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Kaine Is Able

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July 31, 2008

Speculation is rampant these days, concerning the identities of the Vice-Presidential selections to be made by Barack Obama and John McCain.  The late timing of the Democratic and Republican Conventions, both of which will take place after the Olympics, has apparently resulted in pressure to name VP selections before the Olympics begin on August 8 (lasting until August 24).  The Democratic Convention does not begin until the day after the closing ceremony of the Olympics (August 25) and runs until August 28.  Almost immediately thereafter, the Republican Convention begins on Labor Day (September 1) running until the 4th.  Out of fear that a Vice-Presidential selection could be upstaged by the Olympics, both parties are expected to announce their candidates’ picks before August 8.

Since the Democratic Convention takes place before the Republican conclave, Barack Obama is expected to announce his choice first.  Rumor has it that he will pick Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.  Speculation has run against Kaine as the VP choice because he has been the Governor of Virginia for only two years and he has no experience in Washington, D.C. politics.  These considerations, combined with Obama’s short history in the Senate, have dominated the discussions concerning Kaine’s presence on the ticket.

Nevertheless, as we dig deeper into Kaine’s background, we find plenty of good experience to qualify him for the Vice-Presidency and make him an attractive vote-magnet for the Democratic ticket.  For starters, we have the “Southerner” factor.  It is imperative for Obama to pick a Southerner as his running mate, if he expects to have a chance in Dixieland.  Beyond that, Kaine has a history of being an “activist Christian”.  This should have a favorable impact on Southern voters preoccupied with religious issues (i.e. about 95 percent of them).  Although Kaine belongs to the “wrong” Christian religion for most Southerners (Roman Catholicism) he did take a year off from Harvard Law School to help the Jesuit order of priests and assist with their missionary work in Honduras.  Digging deeper into that fact, we can expect to see some big appeal to Latin-American voters, an important voting bloc in the State of Florida.

On the issue of Kaine’s experience, we need to keep in mind that he is the Governor of Virginia, a state literally “next door” to our nation’s capitol.  Although he has been the Governor for only two years, his previous job was that of Lieutenant Governor of his state.  The role of a Lieutenant Governor is identical to that of the Vice-President: being the President of the Senate.  As President of the Virginia Senate for four years, he had the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be an effective President of the United States Senate.  He previously served as the Mayor of Richmond, the state’s capitol city.  He therefore does have some executive experience, although at the municipal level, as in the case of Rudy Giuliani.

As an alumnus of Harvard Law School, he has a bond with Obama and he has the credentials to demonstrate a significantly greater degree of concern for the rule of law, than that of our current VP, who, like his partner-in-crime, George W. Bush, never went to law school.

As Governor of Virginia, he gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union address, given by George W. Bush on January 21, 2006.  His role as spokesman for the Democratic Party, to rebut Bush’s speech targeting (among other things) the now-defunct “Axis of Evil”, highlighted his prominence as a national figure in the Democratic Party at that point in his career.

His humble background is similar to that of Barack Obama.  Tim Kaine is the son of a welder.  The fact that he grew up in Missouri could help draw the interest of that state’s voters.  His rise from a modest upbringing to Harvard Law School grad and on to government, makes him a kindred spirit to Obama.

Hillary Clinton’s fanatic supporters are now facing up to the fact that she will not appear in any capacity on the 2008 Democratic ticket.  However, we may yet see some outrage when the stake is finally driven through the heart of her candidacy, with the announcement of Tim Kane as Obama’s Vice-Presidential choice.

The Six Degrees Of Barack Obama

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July 28, 2008

Back in 1993, John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation, made it to the big screen.   Shortly into the story, Stockard Channing’s character, Ouisa Kittredge, explained the following to her daughter:

I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people —  six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet — the President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice.  … Just fill in the name.   I am bound — you are bound — to everyone else on this planet by a trail of six people.

Not long afterward, three students at Albright College:  Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli, were watching the movie, Footloose, on television.  The next movie to come on the television that night after Footloose was Quicksilver.   This led the trio to recall all the movies Kevin Bacon had been in, as well as all the people with whom Bacon had worked.   They developed their own party game called “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”.   Their next step was to write a letter to Jon Stewart, expressing their theory that Kevin Bacon was “the center of the entertainment universe”.   This led to their appearances on Stewart’s TV show, as well as The Howard Stern Show and an article in Spy magazine.  Under the game’s rules, the number of degrees by which an actor is removed from Kevin Bacon, is referred to as that actor’s “Bacon Number”.   Although he was initially annoyed by all of this, Kevin Bacon (whose Bacon Number is  O) went on to from a charity called SixDegrees.org.

At this point in the Presidential campaign, the McCain camp must believe that their next attack strategy should be to connect Barack Obama to some Islamic terrorist and make him look more like that cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker.   McCain had tightened up the race for a while but his stupid “cost of gasoline” campaign ad, his desperate attacks on Obama’s patriotism and Obama’s successful world tour have put McCain behind by as much as 9 percent (Gallup, July 27).   As a result, the game is now on to find someone (some terrorist – hopefully Islamic) who can be connected to Barack Obama.   Since everyone in the world is connected by six degrees (as we learned from John Guare’s movie) McCain’s people are probably looking for the most menacing individual out there, with the lowest “Obama Number” possible.

This past weekend brought some publicity to a couple of men with an “Obama Number” of 1.   The first was Barack’s half-brother, Bernard, who was found by the British Sun tabloid.  Their article published on Saturday, July 26, referred to him as “Muslim Bernard”.   Bernard, a convert to Islam, runs a car parts firm in Nairobi, Kenya and is not a terrorist.  Nevertheless, McCain’s people must have been energized by the identification of someone who is a Muslim with an “Obama Number” of 1.   Who knows?   They might find that sought-after “Islamist terrorist” with an Obama Number as low as 2.

Not to be outdone, Sunday’s Times of London found another half-brother of Barack Obama, living in southern China.   The Times reported:

Mark Ndesandjo is the son of Barack Obama’s late father and his third wife, an American woman named Ruth Nidesand who runs the up-market Maduri kindergarten in Nairobi.

The Times article described Mr. Ndesandjo as someone who “has been helping to promote cheap Chinese exports in a low-profile business career”.  McCain’s people must have been delighted by the term “cheap Chinese exports”.   Now they have someone with an “Obama Number” of 1, a half-brother, whom they might try to link to the lead-painted toy scandal.  Nevertheless, this still isn’t juicy enough.   They need a terrorist with a nice, low Obama Number.   The McCain camp must have been encouraged by the statement in the Times piece that said “Barack Obama senior fathered eight children by four different women.”   Now, if only one of those eight could be connected by one degree to a terrorist   .   .   .

Bob Barr Gets It Going

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July 24, 2008

Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, Bob Barr, turned some heads when the July 6 Zogby Poll had him capturing 6% of the nationwide popular vote.  Given the fact that Barr has received almost no national media attention, some commentators began to take notice of this interesting candidacy.   Of particular concern is Barr’s impact on the races in those “battleground” states that draw attention in polls.  Conservative blogger, Kevin Tracy, has complained that the poll results listed on RealClearPolitics.com, do not disclose Barr’s numbers.  As for the “battleground” states, Zogby has Barr with 8% of the vote in Colorado, 7% of the vote in Ohio, 7% of the vote in McCain’s home state of Arizona, and 6% of the vote in Florida.  A July 22 Rasmussen Poll had Barr getting 5% of the vote in Georgia, in contrast with the July 8 Zogby result of 8% for Georgia.  MSNBC’s polling expert, Chuck Todd, reported that the July 23 MSNBC/Wall Street Journal poll results showing Barr with only 2% have a much greater margin of error than the results for a two-way race because only a “half-sample” was used for the four-way race that included Barr and Ralph Nader.  He suspected that a full sample would likely indicate a larger number for Barr.

So far, Barr is on the ballot in 31 states.  He has a fight underway to get on the ballot in West Virginia.  In Ohio, Federal Judge Edmund Sargus, Jr. held that the Ohio state Legislature failed to revise ballot rules after they were struck down as unconstitutional in 2006 by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner (a Democrat) is seeking an expedited appeal.  Of course, the court hearing her appeal will again be the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, so a victory for Barr seems likely there, as well.

Barr has an interesting background that makes him well-suited for the Presidency at this time.  To start with, in 1966, he graduated from High School in Tehran, Iran.  In 1970 he received his Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, from the University of Southern California.  He received a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from George Washington University in 1972.  He received his law degree from Georgetown in 1977.  During that time (1971 – 1978) Barr was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency.  Barr served in Congress as the Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District from 1995 to 2003.  In Congress, he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, as a member of the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.

Despite the lack of media attention, he is running a clever campaign.  On July 19, he made a surprise appearance at the Netroots Nation blogger conference, stealing a bit of attention from the “surprise” visit by Al Gore.  On July 22, while John McCain was visiting Manchester, New Hampshire, he drew a bit of attention away from McCain’s visit to that city by appearing there himself.  Mark Hayward of the New Hampshire Union Leader, reported on July 23 that Barr spent a good deal of time at a stop in Manchester, “explaining his disappointments with the way the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act turned out.”   Barr voted in favor of both the Patriot Act and the Joint Resolution for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.  Although Barr is not yet on the ballot in New Hampshire, the Zogby Poll has him at 10 percent in that state.

As the campaign progresses, it will be interesting to observe where Barr gets his support.  MSNBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out that there is a component of “anti-Obama” voters among Barr’s supporters.  Whether this comes from racism, belief in the “secret Muslim” rumors, or a perceived lack of experience, will make for an interesting study.  It would also be interesting to ascertain whether any Obama supporters shifted their allegiance to Barr as a result of Obama’s vote in favor of the FISA “wiretap” bill.  Polls taken in the wake of that vote (July 11 Newsweek and July 13 Rasmussen) showed Obama’s support among independent voters dropping significantly.  Did they see Obama’s compromise on this issue as a lack of authenticity?

For now, Barr’s candidacy is perceived primarily as a threat to John McCain.  As Faye Fiore reported in the July 23 Los Angeles Times:

Barr is regularly compared to Ralph Nader, the Green Party spoiler who drew crucial votes from Democrat Al Gore in 2000.  Worried McCain supporters have begged Barr to drop out. The renegade responds with his famous bespectacled glare, referring to himself in the third person, as is his habit:  “The GOP has no agenda, no platform and a candidate who generates no excitement.  That’s not Bob Barr’s fault.”

When confronted about being a McCain “spoiler” during the July 6 edition of CNN Newsroom, Barr responded:

This is precisely the problem with the two-party system that we have here. They are always looking for someone to blame, other than themselves.

.  .  .  This preemptive blaming doesn’t do either party very well.   It’s an awfully weak position for the McCain campaign and the Republicans to be in months out from the election, already blaming me for their loss.

It will be interesting to watch what the pollsters can learn from Barr’s candidacy.  As Barr gets more publicity, his popularity is likely to increase.  If he can make it to 10 percent in a nationwide poll, he will be invited to participate in some of the debates.  That would be very interesting.

Barack in Iraq

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July 21, 2008

At a fundraiser in Detroit on July 18, John McCain revealed that Barack Obama would be traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan on the weekend of the July 19-20.  For some reason, McCain saw fit to make this indiscrete comment:

I believe that either today or tomorrow, I am not privy to his schedule, Senator Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other Senators.  There will be a Congressional delegation – and I am sure that Senator Obama is going to arrive in Baghdad in a much, much, safer and secure environment than the one that he would have encountered before we started the siege.

Of course, McCain was more than willing to “back up” his claim that Iraq is now safer — with other people’s lives at stake on that bet.  Included in that delegation was McCain’s fellow Viet Nam War veteran, Senator Chuck Hagel.  Senator Hagel is also a Republican (for now) and a true bipartisan (unlike McCain’s traveling companion:  Joe “The Tool” Lieberman).

McCain knows damned well that his trips to Iraq, as well as those of his mentor, George W. Bush, were kept in secrecy until they were concluded.  Nevertheless, McCain chose to disclose the Obama – Hagel trip to Iraq, and risk the lives of his opponent and his fellow Viet Nam War veteran, to potentially fatal consequences.  Why he would have done this, crossed the minds of people other than you and me.  Needless to say, I was outraged by McCain’s security breach.  It reminded me of the similarly traitorous “outing” of Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA Case Officer by the Bush Administration, to advance its case for the invasion of Iraq.

On July 18, Richard Wolffe of Newsweek appeared on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann”.  During that interview, this exchange took place:

Olbermann:   About this Obama trip, two questions about the mechanics: 1) Why the secrecy about it? and 2) If there is a good reason for that secrecy, why would is Senator McCain try to give away the secret today in Michigan?

Wolffe:  The reason for the secrecy is security, of course, and we in the media have been very careful about what we are putting out there.  You know – security of these trips – and I went with President Bush to Iraq.  Security is tight for a reason.  So it is remarkable that a member of Congress would even speculate that way. Why he did that, I can’t really be sure, but obviously they’re trying to backtrack now.

I have a guess:  Perhaps McCain is just a “snitch” by nature.  Maybe it’s time to look into the rumors from his 2000 Presidential campaign, supporting the notion that McCain made it back from the Hanoi Hilton by “ratting out” his fellow Americans.  The fact that he tried to “rat-out” his fellow Viet Nam veteran, Chuck Hagel, on this trip to Iraq could lend some credence to those claims.  His motives for disclosing the details of this trip were apparently twofold:  Scare Obama, Hagel and the others from that delegation, so they would stay away from Iraq and Afghanistan.  A possible second motive might have been to make sure they would not live to brag about this adventure to Iraq, should they actually undertake it.

At an earlier news conference that morning, McCain claimed that:

He (Obama) would be going to a very different Iraq, if we had done what he wanted to do.

In other words, McRat claimed that Iraq would be much different now than it would have been if the United States had been following Obama’s plan for resolving that war.  In harsh contrast to that lie, we have the July 19 report from Jake Tapper of ABC News:

The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined “Iraqi PM Backs Obama Troop Exit Plan – magazine.”

The story relayed how Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months … “U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,” the prime minister said.

The White House employee had intended to send the article to an internal distribution list, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz reports, but hit the wrong button.

The misfire comes at an odd time for Bush foreign policy, at a time when Obama’s campaign alleges the President is moving closer toward Obama’s recommendations about international relations — sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussing a “general time horizon” for U.S. troop withdrawal and launching talks with Iran.

Oops!  It looks as though the handlers for McRat’s own mentor are admitting that Iraq agrees to Obama’s plan for an exit strategy in Iraq and nobody told McRat.

Well …  Obama, Hagel and the network news anchors didn’t “chicken out”.  Beyond that, it looks like they will live to come back here and put McRat where he belongs:  caught in his own McTrap.

Manipulating The Markets

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July 17, 2008

On Wednesday night, Jon Stewart pointed out that President Bush saw fit to hold a news conference about the economy at exactly 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15.  As luck would have it, this was the very minute when Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was to begin his testimony before Congress about the state of the economy.  Stewart deftly contrasted the “spin” message presented by Bush with the sworn testimony of the Federal Reserve Chairman.  Bush was obviously out to blunt any negative impact Beranake’s testimony might have on the markets.  The 180-degree difference between Bush’s spin and Bernanke’s reality was hilarious.  Regardless, Bush’s plan didn’t work.  The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 92 points (.84 percent) on Tuesday and the Standard and Poor’s 500 index (which includes many financial stocks) fared worse.  Wednesday saw a dramatic shift in the markets due to a drop in the price of oil – the only thing that ever gives the stock market a boost these days.

July 15 was also the day when the Securities Exchange Commission enacted a new, emergency rule against “naked” short-selling of financial stocks.  As Dane Hamilton reported for Reuters, the rule drew mixed reactions among hedge fund managers and traders.  Hamilton described the SEC’s reasoning that:

…  naked short selling, which is putting in a short stock order with no intention of actually borrowing it to drive down the price, may have contributed to this year’s collapse of Bear Stearns and sharp declines in other financial stocks this year.

As Mr. Hamilton explained:  this new, temporary rule was enacted to protect 19 financial stocks, including battered mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and a number of banks, against “a substantial threat of sudden and excessive” stock price movements.  What other industry could count on the Federal Government to protect it from the predatory tactics of a handful of unscrupulous “short sellers”?  Some of these traders make multiple short sales on a single share of stock.  The net effect of this is that they are actually “counterfeiting” stocks to be sold short and bought back at a lower price, before anyone might realize the shares never existed.

Investors have been victimized by such tactics for decades. However, until now, the SEC has been of little or no help in regulating these tactics.  In an article from the March 23, 2007 issue of USA Today, Matt Krantz reported on the boasts of MSNBC’s TV host, Jim Cramer, about how Cramer had used “short” sales to manipulate stock prices:

A lot of times when I was short (stocks) at my hedge fund … meaning I needed it (the stock) down …I would create a level of activity beforehand that would drive the futures … It’s a fun game, and it’s a lucrative game.

If you are wondering how the 19 financial companies covered by the July 15 emergency SEC rule, were able to obtain the kind of protection afforded by that measure, you may want to consider some of the observations made by Lisa Lerer in her July 17 article for Politico.com:

If you want to know how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have survived scandal and crisis, consider this: Over the past decade, they have spent nearly $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

*   *   *

When their stock prices took a dive last week, their government allies extended another helping hand with a plan for the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and, possibly, Congress to shore up the companies.

It’s nice to see the SEC doing something to protect investors from predatory trading practices.  The only reason the SEC is protecting investors in this instance is because investors are the collateral beneficiaries of a rule written to protect 19 financial institutions.   We just don’t see enough government action to stop the manipulation of the markets on a broader scale.  Worse yet, when the President gets on TV to compete with the Federal Reserve Chairman’s testimony in order to paint a contrasting, more favorable picture of the economy – what do you call that?  How about:  manipulation of the markets?

The Race Tightens

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July 14, 2008

Jonathan Darman’s July 11 article for Newsweek discusses that magazine’s latest poll, showing Barack Obama ahead of John McCain by only 3 percentage points.  Since this is probably within the poll’s margin of error (not discussed in the article) the two candidates are now in a statistical dead heat.   This is in sharp contrast with last month’s Newsweek poll, showing Obama with a 15-percent lead over McCain (51 to 36).  The July 13 Rasmussen poll showed each candidate with 46 percent.  Darman and other commentators struggled with this shift in popular opinion.  Darman noted:

But perhaps most puzzling is how McCain could have gained traction in the past month.  To date, direct engagement with Obama has not seemed to favor the GOP nominee.

Perhaps the explanation for McCain’s popularity bump is evident in the preceding text of Mr. Darman’s article, discussing Obama’s controversial position favoring the new FISA law.  Civil libertarians and the more liberal-leaning Democrats were outraged by Obama’s support for this bill.  The Obama camp believed that this disappointment would be short-lived, since those factions had no other alternative than to support Barack.  What these wizards failed to consider was the effect this betrayal would have on independent voters.  Hillary Clinton paid a high political price for her support of the Joint Resolution for the Use of Military Force in Iraq.  That Resolution was passed because there were too many Democrats in Congress who believed a vote against the Resolution would make them appear weak on national security.  It was that same fear of appearing weak on national security that drove Obama and other Democrats to vote in favor of the new FISA law.

In the age of YouTube.com, authenticity has become a politician’s stock in trade.  A politician’s denial of having made a statement (or of having played golf recently) can be easily rebutted with an audio-visual presentation of that politician’s own words or acts.  The lack of authenticity is perceived as a measure of dishonesty.  Concern for appearing weak is itself a sign of weakness. Obama’s support for the FISA bill tells me that he would indeed have voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution, had he been a member of United States Senate at the time.  Hillary Clinton learned her lesson from the Iraq Resolution controversy and voted against the FISA bill.  Nevertheless, had she been the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, would she have voted the same way?

The information obtained from the recent Newsweek poll suggests that authenticity may have played a role in the popular opinion shift.  As Jonathan Darman pointed out:

In the new poll, 53 percent of voters (and 50 percent of former Hillary Clinton supporters) believe that Obama has changed his position on key issues in order to gain political advantage.

What may have come as a surprise to Obama’s advisors, was that the Democrat has lost popularity among independent voters.  Although these voters may not have been as heartbroken as the members of MoveOn.org, over Obama’s support for the FISA legislation, they may have detected the strong odors of weakness and inauthenticity.  As Mr. Darman observed:

In the new poll, McCain leads Obama among independents 41 percent to 34 percent, with 25 percent favoring neither candidate. In June’s NEWSWEEK Poll, Obama bested McCain among independent voters, 48 percent to 36 percent.

In other words, Obama lost his 12-point lead among independent voters and he now trails McCain among independents by 7 points.  McCain has apparently taken a page from the Bush playbook by deliberately making gaffes in order to appear less polished – and hence, more authentic to the voters.  (One example of this was his repeated conflation of the activities of Iranian operatives and those of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.)  McCain is appearing as “likeably” less articulate than his opponent, reinforcing the aura of authenticity.  The only way for the Obama camp to stay in this fight is to keep McCain’s own “flip-flops” in the public eye.  Taking “the high road” at this point appears to be political suicide.  Although it doesn’t make for a good slogan:  “Less of a flip-flopper than McCain” should become the theme for the Obama campaign.

Jessie Jealous

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July 10, 2008

As we approach Election Day, the longtime dream of Rev. Jessie Jealous, to become America’s first African-American President, fades away.  Jessie Jealous never got the Democratic nomination he fought for in 1984 and 1988.  Barack Obama is about to be nominated as the Democratic Party’s first African-American candidate for President of the United States.  This is obviously driving Jessie …  uhh  …  nuts.

Jessie Jealous always had problems with the allegations of Rev. Ralph Abernathy, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, that Rev. Jealous had gone to a butcher shop, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to smear himself in cow’s blood and proclaim to the world that Dr. King had died in his (Jessie’s) arms.  Despite the claims of Jessie Jealous and Rev. Abernathy, Dr. King actually died with the Rev. Samuel (“Billy”) Kyles at his side, according to Wiley Henry of the New Pittsburgh Courier.

In January of 2001, Jessie Jealous was reported by Anthony York in Salon.com, to have fathered a child out of wedlock with an aide, Karin Stanford, and used money from his nonprofit Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to pay the woman $40,000 in “moving expenses”.  The fact that Rainbow/PUSH had to pay for this was particularly stinky.

In 2002, Kenneth Timmerman’s book, Shakedown: Exposing The Real Jessie Jackson was released.  A stop at Amazon.com provides us with this portion of a review of Timmerman’s book by Jamal Michaels of Baltimore:

As A Black man, I’ve always been disgusted by the hypocritical, racist antics of Jesse Jackson Sr. Unmistakably, this vicious scam artist has done more to set back race relations in the United States than the KKK ever dreamed of. Kenneth Timmerman finally shines the light of truth and clarity on this scheming, conniving con man, and meticulously details his numerous, unbelievable crimes and outrages.

With the paternity storm and Jessie’s promise to drop out of the public eye for a while, (as quoted in Anthony York’s article) it appeared as though Rev. Jessie’s hopes of occupying The White House were finally dashed.

While appearing on the Sunday, July 6, 2008 edition of “Fox & Friends”, Jackson vented his spleen about Barack Obama’s Father’s Day speech, which criticized absentee fathers (such as the father of Karin Stanford’s child – i.e. Jessie Jealous).  Did he really care whether the mike was open?  I don’t believe he did.  In fact, I believe that in his cold heart, Reverend Jealous had hoped that his words would eventually find the ears of candidate Obama.  Jessie said:

See, Barack been, um … talking down to black people on this faith based … I wanna cut his nuts off. Barack, he’s talking down to black people.

(The guest to whom Jessie’s comments were addressed, has yet to be identified by the mainstream or internet-based media.)

Who is the one who has been talking down to black people?  The one who felt compelled to talk in rhymes about righteousness to his charity’s contributors, while he used their donations to pay off his own “baby momma”?

Jessie Jealous knows that as a political figure: he’s toast.   His own son, Congressman Jessie Jackson, Jr. of Illinois, found it necessary to distance himself from the remarks of Jessie Jealous with the statement: “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric.”  Whether or not Barack Obama becomes this nation’s first African-American President, one thing is for certain:  It will never be you, Jessie Jealous.  It will never be you!

Back To Work

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July 8, 2008

As 4th of July weekend drew to a close on my home world Sunday night, I was harshly reminded of our nation’s true economic condition.  I’ve seen Sunday nights in Chicago, when you could find more people walking around in 8-degree weather, with a good wind.  As Independence Day weekend wound down, Michigan Avenue saw few pedestrians except for some street hustlers and that rare, lost tourist  —  the “meal ticket” for most street hustlers.  In any previous year, there would have been a line in front of the Underground Wonderbar by now – people waiting to see authentic Chicago blues.  It was midnight.  Everyone wanted to get back to work.  The tourists just wanted to make sure they got back on their sold-out flights, lest they face a re-booking penalty.  These conditions, suitcase restrictions and new, invasive scanning technologies defined the summer travel experience for 2008.  Those who could afford it, seemed more than ready to go home.  Those who couldn’t were more than ready to get back to work.

Monday morning gave us some forced exuberance about the fate of the equities markets.  I saw a guy on TV practically dancing, while being interviewed on an exchange floor in New York because the Dow Jones industrial average was up “almost 100 points”.  (Those of us who could read the little numbers for ourselves saw an increase of 72 points.)  We were supposed to believe the “bottom” had passed and we were to immediately contact our brokers with some “buy” orders.  At my hotel’s check-out time, as I prepared for the return flight to my present-day existence, the Dow had crapped out to 120 points less than the previous close, only to regain 63 of those points by the close of Monday’s trading.  Another would-be firework had fizzled out.

Those with jobs had all the more reason to get back to work.  They were lucky to have jobs in this economy.  Those working in the financial sector were damned lucky.  Those with control over their retirement money seemed ready to give up and go back to the Acme Hopeless Crapshot Fund.  Misleading information from prognosticators and market analysts had inflicted significant damage to their portfolios this past year.  The best tip for investors seemed to be that old maxim from “The X-Files”:  Trust No One.

The evening news gave us the anticipated campaign invective, although the Fox News failed to provide me with the conspiracy theory that thirsted for validation.  As the Associated Press reported earlier in the day:

The airplane carrying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made a precautionary landing in St. Louis on Monday after the crew had a problem keeping the nose up on takeoff from Chicago.

The plane, an MD-80 Midwest charter, struggled to keep the nose at the necessary angle, as it left for Charlotte, N.C., the pilot said. Later, Midwest Airlines said the problem developed because an emergency slide located in the tail cone of the plane deployed in flight and never threatened the safety of the flight. The National Transportation Safety Board said it planned to investigate the incident.

I was hoping that Fox News would tell us that the plane had been chartered from Vince Foster Memorial Airlines.  I was hoping (and I continue to hope) for a tie to the Hillary Clinton campaign (or at least someone for whose antics the Clinton campaign is attempting to establish “plausible deniability”).  What good are the Fox News people when you are counting on them to do what they do best and they come up empty?

I was reminded of the remark (or should I say: possible self-fulfilling prophecy) made by disgruntled Clinton supporter Carmella Lewis to Hillary herself, as quoted by Maureen Dowd in the June 29 New York Times:  “You’re going to be the next President.”  Ms. Lewis went on to tell the Times: “But I have a gut feeling,” … “that something’s going to happen so that she becomes the nominee.”

Fox had all the ingredients for a wonderful conspiracy story here but they completely dropped the ball on all of us conspiracy fans.  Could it have been because Hillary Clinton’s recently-unemployed advisor, Howard Wolfson, found a job at Fox News?

“My Oath Is To The Constitution, Not To The President”

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July 3, 2008

David Iglesias is making the talk show circuit, promoting his recent book: In Justice.  The book provides an insider’s account of the scandal involving the politicization of the Justice Department under the Administration of non-attorneys George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  As I have said before, these two men have little regard for our Constitution because they know little about it and they have contempt for our courts because they know almost nothing about the law or the concepts of justice and due process.  Bush/Cheney made a point of having culls run Justice:  John Ashcroft, who (surprisingly) to his credit, was not trusted by them to authorize their FISA bypass, so they tried to have him authorize it while he was in the hospital, under sedation.  Once Alberto Gonzalez became Attorney General, we had someone in charge of the Justice Department, who was even more subservient to the whims of non-attorneys Bush and Cheney.  This resulted in what history will view as the most disgraceful abuse of the Justice Department as Soviet-style enforcers of political allegiance to the party-in-charge.  David Iglesias and at least six other important federal prosecutors, who had devoted their careers to fighting organized crime, terrorism and (oops!) corporate fraud, were summarily terminated by Bush-Cheney for failure to align their missions with the political vendettas of this administration.  The title Iglesias chose for his book was an obvious reference to the widespread opinion that the Bush Administration had changed the Justice Department to the Injustice Department.

David Iglesias explained to Tavis Smiley that an underlying theme throughout his book was that as a federal prosecutor, he understood his oath of office as to support the Constitution of the United States, despite the Bush Administration’s mandate that a prosecutor’s highest obligation was to support the President.

This theme is particularly timely in light of the recent dispute arising from the appearance of retired General Wesley Clark on the CBS News program, “Face The Nation” on June 29.  During that conversation, Wesley Clark, in his vanity, forgot that it was actually Barack Obama running as the Democratic Party’s candidate for President, rather than himself.  Clark expressed a rationale that only Commanding Officers, such as himself, had the type of military experience to qualify one for the Presidency.  He tactlessly contrasted this with the experience of John McCain, who was shot down as a fighter pilot and was held for years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton.  When asked by Dan Abrams on MSNBC’s “The Verdict”, to explain his minimization of McCain’s sacrifice, Clark again reinforced his position that only Commanding Officers, such as himself, had the type of military experience to be qualified for the Presidency.  The McCain camp made the most they could of this denigration of the Republican candidate’s service.  Barack Obama found it necessary to distance himself from Clark’s comments on this subject.

The McCain camp then targeted Virginia Senator Jim Webb, for his remarks to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s “Countdown” show of June 30.  During that interview, Webb pointed out that:

We need to make sure that we take politics out of service.  People don’t serve their country for political issues and John McCain is my longtime friend and if there is one area I would ask him to calm down on it is: don’t be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them because they don’t, any more than when the Democrats had political issues during the Vietnam war.  Let’s get politics out of the military, take care of our military people and have our political arguments in other areas.

McCain’s claim was that this was another attack on his service in the Vietnam War.  Nevertheless, we can see that Webb was attempting to distinguish a soldier’s obligation to the President (or in this case, a Presidential candidate) from a soldier’s obligation to defend our Constitution.  The oath of enlistment for people serving in the military is as follows:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God.)

Although military personnel are bound by their oath to follow the orders of the President, in accordance with regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, their primary duty is to support and defend the Constitution.  When McCain takes for granted that those serving in the military will support his entire political agenda, he is mistaken.  Their oath does not require it, nor could he enforce such compliance if elected President.

What is actually going on with all of this is that the Obama camp is out to “level the playing field” with respect to Obama’s lack of military experience.  McCain’s delusion that he can speak for all the troops and that they are aligned with his entire political agenda is the “Achilles heel” where the Democrats are directing their fire to achieve their goal.  “McCain doesn’t speak for all the troops” is the argument that will pay off when the pollsters focus on the Presidential choices of those in uniform.

As an aside, it’s only fitting that at a time so close to the day we celebrate our Independence, we can celebrate the rescue of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt from the FARC rebels.  My Colombian friends and I thought she had been killed several years ago.  Let’s all make a toast to Ingrid when we think about freedom this year!