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.