A love-hate thing

In the annual USA Today-Gallup poll released 26 December, the following were named as the men and women most admired by Americans:


President George W. Bush – 10 percent
Former President Bill Clinton – 8 percent
Former Vice President Al Gore – 6 percent
Senator Barack Obama – 5 percent


Senator Hillary Clinton – 18 percent
TV host Oprah Winfrey – 16 percent
First lady Laura Bush – 3 percent
Actress Angelina Jolie – 3 percent

So, let’s get this straight: the most-hated man in America, presumably, President Bush, making his 7th appearance atop the list, and the most hated woman in the country, former first lady and New York State Senator Clinton, topping the list for the 12th time, are also the most admired.

Tell me this is not a “house divided.”

More poll results.


War on Christmas?

Settling in after Christmas dinner, one could relax by talking with friends and family, reading Luke Chapter 2, listening to Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” or enjoying yet another airing of “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

So, on the holiest of days for Christians around the world, what were Fox News viewers treated to?

An “O’Reilly Factor” marathon.

Like those old contests to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar, wonder how many times Bill mentioned “the war on Christmas” and his book “Culture Warrior” in his blatant attempts to fool his viewers, fortify his ratings and fatten his own coffers?


'The Christmas Tree Regiment'

During WWII, Japanese-American citizens began to be moved from internment to relocation centers, entered the U.S. work force and just as quickly were fired when angry townspeople demanded it of employers.

“At the same time the number of Japanese-Americans serving in the U.S. Army continued to grow, reaching 33,000.

“‘I’ve never had more wholehearted, serious-minded cooperation from Army troops,’ Lt. Col. Faron Turner said of the all-Japanese 100th Infantry Battalion, which fought with great distinction in Italy and France.

“The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which also fought in Italy and France, was known as ‘The Christmas Tree Regiment,’ because it became the most decorated unit in the entire Army.

“In seven major campaigns, the combined 100th and 442nd suffered 9.486 casualties and won 18,143 medals for valor, including almost 10,000 Purple Hearts.

“In addition, almost 16,000 Nisei served in military intelligence in the Pacific, translating captured documents.

“At Topaz, Manzanar, Poston, Heart Mountain and other relocation camps, the parents of fallen heroes accepted the extraordinary honors on behalf of their sons. The color guard turned out as the medals of the dead were pinned on their mothers’ blouses

“The familiar sadness of the ceremony was multiplied by its setting: a tawdry, tarpapered barrack surrounded by strips of barbed wire, which denied the parents of the honored soldiers the very freedom for which their sons had died.”

- Doris Kearns Goodwin, “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in WWII.”


In this season of faith, love and hope, let our prayer ever be,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14


Crunch time!

Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, if you are interested in the presidential campaign, I highly recommend you spend the 10 minutes to read this assessment of the field and the conclusions drawn by the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s statewide newspaper. After you have read the conclusions, I am certain you will want to share this with others.

We are all ready to take a holiday break, but in just two days after we ring in the new year, the important Iowa Caucuses will yield winners in both parties and will catapult each winner to the forefront of their party’s run for the White House.

For that reason, the following analyses and endorsements by Iowa’s leading newspaper cannot be underestimated:

The Register's caucus endorsements: McCain, Clinton

THE DES MOINES REGISTER • December 15, 2007

The Des Moines Register’s editorial board has endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

The Register, Iowa’s statewide newspaper, calls McCain and Clinton the candidates it believes are most competent and ready to lead.


Democratic endorsement editorial: Why Clinton


A deep, talented field in the Democratic caucus race offers both good and difficult choices.

No fewer than three candidates would, by their very identity, usher the nation to the doorstep of history. Should the party offer the nation the chance to choose its first woman president? Or its first black president? Or its first Latino president?

Or should the party place its trust in two senators, Joe Biden or Chris Dodd, who have served their nation with distinction for more than 30 years each? Or should it heed John Edwards’ clarion call to restore opportunity for all Americans?

Beyond their personal appeal, the candidates have outlined ambitious policy proposals on health care, education and rural policy. Yet these proposals do little to help separate the field. Their plans are similar, reflecting a growing consensus in the party about how to approach priority issues.

The choice, then, comes down to preparedness: Who is best prepared to confront the enormous challenges the nation faces — from ending the Iraq war to shoring up America’s middle class to confronting global climate change?

The job requires a president who not only understands the changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

From working for children’s rights as a young lawyer, to meeting with leaders around the world as first lady, to emerging as an effective legislator in her service as a senator, every stage of her life has prepared her for the presidency.

That readiness to lead sets her apart from a constellation of possible stars in her party, particularly Barack Obama, who also demonstrates the potential to be a fine president. When Obama speaks before a crowd, he can be more inspirational than Clinton. Yet, with his relative inexperience, it’s hard to feel as confident he could accomplish the daunting agenda that lies ahead.

Edwards was our pick for the 2004 nomination. But this is a different race, with different candidates. We too seldom saw the “positive, optimistic” campaign we found appealing in 2004. His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.

Unfortunately, for many Americans, perceptions of Clinton, now 60, remain stuck in a 1990s time warp. She’s regarded as the one who fumbled health-care reform as a key policy adviser to her husband, President Bill Clinton, or as a driving force in the bitter standoff between the “Clinton machine” and the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Her record in the Senate belies those images. Today, she’s widely praised for working across the aisle with Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham and other Republicans.

Determination to succeed and learning from her mistakes have been hallmarks of Clinton’s life. She grew up in Park Ridge, Ill., graduated from Wellesley College and earned a law degree from Yale. As first lady in Arkansas, she was both strategist and idealist, borne out by her commitment to children and families. As the nation’s first lady, she in essence spent eight years as a diplomat, traveling to more than 80 countries and advocating for human rights.

In the Senate, she has earned a reputation as a workhorse who does not seek the limelight. She honed knowledge of defense on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has proactively served rural and urban New York and worked in the national interest, strengthening the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Clinton is tough. Tested by rough politics and personal trials, she’s demonstrated strength, resolve and resilience.

Can she inspire the nation? Clinton is still criticized in some quarters as being too guarded and calculating. (As president, when she makes a mistake, she should just say so.)

Indeed, Obama, her chief rival, inspired our imaginations. But it was Clinton who inspired our confidence. Each time we met, she impressed us with her knowledge and her competence.

The times demand results. We believe as president she’ll do what she’s always done in her life: Throw herself into the job and work hard. We believe Hillary Rodham Clinton can do great things for our country.


Republican endorsement editorial: Why McCain


The leading candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president present an intriguing mix of priorities, personalities and life stories.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani inspired the city and nation with his confident leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister from Arkansas, charms with homespun humor. Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire investment adviser from Massachusetts, exudes executive discipline. As governors, both worked across the party divide to improve education and health care in their states.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee brings an actor’s ease to his no-nonsense calls for a return to fiscal discipline.

Yet, for all their accomplishments on smaller stages, none can offer the tested leadership, in matters foreign and domestic, of Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership.

In an era of instant celebrity, we sometimes forget the real heroes in our midst. The defining chapter of McCain’s life came 40 years ago as a naval aviator, when he was shot down over Vietnam. The crash broke both arms and a leg. When first seeing him, a fellow prisoner recalls thinking he wouldn’t live the night. He was beaten and kept in solitary confinement, held 5 years. He could have talked. He did not. Son of a prominent Navy admiral, he could have gained early release. He refused.

The one-time playboy emerged from prison a changed, more serious man. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and the Senate in 1986, he has built an unconventional political career by taking stands based on principle, not party dogma, and frequently pursuing bipartisanship.

His first term was touched by scandal when the Senate rebuked him for meeting with savings-and-loan regulators on behalf of campaign donor Charles Keating Jr., who was later imprisoned. That ordeal steered him into championing government transparency and battling alongside Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold for the campaign-finance-reform bill that bears their names.

Time after time, McCain has stuck to his beliefs in the face of opposition from other elected leaders and the public. He has criticized crop and ethanol subsidies during two presidential campaigns in Iowa. He bucked his party and president by opposing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. A year ago, in the face of growing criticism, he staunchly supported President Bush’s decision to increase troop strength in Iraq.

In this campaign, he continues to support comprehensive immigration reform — while watching his poll standings plunge. Some other Republican candidates refuse to acknowledge that climate change is a serious threat caused by human activity. McCain has worked on the issue for seven years and sponsored bills to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

McCain would enter the White House with deep knowledge of national-security and foreign-policy issues. He knows war, something we believe would make him reluctant to start one. He’s also a fierce defender of civil liberties. As a survivor of torture, he has stood resolutely against it. He pledges to start rebuilding America’s image abroad by closing the Guantanamo prison and beginning judicial proceedings for detainees.

McCain has his flaws, too, of course. He can be hot-tempered, a trait that’s not helpful in conducting diplomacy. At 71, his age is a concern. The editorial board disagrees with him on a host of issues, especially his opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage. McCain foresees a “long, hard and difficult” deployment of troops in Iraq. The Register’s board has called for withdrawal as soon as it’s safely possible.

But with McCain, Americans would know what they’re getting. He doesn’t parse words. And on tough calls, he usually lands on the side of goodness — of compassion for illegal immigrants, of concern for the environment for future generations.

The force of John McCain’s moral authority could go a long way toward restoring Americans’ trust in government and inspiring new generations to believe in the goodness and greatness of America.


“With dissension at home and distrust abroad, as American troops continue to fight wars on two fronts, the times call for two essential qualities in the next American president,” the Register’s editorial board concluded. “Those qualities became the paramount considerations in making endorsements for the Democratic and Republican nominees in the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

“The times call for competence. Americans want their government to work again.

“The times call for readiness to lead. Americans want their country to do great things again. They’ll regain trust in their government when they see a president make that happen.”

Register editorial page editor Carol Hunter said the six editorial board members who participated in the endorsement process disregarded the candidates’ standing in Iowa or national polls.

“We believe our job as an editorial board is to arrive at the candidate in each party we think would be the best president, whether a person is leading the polls or garnering 1 percent support,” Hunter wrote in a column that accompanied the editorials. “It’s not to predict a winner.”

This year’s endorsements come less than three weeks before the caucuses, set for Jan. 3. The caucuses, held five days before the New Hampshire primaries, start the nation’s 2008 presidential election process.

The Register’s editorial board members who participated in the endorsement process were: Laura Hollingsworth, publisher; Carolyn Washburn, editor; Carol Hunter, editorial page editor; Linda Lantor Fandel, deputy editorial page editor; Rox Laird, editorial writer; and Andie Dominick, editorial writer.

SOURCE: Des Moines Register


Black eye

Currently listening to Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in WWII."

On 20 June 1943, while the U.S. waged war on two fronts, a race riot broke out in Detroit, Michigan, leaving many blacks and whites dead or injured.

Ms. Goodwin reports: On 22 June 1943, the Jackson (Miss.) Daily News declared:

"It is blood on your hands, Mrs. Roosevelt. You have been personally proclaiming and practicing social equality at the White House and whereever you go, Mrs. Roosevelt. What followed is now history."

So, Detroit had the race riot, Eleanor got blamed, and Jackson, Miss., got the black eye.

What followed is now history.


14th rock from the sun

Paraphrasing, but not much:

Last night, from the no-spin zone on whatever planet Bill O’Reilly exists, an EXPERT was brought on to defend waterboarding and torture. This, of course, was a nice RED HERRING to avoid discussing the matter of DESTROYING EVIDENCE.

The EXPERT claimed waterboarding had stopped a number of ATTACKS on the United States which saved THOUSAND OF LIVES.

O’Reilly then hammered his guests, drowning out REASON by constantly asking, “If you knew your GRANDMOTHER was going to be KILLED, wouldn’t you endorse waterboarding?”

Are you scared yet? Well, this journalist can’t think of anything scarier than the fact that “The O’Reilly Factor” is the No. 1 show on cable news networks.

And, that’s the memo.


Begala pegs Bush

Democratic strategist Paul Begala just on with Wolf Blitzer (CNN) said President Bush is polling lower than several forms of venereal disease. I love a man who speaks his mind. Jack Cafferty and I almost fell out of our chairs!


Wrong numbers

A couple of months ago I gave up a toll-free number I’d had for 11 years. Last night my sister called to tell me she had accidentally punched the old number on her speed dial, and it’s now a phone-sex line. We got a good laugh out the thought that someone who hasn’t called in a while might think I’d figured out a get-rich-quick scheme!

Speaking of wrong numbers, CNN reports:

“Harried homeowners seeking mortgage relief from a new Bush administration hotline Thursday had to contend with a bit of temporary misdirection from the president himself.

“As he announced his plan to ease the mortgage crisis for consumers, Bush accidentally gave out the wrong phone number for the new ‘Hope Now Hotline’ set up by his administration.”

He gave it out TWICE.

The number – 1-800-995-HOPE – belongs to Freedom Christian Academy in Texas, a purveyor of home schooling materials.

Any chance some of those materials are the education software Ignite!, produced by Bush’s brother, Neil’s company?


I See My Dreams today: “Girdles and coffee”



Do you hear Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Huckabee, Mr. McCain and so forth?

No. You hear Senator Obama, former Senator Edwards, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Huckabee, Senator McCain.

So, why “Mrs. Clinton”?

She is Senator Clinton.

Let’s all raise hell about the treatment of women in Muslim countries, but sexism – personal or insinuated – is not-so-subtle here in our own country.


I See My Dreams today: “The poop on Lou Dobbs”


Confederacy of Dunces

A C-SPAN tidbit: George W. Bush currently is reading John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces.”

I read Toole’s novel this summer and imagine Bush is getting a real eye-opener about pre-Katrina New Orleans.

May I suggest a real-life “Confederacy of Dunces:”

“What percent of Republicans in the key caucus and primary states like President Bush? I think Democrats listening right now to Hardball will be shocked – 55 percent of Republicans in New Hampshire think Bush is doing a swell job. That’s 55 percent, New Hampshire. 72 percent of Republicans, more of them, in South Carolina think, well, they give him a thumbs up. And - are you ready? – 80 percent, four out of five Republicans in Iowa, are still solidly on the Bush bandwagon – 80, that’s the percent of Iowa Republicans who think the man in the White House is still peachy keen.”
- Chris Matthews, “Hardball,” MSNBC, 4 December 2007, transcribed from videotape.

See my related post on “I See My Dreams:” LINK


One happy Imus fan

Don Imus returned to the air with apologetic remarks, then added, "Other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan, I'm back on the radio and the coffee’s still good at B. J.’s house.”

OK, I added that last part, but it’s true!

Like the night my “Friends” exited the apartment door or finally tossing my favorite old houseshoes, the absence of Imus and his crew in the morning was unsettling.

I had grown accustomed to the craggy-faced curmudgeon and stepped right back into the comfortable morning routine.

I once heard David Letterman say he liked “Beavis and Butthead” because “they’re consistent.” And both Imus and his fans know that is crucial to the new show’s success.

The I-man promised the show his fans came to love “is not going to change,” a remark which drew loud applause from yesterday’s live audience.

RFD-TV, which will simulcast Imus’ WABC-AM show, says 30 million viewers will tune in. The channel hopes to add “20 million urban viewers.”

RFD, for you city slickers, stands for the postal designation, “rural free delivery.”

A friend who gets the channel via satellite told me the program is being bleeped. Well, they ain’t gonna add urban viewers that way.

I buzzed the blogosphere to get reaction to the broadcast, and that hasn’t changed, either – you love Imus or you hate him.

I ran across a blog by a Jewish woman who was complaining about “that bastard Imus” and his new black female sidekick, Karith Foster, a Texas gal educated at Missouri’s exclusive Stephens College and Oxford University in England.

The Jewish woman was raising hell because Foster had joked on her Web site, “I'm really a Jewish girl from Long Island trapped in this body, which technically makes me a JAAP - Jewish African-American Princess."

Sometimes you’re just damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And sometimes, you just want to scream, “SHUT UP!”


Read the Associate Press coverage of the first show: LINK

Listen to Imus “streaming live” at WABC-AM, 6 to 9 ET weekday mornings. Go HERE and click on "Listen Live."

TODAY'S QUOTE: In discussing the issue of illegal immigration with Imus, GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee said, "We should get down on our knees every night and thank God we live in a country people are trying to break into and not trying to break out of."


Welome back, I-man!

Listen to Don Imus, beginning Monday, 6 to 10 a.m. ET, on WABC-AM, New York, ABC radio affiliates, RFD-TV simulcast and STREAMING LIVE on your computer at: "Listen Live"

And, with apologies to Elton John, a message for Joe Scarborough:

Goodbye, “Morning Joke!” Your sarcasm burned out long before your program ever did.