Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frank Rich is Upset at Obama’s Pick of Warren

It’s an honor to be chosen to deliver the invocation at a president’s inauguration. And this morning in his New York Times Op/Ed column, Frank Rich sees in Obama’s choice of The Reverend Rick Warren, a foreshadowing that Obama may have his own inclination to spend earned capital (as in, George W. Bush’s famous declaration that he had earned capital in his campaign and he intended to spend it). Rich is not sanguine about this omen and he is not sanguine about the Rev. Warren. Well, first, Frank, Barack Obama is going to hit some false notes since he is a mortal like the rest of us, so chill out, for God’s sake. It’s early in the game. And it’s true, The Rev. Warren is surely a lightning rod for everyone in the gay community who is looking to be offended. The man has been offensive to gays to a fare-thee-well. But second, I cannot think of a single person in the God-business that I personally would want to be God’s stand-in at Obama’s inauguration. All ordained persons are suspect. Maybe the Dalai Lama. The thing is, all God-biz guys have an agenda. And they are all going to be offensive if you just take the time to look under the hood. Any person who has decided to make a career out of explaining God to the rest of us is a bigot. Rich quotes gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson who said: “I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table but we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most-watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.” Okay, now I’m offended. I would like to point out to all God-biz persons that the God we all pray to is One Unchanging Unknowable All-Knowing God. It’s the men and women of the cloth who have differing issues, agendas and talking points. And if Bishop Robinson thinks he knows God, he’s delusional as well as bigoted. But, that said, I also think that anyone standing before the world, and being watched by the world who asks that God bless this nation and the world is doing a good deed. And the moment that Reverend Warren invokes God’s blessing, we all should offer our own prayer and say AMEN!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shawn Campbell’s Post on Twitter a Winner

Campbell said, “The White House has neither confirmed nor denied the President's plan for joining the Zappos Dodgeball team.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And apparently, the popular online shoe store really has one. The news from Baghdad just gets better and funnier. The New York Times reported this morning: “Calling someone the ‘son of a shoe’ is one of the worst insults in Iraq. But the lowly shoe and the Iraqi who threw both of his at President Bush, with widely admired aim, were embraced around the Arab world on Monday as symbols of rage at a still unpopular war. In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported that a man had offered $10 million to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world’s most famous pair of black dress shoes. A daughter of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, reportedly awarded the shoe thrower, Muntader al-Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist, a medal of courage. In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy.” Later in the article, the NYT said, “In Syria, Mr. Zaidi’s picture was shown all day on state television, with Syrians calling in to share their admiration for his gesture and his bravery. In central Damascus, a huge banner hung over a street, reading, ‘Oh, heroic journalist, thank you so much for what you have done.' ‘It’s the talk of the city,’ said Ibrahim Mousawi, a Beirut journalist and political analyst affiliated with Hezbollah. ‘Everyone is proud of this man, and they’re saying he did it in our name.’” Well done, George. Finally, in the last days of his term as President of the United States, George W. Bush has unified the Middle East.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Will the Prez Get the Message in Iraq?

President Bush has said he doesn’t read newspapers. So he probably didn’t read Frank Rich’s scathing account in the New York Times yesterday of his eight years in office. But can he fail to get the message sent yesterday by an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at him? Bush’s trip to Baghdad was called “a valedictory visit” today in the NYT. As in, a fare-thee-well and god-bless excursion to the country he forced an unnecessary war on, a country which will equate his name with “failure” and “war monger” in future history books. But never mind those details, Bush went to Iraq to sanctify the recently-adopted security agreement between the United States and Iraq which includes a commitment to withdraw all American forces by the end of 2011. In his delusional state, Bush may have made his trip believing that finally he would be gifted with the flowers and candy that Dick Cheney predicted would greet the US invaders back in 2003. Instead, a shoe narrowly missed hitting him in the head. Of course the Iraqi journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at Bush was wrestled to the ground and beaten until he cried for mercy. But not before shouting in Arabic with the first shoe, “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” And, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” with the second shoe. Will George W. Bush now get the message? No. Of course not. His insanity shields him from understanding the enormity of his culpability in the failed Iraq war or in America’s downward spiral. So, he made a joke about the shoes incident. He said, “All I can report is it is a size 10.” He then said, as the man’s screaming could be heard outside, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves.” And Bush went on to say that his war strategy known as “the surge” was “one of the greatest successes in the history of the United States military.” In closing, President Bush said about the war, “There is still more work to be done, but with this security agreement, the courage of the Iraqi people, and the Iraqi troops and the American troops and civilian personnel, it is decisively on its way to be won.” Perhaps after January 20th, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin will form a comedy duo to tour Iraq to bring glad tidings and laughter to all the grateful people in Iraq’s free society where they can draw attention to themselves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Repubs Thumb Their Nose at Auto Makers

Let them eat cake Republican Senators said last night and voted down the auto bailout. And although the little guys in Detroit and the car company suppliers don’t deserve to suffer, it’s difficult to have sympathy for an industry that has shot itself in the foot the way the three big auto companies have done. The Big Three—General Motors, Ford and Chrysler—can’t pay their suppliers happens every year. Which means the suppliers, in effect, are forced to lend the big guys money to get through the crisis. But this time the banks are not willing to lend the suppliers money; hence the day of reckoning has arrived. One sits back and looks at this dilemma and wonders why The Big Three has chosen to pay their execs billions of dollars in salary, freebies and bonuses instead of paying their suppliers. And the answer is, because they wanted the money themselves and saw no reason why they should pay their bills when they could get away with not paying their bills. And that should surprise no one. Since that’s the way people with money operate. The little guy has always had to offer discounts to the rich to get them to pay up. And even so, the little guy inevitably has to wait 90 days or more to get his money. Of course an auto industry collapse would bite everyone in the ass. But still, it’s been a long time coming and it was inevitable. But as an aside, I must say that every time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stands up in the Senate and says anything, it irritates me. Yesterday, he said, “This is going to be a very, very bad Christmas for a lot of people as a result of what takes place here tonight.” Sentimental nonsense! The war in Iraq has made bad Christmases for the past five years. The Bush administration policies have made bad Christmases for the past eight years. Wall Street excesses and failures have made bad Christmases as long as one can remember. All US Presidents and every leader in the world have made bad Christmases. So don’t whine with that bad Christmas crap from the floor of the United States Senate, Harry, because you know what? Christmas has been officially recognized in America only since 1836 when Alabama made it a holiday. Oklahoma was the last state to recognize Christmas in 1907. And the first people to settle in these United States didn’t like the idea of celebrating Christ’s birth at all because it was “papist”. And another thing, Harry, you know as well as I do that a bailout for the auto industry in some form or another will be figured out by the US government within the next 30 days. That's just the way of things. And another ‘nother thing, it wouldn’t hurt a single Christian to cut back on Christmas buying and just go to church. That’s all I’m saying.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feds Say JJ,Jr. is Blaggo’s Candidate 5

By me, it fits like a glove. The Feds say Jesse Jackson, Jr. is “ambitious”. There’s an understatement for you. I say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. There is not much that The Reverend JJ, Sr. has not been willing to do to throw himself into the limelight. In 1968, JJ, Sr. appeared on the Today Show wearing the blood-stained shirt he wore the day before when he claimed to have been with Martin Luther King when King was shot. There are those who dispute Jackson’s time line. Whether it’s true or not, his Today Show appearance is typical of JJ, Sr’s lifelong modus operandi. His son, Jesse Jackson, Jr. is a powerhouse in Chicago. But he’s not a strong contender politically in the state of Illinois. Evenso, JJ, Jr. is enough of a big noise in Chicago that when Barack Obama was thinking about running for the Illinois Senate, he went to JJ, Jr. and asked if he had eyes on the seat. Jackson said he did not, and he gave Obama his blessing. The New York Times reports this morning that Jackson changed his mind and now wants to claim Obama’s Senate seat. The NYT quoted Al Kindle, a South Side Chicago political consultant who said: “Jesse has wanted to be Obama’s heir apparent ever since Obama won the Senate seat.” Kindle helped Obama in the 2004 race. He added that since then, JJ, Jr. “has tried to reposition himself to appeal to a broader audience.” The NYT said, “Specifically, federal authorities said, Mr. Jackson is ‘Senate Candidate 5,’ associates of whom, the governor said in a wire-tapped conversation, were willing to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich in exchange for the seat.” Jesse Jackson, Jr. said “I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period.” That’s probably true. He wouldn’t have to be that overt. Everyone in Chicago knew JJ, Jr. wanted to replace Obama. It is also true that I am biased against The Reverend Jesse Jackson. I don’t like his methods or his manner and I am very ready to assume the worst about his son. The Blaggo tapes don’t look good for Jackson, Jr. The NYT said, “Of those alluded to, the affidavit’s implications seemed especially troubling for Mr. Jackson, or Senate Candidate Five. According to the document, Mr. Blagojevich told advisers last Thursday that he was giving Mr. Jackson “greater consideration” to replace Mr. Obama because Mr. Jackson would raise money for him, “upfront, maybe.” Yup, I believe it. By my observation, it’s the way the Jacksons do things.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Every Comic in the World Thanks You, Blaggo

Illinois governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s lawyer told reporters that the governor was "very surprised and certainly feels that he did not do anything wrong." Well, there you have it. That’s the main problem. Even after Blaggo was taped by federal agents saying, (re trying to sell Barack Obama’s Illinois senate seat to the highest bidder), “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden. And I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not going to do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me there”, no doubt the Gov truly thinks he did nothing wrong. Not unlike George W. Bush who believes his only wrongdoing over the past eight years may possibly be that he was unprepared for the war in Iraq, which he promoted, defended and started. Under state law, the Illinois governor has to name a replacement for Senator Obama who resigned his lllinois senate seat with two years remaining in his term. But as United States attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said (yeah, the guy who prosecuted Scooter Libby), “the (Blagojevich) conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” Blaggo’s predecessor, Governor George Ryan was also indicted for corruption. Last month Blaggo said he believed President Bush should commute Ryan’s sentence of 6-1/2 years. “It would be a ‘fine decision’, Blaggo said. And lest we forget, Jack Ryan (no relation to George Ryan) had to quit his run against Obama four years ago because of a sex scandal. “I don’t believe there’s any cloud that hangs over me,” Blagojevich told reporters recently, “I think there’s nothing but sunshine hanging over me.” Right. And it surely is his kind of town, Chicago is. His kind of razzmatazz, and it has, all that jazz.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Shinseki Pick, A Thumb in Rumsfeld’s Eye

Obama’s choice of 38-year-career-Army man General (ret.) Eric K. Shinseki for Secretary of Veterans Affairs is perfect for a couple of reasons. First, the troops love him for telling the truth early on in the Iraq war. Shinseki said the invasion of Iraq would take several hundred thousand soldiers. Which estimate secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz pooh-poohed. But as the Iraq war descended into a no-win debacle, Shinseki was proved absolutely right. And, second, just as importantly, Shinseki was wounded in Viet Nam and knows the problems faced by returning vets and particularly wounded returning vets. As if Shinseki rising from the ashes of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney failure in Iraq were not enough of a lest-we-forget moment, we have this morning’s headline in the New York Times to remind us of the horrible decision by Bush and Co. to use mercenaries in Iraq: “Plea by Blackwater Guard Helps Indict Others”. The largest “security contractor” in Iraq (read, mercenary thugs), Blackwater, which was started by South Carolina far-right religious zealot, Erik Prince in 1997, and which contracted out as many soldiers-for-hire in Iraq as the volunteer army had in Iraq, has long been the subject of horror stories about its misuse of power. The worst of which was in 2007 and implicated six Blackwater guards. This morning, the NYT says: “In pleading guilty to manslaughter, the sixth security guard, Jeremy P. Ridgeway of California, described how he and the other guards used automatic rifles and grenade launchers to fire on cars, houses, a traffic officer and a girls’ school. In addition to those killed, there were at least 20 people wounded. The six guards were employed by Blackwater Worldwide, the largest security contractor in Iraq.” The Blackwater company has not been charged although it is no secret that Erik Prince and his protégé “Focus on the Family” religious zealot James Dobson believe that private Christian militias should rise up and take over the ungodly, unholy US government. However, this Blackwater black eye will no doubt slow down their planned religious war, particularly since Prince and Dobson no longer have a right-wing partisan zealot in the White House.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Op/Ed Writers Write—That’s Their Job

But even Frank Rich just turns the crank, at times. This morning’s New York Times Op/Ed column being one of those times. Back from a two-week vacation, Rich tells us that Obama’s economic team choices may fit David Halberstam’s original meaning of the title of his book, “The Best and Brightest”. Rich says Halberstam was being ironic with his description of the JFK team. They may have been bright but they surely weren’t the best. And they lead us into the Viet Nam war that “would destroy the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and inflict grave national wounds that only now are healing.” Then Rich points to Obama’s choice of Lawrence Summers as his top economic adviser and Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary and rips them apart for being bright, but hubristic, highhanded and worst of all, for being the protégés of President Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who, according to Rich, is responsible for the “toxic mortgage-derivatives on Citigroup’s books” because he was asleep on the job. Rich says: “Washington’s cheerleading for our new New Frontier cabinet superstars has seldom been interrupted by tough questions about Summers’s Harvard career or Geithner’s record at the Fed.” Both of which, Rich claims, were less than wonderful and in Geithner’s case, possibly led to Lehman Brothers’ demise Okay. So? What’s it been, a week since Obama let the world know who his top job choices are? Washington has “seldom” asked tough questions? Is it possible there might still be time? Come on, Frank. I’m aware you had to churn something out for today’s column and I’m aware you probably had to write something negative about a couple of Obama’s choices lest you fall into the cheerleader camp. Still, your tag line gave you away when you wrote, “In the end Obama chose Paul Volcker as chairman of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. This was a presidential decision not only bright but wise.” Right. Rich actually thinks Geithner and Summers are decent enough choices. And as Rich himself pointed out earlier in his column, “Well, nobody’s perfect. Given that John McCain’s economic team was headlined by Carly Fiorina and Joe the Plumber, the country would be dodging a fiscal bullet even if Obama had picked Suze Orman.” Bottom line: Frank Rich earned his fee for the week and the rest is blah-blah-blah.