supported the war or were too cowardly to actively oppose it. We should and must deeply respect those who opposed the invasion before it began, but we should also forgive those who mistakenly supported the invasion.

But what about today? The world and the Middle East are vastly different today that they were six years ago. And our ill begotten invasion and occupation of Iraq are part of the reason for the different dynamics at play.

But we cannot undo the last six years. This isn't golf and we don't get a mulligan. Instead we must play the ball where it lays. And it lays in the slowly healing Iraq.

New leadership in the military and in the Department of Defense have reprogrammed our approach to Iraq. Finally a solution to the failed state is building, as it must, from the ground up. A very, very gradual pull down of troops has begun. But the foundation is fragile.

And the enemies of America are genuinely terrifying. If the political forces fighting so very, very hard to engineer a forced pull out of American troops from Iraq would look dispassionately at the enemy they would see an organization so vile, so evil, so ruthless that their daily operating tactics violate not just the Geneva Convention, but every value and moral ever cherished by every single human society throughout history.

George Bush has never even imagined the types of sadistic and evil torture practiced every minute of day by these ...... people ........ [What can we call them??? There simply isn't a word in any language for this level of evil.] Targeting children. Killing teachers. Brainwashing followers into suicide murder. Thousands (yes, you read that number right) of torture chambers where generally innocent people are slowly starved, cut, bled and beaten to death, often for no purpose what-so-ever.

Televised beheadings? At least they have a purpose, They are designed to incite fear.

But the real issue is Iran. While Bush screwed up with invading Iraq and providing textbook lessons in how not to occupy a country, Iran has emerged as the leader in the Middle East. And now even conservative estimates give Iran nuclear weapons in just one year.

And there are, in fact, no solutions to Iran, no options, even in Bush's far reaching playbook. Posturing and bluffing are the best the west can do and, frankly, Iran knows the drill.

So we face a nuclear Iran. Period. There are no options. Bush will not bomb. Bush cannot invade. Israel will not be our proxy. Period.

Given these facts, and they are facts, the only logical, intelligent course is to stay and rebuild Iraq from the ground up. A strong, democratic, Iraq is the only solution, even if it take years. The United States must maintain significant forces in Iraq until that job is done.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Iranian Minister: Gays Should Be Hanged

I can literally hardly wait until January 9, 2009 when the new President, whoever he or she might be, is inaugurated. Not because Bush will be leaving, but because maybe.... just maybe.... all my long time liberal friends and allies will return to their sanity.

I hate the "Bush Derangement Syndrome" that has infected so many of my friends because it has so thoroughly blinded them to the real issues and the real problems, the real prejudices, the real crimes and the real tragedies around the world. And the plight of homosexuals in Iran is one of those real tragedies.

Further down this page will be a story that is resonating
with liberals and progressives around the world. But you won't find a single sentence about it on The Huffington Post (go ahead and do a
search) or on The Daily Kos. Nope, to find this story here in the USA you need to go to the liberal bastion of truth and justice: Little Green Footballs.

For those who simply cannot bear to click on a link to lgf, here is a link directly to the story from the Times of London:
Gays should be hanged, says Iranian minister

Key quotes from the Times Story:

Homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both, an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a peace conference, The Times has learnt.

Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality
after a spate of reports that gay youths were being hanged.

Britain regularly challenges Iran about its gay hangings, stonings and executions of adulterers and perceived moral criminals, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) papers show.

The latest row involves a woman hanged this June in the town of Gorgan after becoming pregnant by her brother. He was absolved after expressing his remorse.

A series of reported executions of gays, including two underage boys whose public hanging was posted on the internet, has alarmed human rights campaigners.

Minutes taken by an official describe a meeting between British and Iranian MPs at the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a peace body, in May. When the Britons raised the hangings of Asqari and Marhouni, the leader of the Iranian delegation, Mr Yahyavi, a member of his parliament’s energy committee, was unflinching.
He “explained that according to Islam gays and lesbianism were not permitted”, the record states.... those in overt activity should be executed [he initially said tortured but changed it to executed].

He argued that homosexuality is against human nature and that humans are here to reproduce. Homosexuals do not reproduce.”

Nicole Pichet, a researcher who also took notes of the gathering, told The Times that the discussion began with British MPs discussing the underage gay hangings.
Mr Yahyavi responded by saying homosexuality was to blame for a lot of diseases such as Aids.

Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Nigeria apply the death penalty for homosexuality, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

The Bush Derangement Syndrome casuses some of my friends to say that we cannot possibly criticize Iran because Bush criticizes Iran. We can't be on Bush's side of the debate.

Does that mean we must turn a blind eye to injustice? Our help is needed. We wouldn't tolerate this activity in Texas or Montana or Israel or France. Why do we tolerate it in Iran?

I'm hopeful that once Clinton or Obama or even Guilani is elected, liberals and progressives can once again focus on issues without considering the spectre of George Bush.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Waterboarding Free Speech to Death

I'm sick and tired of the damned intolerance of the LEFT toward any conflicting opinion, idea or thought. Why must opposition (from the left or the right) seek to absolutely SILENCE any dissenting opinion?

The LEFT WING THOUGHT POLICE, aided by the DAILY KOS and dozens of left wing blogs, claimed another victim this past week with the firing of conservative columnist Rachel Marsden from the Toronto Sun.

The ONLY GOAL of these coordinated left wing bloggers was her firing! As a blogger named "pale" wrote over at A Creative Revolution, "Why would anyone give this woman a platform to spew her venom?"

Why pale, how brilliant! Only you should have a platform to spew your venom.

One reader, aptly named "TheManWithNoPoint" replied to the blog, "I want Rachel Marsden off the columnist role for that rag, or I'm kicking it into high gear. Hint: And that might involve placards and thermoses full of hot cocoa, at a certain newspaper's head office."

This was notihing short of a full blown effort to get a columnist fired that spread like wildfire across the blogosphere.

All my regular readers know I get equally outraged when a liberal voice is silenced by the right. Thankfully that rarely happens.

But exactly what was Marsden's unforgivable sin that led to her firing? Well, she expressed an opinion. It was kind of her job at Sun Media.

She said that, under certain circumstances, in time of war, certain actions, including waterboarding, might be necessary. I've made the exact same case here in my blog, but no one can fire me. Of course, I'm not as funny or sarcastic as Marsden either.

Marsden did go on to defend the practice of waterboarding and make a case that it wasn't even torture.

Now you can disagree with her every premise, you can argue point by point that she is wrong, she is ignorant, she is cruel, she is petty, she is stupid or that she is ugly (although that is a stretch). That is a debate, a discussion, a dialog. But getting her fired? That stifles debate.

No discussion is necessary. The silence of the lambs.

Here are some key points from Marsden in her blog reply to her firing:
Some Have Forgotten How War Works

If the West loses the current war against Islamofascism, it will be because some have lost all sense of what war really means.

Last week, in my weekly Sun Media column, I argued that it’s really not that big of a deal to make terror suspects like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed essentially do what any kid does at Halloween when he bobs for apples--except in the presence of the CIA, and with the prize in the terrorist’s case being lifesaving information.

That column triggered an email campaign spearheaded by the Daily Kos--the largest far-left blog in America--which appealed to the Sun’s new editor-in-chief from the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest leftist newspaper. As a result, after 2 years with the Sun and a hundred columns, my writing is now in search of a new home.

Really, has society lost its collective mind to the point where we’ve forgotten how to properly wage a war?

General Paul Tibbets, who dropped the A-bomb on Japan that ended World War II, recently passed away. According to the New York Times, Tibbets told a PBS documentary: “It would have been morally wrong if we’d have had that weapon and not used it and let a million more people die.”

And now here we are, 60 years later, wringing our hands over how we should treat people who have made it abundantly clear that they would have killed us, if we hadn’t nabbed them first. What’s the alternative that the terrorist sympathizers are looking for? To tickle them until they cry uncle and promise to be good boys?

War isn’t like divvying up the contents of a condo upon divorce so everyone walks away feeling good. It means people have to die. And sometimes even be forced to bob for apples with the CIA. Sorry, but that’s the way it has always worked. In the words of the A-bomb pilot: “I have been convinced that we saved more lives than we took.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Misreading the Mandate

For at least the last four years I hoped that President Bush would remove Karl Rove from his position in the White House. I believed Rove was not part of any solution and was the focus of the problem with the Bush Presidency and the acrimonious relationship between Congress and the Executive Branch.

I was thrilled to see Rove finally go.

But today I must strongly recommend that all my fellow Democrats and especially the Member and Leaders of Congress carefully study and read Karl Rove's Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal,
"A Failure to Lead."

Never in my long life have I seen Congress so thoroughly misread their election victory and the mandate they received from a public anxious for change in Washington. And I believe the real problem in Congress today rests with Nancy Pelosi and especially the politically deaf Harry Reid, the most embarrassing Senate Majority Leader in history.

Just reading Rove's essay is bitter medicine for any Democrat. "A tough pill to swallow" is an understatement!

But Democrats had better do more than just read. They must understand that Rove is spot on correct, not necessarily in his specific programs (which, of course, lean way too far right), but in his evaluation of the performance of the Congress, its ethics, its discipline and its results.

Key (and edited) Rove comments follow:

This week is the one-year anniversary of Democrats winning Congress. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid probably aren't in a celebrating mood. The goodwill they enjoyed after their victory is gone. And Congress's approval rating has fallen to its lowest point in history.

The problems the Democrats are now experiencing begin with the federal budget. Or rather, the lack of one. In 2006, Democrats criticized Congress for dragging its feet on the budget and pledged that they would do better. Instead, they did worse. The new fiscal year started Oct. 1--five weeks ago--but Democrats have yet to send the president a single annual appropriations bill. It's been at least 20 years since Congress has gone this late in passing any appropriation bills, an indication of the mess the Pelosi-Reid Congress is now in.

Even worse, the Democrats have made clear all their talk about "fiscal discipline" is just that--talk. They're proposing to spend $205 billion more than the president has proposed over the next five years. And the opening wedge of this binge is $22 billion more in spending proposed for the coming year. Only in Washington could someone in public life be so clueless to say, as Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi have, that $22 billion is a "relatively small" difference.

Beholden to and other left-wing groups, Democratic leaders have ignored the progress made in Iraq by the surge, diminished the efforts of our military, and wasted precious time with failed attempts to force an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. They continue to try to implement this course, which would lead to chaos in the region, the creation of a possible terror state with the third largest oil reserves in the world, and a major propaganda victory for Osama bin Laden as well as for Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

After promising on the campaign trail to "support our troops," Democrats tried to cut off funding for our military while our soldiers and Marines are under fire from the enemy.
For 19 Senate Democrats, this was simply a bridge too far, so they voted against their own leadership's proposal. Democrats also tried to stuff an emergency war-spending bill with billions of dollars of pork for individual members. Now the party's leaders are stalling an emergency supplemental bill with funding for body armor, bullets and mine-resistant vehicles.

Democrats promised "civility and bipartisanship." Instead, they stiff-armed their Republican colleagues, refused to include them in budget negotiations between the two houses.....

They refused a bipartisan compromise on an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, instead wasting precious time sending the president a bill they knew he would veto. And they did this knowing that they wouldn't be able to override that veto.
Why? Because their pollsters told them putting the children's health-care program at risk would score political points. Instead, it left them looking cynical.

The list of Congress's failures grows each month. No energy bill. No action on health care. No action on the mortgage crisis. No immigration reform..... Congress has not done its work. And these failures will have consequences.

Democrats had a moment after the 2006 election, but now that moment has passed. They've squandered it. They have demonstrated both the inability and unwillingness to govern.

Now that Democrats have the reins of congressional power... ...the public doesn't like what it sees.

The Democratic victory in 2006 was narrow. They won the House by 85,961 votes out of over 80 million cast and the Senate by a mere 3,562 out of over 62 million cast. A party that wins control by that narrow margin can quickly see its fortunes reversed when it fails to act responsibly, fails to fulfill its promises, and fails to lead.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned right here in my home state of Mississippi and our neighboring state of Louisiana. Republican Haley Barbour easily won re-election last week during a year when virtually every incumbent has been tossed out. Why? Because he got results!

Barbour managed both the relief and reconstruction after Katrina with efficiency, candor, honesty and speed. He compromised with our Democrat controlled House and our Democrat Attorney General to get the right relief and right support in the right places. He got results, not gridlock.

Compare Mississippi's amazing recovery with the disaster that still blocks virtually all the millions of federal dollars from reaching anyone in Louisiana and you see why you have a new REPUBLICAN replace the incumbent Democrat in the governor's seat without even a runoff.

You know what America really wants? A partnership between the parties for results and not more political grandstanding.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Tale of the Tip

The story of Hillary Clinton's visit to a Maid-Rite eatery in Iowa shouldn't be a story, but it's quickly evolving into an epic tragedy. I continue to personally be a strong Clinton supporter, although I believe it's still way to early to endorse anyone. Hillary Clinton is only a minor player in this story anyway.

This is a story of lies (although very tiny lies) and betrayal (really minor betrayal) and, mostly, campaign staffers covering their sorry and pathetic asses.

As is often the case in politics, it isn't the original crime that causes the problem, it's the cover-up. And the Clinton campaign organization is digging a hole so deep they can only pray for an earthquake to move the blogosphere off this story.

Without calling the Clinton campaign staffers outright liars, the editor's at NPR (National Public Radio) have re-investigated the story and bring the facts up-to-date. The conflicting and changing stories coming out of the Clinton headquarters strain credibility to the limits.

Why on earth doesn't the campaign just say "Opps!! We made a mistake and forgot the tip. We apologize."

Here are a few of the key points from the
NPR Editor's Update:

It started as an aside in a longer interview, but it became an Internet sensation within hours.

Anita Esterday, a waitress at the Maid-Rite in Toledo, Iowa, told NPR's David Greene in a report that aired on Morning Edition Thursday that "nobody got left a tip" on Oct. 8, when Clinton sat at the lunch counter and ordered up the restaurant's famous loose-meat sandwich.

Esterday served Clinton, chatted with her and later ended up as an
example of a hard-working single mom in Clinton's stump speech. She told NPR she's considering voting for Clinton, but was disappointed the senator and her staff didn't make sure she got a tip for her labor.

The tip issue was a small part of an eight-minute piece about how everyday people get caught up in political campaigns. Half the story was about an incident in which another presidential candidate, Barack Obama, failed to follow up on a letter he said he might send to a supporter he met at a rally. The Obama campaign Thursday said they fired off a letter to the supporter after the story aired. But that part of the story received little mention in the blogosphere after airing Thursday.

Not so the reference to Hillary Clinton and the tip. As soon as that
story aired in the 5 o'clock hour Eastern Time, it was picked up by a number of political blogs. And the Clinton campaign immediately contacted news organizations to tell its side of the story. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer wrote to NPR in an e-mail: "The campaign spent $157 and left a $100 tip at the Maid-Rite Restaurant. Wish you had checked in with us beforehand."

Esterday said "nobody got tipped that day," and NPR should have checked with the Clinton campaign before the story aired to see if any tip was left and how it was done. We regret that this was not done. On Thursday, Esterday was sticking by her story.

"Why would I lie about not getting a tip?" she told NPR. She also maintained that her co-workers at the restaurant had not received tips.

A Clinton campaign staffer called on Esterday at the restaurant Thursday after the story aired. The staff member apologized to her and gave her a $20 bill, according to Esterday. The Clinton campaign confirmed that visit.

The campaign also produced photocopies of receipts showing $157.46 was paid to Maid-Rite on a VISA card on Oct. 8 for meals consumed by the candidate's entourage. The tip was supposed to have been paid in cash, and the campaign insisted such a payment was made but has declined to make available a staff member who was present at Maid-Rite and left tip money.

"Where Hillary was sitting, there was no tip left," Crawford [the restaurant manager] said.

Esterday, speaking to NPR from home later Thursday, said the
Clinton campaign staffer who visited the diner apologized to her and said a $100 tip was left on a credit card the day of Clinton's visit. Esterday said the staff member said the money was meant to be shared.

"I explained to her that our credit card machine, you know, doesn't add on the tip," Esterday said. "And she said, 'Well, then, they left a $100 bill there.' And I said, 'Well, it didn't get divided up amongst us, because I had gotten nothing.'

"She just said, 'Well, there was one left,'" Esterday said. "She just kept repeating, 'There was one left.'

After the campaign staffer stopped at the diner Thursday, Esterday said, the $100 tip was a hot topic.

"Two others that had worked with me that day turned around and said, 'We didn't know about any $100 tip,' because they both turned around and said 'We didn't get a part of it.' And they didn't. So, it's like 'OK, where did it go?' That's the mystery question: Where did it go?"

Esterday said it would surprise her if money that was intended to be split among the staff was never shared.

"The ladies that were working that day have been working there for years — some of them for 30 years, some of them for 25 years," Esterday said. "And I've known a lot of these ladies most of my life living here, too. And I can't imagine them pocketing it."

The campaign has made the the tip question the top feature on a new Web site it has created called "Fact Hub." Campaign spokesman Phil Singer said in a statement: "In the minute-to-minute media cycle we live in, we believe it is critical to correct the record in real time."

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that no tip was left. It was a simple screw-up. Opps!

But now campaign staffers are in trouble and they are trying to cover up an embarrassing mistake. And one lie is simply being added on top of another.

And a simple and gracious "I'm sorry" combined with a small gratuity would have solved it all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Faced With Victory, Dems Rally for Defeat

Senator Joe Lieberman today delivered a brilliant analysis of the last 50 years of American Foreign Policy. Looking back to the legacy of President Truman and President Kennedy he tracked the shifting positions of both the Republican and Democrat Parties based, not on what was genuinely best for the United States, but instead based on political advantage and petty partisan politics.

It was a stunning indictment of both politial parties.

He discussed at length the brave few Senators and Congresspersons who consistently put National Security and moral principles above the limited horizon of the next electoral cycle. Lieberman's very short list includes both Democrats and Republicans. These real patriots provide real profiles in courage.

Lieberman's speech was given at the Center for Politics and Foreign Relations/Financial Times breakfast at The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Titled “The Politics of National Security,” the complete text can be found here.

As you no doubt have already guessed Lieberman saved his most savage indictments for the current Democrat Party Leadership who will spend the entire rest of 2007 working to pull our troops out of Iraq in the face of overwhelming military and social and political success.

As Iraq moves toward stability and safety, the Democrats move will hand victory to Islamic Terrorists and will take away freedom, safety, hope and democracy from the Iraqi citizens.
"Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically-elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush."

"Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran."

"Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there."

Politicians ARE Out of Touch

There was an absolutely sensational "little" story this morning on NPR's Morning Edition today that is suddenly gaining national attention and huge media play thanks to the enormous power of The Drudge Report. I'm guessing Matt Drudge wakes up to NPR (National Public Radio) just like I do.

Did you know that Drudge's website gets more visitors that CNN or FOX NEWS? And an "anti-Hillary" headline gets a lot of attention with Drudge's readers. But I digress.

David Greene's
When Real Lives Get Swept Into Campaign Rhetoric is exactly the type of reporting NPR does so very well. Personal, involved, in depth, really great journalism that is the norm on NPR and absent from virtually all other electronic media.

Click on the link above and then "Listen" to the story.

As I listened at about 5:30 am I was struck by a comment made by one of the subjects of the story, Iowa resident and waitress Anita Esterday. Esterday was asked by reporter Greene if she thought Hillary Clinton understood her economic plight (Esterday has to work two and three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet).

"I don't think she understood at all what I was saying," Esterday said. "I mean, nobody got left a tip that day."
Now the set up to this story is sort of important. Anita Esterday had waited on Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and her staff during one of those whirlwind lunch stop/photo ops at a famous local eatery. Hillary had taken time to talk with Anita and Hillary was obviously touched by Esterday's story of hard work.

In fact Hillary was so impressed by Esterday she used her story in a speech later that afternoon. A speech that reporter Greene played back for Esterday and the radio audience.

Clinton actually used Esterday as a campaign prop.... and anecdote to show just how "in touch" with the local folks Clinton actually is. Such is the way of politics and politicians.

The lunch stop had been set up by Clinton's staff and the Maid-Rite Restaurant owner had already agreed to provide the lunch for free (no doubt in hope of obtaining the massive free publicity he has indeed received).

Even as I listened at 5:30 am I thought it was astonishingly stupid that no one on the Clinton staff planned to tip the waiters and waitresses at every single campaign stop. These stories always come out during a campaign.

Remember George Bush (the first) and his amazement at grocery store scanners? Some people still think that one silly gaff cost Bush the election against Bill Clinton. You can't afford to be seen as "out of touch."

Bill Clinton said to workers "I feel your pain" while it was obvious George Bush hadn't personally visited a grocery story in years.

No doubt later today some staffer will hustle over to the Maid Rite and give Esterday and her co-workers their much deserved tip.

And they should.

And, if you actually listen to the report (and you should), I believe Barack Obama will also find time to write the overdue note to Geri Punteney's cancer stricken brother. But, trust me, if Greene hadn't done the story Esterday would have never received a tip nor Punteney's brother a note.

They were both just campaign props used by future President's as they whirlwind through Iowa.

CORRECTION/ADENDUM: NPR reports on their website: Since this story aired, Hillary Clinton's campaign contacted NPR to say that the campaign paid Maid-Rite a bill for $157 the day of Clinton's visit and left $100 in tip money. NPR contacted Maid-Rite manager Brad Crawford, who confirmed that a bill was paid and tip money was left. Crawford, who was not in the restaurant at the time, said that he believes a campaign staffer left the money with one of his employees, but "where Hillary was sitting, there was no tip left." Neither Anita Esterday nor the manager on duty that day were available for comment as of noon Thursday.

WIZARD'S NOTE: It would be really tragic if the "fellow employee" didn't ever share the money.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

And the Common Link Seems to be CAPITALISM!!!

In my last post I asked "What Do Don Imus and Waterboarding Have in Common?" and I actually thought I knew the answer. If you haven't read it already, scroll down and read my original essay.

But, as the Internet often proves, I was only skimming the surface of much deeper waters. Based on the rapid replies of my readers (who were no doubt trolling Technorati just looking for opportunities to spam for profit) the real answer to my question turns out to be "The Almighty Dollar!"

First we got a great reply for an entrepreneur selling IMUS gear and later we received a note with a link to a website selling the T-SHIRTS shown above.

Guantanamo Bay

Come for the Beaches...

Stay for the Waterboarding.

I love it! Here's a shirt that will be applauded by Liberals and Conservatives alike. Here's the link:

Ya gotta love the Internet.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What Do Waterboarding and Don Imus Have in Common?

I'm wondering out loud (well, in print, actually) if the American public would elect anyone President who would not authorize waterboarding in the face of an immediate threat to a substantial portion of the population of the United States?

Oh I recognize the posturing going on in the Senate this week. The same politics as usual I just criticized in my immediate past post is rearing it's ugly butt in the confirmation hearings for Michael Mulkasey. Senators who refused to make waterboarding illegal themselves in previous votes will now deny confirmation to a potential Attorney General who refuses to rule on the issue before he is even confirmed.

Anyone who thinks this debate is actually about waterboarding is a fool. It's all about defeating George Bush.

So that is not the question I'm asking. I'm just wondering if we would allow anyone to become the Commander in Chief who we thought wouldn't interrogate a terrorist up to the legal limits under certain situations?

If New York is ever attacked again, would we ever forgive a President who knowingly failed to take every action necessary to prevent the attack?

Every Democrat Senator running for President has ANNOUNCED he and she will VOTE AGAINST the confirmation of Mulkasey over the waterboarding issue. But this is the primary season.

What will they do when they are elected President? Will Senator Clinton AUTHORIZE harsh interrogation? We she fight for the same kinds and levels of "Executive Authority" that Bush has claimed? My bet is that she will. And so would Barack Obama. And so would John McCain.

I'm not saying these aren't tough questions. Or that any President wouldn't agonize over these issues.

But I predict that without exception, every single Presidential candidate running today,if elected, will absolutely authorize waterboarding and similar techniques once they are elected. No exceptions regardless of their politically motivated vote in the Mulkasey confirmation.

And therein lies the similarity between Don Imus and waterboarding. All these candidates and 74.275% of the known universe roundly condemned Don Imus during the Rutger's Basketball "nappy headed ho" flap. But now Imus is coming back. While the top tier candidates may avoid an actual appearance on his program "for a while," look for every campaign to have arm's length supporters appear on Imus and curry his favor and shill for the votes of Imus' legion of fans.

It was Politically Correct to criticize Imus during the Rutger's scandal. Imus became a sacrificial lamb in a culture rampant with racial and sexual stereotyping.

"The Rutgers controversy made Imus the object of vitriol from liberal leaders such as Sen. Hillary Clinton and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Clinton even referred to Imus as "Satan" - and called his remarks "small-minded bigotry."

But in reality Imus has been sorely missed. It turns out there is no substitute in political analysis and in-depth interviews. And every candidate is pleased if not absolutely thrilled to have him back.

Imus is just like waterboarding, they'll condemn him now, but they'll use him later.