Is this your America?

If you will allow me the “audacity of hope,” it is my hope that every voting-age American who did not watch the GOP debate last night will sit down and give it full attention when it re-airs on CNN Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

Watch it, then remind yourself: one of these men might be the next president of the United States.

While the candidates themselves had no control over the questions, and CNN and YouTube vetted them, they were posed by Americans via YouTube video.

It is apparent that, contrary to what I had thought, “God, gays and guns” are still main concerns of those who will vote Republican.

So prevalent was the issue of “illegal immigration,” I found myself thinking of Charlton Heston, staring down at the Statue of Liberty protruding from the sand, and screaming, “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you!”

Other questions were primarily about God (“Do you read and believe the Holy Bible?” and “What would Jesus do?”), gays, the 2nd Amendment and guns, abortion, torture and 9/11 and the Islamic Jihadist threat to America.

They were about a mindset.

The loudest booing came when Ron Paul attempted to explain jihadists hate us because of our policies toward the Middle East for the last several decades, and when Rudy Giuliani dared to suggest some gun ownership must be regulated.

The one question on Iraq – shouldn’t the U.S. establish permanent bases and remain there indefinitely to protect the region? – created a verbal tap dance onstage.

At times, Ron Paul seemed the only voice of reason, then he had to go and say we have to get government out of our lives, while pointing out the necessity of things only a federal government can do – such as “rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.”

As one post-debate panelist said, “What you didn’t hear was the name George Bush. They are trying to distance themselves from him, yet, with the exception of Ron Paul, they agree with him on almost every issue.”

These issues did not come up: education, health care, energy, global warming, the economy, Iran.

During the post-debate coverage a group of “undecided Republicans” remained undecided, could not pick a debate winner and expressed interest in one overriding criterion: who can beat Hillary Clinton.

I don’t have a problem with that, as I support the one person I believe can defeat this less-than-illustrious field – and restore this nation’s soul.

Watch Saturday night. If you are conservative and Republican or liberal and Democrat, ask yourself if what you see represents your own ideals, your own hope for your country.

This might just be the most important two hours you will spend before Election 2008.

Watch it like your future depends on it.


Rove-colored glasses

Presidential adviser. GOP guru. “Bush’s Brain.” “Turd Blossom.” A liar by any other name is still a liar.

Karl Rove, in a weekend interview with Charlie Rose, said, “Congress pushed Bush into war with Iraq prematurely.”

That’s right. That’s what he said. Would I lie?

For the best documented evidence that this is an outright lie, read the excellent coverage by Paul Abrams of The Huffington Post (LINK) and the Think Progress blog, which has excerpts from the interview as well as Congressional and Bush quotes from 2002 which refute Rove’s claims (LINK).

Next post: Hannity’s insanity

Hannity's insanity

God, don’t you get tired of wingnuts spouting propaganda that flies in the face of facts?

Hop over to my other blog, “I See My Dreams,” and read today’s post, “An inconvenient distinction,” inspired by Sean Hannity’s insanity: LINK


Whole Lott-a shakin' goin' on

Sen. Jack S. Phogbound is the archetypical Southern senator, telling the people of Dogpatch USA, “Yore gover-ment is spending $1 million just to blow yore homes off the face of the Earth, so show yore ap-pre-shee-A-shun!”

Like Al Capp’s senator in “Li’l Abner,” Southern senators are so appreciated by their constituents that they become ensconced on Capitol Hill for years and even decades.

So, when news broke on MSNBC yesterday morning at 6:13 ET of Sen. Trent Lott’s impending resignation, this former Mississippian almost fell out of her chair.

Contact with a number of Mississippians (and former Mississippians) throughout the day revealed that the resignation rocked the Republican Richter scale (don’t you love alliteration?).

One astute email friend – a retired Mississippi judge – theorizes that this is a move to make way for U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, who recently announced his own retirement and “is the heir apparent” to Lott’s Senate seat. The judge tells me Pickering, son of Judge Charles Pickering, “is a good man who will be a good senator.”

Henry Barbour, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s son, was Chip Pickering’s campaign manager, so I would bet with the judge’s theory.

I once told a friend who wants nothing to do with such news, “No drama has ever been written that is as exciting as politics.” I meant it!

Next post: G’day for Aussies

G'day for Aussies

Over the holiday weekend the news was permeated by the shopping frenzy, the on-going Natalee Holloway case in Aruba and the other Peterson suspected of killing his wife. There has been little coverage of very significant political developments in the land down under.

In the land of vast Rupert Murdoch newspaper holdings.

The Progress Report, Center for American Progress, 26 November 2007, features an informative analysis of Austraiia’s elections: LINK. It begins thusly:

“This weekend, Australians went to the polls and delivered an emphatic victory for Labor leader Kevin Rudd, while handing the party of conservative Bush ally John Howard its ‘worst election defeat in its 63-year history.’

“Howard ‘suffered the additional ignominy of losing his own constituency seat’ in addition to the prime minister's seat, the first time since 1929 that an Australian prime minister has been voted out of parliament.

“Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat who made combating global warming, strengthening workers' rights and redeploying from Iraq key priorities in his campaign, ‘swings Australia toward the political left after almost 12 years of conservative rule.’

“The incoming prime minister has wasted no time implementing his new vision for Australia. Yesterday, he convened a meeting with government officials to discuss the mechanics of signing onto the Kyoto pact on global warming, and he announced that he will attend a UN climate change conference in Bali next month.

“Rudd soon plans to begin negotiations with the Bush administration over the withdrawal of Australia's 500 troops from Iraq.”

The new leader had these words for his fellow Aussies, “Today Australia looks to the future. Today the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward."


Hillary's 'biggest fear'

My faithful readers know I have endorsed the presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton from the day she announced. It’s not a gender thing, although I do confess my blood curdles over claims that “she wouldn’t be anywhere without Bill.”

I believe she is the most capable and most qualifed to lead our nation in these troubling times. While first lady, she visited with 82 foreign heads of state – presidents and prime ministers, princes and kings – and she never flinched at standing up for the rights of women and children in countries where such rights are limited.

Equally important to me is the fact that she can win this election. To bet on any other Democratic candidate to retake the White House is a risky wager. Far too risky, in my opinion, to take the chance.

There is an even more compelling reason to support Hillary Clinton: look at those who are trying to bring her down. Ask yourself “why?” The far-right is scared to death of another Clinton White House, and that makes Hillary my new best friend.

So, in this and future posts on DemWit, we will take a look at right-wing mouthpieces who will stop at nothing to stop her. Today, we’ll start with Rush Limbaugh.

On 19 November, Rush’s radio program was simulcast with Martha MacCallum’s “Live Desk” on Fox News (LINK).

While a great deal of the program consisted of Rush and Martha ga-gaing over the “new technology” which allowed this miracle of the airways (Imus simulcast for years, you twits!), the bulk of it fed Rush’s gargantuan ego. At one point, MacCallum says his is “a talent borrowed from God.”

Let’s fast forward to the subject of Hillary Clinton:

MacCallum begins the segment, “You said that you are Hillary Clinton's biggest fear. Why are you her biggest fear, Rush?”

“Well,” Rush replies with laughter, “I've got bull's-eyes on both sides of me. I think I'm the one that stands in the way of her ability - because of my audience reach, because of the loyalty and the size of my audience.”

That claim is easily negated. No devoted “Dittohead” would dream of voting for any Democrat.

“Mrs. Clinton (she has an official title, Rush, it’s Senator) is right now trying to get away with saying nothing specific about anything, because she wants to hide her true agenda, which is as close to socialism as the country will have ever been, if she gets her way, and she's trying to do the exact opposite. So anybody who's telling the truth about her and trying to warn people about what her candidacy and presidency represents, you become a target.

“And, since the Republicans haven't chosen a nominee yet - and, by the way, the Clintons don't just try to defeat people they consider their opponents; they try to ruin them. They try to destroy them, in terms of their credibility and so forth.

“There have been a couple - I'm drawing a blank - but there have been a couple of instances just recently. I don't think for a minute that the Harry Reid smear letter - she signed it.”

MacCallum nods agreememt, “Right.”

Rush continues, “That was an episode that was designed to impact negatively my ability to do business, using the force and the power of the federal government. These things are - nothing is coincidence with the Clintons.”

Two questions: From these quotes, is it clear to you, dear reader, WHY Rush is, as he claims, Hillary’s biggest fear? And, does he tell the radio/TV simulcast audience WHY they should not vote for Hillary Clinton? Aside from the propaganda technique conjuring “socialism,” the quotes, just like the entire program, were all about Limbaugh.

There is a singular distinction between Rush's “reach” and Senator Clinton's clout: it’s called “class” – some folks couldn’t even procure it with a doctor’s prescription.

RECOMMENDED: “Why Hillary’s Experience as First Lady Matters,” dailykos.com, 22 November 2007: LINK



I have a collection, from my newspaper days, of bad headlines and unfortunate front pages.

When new Mississippi Governor Bill Waller decided to hold inaugural balls for both his staff of “Colonels” and the general public, the Jackson (Miss.) Daily News ran a banner headline across its front page: “Governor has two balls.”

The Hattiesburg (Miss.) American ran this jewel: “Iran to lose trade; Shah to lose spleen.”

Imagine the horror this one produced, “Governor arrives just in time as 100,000 lose lives.” The 100,000 were chickens as tornadoes destroyed rural chicken houses.

In what might have been my most embarrassing newsroom moment, I put together a half page of photos of starving Ethiopian children, which had to be pulled - on deadline - when I discovered the ad beneath it was for a Mexican restaurant and exclaimed, “Step right up, hombres, all you can eat for $5.95.”

My University of Southern Mississippi political science prof, Ed Wheat, had a framed front page on his office wall, which he liked to point to as “the day I stopped reading newspapers.” As a dual major in journalism and political science I should have been offended, but I had to agree with him. The Halloween edition featured a photo of a skeleton surrounded by news stories of murder and mayhem.

But, my all-time favorite was a 1974 front page featuring a full-color, beautifully feathered wild turkey. The headline flanking the photo to the right: “Turkey invades Greece.”

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! And to all: count your blessings!

Next post: ‘What Happened’

'What Happened'

By now, if you have any interest in U.S. politics, you’ve heard the explosive quotes from former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s upcoming book, “What Happened.”

At the root of these revelations, published by Public Affairs, is the Bush White House attempt to CYA its bogus claims for invading Iraq - going so far as to contribute to the outing of a CIA covert operative.

We do not know how far McClellan will go in telling us “what happened,” but the publisher’s blurb on amazon.copum is as intriguing as the released quotes:

"In this refreshingly clear-eyed book, written with no agenda other than to record his experiences and insights for the benefit of history, McClellan provides unique perspective on what happened and why it happened the way it did, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, Washington's bitter partisanship and two hotly contested presidential campaigns.

“He gives readers a candid look into who George W. Bush is and what he believes, and into the personalities, strengths and liabilities of his top aides.

"Finally, McClellan looks to the future, exploring the lessons this presidency offers the American people as we prepare to elect a new leader."

ARTICLE: “Scott McClellan in Upcoming Book Admits Wrongdoing in Clearing Rove and Libby in CIA Leak Case,” Editor & Publisher, 20 November 2007: LINK


The Fox News template

Recommended article: “The changing face(s) of Israeli TV news,” by columnist Caley Ben-David, The Jerusalem Post, 16 November 2007: LINK

Israeli cable TV outlet HOT last week dropped CNN International and is now broadcasting Fox News.

Ben-David writes:

“Fox is no substitute for CNN, not by a long shot. I'm not talking about Fox's conservative bent, which at least allows for a more diverse range of views than one usually gets on MSM (Main-Stream Media, if you didn't know). That's especially welcome when it comes to its coverage of Israel, which is certainly more sympathetic (or "fair and balanced," depending on your perspective) than CNN or the BBC.

“Unfortunately, however, its reporting from Israel - or, for that matter, anywhere else outside the US - is decidedly skimpy compared to those genuinely global media outlets.

“Fox is actually not an international news channel at all, but an on-air version of an American tabloid - the broadcast equivalent of Rupert Murdoch's racy, breathless, editorially right-wing paper, The New York Post, where coverage of the latest missing-attractive-white-woman-in-peril case gets more air time than the crisis in Pakistan.

“At other times, though, Fox resembles nothing so much as the fulfillment of the prophetic vision of television news presented in the classic 1976 black comedy, Network, with that film's deranged anchorman, Howard ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!") Beale, the "mad prophet of the airwaves," incarnated in living form as Fox host Bill O'Reilly of The O'Reilly Factor.

“This sometimes can be fun to watch, sometimes not, but I certainly dread to see the Fox formula used as a general template for the future of television news.”


Novak's at it again

Read Robert Novak’s Saturday column, “Hillary vs. Obama:” LINK

Chris Matthews, on this a.m.’s “Morning Joke” (MSNBC), first had to ask what this was all about, then blamed the Clinton camp.

Matthews said Novak’s Saturday column is his “item column” and is rarely picked up by newspapers. The assumption is: Novak didn’t feel this report was that important. Or, maybe, just maybe, Novak wanted it to lead the news early on a Monday morning.

After months on end of ripping Novak during his reports on the Valerie Plame Wilson case, suddenly Matthews is declaring Novak one of the country’s greatest journalists. Matthews has been on a non-stop, ad hominem campaign against Hillary, and facts haven’t gotten in his way yet.

Next post: Sex, lies and audio tapes

Sex, lies and audio tapes

During a recent TV interview, Rudy Giuliani stated he had not had contact with recently indicted Bernard Kerik in six months or a year.

This about the man who was his NYC police commissioner, good friend and business partner and recommendation which led George W. Bush to nominate Kerik to head Homeland Security.

"We have not communicated in months, at all, at all," Kerik said in a recent interview. "When the last time is, I could not even tell you."

I don’t buy it.

Now, comes Giuliani’s reaction to the $100 millinon lawsuit filed by former HarperCollins publisher Judith Regan against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Lots of spin surrounding the lawsuit, trying to frame it as “sour grapes,” but Regan claims a News Corp executive asked her to lie to federal investigators about her former lover Kerik to protect Giuliani’s run for the presidency.

She also claims she has proof in the form of audio tapes.

News Corp owns Fox News, where two other close Giuliani friends – Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity – hold court. FNC clearly is pushing Giuliani as the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination.

So, what does Rudy have to say about the lawsuit?

“I don’t respond to the story at all. I don’t know anything about it. Sounds like a gossip column kind of story, rather than a real story. The last thing a presidential candidate needs to do is respond to a gossip column story.”

Well, Rudy, it was real enough to make the front page of every newspaper in the country.

That Rudy hasn’t had any contact with Kerik in a year and had no prior knowledge of Regan’s charges is hardly plausible. And, his responses are hardly “plausible deniability,” if you remember that term from Watergate days.

How ‘bout “non-denial denial?”

As the 2008 presidential race started – the day after Election Day 2006 – I liked Rudy Giuliani. I knew the good and the bad of his own past and was willing to accept him as a capable leader.

Now, I hear my mother’s early lesson about protecting my reputation and “birds of a feather.”

Rudy, don’t lie to the American public. We’ve had enough of that.




Kerik was indicted Nov. 9 on 16 counts of conspiracy, corruption and tax evasion, including mail fraud, wire fraud, lying to the IRS and lying to the federal government during his vetting for Homeland Security chief. His associates have begun a legal defense fund to help him save his multi-million dollar Franklin Lakes mansion, his Middle East consulting firm and his butt. Kerik has pleaded “not guilty.”


"There were mistakes made with Bernie Kerik," Giuliani said in an AP interview. "But, if I have the same degree of success and failure as president of the United States, this country will be in great shape."


No sitting or former NYC mayor has achieved higher office since John T. Hoffman, who was mayor from 1866 to 1868, became governor in 1869.


Then again, no woman or African-American has achieved the highest office in the land. Now, all three are leading in their respective parties.

Listen. Do you hear Dylan singing “The times they are a’changin’ ”?


The xenophobic genie

With the Religious Right all over the place in supporting GOP hopefuls, have you noticed the issues of “God, gays and guns” have been swept under the campaign carpet?

There’s a new “hot-button” issue to exploit:

Rachel Maddow, Air America talk show host on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” (LINK), 14 November 2007, on the issue of illegal immigrants:

MADDOW: I will just say that five years ago there was not heat on this issue, not because this issue was any different, but because there was no strategy to uncork this xenophobic bottle and let this genie out and let it drive Republican politics. You can uncork this bottle whenever you want, and Americans will run with it every time.

Sheer DRUDGE-ry

Right-wing bloggers take their cue from the Atwater-Segretti-Rove College of Dirty Tricks. If they can’t stand on their own merits, they can always just LIE about the opposition.

Case in point:

During Jack Cafferty’s segment of CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer (LINK) Tuesday, 13 November, he pointed out to Blitzer:

“I was clicking on The Drudge Report, and there you are, big as life, in the middle of the Drudge Report this afternoon, with a headline suggesting that the Hillary Clinton campaign is trying to intimidate you before you moderate this big debate in Las Vegas. What’s up with that?”

This exchange ensued:

BLITZER: Not true. No one has pressured me. No one has threatened me. No one is trying to intimidate me.

CAFFERTY: They'd better not. I'll come down there.

BLITZER: No one has even called me to try to pressure me or anything like that.

CAFFERTY: Where does a silly thing like that come from?

BLITZER: I don't know. You know, I try to suspect that maybe some rival campaigns are trying to create a little mischief, try to get her embarrassed a little bit getting into the debate Thursday night, but I have no idea where it's coming from. I have no idea who generated this story, but I can tell you I have not felt any pressure whatsoever.

CAFFERTY: What about Drudge just rushing this thing right onto the Web site without knowing if it's true or not?

BLITZER: Well, that's another story.

CAFFERTY: Well, that's - we may get into that at some point.

BLITZER: Maybe we will.

CONCLUSION: One of the first rules of good journalism is: when accusations are made, you always give the other fellow a chance to reply. Apparently, Mr. Drudge, preferred to attack the Clinton camp instead.