America's most admired

The annual USA Today/Gallup poll, revealing who Americans most admire in today’s world, has its usual surprises.


1 - Barack Obama – 32 percent
2 - George W. Bush – 5 percent
3 - John McCain - 3 percent
4 - Pope Benedict XVI, Rev. Billy Graham, Bill Clinton and Colin Powell - 2 percent
5 - Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and the Dalai Lama round out the top 10, each named by 1 percent.

Gallup calls President-elect Obama’s percentage a “remarkable” showing.

“The 32 percent of Americans naming Obama as the man they most admire is extraordinarily high, nearly matching the 39 percent of Americans who named George W. Bush in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks. At that time, Bush's presidential job approval rating was a soaring 86 percent. It is also higher than former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush received in any of their appearances on Gallup's Most Admired Man list. Obama is the first president-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to top the list.”


1 - Hillary Clinton – 20 percent
2 - Sarah Palin – 11 percent
3- Oprah Winfrey – 8 percent
4 - Condoleezza Rice – 7 percent
5 - “A variety of political figures and entertainment stars round out the top 10.” (BJ NOTE: This does not make clear where Laura Bush and Michelle Obama rank.)

“This is the seventh consecutive year that Hillary Clinton has secured top billing as Americans' Most Admired Woman - and the 13th year she has made the top 10 since her first appearance on the list in 1993.


“First lady Laura Bush has topped the list only once since her husband took office in 2001. First ladies are much less likely than presidents to win a top spot on Most Admired Woman, although Clinton did it six times in Bill Clinton's two terms as president, Nancy Reagan three times in Ronald Reagan's two terms, and Barbara Bush twice in her husband's one term. Even Rosalynn Carter, whose husband suffered from low approval ratings for much of his last two years in office, achieved the top spot three out of her four years in the White House.”



Joe Scarborough one-upped

On this morning’s edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough was debating Zbigniew Brzezinski on a matter of foreign policy. The subject of the debate was Bill Clinton’s July 2000 attempt to bring about a peace accord between Israel (Ehud Barak) and Palestine (Yasser Arafat) at Camp David.

Happily, I had read Clinton’s personal account of those Camp David sessions in his autobiography, “My Life,” so I was thoroughly enjoying the exchange.

Mika Brzezinski was squirming.

The father of Scarborough’s co-host told Joe that his knowledge of foreign affairs was “so shallow it’s embarrassing.” He added that Joe’s arguments were “stunningly superficial.”

Mika tried to smooth things over by explaining her father’s remarks were aimed at Scarborough’s arguments and not at him personally.

An obviously ticked-off Scarborough said he would throw away all newspapers, ignore all foreign affairs experts and call Dr. Brzezinski when he wanted to know something.

Well, Joe, that’s not a bad idea. This clear-headed 80-year-old won my heart when he wrote in The Washington Post (3/25/07) an opinion piece titled “Terrorized by 'War on Terror:' How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America.” (LINK)

One smart guy.

The remainder of the host-guest exchange was, shall we say, uncomfortable, and Scarborough spent the rest of the program riffing on the “stunningly superficial” remark.

Sorry, Joe, but you were definitely out of your league.


'Dimwit Awards 2008'


She came, she saw Russia, she conquered the far right, and she just won’t go away. In interviews and in the debate with Vice President-elect Joe Biden, she proved to be all sass and no substance. And, gosh, darn it, that “heartbeat away from the presidency” thing scared the hell out of us!

In an interview with Human Events (LINK), she said the biggest mistake of the McCain campaign was that she was not granted more interviews with the media!

And, those senior McCain aides who have criticized her privately? “I was in a campaign in which I did not know the people individually running the campaign. So, I had to put my life, my career, my family and my reputation in their hands. That’s kind of a scary thing to do when you don’t know the people you are working with.”

It’s kind of a scary thing that this woman truly believes if she had been given a fair shake and more exposure the Republican ticket would have won on November 4.

Well, that, and the fact that we haven’t heard the last of her.

Demwit readers selected:

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska

(The nominees)


Chris Matthews, MSNBC: This motor-mouthed egomaniac continued making sexist remarks about Hillary Rodham Clinton after he was forced by MSNBC to apologize for such comments.

On “Hardball,” 17 December 2008 (LINK), Matthews began a segment on the possibility of Caroline Kennedy being appointed to fill Clinton’s Senate seat thusly: “We’re having the candy moment of the show, which is Caroline Kennedy. I don’t know what it is, but it is the cotton candy of political discussion, (John) Harwood. It is amazing. It’s so easy to talk about. It requires no intellectual knowledge.”

No “intellectual knowledge” is required when your mouth gets ahead of your brain – a frequent occurrence with Matthews.

RUNNER-UP: Sean Hannity of Fox News, whose one-man smear campaign of “falsehoods and character attacks” against President-elect Barack Obama earned him the distinction of “Misinformer of the Year 2008” by media watchdog, Media Matters.


George W. Bush

With three weeks to go in his presidency, George W. Bush’s final days have left us speculating about his “legacy.”

A thousand and one “Bushisms” later, it is tempting to sum up his image in office as buffoonery.

There are whole Web sites devoted to Bush quotations, but here are two which stand out in my memory:

On 18 December 2000, only a month before taking the oath of office, then Texas Governor and President-elect Bush met, for the first time, with Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill and summed up the meeting thusly:

“I told all four that there were going to be some times where we don't agree with each other. But that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.” (CNN TRANSCRIPT)

That should have been a clue.

On 5 August 2004, as he signed the Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2005, Bush knocked me off my couch when he said this about terrorists:

“[ T]his bill meets our commitment to America's Armed Forces by preparing them to meet the threats of tomorrow. Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” (WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT)

But, to limit Bush’s legacy to his spoken word would lighten the burden he must bear for his actions.

Take away the hubris and bravado, and our 43rd president was nothing more than a puppet manipulated by his vice president, Dick Cheney, on behalf of the “empire-building” group known as “neocons.”

It is far too overwhelming a task to list the scandals and missteps which have marked the Bush administration. Simply and in summary, it is sufficient to say this administration’s policies have reversed decades of struggles and achievement by Americans for America.

Sadly, Bush squandered worldwide support following 9/11 and the political capital he claimed after Election 2004 and emerged a pathetic figure with record low approval ratings.

Like the last tsars of Russia and Louis XVI of France, the 43rd president of the United States was an inept leader at a critical period in a country’s history.

In recent interviews, Bush has said he gave it his best, and, in the end, he probably gave us all he was capable of giving.


The holiest of days

I am aware that blog visitors are from every faith, religion and creed, but Christmas is the holiest of days for me, and I hope you will share in my joy.

I share in the joy your special days bring.

Heartfelt thanks to readers. My wish for each of you is a healthy and happy 2009!



See you Monday, 29 December. Come back then for DemWit’s year-end awards. If you have not yet voted, please see the next post.


Who's your favorite Dimwit?

The following persons (in alphabetical order) were nominated by DemWit readers for “Dimwit of the Year.” The winner will be announce on DemWit Monday, 29 December. Please click on “Comments” below this post to vote. Thanks!

BIG THREE EXECS - Flew in on private jets to ask for a handout.

JOHN EDWARDS – Wealthy lawyer who tried to convince us he is “poor folks” just like us, and embarrassed his supportive wife and his Party in the process.

PHIL GRAMM - McCain economic adviser who called a struggling America “a nation of whiners.”

JOHN HINDRAKER - Big-time right-wing blogger thinks Barack Obama needs elocution lessons from George W. Bush.

SARAH PALIN - Well, gosh, darn it, that “heartbeat away from the presidency” thing scared the hell out of us.

HENRY W. “HANK” PAULSON - The protector of our piggy bank proved “The Peter Principle” prevails.

To vote: no need to “log in” to comment. On the “Comments” form, just click on “Name/URL” to type in your name or choose “Anonymous.”

In addition to “Dimwit of the Year,” I will be naming “Media Dimwit of the Year” and inducting persons into the “Dimwit Hall of Fame.” Check DemWit on Monday, 29 December!

Thanks! BJ


The preacher and the hellraisers

The left-wing blogosphere and cable news talkers are raising hell over Barack Obama choosing Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. The left-wing.

OK, I am going to say this once, then I’m going to shut up. Throughout the Democratic primaries I was an avid supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I didn’t have time to campaign for Hillary: I was too busy defending Obama! On November 4, I voted for Obama and Joe Biden.

I am a liberal Democrat with very strong views on gay rights and the Religious Right.

While I have not read Rick Warren’s book, “A Purpose Driven Life,” the bestseller apparently has been meaningful to many Americans.

I want to make two points.

One: Remember all the Obama rallies where he talked about “unity” and “one America” and bringing ALL Americans together to work for the common good? (It was not lost on me that bloggers who supported Obama never used the name “United States,” but picked up on Obama’s use of “The United States of America.”) Remember all the cheers? I didn’t buy it then, and I am being proven right. There will never be unity in this country until we Americans can accept that other Americans have a RIGHT to believe as they choose. (And, yes, Fox News does have the freedom to report lies as “news” as much as we truth-lovers hate it.)

Remember Michael Douglas’ press conference in “The American President” and these words of truth: “America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.' ”

Two: On 19 November 2008 (LINK), I predicted the far-left would end up being stronger critics of Barack Obama than the far-right, and the far-left, so far, is not letting us down.

I confess I sensed naivete as I listened to Obama defend his choice of Warren. Didn’t he see this coming, or did he really believe all those cheering left-wing crowds when he called for unity?

Don’t you get it, folks? He’s trying to unite this country. He cannot do that by alienating half of its citizens. He knows it’s going to take a unified effort if this country is to survive perhaps its greatest tests ever.

I have often said I never saw a Democrat who didn’t shoot himself or herself in the foot. I don’t mean Obama. I mean those who are too quick to criticize his judgment before the man even takes the oath of office. All that unity that was cheered: did that mean unity if everyone ONLY believes as you do - as I do?

If so, then we are no better than the Religious Right!


The prescient Mr. Dickens

“Hard Times” (1854) is Charles Dickens’ shortest novel and was generally disliked in its time, because it lacked the depth of character development that was the writer’s genius.

In 1948, however, F. R. Leavis in his controversial book, “The Great Tradition,” stirred a new interest in the novel when he labeled it a “moral fable.” Critics began to recognize the novel’s worth, viewing it in a different light. Essentially, “Hard Times” is a critique of “utilitarianism,” a theory espoused by John Stuart Mill. In brief, utilitarianism contends that:

* The greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of society;
* “Utility” must be the standard of what is good for man; and
* A democratic social system is based on “enlightened self-interest.”

Although I had planned, during the holidays, to listen to a couple of Dickens’ Christmas books, I was lured to advance to the next of his novels in chronological order – simply because its title, “Hard Times,” seemed appropriate to the here and now.

Self-interest, instant gratification, greed and excess are not confined to Dickens’ time. Walter Allen, in his Introduction, describes Dickens’ fictional Coketown as “the soot-blackened monument of human greed, the temple of a new god, the steam engine, whose ‘piston worked monotously up and down like an elephant in the state of melancholy madness.’ ” Today, we describe Dickens’ monuments of human greed in more sterile terms: "credit card," “war profiteering,” “global warming.” “Ponzi scheme.”

To fully win my heart in this novel, Dickens attacks an educational system which fails to emphasize disciplines which grace our lives. He attacks “facts” with equal fervor – not truth, but the facts, the required rote pounded into pupils’ heads. Children are required to learn astronomy, he writes, but “never learn to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’ ” The little daughter of a circus horseback rider is ridiculed by a pedagogue because she cannot scientically describe a horse. One character equates reading a poem with laziness.

John Stuart Mill illuminated Dickens’ intuition in his 1873 “Autobiography” when, according to Allen’s Introduction, he “describes the malaise that laid him low in young manhood; his conviction that his emotional and imaginative capacities had been starved by the relentlessly intensive, inclusively intellectual education his father had inflicted upon him.”

I was delighted to learn that Mills found “spiritual health, almost salvation” in the poetry of William Wordsworth.

No soul, no matter what lies at its core, can go unstirred, when Wordsworth, in “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” stumbles upon “a host of golden daffodils!”

There is so much to be learned from a reading of this brief Dickens book about the state the world finds itself in today. The effects of self-interest upon society were apparent in his century and are apparent in ours.

A social system built on self-interest will almost certainly lead to corruption. As one of Dickens’ characters explains his crime: “So many people are employed in situations of trust. So many people out of so many will be dishonest.”

Hard times teach hard lessons. Can we learn from them?

And, still enjoy the daffodils?


Legacy in his own words

Out there in the blogosphere there’s a commenter I’d like to thank for this post!

This comment was left on a Think Progress article titled “White House sends memo to Cabinet officials with talking points on Bush’s successful presidency.” (LINK)

Here, then, is George W. Bush’s legacy – in his own words:

“5th Estate” Says:

From the 2002 State of the Union:

“Once we have funded our national security and our homeland security, the final great priority of my budget is economic security for the American people. (Applause.)

“To achieve these great national objectives — to win the war, protect the homeland, and revitalize our economy — our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term, so long as Congress restrains spending and acts in a fiscally responsible manner. (Applause.)

“We have clear priorities, and we must act at home with the same purpose and resolve we have shown overseas: we’ll prevail in the war, and we will defeat this recession. (Applause.)

“Americans who have lost their jobs need our help, and I support extending unemployment benefits and direct assistance for health care coverage. (Applause.) Yet, American workers want more than unemployment checks — they want a steady paycheck. (Applause.) When America works, America prospers, so my economic security plan can be summed up in one word: jobs. (Applause.) ”

And we all lived happily ever after!

Posted on December 9, 2008 at 10:31 am


I checked Bush’s first SOTU over at whitehouse.gov, and, sure enough, his words are recorded for posterity HERE.

Comments are the best part of a blog. Thanks, 5th Estate, for serving up this cold plate of words for Bush to eat.

Legacy, indeed!


The BAD girls

Once upon a time, in a small Mississippi town, there lived three women who formed a circle of friendship that would stand the test of time – and death.

Being one of the three, I long ago labeled one “my best friend” and the other “my true-blue friend.” I cannot imagine what they might have dubbed me during more than four decades of agreeing and disagreeing – of good times and bad.

A male friend at my daddy’s funeral pegged us, “I can tell when you three get together, there’s bound to be trouble. You’re The Three Musketeers.” “And,” I replied, “our initials are BAD – Betty, Annelle and Daphne!”

During a visit home in 1990, I stood with these two women by best friend Daphne’s flower beds. I believe it was true-blue friend Annelle who spoke the words which made us move instinctively into a group hug – a sealing of something very special.

I met Daphne Catt, a high school teacher, when our firstborn sons were babies. I had gone to her home to invite her to Sunday School, and we began a conversation that lasted many years. Annelle Poole and I grew close when we carpooled to our jobs at St. Regis Paper Company, her in the comptroller’s office and me in public relations. She, too, had a young son. Daphne and Annelle met through me and later worked together and had fun together all those years when I was off in distant places.

It’s a silly thing, but I always said of them, “Annelle Poole has a pool, but Daphne Catt has no cats.”

Daphne died from the effects of Parkinson’s on 27 January 2003, but the circle was not broken. She and I had stayed close with long-distance calls and rare visits. It was Annelle who was her buddy through the later years and who puts fresh flowers on her grave. Annelle is the lucky one.

I am thankful for whatever stars were aligned, what miracle was wrought, which brought the three of us together.

Happy Birthday, my true-blue friend Annelle! Group hug!

PHOTO: Coffee at Daphne’s kitchen table. From left, Stanley Catt (who died 19 November 2008 , also from Parkinson’s), Dephne Catt, Annelle Poole and Betty “B.J.” Trotter. Monticello, Mississippi, 1990. (Photo by Mark Trotter)


The funny thing about blogs

It’s a fascinating pursuit to examine what brings people to a blog. Thanks to my Site Meter – and you can click on the icon in the left sidebar – I can track the search words and links which lead readers across the country and around the world to DemWit.

The results might surprise you!

I have a friend who is a blogging fool, publishing multiple political posts per day. This friend has daughers and told me the single post which has brought the most visitors to the blog was one protesting young teenage girls getting “bikini waxes.” So, thousands came to this important political blog by putting “bikini wax” into various search engines!

I can identify. For two years I wrote my heart out on my archived blog, “I See My Dreams,” and the post which has lured the most visitors – oh, about a thousand so far – was titled “boobtube.com” – a silly bit about media coverage of Hillary Clinton “showing cleavage” on the Senate floor. They are still coming – every day via the search-engine term, “boobtube.com”. Let me just put it this way: these searchers aren’t interested in Hillary’s cleavage! Turns out that’s also a Web site, and you don’t want the kids or grandkids looking over your shoulder if you check it out!

On 19 June 2007, I posted “A ‘do-nothing’ Congress?” over at Dreams, and hundreds of readers came via links to the post which appeared on CNN.com and on the successful liberal blog, Daily Kos. That was cool.

Interestingly, I’ve had a lot of foreign visitors coming in search of “Tagore’s prayer,” which I’ve traditionally run on various blogs on the eve of elections.

So, now let’s look at what draws people to DemWit:


“Obama Potentate flag?” – I wrote about a blogger ragging over the Ohio State flag being an Obama flag. The writer later claimed his post was “satire,” but his intent was hard to detect. This DemWit post continues to bring visitors every day!


This one makes me happy. Since I posted “Detecting propaganda” on 23 October 2008, I’ve had about 500 visitors via that search term or the names of the various propaganda devices. Also bringing readers are links on “Ideas Festival” and on an education site in Maine. I suspect a professor sent students to read this important essay as some 100 visitors from the University of Oklahoma showed up over a two-day period. Each day more and more come to this post, and it’s a thrill to be imparting such knowledge.



And, the number one search term which has brought the most visitors to DemWit has nothing to do with one of my posts, but involves a simple aside I left as a comment on “From Hillary’s viewpoint.” The search term? “Laura Ingraham’s leopard-skin mini-skirt.” Here’s the comment – the profound words I wrote – which has drawn the most visitors – about 1,000 - to my blog to date:

“Frodo mentioned Laura Ingaham’s comment on Hillary’s attire, and I cannot resist sharing this: David Brock, creator of mediamatters.org, in his book “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative” paints a very colorful scene with Laura Ingraham, clad in a leopard-skin mini-skirt crawling across the floor at a D.C. cocktail party – dog drunk. David and Laura were young right-wing movers and shakers hired as hatchetmen to spread dirt on the Clintons. All the vivid details are in the book.

“By the way, the only thing on TV worse than Bill O’Reilly is Laura Ingraham substituting for Bill O’Reilly!”

There hasn't been this much attention to attire since Nastassia Kinski posed with the snake!


The posts I consider my best – the ones I’ve worked the hardest on, researching like crazy and peppering with source links – are rarely read. People break out in a rash over any post longer than two paragraphs – paraphrasing Tom Brokaw.

Frequent cable news guest Craig Crawford, blogging at CQ Politics, has the right idea. Instead of publishing a 20-paragraph post, he pubishes about 20 one-paragraph posts a day – and his is a well-traveled blog!


All those people learning how to detect propaganda!

And, of course, you.


Top 25 'Censored' stories

We were all so caught up in Election ’08, I failed to note the “Project Censored 2009” list, released in September..

Briefly, for 32 years Sonoma State University has released a list of the top 25 news stories from the previous year which have been censored by the mainstream media’s lack of coverage.

Hundreds of stories are submitted each year. These are narrowed by students, faculty and journalists to a list of 25, which is then ranked by a panel of judges.

After the list is realeased each September, the stories eventually make their way into the MSM and the public psyche. For example, several years ago the top censored story was “Neocons,” and that finally became, as we say, a household word.

So, why not read tomorrow’s news today? At the end of the list, you will find a link to the stories! Here are the top 25 censored stories from 2008:

#1. Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation
# 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
# 3 InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business
# 4 ILEA: Is the US Restarting Dirty Wars in Latin America?
# 5 Seizing War Protesters’ Assets
# 6 The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
# 7 Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking
# 8 Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly
#9 Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify
# 10 APA Complicit in CIA Torture
# 11 El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
# 12 Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind
# 13 Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
# 14 Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste
# 15 Worldwide Slavery
# 16 Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights
# 17 UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights
# 18 Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers
# 19 Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
# 20 Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
# 21 NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option
# 22 CARE Rejects US Food Aid
# 23 FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
# 24 Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
# 25 Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer

For the list of titles as active links to stories, go HERE.


Madam Secretary

Hillary Rodham Clinton spent 12 years living in the South, and in those Arkansas years, learned that the heart of any home is its breakfast table. In homes across the South, including my own, guests gravitate toward the kitchen table, a place for conversation, comfort and conciliation.

As first lady, she carried this tradition to the White House family living quarters, where, as Carl Bernstein wrote, guests gathered around the breakfast table to discuss, over coffee, issues of moment.

Personally, I believe it was in this setting that Hillary Clinton picked up the grit, grace and gravitas which has made her a favorite of foreign heads of state and will serve her, her president and her country well as secretary of state.

I have heard so many persons of opposing political persuasion talk about how much they liked Hillary – once they met her personally.

A lot of folks love to hate this woman, but if she had a singular archenemy it was one Richard Mellon Scaife.

During Bill Clinton’s administration, billionaire Scaife spent the collective GDP of four or five Third World countries and a couple of South American Banana Republics on a one-man campaign to destroy the Democratic president and first lady.

Here, borrowed from my archived “I See My Dreams” blog, is what happened to this archenemy once he sat down at the table with this woman. I reprint it here, because I think it has much to say about her readiness to fill her new role:

On Sunday, 30 March 2008, Scaife wrote the following editorial in his newspaper, the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review:

Hillary, reassessed

Hillary Clinton walked into a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review conference room last Tuesday to meet with some of the newspaper's editors and reporters and declared, "It was so counterintuitive, I just thought it would be fun to do."
The room erupted in laughter. Her remark defused what could have been a confrontational meeting.

More than that, it said something about the New York senator and former first lady who hopes to be America's next president.

More than most modern political figures, Sen. Clinton has been criticized regularly, often harshly, by the Trib. We disagreed with many of her policies and her actions in the past. We still disagree with some of her proposals.

The very morning that she came to the Trib, our editorial page raised questions about her campaign and criticized her on several other scores.

Reading that, a lesser politician - one less self-assured, less informed on domestic and foreign issues, less confident of her positions - might well have canceled the interview right then and there.

Sen. Clinton came to the Trib anyway and, for 90 minutes, answered questions.

Her meeting and her remarks during it changed my mind about her.

Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect (or even, perhaps, expecting the worst), took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both.

Sen. Clinton also exhibited an impressive command of many of today's most pressing domestic and international issues. Her answers were thoughtful, well-stated, and often dead-on.

Particularly regarding foreign policy, she identified what we consider to be the most important challenges and dangers that the next president must confront and resolve in order to guarantee our nation's security. Those include an increasingly hostile Russia, an increasingly powerful China and increasing instability in Pakistan and South America.

Like me, she believes we must pull our troops out of Iraq, because it is time for Iraqis to handle their own destiny - and, more important, because it is past time to end the toll on our soldiers there, to begin rebuilding our military, and to refocus our attention on other threats, starting with Afghanistan.

On domestic policy, Sen. Clinton and I might find more areas on which we disagree. Yet we also agree on others. Asked about the utter failure of federal efforts to rebuild New Orleans since the Katrina disaster, for example, she called it just what it has been - "not just a national disgrace (but) an international embarrassment."

Does all this mean I'm ready to come out and recommend that our Democrat readers choose Sen. Clinton in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary?

No - not yet, anyway. In fairness, we at the Trib want to hear Sen. Barack Obama's answers to some of the same questions and to others before we make that decision.

But it does mean that I have a very different impression of Hillary Clinton today than before last Tuesday's meeting - and it's a very favorable one indeed.

Call it a "counterintuitive" impression. - RMS

On Sunday, 20 April 2008, Scaife’s newspaper endorsed Clinton. The headline on Editor & Publisher’s report on the endorsement said it all: “Hell freezes over.”

Congratulations, Hillary. I like your warmth. I want my America once more to be a beacon for the world. Let the thaw begin!


'I Can See Clearly Now'


Isn’t it funny how you’ll be thinking about something only to hear your thoughts validated in the news? I’m sure Freud or the French have a word for it.

Wednesday morning I was musing about how the Crawford ranch, the pickup truck, the brush cutting - Bush’s whole cowboy bit - was probably “plain folks” propaganda appealing to his base. Remember when Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox’s biography called Bush “a windshield cowboy” who is afraid of horses?

Last night on MSNBC, David Gregory reported on visiting with first lady Laura Bush and viewing the White House Christmas decorations. Almost as a postscript to his report, Gregory said the Bushes will be looking at real estate in Dallas as they plan to move there when they leave Washington.


Lots of buzz about Charles Gibson’s interview Monday with George W. Bush. Lots of yelling at my TV.

Gibson asked Bush, “If the intelligence had been right (about WMD), would there have been an Iraq war?”

Inexplicably, Bush replied, “Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

Without using the word “goofball,” Gibson tried again, “No, if you had known he didn't.

“Oh,” Bush said, “I see what you're saying. You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate.” (TRANSCRIPT)

Forget the confusion. Go back to the part about Saddam not allowing UN inspectors in.

Is Bush lying? Is he in total denial? Is he just plain stupid?

In the run-up to the Iraq War, I was reading everything I could online, and it’s simply SPIN that all intelligence pointed to WMD. Bush apparently missed this Associated Press report (LINK):

“U.N. weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad for the first time in four years on Nov. 27, 2002, and resumed inspections two days later. During four months of inspections, arms experts traveled the length of the country hunting for banned weapons of mass destruction.”

AP reported that on 18 March 2003, 56 UN weapons inspectors, along with UN support personnel, totaling 150 persons, flew out of Saddam International Airport at 10:25 a.m. Baghdad time. The U.S. invasion of Iraq began on 19 March 2003 at 9:25 p.m. ET. No WMD were found in the four months UN inspectors were “on the ground” in Iraq - or since.

Is it just me or don’t you think it’s a damn shame that I apparently knew more than POTUS?


I watched and taped CNN’s six-hour documentary series, “God’s Warriors,” which captured numerous awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and a special honor at the Emmys.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, produced the series, which focused on the political influence of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

You can expect the same excellence in reporting tonight as Ms. Amanpour presents “Scream Bloody Murder.”

From cnn.com:

“They dared to speak the truth when no one would listen. CNN's Christiane Amanpour introduces you to the heroes who protested evil and lived to tell their stories.

“They tried to stop the killing. Nobody listened. Now, the truth will be told. … Amanpour traveled to the killing fields of Europe, Africa and Asia to understand the world's indifference, even as courageous voices tried to ‘Scream Bloody Murder.’

Watch this worldwide investigation on CNN tonight at 9 ET/PT.

PHOTO: For sale on eBay: one brand new saddle, never used.


Canada's constitutional crisis

In this morning’s inbox: insight into what’s happening north of the border from “Airth” in Toronto, Ontario, Canada:


You would be very interested in what is happening in Canadian politics. (Generally, Canadian politics is boring.) Our prime minister, Stephen Harper, is very much a “Bush” person. He is a control freak, secretive and more interested in ideology than in the interest of the country as a whole - like Bush.

Anyway, there is sort of a constitutional crisis. Canada has a
parliamentary system. The prime minister and his party have a minority in parliament. That means that it can be defeated by a non-confidence vote in parliament. Well, last week it was on the verge of defeat because the opposition parties did not like the budget the governing party brought down. (Canada is also suffering from a weak economy that needs stimulus.) The opposition parties want to form a new government, but the present government is fighting tooth and nail to retain power.

The whole thing is very divisive for the country, especially in this time of much needed leadership. Next week we should know more, if not sooner. The governor general, the head of state like the Queen in Britain, will probable make the ultimate decision as to who will form the next government.

And, all this after just having an election seven weeks ago!



Thanks, Airth! We’re pretty bogged down in our own mess down here and sometimes forget to check on our neighbors. Keep us posted.


What's up with Matthews?

On April 20, 2008, I read the New York Times Magazine article, “The Aria of Chris Matthews,” a lengthy exposé about the egocentric MSNBC host and his behind-the-scenes feud with some of the cable network’s “lights.” LINK

Matthews, writer Mark Leibovich claims, is absolutely paranoid that NBC/MSNBC is grooming David Gregory to replace him as the network’s main mouth. (Gregory, NBC’s longtime White House correspondent, hosted “The Race for the White House,” which has morphed into “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” on MSNBC’s nightly lineup.)

During the Democratic primaries you didn’t have to be a close observer to note Matthews’ on-camera tit-for-tat with fellow MSNBC star Keith Olbermann.

It’s hard to ignore that in the midst of all this in-house fussing and fuming, fighting and feuding, these guys’ boss Tim Russert dropped dead of a heart attack on 13 June.

Eric Boehlert at the media watchdog site, Media Matters, had this to say about the article, which reads like the stuff of an HBO mini-series script:

“Tongues are still wagging over The New York Times Magazine's cringe-inducing cover story about MSNBC talker Chris Matthews. The cringes came courtesy of the name-dropping Matthews, whose raging insecurities danced across nearly every page of the piece. As (standout political blogger) Digby noted after reading the opus, ‘He fulfills every single Village media cliché: obsessive social climbing, deep personal insecurity, primitively sexist and racist and just plain dumb.’ " LINK

My regular readers know I raised hell throughtout the Democratic primaries over Matthews’ overt sexism toward Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Despite my own negative feelings about Republican veep wannabe Sarah Palin, I noted that she, too, was a target of Matthews’ propensity for blatant sexist banter.)

Fast forward to yesterday and a conversation CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) Blitzer, a no-nonsense newman, would not report a rumor unless it had some pretty substantial merit. He asked Specter what he thought about the scuttlebutt that Matthews is going to run against him as a Democrat in 2010.

The acerbic Specter replied, “I long ago adopted the philosophy of Satchel Paige, the old pitcher, and that is: I never look over my shoulder, never look behind. Somebody may be gaining on me. I run with blinders. Wolf, I'll be prepared, whoever my opponents are.” LINK

Nothing in prime-time equals Matthews’ on-air orgasms over politics and patriotism. Can it be that MSNBC’s big guy would give up his night job to sate his passion for such?

Or, does he know something we don’t?

If so, that would be a first.


Behind Mumbai?

Al Qaeda, al Qaeda wannabes, Pakistan-based Islamic extremists or disgruntled Indian Islamists?

CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, on “Larry King Live” last night, discussed the possible motives behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India:

LARRY KING, host: Christiane, with the limited information we have, as an educated guess, what are the possible motives?

AMANPOUR: Well, this is what's confusing everybody. I think it's really interesting because many, many people are trying - are saying that there's a Pakistani connection. Others are saying maybe it has some of the hallmarks of al Qaeda or at least al Qaeda and its numerous spin-offs and clones.

But, this Deccan Mujahedeen - the name is really interesting, because it comes from this southern plateau Hyderabad area (in India). And, it comes from a time when, in fact, it was Muslim rule in that part of India - many, many, many years ago.

So, this suggests a deliberate indigenous claim. And also, there has been talk about links to a so-called Indian Mujahedeen.

And remember, this is the fifth attack in India this year - attacks that have taken about 150 lives or more before this attack just two days ago. And, these have been claimed by Indian Mujahedeen or at least blamed on indigenous Islamists.

So, this is a very, very difficult thing to sort out at the moment. Many are calling it highly coordinated, highly disciplined. On the other hand, there are eyewitnesses talking about indiscriminate firing of AK-47s, for instance, at the train station. People are talking about deliberately targeting Westerners and, obviously, going to the Jewish Nariman House - the Jewish targets there. On the other hand, killing Muslims and perhaps Hindus, as well, at the station and other places.

So, there's no direct line that you can really pin down right now.


AMANPOUR: Well, you (King) were talking about motives. First of all, Pakistan has denied having anything to do with it, and the president has sent over the head of the Pakistani ISI, military intelligence, to go and talk to the Indian prime minister and try to obviously see if they can sort something out there.

But, in terms of motive, Deepak (Chopra) was talking about the sort of global Islamic movement. … Certainly, many of these groups, if it's al Qaeda, they're just nihilists who are bent on a power struggle to kill either what they call infidels who may be Western or even within the whole Muslim group itself.

But, in India, it is very important to note, there are 150 million or so Muslims in India. It is the world's largest Muslim minority, bigger than most countries. An Indian government-ordered commission, about 2006, talked about the Indian minority there and really saw that they were, in terms of jobs, income, education, thoroughly disadvantaged compared to the Hindu majority.

This Indian Mujahedeen has spoken about those grievances before. Then, there's the other issue of Kashmir, all these groups have talked about Kashmir as well, which is an ongoing and festering sore. That is the Indian-administered, Muslim- majority province up there near the Himalayas. So, that's an open, festering sore as well.

And obviously, you know, you talked about, isn't it in both countries' interests to warm up? Well, yes, except there are very powerful elements on both sides that don't want relations to be warmed up. So, that's going to be a test, also, of whether there can be determined and courageous leadership to try to keep this warming up of relations on track.



Are you blessed?

I wanted to catch you, dear reader, while your thoughts have turned to thanksgiving. During this special holiday season, we all can think of ways we are blessed.

Here are two which stopped me short, taken from the blog of my beloved great-nephew Phillip Hill:

“If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of this world’s people.”

“If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy.”


At 3 ET this morning, I finally caught the two-hour special, “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” hosted by Anderson Cooper.

The value of this special tribute exceeds the celebrity lineup: the good deeds of the 10 honored heroes leaves the viewer humbled and wondering what he or she can do for others.

There are heroes all around us; several grace my life. We don’t have to move the world to make a difference – a simple helping hand can mean so much:

Help an elderly neighbor change light bulbs and smoke detector batteries.

Clean out your kitchen shelves or pantry and take those foodstuffs which get pushed to the back to a lneighborhood cupboard.

Give a little of your time to one of those local organizations doing good things for those in need.

Organize a neighborhood “calling circle” to check on elderly neighbors.

Give a restaurant gift certificate to a working, single mom. (She will love you for it.)

Give a kid a book.

A simple helping hand. Extend yours today.


The CNN special will re-air tonight at 10 ET/9 CT/7 PT.

The news around the world and here in America is dire and distressing. Recapture the spirit of this holiday season and reassure yourself there is good in the world, by tuning in.

The special tribute closes with these words from “If You’re Out There,” sung by John Legend:

“The future started yesterday, and we’re already late.” (LISTEN TO THIS SONG ON YOUTUBE)


A Thanksgiving remembrance

“ … just think what a precious day this was for her.”


In 2000, to mark a new century and a new millennium, I edited a monthly family newsletter, “The Page Turner.” That November, my niece Kimberly Paige Turner Runyan – “Kim” – daughter of Isaac and Glo Turner, wrote about a Thanksgiving Day in our family’s past.

Here is Kim’s memory, in her own words:

“ … And I Gave Thanks”

by Kim Turner Runyan

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year. My family and I always spent this special day with my paternal grandparents, Lee and Marie Turner. They had moved from their longtime home in Jackson, Miss., and their small mobile home, located in Carrollton, Miss., was always filled with food, family and loads of fun. I guess I never really thought of Thanksgiving as a time of worship and praise, but more of a mini-vacation where I would get spoiled rotten.

All this changed in 1987 when Granddaddy died. Grandmother sold their home and moved back to Jackson to live with my Aunt Mary Bell. Needless to say, my Thanksgiving tradition changed quite a lot. In November 1989, my cousin Ladd Frazier called to ask my older brother Van and me to join him for a trip to Anderson, S.C., to spend Thanksgiving with his mom, my dear Aunt Betty Jean (B.J.). I was thrilled! Aunt Betty and I had always been very close, and any opportunity I got to spend time with her was a special treat.

As we prepared to leave, Ladd told us we had to stop by Aunt Mary’s to pick up a package Grandmama wanted to send to Aunt Betty. That was a highlight of the day. I loved any excuse to get to see Grandmama. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday, too. I might not be able to see her Thanksgiving Day, but the day before Thanksgiving was close enough to perfect for me.

When we arrived at Aunt Mary’s house, Grandmama was in the bathroom getting dressed for the day. I went in, talked to her for a few minutes, told her I loved her, retrieved the package, wished her a “Happy Thanksgiving,” and left for an incredible Thanksgiving, or so I thought.

Our trip to South Carolina was fairly uneventful. Upon arrival we were greeted by a wonderful roast beef dinner and some little gifts from Aunt B.J. After dinner, Aunt B.J., Uncle Mark, Van and Ladd decided to watch a movie. I went to bed, anticipating the next day. I had only been asleep an hour when Aunt B.J. was gently patting my arm, “Kim, honey, wake up. Grandmama has had a heart attack, and she’s gone.”

After shock wore off, the anger set in: “Thanks a lot, God, you just took one of the most precious people in my life away, and on the night before Thanksgiving, too. It was her favorite holiday, God. How could you do this to us?”

The next day, Thanksgiving Day, my favoritie holiday of the year, was spent driving back to Mississippi. My Thanksgiving dinner was a cold ham sandwich eaten at a cold concrete table at a dreary roadside park somewhere in Alabama. As Uncle Mark blessed the food, I thought to myself, “What does he think we have to be thankful for! There is no turkey and dressing. It is cold and drizzling rain. And, most of all my Grandmama has gone from my life forever.” I was about as grateful as a pig at a hog slaughter. The rest of the long trip was miserable. We finally arrived home around 11 p.m. I was totally exhausted, totally depressed and totally mad at God. Mama met us at the door. I cried my heart out as she held me close. “Kim, just think what a precious day this was for her,” Mama whispered in my ear.

“Excuse me for not jumping for joy or throwing a party!” I lashed out at Mama. “I don’t feel much like celebrating.” I stomped out and went to bed. I didn’t sleep at all that night. Memories flooded my 15-year-old mind. I remembered all the summers my brothers and I had spent with her. I remembered all the butter beans and peas we had picked out of her garden, and then shelled sitting in her living room, listening to stories of days gone by. I thought of all the times we were eaten alive by redbugs while we were picking blackberries. It was nothing “a Clorox bath and a bowl of good, hot cobbler” couldn’t heal. I remembered catching a 10-pound catfish out of Aunt Bernice’s (Bernice Montgomery) back pond, and how Grandmama cut her hands pulling the line to get it in. My mind raced to Mount Pisgah Baptist Church where she and Granddaddy had taken us so many times. How we loved those ice-cream suppers and Bible School nights! I thought of all the times she took us shopping for school clothes, and how we always disagreed over the latest fashions. The memories of her reading to us from her Bible and teaching us about her Lord would always be dear to me.

Grandmama was such a strong woman. She was strong-willed, strong-hearted and a woman of strong, simple faith; a faith that had taken her through 61 years of marriage; the death of a son; of a grandson, Michael Ralph Frazier, and of her lifelong soulmate, my Granddaddy. It was her faith that allowed her to rear five children, work hard every day of her life, and still have her whole family pressed, dressed and looking their best on Sunday mornings.

As we prepared for the funeral the next day, I felt God speaking to my heart. I sat almost numb through a very sweet, special funeral service. At the graveside, as I watched them lower her body into the earth, God touched me and my Mama’s words made sense.

When Grandmama woke that Thanksgiving morning, she awoke in Heaven, greeted by the Savior she cherished so dearly. She was reunited with Granddaddy. She probably held the little baby boy, Jesse Lloyd, God had taken from her arms so long ago. She held her grandson, Aunt B.J.’s son Michael, close and reassured him of her love for him. What a beautiful sight it must have been! What a glorious, precious Thanksgiving Day it must have been for her! How shamed I was for being so selfish.

As Uncle Mark held my hand and led me away from the graveside, I gave thanks: “Thank you, God, for this precious, wonderful, loving woman. Thank you for her life and what she meant to me. Thank you for the family she begat. Because of her, Father, I have a wonderful daddy, a great uncle, three precious aunts and a passel of cousins. Thank you for her strength and her wisdom and her loving, tender spirit. Thank you for the opportunity you gave us to learn and study about you. Thank you for taking her quickly, for not allowing her to suffer. Thank you for allowing her to come home to you on her favorite holiday of the year. Thank you, Father, for the time I had with her. And, dear God, I thank you most for her salvation and for mine and for her never-ending, undying faith!”

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday, but for different reasons. I know its true meaning, and I try to live each day with a thankful heart. I count my blessings more closely and praise God for each one.

Oh, and the little box we took to Aunt B.J. that day came back to me a few years later. A couple of weeks before my wedding, I received the little box in the mail. Inside were some dishtowels and a note explaining the significance and origin of the gift. Of all the presents I received that was truly the most precious and most cherished.

Dear sweet family, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with food, fun, family and, most of all, a thankful heart! My love to you all!

- Kim Turner Runyan


Thank you again, Kim, for these words written eight years ago about a Thanksgiving 19 years ago. and for all the wonderful childhood memories you’ve shared about my mother. Your granddad and grandmother would be as proud of you as ever - of your beautiful family and that you are a schoolteacher!

And, thank you, dear reader, for taking the time.

PHOTO: Kim Turner Runyan, holding her nephew Ty Turner; with her son Blake, adopted son Quentin, son Bryce, husband Dean and son Brandon. (Photo by Debra Sims Patton)


Old portraits

Or, Why I read Charles Dickens.

Growing up I spent summer weeks with aunts and uncles and cousins. In the old country home of Uncle Mack, Aunt Myra and my cousins Kay and Lanny, the walls were hung with those old ancestral portraits in large oval frames.

The stern looks of women dressed in 19th and early 20th Century costume and bearded gentlemen with right hands tucked inside their vests were at once intriguing and intimidating to a child.

My first night there I was lying in a back bedroom with two of these faces staring down at me. As I pulled the quilt up to my chin, a ghostly light played upon the portraits, then disappeared. I froze, breathless in the dark. Once more the faces were eerily illuminated.

I caught my breath, then woke the house with a blood curdling scream.

The ghostly apparitions faded back into their frames, and I into my feather bed as Uncle Mack closed the drapery and explained.

He raised pheasants out back in cages where naked light bulbs hung on cords. As the pheasants jumped to catch the bugs around the lights, the cords swung, momentarily casting a light into the bedroom window and bringing long dead kin to life.

Now, listen as Charles Dickens, in “Bleak House,” describes old portraits hanging on the walls of Chesney Wold:

“Through some of the fiery windows, beautiful from without, and set, at this sunset hour, not in dull-grey stone but in a glorious house of gold, the light excluded at other windows pours in, rich, lavish, overflowing like the summer plenty in the land. Then, do the frozen Dedlocks thaw. Strange movements come upon their features as the shadows of leaves play there. A dense Justice in a corner is beguiled into a wink. A staring Baronet, with a truncheon, gets a dimple in his chin. Down into the bosom of a stony shepherdess there steals a fleck of light and warmth that would have done it good, a hundred years ago. One ancestress of Volumnia, in high-heeled shoes, very like her — casting the shadow of that virgin event before her full two centuries — shoots out into a halo and becomes a saint. A maid of honour of the court of Charles the Second, with large round eyes (and other charms to correspond), seems to bathe in glowing water, and it ripples as it glows.

“But, the fire of the sun is dying. Even now the floor is dusky, and shadow slowly mounts the walls, bringing the Dedlocks down like age and death. And now, upon my Lady’s picture over the great chimney-piece, a weird shade falls from some old tree, that turns it pale, and flutters it, and looks as if a great arm held a veil or hood, watching an opportunity to draw it over her. Higher and darker rises shadow on the wall — now a red gloom on the ceiling — now the fire is out.”

That’s why Dickens’ words are immortal, and I’m writing a two-bit blog.

PHOTO: My great-grandmother Sarah Allie Castle Lindsey Holman, affectionately my mother's "Grandma Holman," 1898.



Prediction: Soon, the far left will be as critical of President-elect Barack Obama as the far right.

Just 13 days after Obama’s victory, Clinton administration arch-critic du jour Chris Matthews was foaming at the mouth over Obama’s transition team and appointees to date. Talk about a “180.” “Where is the change? Where is the change?” Matthews repeatedly asked his guests.

My friend Airth wrote me about hearing a CNN discussion last night regarding Obama’s selection of “Clintonites” and how that does not represent the change he promised. “Well,” Airth said, “change is more about ideas than people. And 'Clintonites' have always had ideas that have led to change.”

Let me stop here, dear reader, and declare what follows is not a defense of the Clinton administration. I am defending President-elect Obama against those on the left and the right who are beginning to question his judgment.

Some of the strongest Obama supporters I know expressed concern over the influence Bill Clinton would have on a Hillary presidency. What then of the influence the former president’s administration appears to be having on Obama?

On Monday, I published a very important post, however lengthy, which discussed influences on Obama’s thinking as well as a very positive and progressive “blueprint” which has been proposed for him and for America. Unfortunately, few bothered to take note of the post, “A plan for the 44th president.”

Obama’s first cabinet appointment – Eric Holder as attorney general – might survive a confirmation hearing drilling on Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, but will it survive questions about Ira Magaziner?

Hot on the heels of the Associated Press news flash about Holder came a statement from the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) criticizing Obama’s AG pick. NLPC, which promotes ethics in public life and sponsors the Government Integrity Project, is still ticked off over Holder’s involvement in what they deemed a “cover-up” by Magaziner. Read the story HERE. Be prepared for buzz about Magaziner’s chairmanship of the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation advisory board.

At the time, I concluded the charges against Magaziner were a Republican witch hunt (there was a helluva lot of that going around). Holder, Attorney General Janet Reno and President Clinton called them "unfair and unsupported by the facts." A 1995 criminal investigation into the so-called “cover up” ended without charges against Magaziner.

But, that won’t stop a regurgitation of anything that will shed bad light on the Clintons – and by inference, on Obama.

Kudos to Pat Buchanan who pointed out on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” last night that guests’ discussion of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) suggested “corruption.”

The anti-Clinton forces who are chapped over Obama’s consideration of Hillary for secretary of state - including those on MSNBC - would have you believe there are some nefarious goings-on which should prevent her appointment.

The CGI mission is clear on its Web site: “The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan catalyst for action, bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

To see a list of all the amazing 10-year commitments made by CGI members: LINK

Then there is Joe Lieberman. I personally find Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) a despicable, self-serving opportunist who has not always put his country before his own political ambitions.

You can bet the far left is not too happy with Obama’s “pardon” of Lieberman and the Democratic Caucus’ willingness to overlook his support of John McCain.

Barack Obama is keeping his word. Throughout his campaign he promised to do all in his power to unite the people of this country. In the 2004 keynote address which catapulted him into the national spotlight, he said, “We are not blue states. We are not red states. We are the United States of America.”

In the College of Public Opinion, Obama might be flunking his first big test. In MY opinion, he is willing to put into place persons he deems best suited to salvaging what’s left of this country. The burden upon him is great – one few of us would welcome – and if he succeeds, he will leave the White House with highest honors.

The political factions of this country must put away pettiness and meet each other face to face, to paraphrase Mary Stewart’s “Collect.” We cannot let Obama – or our country - fail.


A plan for the 44th president

During the last year I listened to Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life,” which served as a first-person refresher course on the eight years of his administration.

So, as President-elect Barack Obama began to name his transition team, it was easy to recognize that many team members, including its leader John Podesta and Obama’s chief of staff-in-waiting Raum Emanuel, were holdovers from the Clinton White House.

Friday night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews reported that 31 of the 47 persons named either to Obama’s transition team or staff have Clinton administraton ties. These include all but one of the persons on Obama’s 12-member Transition Advisory Board and both of his White House staff choices.

Did these 31 persons leave the Clinton administration with the bad taste of sour grapes? Hardly.

John Podesta, who was Clinton’s chief of staff from October 1998 to January 2001, after serving in other administrative positions, is described on his official biography site (LINK) as:

“ … known for his straight talk, acerbic wit and fierce defense of the Clinton Administration.”


Podesta, it turns out, might just be the most influential person occupying Obama’s thoughts as he prepares to move this nation, finally, into the 21st Century. Let me explain.

On 6 November 2008, CQPolitics – Congressional Quarterly – reported:

“President-elect Obama has announced the leaders of his transition team, and it's a mix of longtime Senate aides, friends and top officials at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that has been a major influence on Obama’s policy proposals.” (LINK)

John Podesta is president and chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress (CAP), currently on leave of absence while he heads up Obama’s team. He is the author of numerous books and articles promoting the Center’s progressive agenda.

So, just how influential are Podesta and CAP on Obama’s thinking?

What follows is reading for persons dead serious about the “changes” Obama has promised and where they will take this country – persons with a natural curiosity about the forces which might influence these changes.

It has been my experience that 99 percent of blog visitors never click on provided source links, so I am publishing here, in its entirety, a three-part series of articles (LINK) from CAP’s “The Progress Report.” (See “Fair Use Notice” in left sidebar.)

The articles, which might occupy a half hour of your time, are self-explanatory and present a “progressive blueprint” for the future of the United States of America:



November 12, 2008

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, Ryan Powers, and Matt Duss

A New Progressive Direction

Editor's Note: This is the first in our three-part series on "Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President."

The disastrous foreign policies of the Bush years have created an opening for the new administration to show that progressive ideas are better able to secure and protect America in the 21st Century. A joint project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the New Democracy Project released a new book titled Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President, which contains a series of innovative and necessary proposals to change direction on a range of policy issues confronting the United States. The section dealing with national security suggests ways in which we can better secure our homeland and frustrate the efforts of America's enemies abroad. It also re-conceptualizes national security to include issues such as global poverty and development, noting that radical ideologies often take root in environments of insecurity and deprivation. Importantly, it recognizes that developing and implementing these new policies will require repairing America's image in the world, reestablishing American leadership seven years after President Bush arrogantly declared "either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists."

CONTAINING THE IRAQ FALLOUT: The invasion of Iraq was an attempt to deal with a 21st Century problem -- amorphous networks of transnational terrorists -- using 20th Century methods such as "shock and awe." The cost in lives and treasure as well as to America's reputation has been enormous. In one chapter of Change for America titled “Containing The Terrorist Threat,” Jessica Stern, a former director at the National Security Council, writes that "the new president will inherit a system still oriented toward meeting threats that emerge from...static national powers, rather than transnational groups." Stern notes that an unfortunate side-effect of the Iraq war is "the excellent training the insurgents have received...against the best equipped military in the world." Stern proposes working with Iraq's neighboring states "to prepare a strategy for dealing with the inevitable 'blowback' from the Iraq war," such as foreign fighters returning to establish networks in their home countries. "Efforts should be put in place now to monitor the movement of insurgents who leave Iraq," Stern writes. "This will require both bilateral and multilateral intelligence efforts, with special emphasis on inevitable efforts by the Islamist extremists to set up virtual training camps on the Internet and seek financing and recruits online."

SUSTAINABLE SECURITY: Confronting future threats before they emerge requires more than the relentless application of military force, it requires addressing the economic and humanitarian issues that create the conditions from which threats arise. In the chapter “Reducing Global Poverty Is A Moral And Security Imperative,” Gayle Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, notes that "the risk of war increases in direct proportion to the levels of poverty." Smith proposes creating "a new U.S. Global Economic Development Agency -- an independent, cabinet-level agency focused on global poverty alleviation goals...building capable states [and] creating the conditions under which social entrepreneurship and open societies can thrive." Smith also suggests that the president look for ways to coordinate private and public sector activities, to "use U.S. assistance to seed innovation, and to leverage U.S. aid in support of new development models...The new president can use a variety of policy tools and resources to encourage greater innovation and experimentation, as well as foster cross-sector partnerships between social enterprises, corporations, philanthropists, and government."

RE-ESTABLISHING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP: Because the partnership of the international community is essential for global security, the United States must seek to repair its image and restore its leadership role in the world. This means more than simply doing better public relations; it means developing better policies that don't alienate America's friends, or needlessly provoke America's foes. But better public diplomacy is key to bringing about the international cooperation that is required to manage shared global security concerns. In the chapter, “Public Diplomacy Can Help Restore Lost U.S. Credibility,” Doug Wilson, a former senior adviser at the United States Information Agency, writes that "to be effective, public diplomacy must help U.S. policymakers communicate U.S. values and motives to shape foreign policy understanding and then integrate foreign public opinion into the policymaking process in order to help realize our national security and foreign policy goals." The new administration should "determine how best to build upon historically successful approaches -- such as educational and cultural exchange programs -- with 21st-century strategies and communication tools."


November 13, 2008

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, and Ryan Powers

Reorganizing Government For The 21st Century

Editor's Note: This is the second in our three-part series on "Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President." See part 1 here; part 3 will appear tomorrow.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton vowed to start building "a bridge" to the 21st Century. President Bush's White House, however, has moved backwards in time, operating on a 20th Century model. Yesterday, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), with the New Democracy Project, released a new book called “Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.” The book outlines new ideas for governing in the 21st Century, updating the White House to reflect this century's priorities. John Podesta, president and CEO of CAPAF, and Sarah Wartell, executive vice president for management of CAPAF, explain that creating new White House offices and retooling existing ones "ensure[s] that a limited set of key objectives receive ongoing heightened attention" and allows the new president to make his priorities clear and begin setting his agenda from Day One."

URBAN POLICY: President-elect Barack Obama's Chicago background means that he will bring a fresh, pro-city perspective to a position that has not seen an urban face in decades."To find a nominee with as strong a city pedigree as Obama's, you have to go back to New York Gov. Al Smith, the Democratic candidate in 1928, or even further, to Grover Cleveland, who had been mayor of Buffalo," the Washington Post wrote. Obama has already indicated he will create a White House Office of Urban Policy, a move Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, and Henry Cisneros, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, endorse in their chapter on revitalizing and updating the department. Metropolitan areas, they note, "have become the engines of national prosperity;" as such, federal policy "needs to shift from an outdated focus on 'urban policy' to an expansive, asset-driven perspective of 'metro policy.'" The Office of Metropolitan Policy would work with key cabinet agencies, such as the Transportation Department, and "would actively engage the true metropolitan experts -- local corporate, civic, and government leaders -- in the design and implementation of new, cutting-edge policies."

TECH POLICY: Science and technology "are the engines of our economic growth," writes Neal Lane, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) under President Clinton, but "we risk falling rapidly behind many other parts of the world" in discovery and applied technology. The OSTP should play a central role in the next administration, and should serve in the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, and the National Energy Council. "After eight years of political interference by the Bush White House" into science, Lane writes, the 44th president must ensure that policy decisions "will be informed by the best scientific evidence and analysis." Lane recommends issuing an executive order within the first week of the next administration that emphasizes his commitment to relying on the best scientific evidence. Obama has already proposed creating a "chief technical officer" and wants to aggressively expand rural broadband connection. He has indicated he would move swiftly to overturn Bush's ban on embryonic stem cell research, which Lane says should be done within the first week of his term.

ENERGY COUNCIL: CAPAF Senior Fellow Todd Stern and former Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes write, "Transforming the energy base of the economy will demand top-level participation across the executive branch." The National Energy Council should thus include the secretaries of most cabinet agencies. We cannot transition to a low-carbon economy without enormous technological innovation," the president should also create an interagency Energy Innovation Council "to develop an integrated, multiyear national energy research, development, and deployment strategy." Stern and Hayes urge the next president to pledge to introduce energy and climate change legislation within his first 100 days. "The scope of this challenge is huge," Stern and Hayes acknowledge; climate scientists warn the world will face catastrophe if it doesn't immediately and seriously confront climate change. "Along with finding the right people to staff his Administration," Time's Joe Klein writes, "Barack Obama's most important job now is to find the right words to inspire the nation to undertake this next great cause."

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: At the start of his campaign, Obama pledged to create "a new Social Entrepreneur Agency to make sure that small non-profits have the same kind of support that we give small businesses." He has promised to expand programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and to create a new Classroom Corps, Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Michele Jolin, a CAP Senior Fellow and the former chief of staff of the Council of Economic Advisers, advises the 44th president to create a new White House Office of Social Entrepreneurship to spur "greater innovation, creativity, and success in the non-profit sector." The "non-profit sector can be a source of innovation and experimentation," a testing ground for new government solutions. Jolin warns against creating a bulky bureaucracy or picking specific "winners;" instead, the government should "invest in a range of solutions designed to meet national goals." "In short, the new president needs to focus on creating a policy environment that...fosters new entrepreneurship, improves nonprofits' access to growth capital, and removes outdated tax and regulatory barriers to innovation." The new White House office should create an annual multimillion dollar prize "for developing the most creative, sustainable, and high-impact solution to a defined social challenge," Jolin suggests.


November 14, 2008

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, Ryan Powers, and Pat Garofalo

A Pro-Growth, Progressive Economic Agenda

Editor's Note: This is the third in our three-part series on "Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President."

On Election Day, 60 percent of voters said that the state of the economy is "the most important issue facing the nation." With a resounding progressive victory, the new administration has the opportunity to implement pro-growth, progressive economic policies to get the economy back on track. This week, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, along with the New Democracy Project, released a book called “Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President.” The book outlines new ideas for governing in the 21st Century, and offers suggestions on how to make the economy work for everyone, rather than catering to the richest Americans and largest corporations as has been the policy for the last eight years. In the book, Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Gene Sperling explains that "the 44th president must work with both sides of the political spectrum to design policies that boost shared prosperity by strengthening and growing the middle class, not policies that just focus on growth or on equity alone." "Strong and dynamic growth," Sperling writes, "is critical to ensuring the United States always makes room for anyone from anywhere who is willing to work hard and play by the rules without having to force existing groups to settle for less."

MOBILITY AND EQUITY: In their chapter on equality and mobility, Peter Edelman of Georgetown University and Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink ask if America is headed towards a "new gilded age," pointing out that "the American Dream -- that we can all move up the economic ladder -- is far from reality for many people today." Currently, income inequality in the United States is at its highest level since 1928, and only "7 percent of children born to parents in the bottom wealth quintile make it to the top quintile in adulthood," while "36 percent of children born to parents in the bottom wealth quintile remain in the bottom as adults." And, U.S. tax policy exacerbates this disparity. "Out of the more than $200 billion in tax incentives offered each year for savings, only about 5 percent goes to the bottom 50 percent of Americans." Edelman and Blackwell write, "The first step is to restore a progressive U.S. tax system in the wake of the Bush administration's tax cuts, which poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the hands of the wealthiest Americans and corporations." The next step is to ensure that all Americans have both living-wage incomes -- through a minimum wage indexed to inflation -- and adequate savings to fall back on. Finally, the next administration must expand educational opportunities through a national commitment to pre-kindergarten, as well as expansion of after-school and out-of-school programs as well as programs that reach at-risk and disconnected youth.

A GREEN RECOVERY: As CAP Vice President for Economic Policy Michael Ettlinger notes, "No source of jobs is poised to be generated by the unaided private market to replace the jobs lost in home construction, the financial sector and the other areas dramatically affected by the current recession." Therefore, a set of policies aimed at creating jobs is essential to jumpstarting the economy. In her chapter on global competitiveness and trade, CAP Senior Fellow Laura Tyson argues the next administration should invest in a green recovery, creating jobs while simultaneously moving America towards a low-carbon economy. She writes, "Policies to accelerate the development of clean energy alternatives will help create green-collar jobs and build U.S. competitiveness in what promises to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the world economy over the next half-century." CAP reports that a $100 billion investment over two years in a green recovery program would create 2 million new jobs. "We identified $50 billion in programs that are ready to go immediately," says Bracken Hendricks of CAP. "The package would create 2 million jobs across the skill spectrum, from blue collar to high tech, and in almost every area of the country. There was huge congressional appetite for this even before the economic crisis hit."

LONG-TERM PROGRESSIVE GROWTH: True long-term economic success requires both "a growing middle class and rising living standards." As Ettlinger points out, "The economic weakness of recent years was papered over by personal debt underpinned by artificially high valuation of homes and other assets. ... A lesson to be learned from this period is that economic growth that is not buttressed by growing middle-class incomes is illusory -- a house of cards bound to collapse." Thus, CAP has released a Progressive Growth plan aimed at creating long-term opportunity through green recovery, implementing health care reform and labor law reform, as well as enabling all Americans access to a quality education. Sperling writes that the new economic agenda "must focus on policies that both raise the economic tide and lift all boats -- boosting productivity and our gross national product while fostering the shared prosperity that defines our nation's values." But, these efforts must also be "paired with a serious commitment to long-term fiscal discipline" through a willingness to confront ineffective domestic and military spending. Implementing the policies outlined here -- as well as many others -- can lead to an economy that excludes no one, to the benefit of everyone. (End of three-part series.)


A few months ago I listened to an unabridged copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” a record of President Lincoln’s campaign and cabinet. Goodwin’s book is now much associated with Barack Obama as he plans for his administration.

As a Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter who voted for Barack Obama, it is encouraging that the president-elect has the good sense to tap resources from the most successful Democratic presidency since FDR’s.

Bill Clinton hoped his presidency would be America’s “bridge to the 21st Century.”

With the devastating effects of 9/11 and an eight-year Bush administration that bridge became an open drawbridge from which plummeted America’s image, achievements and aspirations – into dark waters of despair.

Can America now meet the aforementioned daunting challenges and emerge a better beacon for the world?

Yes, it can. But only if Americans are willing.


Bushisms, what Bushisms?

Some of you might remember the 15 minutes of fame grabbed by the lawyers who run the right-wing Web site, Powerlineblog.com. The story they broke made them the darlings of the far right.

An astute observer there discovered the superscript type in a document and derailed CBS’ and Dan Rather’s attempts at getting to the truth behind George W. Bush’s National Guard record.

At Powerline Blog (LINK), which lists as favorite sources Michelle Malkin, Town Hall, The Weekly Standard, American Spectator and Commentary, one of the three contributors said something this week that was at once incomprehensible and hilarious.

John Hinderaker has earned a nomination for DemWit’s “Dimwit of the Year” award. Pegging his post on what some cable news folks called Barack Obama’s “First Gaffe” – talk of Nancy Reagan and séances for which the president-elect apologized – Hinderaker wrote:

“Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as president, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been president, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.”

Close your mouth, dear reader!


Leave your own nomination for “Dimwit of the Year” in the comments zone. A winner and two runners-up will be announced at year’s end.


Isaac and the Nubian goat

My “kid brother” Isaac, 63, and his wife Glo had the great good fortune of rearing their children in a bucolic setting.

At a recent family get-together in Mississippi, Isaac regaled us with stories of their farm animals, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard.

Son Van has returned to work at the D-Day Museum complex in New Orleans. When his and wife Anna’s St. Bernard Parish home was left under water in Katrina’s wake, they moved to Alabama, where Van worked for the State Archives. They are very happy to be starting over in the city they love. Daughter Kim teaches school. She and Dean have three boys and have adopted a fourth. Brad, the youngest, owns a successful business. He and Jessie have baby Ty.

A whole family of animal lovers! Brad looks to his daddy to board and tend his farm animals, and Isaac, though almost blind, has managed quite well, caring for them and keeping the fish pond stocked. Let’s say he managed quite well until Brad brought over a pair of Nubian goats – Billy Bob and Sally.

Nubian goats originated in the Middle East, Russia and northern Africa and were cross-bred with English goats to become the Anglo-Nubian strain. Noted for a sleek, elongated body; bell-shaped, floppy ears and a Roman nose, the Nubian is, by nature, a sociable animal. Most of them.

Shortly after their arrival, it became clear that no pen could hold Billy Bob, who preferred Sally’s enclosure to his own. One day while working in the barn, Isaac was caught unawares by the charging buck, who butted him four feet into the air. “I picked up a two-by-four and hid in a stall. ‘Come on, you SOB,’ I muttered under my breath. I heard him coming, cloppety clop, and just as he rounded the stall, I let him have it!”

Glo, always soft-spoken and calm, “came out to see what all the commotion was, and there laid Billy Bob, out cold on the floor. ‘Isaac, you’ve killed the goat!’ No such luck. He got up and took off.”

“After that, it was war.”

Nubians, like most dairy goats, are “disbudded” in infancy, a process which leaves them hornless. Not so with Billy Bob, who, sensing he could sneak up on him, targeted Isaac as the butt of his jokes..

Isaac and Brad built a new pen of solid wooden boards and seven feet high, the height Billy Bob could rise to while rearing up.

The next morning Isaac went out to the pen. “I told myself: ‘I’m not believing what I’m seeing!’ The damn goat was dismantling the pen, board by board, by hooking his horns under each and prying it loose. I took off for the house.”

“One day I decided to replace the window screens across the front of the house,” Isaac continued the saga. “I worked all morning. Then, I headed out to the road to get the mail. I turned around, taking a minute to get my bearings, and here came that SOB straight toward me, with a screen on each horn! I held out the mail, thinking he might stop and eat it.”

Airborne again.

After this latest confrontation, the goats were loaded into a trailer and taken to the sale barn in nearby Brookhaven, Mississippi. Sally romped down the ramp, but Billy Bob balked. The sale barn handler, with electric prod in hand, started up the ramp. “You’d better be careful,” Isaac told him. “I ain’t afraid of no goat,” the handler said as he disappeared into the trailer.

Out came the handler with Billy Bob in hot pursuit. “Prod went one way and handler went the other,” Isaac said. The guy jumped a nearby fence, gasping, “You weren’t lying about that goat, Mr. Isaac!”

I love you, Bro! Thanks for the laughs! We’ll save the tale of the fish pond trespassers, popping their beer cans in the middle of the night, for another day.


First Puppy and rare breeds

Much attention is being given to the choice of the new First Puppy. I would advise the new First Daddy to stay away from rare breeds and maybe go with what we used to call a “Heinz 57,” denoting an offspring of “57 varieties.”

The most beautiful dog among my many pets was a Hungarian Vizsla named “Pete.” On his official AKC papers he had six names which would have befitted a Transylvanian count. A most impressive pedigree noted for hunting skills.

My then husband, an avid bird hunter, couldn’t wait for a field trial. As he put it, when he fired the first shot, Pete “took off like Lindbergh.” Two days later, a farmer in a small town 10 miles away called to say he had Pete and demanded pay for the chickens he had killed. The pedigree came home with a backside filled with birdshot.

No amount of begging convinced the hunter that a gun-shy bird dog who couldn’t “earn his keep” could stay around as a pet. So, Pete, after vet care, was adopted for his beauty and not his instinctive “skills.”

We had lost our precious fox terrier “Peppy,” and I insisted our boys – Michael and Ladd – needed another pet. I had read them a book, “Goodbye, My Lady,” about a boy who found a rare dog. So, when the hunter got word one was available, off he went to Natchez, Mississippi, for an African basenji. Her papers proclaiming she was “Cleopatra of the Nile.” Cleo’s mother had been bred with a Texas chainsaw.

An African basenji is a beautiful little barkless dog with a corkscrew tail, a deeply wrinkled forehead and a very strange quirk. If left alone, a basenji will destroy anything in sight.

Not knowing about this trait, we left her as a puppy in our carport storeroom, where, 20 minutes later, we discovered she had chewed our freezer’s cord in half and obliterated the sheetrock flanking the door.

The pedestal of my round wooden dining table still bears deep teeth marks where Cleo chewed away chunks after being unknowingly left in the house alone.

If there’s any terror worse than an African basenji left alone, it’s an African basenji left alone while in heat. The hunter had her bred with a registered male, then built a special cage to keep her away from the amorous advances of our neighbors’ half-pit, half-English bulldog, “Patton.” Awakened by a terrible commotion, the hunter found Patton firing his artillery after Cleo had chewed a hole through the cage’s wooden floor.

None of the puppies bore any resemblance to this interloper. My best friend took one and named him “Wrinkles.” “Don’t leave him locked up alone,” I warned. Shortly thereafter, she called, “You’ve got to get over here. Stanley will be home any minute, and Wrinkles has destroyed his greenhouse!” Nothing left but dirt six inches deep on the greenhouse floor and bits of broken clay pots and greenery sticking out here and there.

Sadly, a neighbor’s daughter sent a newspaper clipping from Nebraska about an African basenji, who, left alone with an infant on a blanket, had killed the baby.

Wrinkles acquired a new metal outdoor pen. Cleo, with ample warnings, went to live with a man who had begged for her.

I acquired an interest in and a subsequent love for cats.

I keep thinking what damage Cleo would have done in the White House.


Of pedestals and prostitutes

A grey-haired editor once told me, “Journalism is a whore riding a black horse.” The black horse, he explained, is newspaper ink. I was a college senior, a journalism major, caught up in the nobility of the Fourth Estate, and I suppose he intended to tamp down my enthusiasm. Now, almost 30 years later, I still want to believe in my chosen profession and the noble pedestal on which it perches.

So, when it comes to journalism, there’s nothing like a little hypocrisy to get my hackles up. Saturday morning MSNBC’s Amy Robach asked guest Armstrong Williams about “the center-right myth” - the latest conservative mantra.

When Robach suggested this was a way to keep the word “right” in the electoral equation after an Obama victory, Williams explained that America is at “center-right,” because Americans still cherish “moral values.” (The implication, of course, is that Americans on the left have no moral values.)

I almost fell out of my chair! Armstrong Williams talking about moral values is more than I can stomach. This from a man, a professional broadcast journalist, who prostituted himself by taking money to promote one of George W. Bush’s pet projects.

In 2004 Williams, an African-American, signed a $240,000 contract with the Department of Education to promote Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program among black Americans – to peddle propaganda masked as straight news. He was subsequently issued a citation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and stiff fines were imposed against his employers, Sonshine Family Television and the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Funny how persons who have made Faustian deals end up on cable news. Fox News’ lineup is full of them. And, now comes word that CNN has hired Stephen Hayes as “Part of the Best Political Team on Television.” Neocon Hayes has for the last eight years been a trumpeter for Bush’s “war on terror,” continuously lying about a Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda connection.

Perhaps that grey-haired editor was right, after all.