The lady

A lady lies upon a gurney, bleeding to death.

Two physicians stand nearby arguing.

Each thinks his methods are the better. Each thinks the other’s will be harmful to the lady.

On and on and on they bicker.

Soon, their arguments are moot.

The lady has died.

Fade to black.

The lady is America. She has died from conflicting ideologies.


The road to where we are

Today we face an escalation of the war in Afghanistan with no assurance of the outcome in Iraq. Are we faced with a cycle of intervention as conditions in each country get better or worsen?

How did we get where we are?

Quite often on DemWit, the terms “neoconservatives” or “neocons” appear. Many who find their way to this blog might not fully understand the terms and how they relate to U.S. foreign policy. So, here’s the backstory:

The neocons, in all their brilliance, decided when the Cold War ended that this country could use its military might to sweep through the Middle East, topppling tyrants and establishing democracies. They envisioned a "Pax Americana."

This would have the spillover benefits of securing Israel and our oil supply.

Iraq, Iran and Syria were in their sights. But, merely establishing democracies wouldn’t sell, so they instilled fear with phrases like “weapons of mass destruction” and “a smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Among neoconservative white papers are titles such as “Crises Can Be Opportunities.” One was a 90-page plan published in 2000 and titled, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” Quoting from the plan: “The process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Conveniently, there was a 9/11. The crisis brought public support. Now, look where all their grandiose plans have gotten us. Cheney is out in force, defending torture, because he cannot accept the fact that he and his neocon cronies were wrong.

I am convinced if Cheney was right or really has a conviction that he was right, he wouldn’t have to tell so many lies

Many who became known as “neoconservatitves” were left over from the administration of George H. W. Bush, but he and Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to both Bush I and President Gerald Ford, soon realized these persons, including Cheney, had "changed."

(Scowcroft himself was wrong about Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction,” but he was so dead-on about the consequences of invading Iraq that I include a link to his August 2002 predictions below. It’s quite a study to go through his op-ed piece and check off how many came true!)

Dubya put Cheney in charge of the vice presidential selection process, and we know how that turned out. A group headed by Karl Rove went down to Texas to give the president-elect a crash course in foreign policy a la neoconservatism. (Oh, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea, Dubya, to put Rummy at the Pentagon.) It all fell into place so neatly.

And incidentally, once the invasion of Iraq began, Cheney’s former company Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (aka KBR), reaped the benefits of no-bid government contracts - big time.

Most of the original neocons have been marginalized with the exception of a few who publish right-wing magazines and, of course, Cheney, who still merits a microphone. Many who were in power and always in front of TV cameras have settled into right-wing think tanks where they can continue to hold intellectual circle jerks.

Al Qaeda’s still out there. Kind of like encountering a rat in the woods and screaming in terror while overlooking the grizzly bear named North Korea standing behind it.

But, our military is a little tied up right now.

Who brought us along the road to where we are? An inattentive public and media who fell short of doing their job.


“Don't Attack Saddam: It Would Undermine Our Antiterror Efforts,” Brent Scowcroft, Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2002: LINK

A few neocons you’ll recognize: LINK

“Neocons 101,” Christian Science Monitor: LINK

“Buying the War,” Bill Moyers, PBS: LINK

“Cheney's speech ignored some inconvenient truths,” Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers, May 21, 2009: LINK


What Sotomayor might expect

President Barack Obama has just nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor (so-toe-MY-yore) to replace Mr. Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.

You will read and hear about Judge Sotomayor’s background elsewhere, but as I listened to the coverage, I began to think of possible questions which might arise about her nomination.

From the right will come questions about her stance on any cases involving immigration, because she is Hispanic.

She made a speech a couple of years ago in which she stated that laws are made from the bench. While this is an accurate depiction of the appeals court process, her remarks will be interpreted by some Republicans as “advocacy.”

Groups on the left will have questions about her Roman Catholic background and how it will affect abortion laws and a woman’s right to choose.

There will be rumblings from some because she worked for a law firm which represented international corporations doing business in the United States.

Stay tuned.


Please read on: today’s DemWit post follows.

'Liberalism will kill you'

On Saturday, 16 May 2009, Republicans convened at Savannah in the state of Georgia to promote the concept that theirs is a “party of diversity.”

This they would prove to a “mostly white, trending older” audience with a few token – yes, token – black speakers and college students.

“We are watching a wholesale undermining of what your mother and father built in this nation,” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told the gathering. “And, they are being cute about it by using flowery language and Teleprompters.”

“The Republican Party’s credibility as the reliably conservative choice has been damaged, and it’s up to us to fix it,” Steele said, “faith, freedom, personal responsibility, respect for life and prosperity.”

Then he warned, “Like a bad diet, liberalism will kill you. It’s a drug we don’t need to be hooked on. We are what stand between an America of prosperity or dependency. Which one do you want?” (READ ARTICLE)

I am in agreement with one of Mr. Steele’s points:

“Liberalism will kill you.”

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you believe it is time for the radical right to stop using the tragedy of 9/11 as a rallying point for fearmongering and warmongering.

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you heard former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on “Meet the Press” Sunday spewing all the pro-torture talking points. (TRANSCRIPT) Here’s an example:

“Let me just say, I think people should be afraid. I think the lesson of 1993, the first time they bombed the World Trade Center, was fear is probably appropriate. I think the lesson of Khobar Towers, where American servicemen were killed in Saudi Arabia, was fear is probably appropriate. I think the lesson of the two embassy bombings in east Africa was fear is probably appropriate. I think the lesson of the Cole being bombed in Yemen was fear is probably appropriate. I'll tell you, if you aren't a little bit afraid after 9/11 and 3,100 Americans killed inside the United States by an effort, if you weren't worried about the second-wave attack that was designed to take out the biggest building in Los Angeles, I think that, that you are out of touch with reality.”

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you comprehend that fear is a weapon of mass destruction.

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you worry that a few hundred alleged terrorists can sit in cells in Guantanamo Bay and rip this country apart.

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if, in your heart, you believed January 20, 2009, was a turning-point where Americans would come together to solve a myriad of domestic issues and improve this country’s image in the world – only to find ourselves mired once more in partisan bickering and retro sabre-rattling.

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you simply cannot comprehend, cannot cope with a growing incapacity in this country to distinguish right from wrong.

LIBERALISM WILl KILL YOU if you recognize that the so-called “liberal elite media” push profit margins by providing a microphone for every radical-right kook in the country.

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you paid very close attention to what happened to this country over the last eight years, and your only hope is that “the great common human heart of us all” will prevent it from ever happening again.

And, finally …

LIBERALISM WILL KILL YOU if you come to grips with the reality that reason is no protection from insanity.


Futility and cost

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953.

“The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. “ - John F. Kennedy.

“I couldn't help but say to [Mr. Gorbachev], just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another planet. [We'd] find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this earth together.” - Ronald Reagan, 1985.

“The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.” - John F. Kennedy.

“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” - Ulysses S. Grant.

“I recoil with horror at the ferociousness of man. Will nations never devise a more rational umpire of differences than force? Are there no means of coercing injustice more gratifying to our nature than a waste of the blood of thousands and of the labor of millions of our fellow creatures?” - Thomas Jefferson


All of these men led in times of war, yet they did so with a consciousness of both its futility and its cost.

Today, we honor those who followed, who shed blood and innocence for causes they believed.


Mind That Bird

When I was a kid my next-door aunt and uncle volunteered to keep a parrot while its Seventh-Day Adventist owners were off on a mission tour in some distant land.

“Fibber” was great entertainment for us kids, talking up a storm, quoting Bible verses and singing “Amazing Grace.”

A couple of cousins (and I’m not naming names) thought it would be great fun to improve the bird’s vocabulary with a selection of four-letter words. Fibber was quick to learn.

When finally the missionaries returned, you could hear Fibber on the way to their car and at the top of his voice, happily chanting, “No, no, no, don’t say that word!”


Several years ago a good friend’s aunt died, and she volunteeered to adopt her beloved parrot, “Charlie.” Phone chats with this friend were impossible as the phone’s ring would set Charlie to screaming his head off.

That year I was invited for Thanksgiving dinner. Making my way down a dark hallway, I located the bathroom. Not bothering to shut the door as everyone else was at the far end of the house, I had just sat down.


In the darkness I had not seen Charlie’s cage on the adjacent wall. The entire gathering, save one, thought it hilariously funny.


It gave me pleasure then to read the following anecdote in Barbara Walters’ memoir, “Audition.”

When Hugh Downs was new to the “Today” show, and Barbara was a writer, the program had to move from its location in the RCA Building’s Exhibition Hall after a rival TV manufacturer complained that RCA’s products could be seen in the background.

The show’s set eventually was moved to the Florida Development Commission’s office where palm trees, caged mynah birds and mannequins clad in short shorts had to be stashed in a storeroom each night to make ready for “Today’s” early morning broadcast. Cramped for space in those early days, the storage room doubled as the show’s “green room.”

As then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy waited to be interviewed, a voice came from behind a palm tree:

“Who are you?”

“I’m Robert Kennedy.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Robert Kennedy,” the president’s brother said again.

“Who are you?”

Kennedy whirled around and snapped, “I told you, damn it, I’m Robert Kennedy!”

“And with that,” Walters writes, “Kennedy stormed onto the set, his face red, his hands shaking, as he sat for his interview.”

Have a great holiday! Got any good bird stories to share?
"Zack." Art by Ladd Frazier, my son.


My sidebar is to the 'left'

Let me call your attention, dear reader, to “wit hits” at the top of DemWit’s sidebar.

This is a daily collection of articles – news or opinion – which readers might have missed.

Bigger headlines can be found on bigger sites.

Thanks for visiting!



The Roberts record

The Progress Report, 18 May 2009, gives us this quote from Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker:

"In every major case since he became the nation's 17th chief justice, [John] Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.”

Read Toobin’s in-depth profile of the High Court’s chief justice:

“No More Mr. Nice Guy: The Supreme Court’s stealth hard-liner,” The New Yorker, 25 May 2009.


A brief post follows.

John Ludwig back in jail

The case of prominent Greenville, S.C., businessman John Gilbert Ludwig, Jr., accused of murder when his Maserati crashed into a house killing a man, has taken another unexpected twist.

As they say on cable news, “You’re not going to believe this.”

Just hours after Ludwig was released on a $300,000 bond, he landed back in jail.

Here’s why: LINK

To read previous DemWit posts on this case, use the “search blog” window above and enter “John Gilbert Ludwig.”


A hobbit's lesson

Every once in a while, the hobbit outdoes himself. The following post, from “Frodo, Keeper of the Ring,” is reprinted here with permission.

In Frodo's words:

Nobody Gets Too Much Lovin' These Days
Mood: bright
Topic: "Term Paper" (5)

Frodo has previously written about recurrent dreams from his days at the College of the Shire. Without explanation, he may still awaken convinced that he is three credits short of graduation. It is rare, however, that Frodo determines to take pen in hand (or keyboard en lap) in order to communicate something important as if he were an academician-in-training. He has felt that way ever since he finished reading "Charlie Wilson's War" by George Crile, then watched the movie by the same title, starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and the incredibly talented Philip Seymour Hoffman. Add in the Diaspora of Nancy Pelosi, and Frodo feels that he must structure a few syllables in order to put some perspective on the stumbling Speaker of the House of Representatives.

"Charlie Wilson's War" is a book that should, indeed, be read by everyone. Unfortunately, George W. Bush will be among the most prominent of those unable to find time to assimilate the factual presentation of how the United States came to provide the means for the mujahideen to defeat the Soviet Army and to set the stage for our present unpleasantness following in their footsteps.

Throughout his reading, Frodo was struck by the precision shown by the author as he defined the relationship between the elected officials, usually former Rep Charles Wilson (D-TX), and the federal employess (usually from the Clandestine Services of the CIA).

The relationship between the Members of Congress and CIA employees has a sharp surge of relevance due to the cross-hairs fixed on Ms. Pelosi, and her own feeble attempts to put things into context. In the book it is clearly and definitively established that the "briefings" provided to Members of Congress are far afield from what most people seem to think. For the most part, the briefings are "one-on-one" and differ in both tone and content, depending on who does the briefing, and who is being briefed. Charlie Wilson, for example, built a relationship of trust with the CIA employee giving him a briefing, and the CIA employee (Gust Avrakotos, in real life) found himself dealing with a Congressional benefactor who was not only knowledgeable about Afghanistan, but was serious about doing something important. These two guys went toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, on specific points, and the briefings must have been amazing. They, in fact, determined policy together, and they, therefore, probably broke the law.

Imagine, however, if Gust developed "Swine Flu" and was home sick for several days when he was supposed to be briefing Wilson. Whoever would have replaced him would have been much more circumspect, and certainly less "sharing," if you will, about the items on hand. Remember, dear reader, this was not a committee hearing, and there is no official record about the briefing, only the "notes" entered into "the file" by the CIA employee. The employee, regardless of responsibility, is classified as a government "bureaucrat," evaluated and compensated in exactly the same manner as your local IRS Auditor, Customs Inspector, or Social Security Benefits Analyst. They are employees of the Executive Branch of Government, and their "briefings" of Members of Congress are a courtesy, with the subject matter limited at the direction of the Administration.

It is likely, in Frodo's mind, and pulling from his own experience, that Ms. Pelosi was, by benefit of office, receiving briefings from CIA employees. Despite her rank in the Congress, she probably had a lesser degree of interest in these specific issues, as presented, than would someone like Charlie Wilson, who was living, breathing, drinking every bit of information he could get. Charlie Wilson would have determined immediately, had the situations changed, that the CIA was doing some really heavy stuff in attempting to elicit information from detainees. Ms. Pelosi, with all due respect, had all sorts of other things on her mind, domestic and foreign, and simply didn't pick up on the severity of the issue. Therein lies the "mea culpa" of Nancy Pelosi.

Frodo doesn't think the CIA lied, in this instance. They just didn't answer the questions that had not been asked. Frodo, as a "bureaucrat" would have done exactly the same thing, unless, of course, he felt it imperative to share classified information outside the limits of the law. Had he done so, Frodo would still be in jail. Had Ms. Pelosi been so alerted, John Kerry may have been elected President in 2004 (and, gasp, John Edwards).

Therein lies the lesson. Class dismissed.


I can add nothing to the pennings of the hobbit other than to second his recommendation of “Charlie Wilson’s War,” both book and movie.

To enjoy more wit and wisdom from “Frodo, Keeper of the Ring” and maybe romp with him and his four-legged friends in the Gardens of the Shire: LINK


Judge sets bond in Ludwig case

A Greenville, S.C., judge has set bond at $300,000 for John Gilbert Ludwig, Jr., charged with murder when his Maserati crashed through the home of William Frederick “Bill” Bardsley, killing him.

To leave jail, Ludwig must put up $30,000 cash. According to local TV reports, the prominent Greenville businessman's bond on the murder charge is less than the $1 million bond initially set on a previous burglary charge. That amount, however, was later reduced to $100,000.

Conditions of the bond include no contact with the victim’s family, no driving privileges, surrender of drivers license and passport, confinement to his home from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and no transfer of assets of more than $10,000.


Today’s DemWit post follows.

The big weekend headline

Caught the dueling party heads on “Meet the Press” Sunday. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and Michael Steele, chairman of the RNC, squared off to discuss numerous issues facing both their parties and the nation. TRANSCRIPT

I am struck these days by the duplicity of Republicans as the Party’s various "leaders" desperately seek to stop its downward spiral.

On several occasions prior to November, DemWit identified the Supreme Court as a major campaign issue.

For that reason, I was bemused – and maybe a little amused – when host David Gregory asked Steele of the RNC about his recent remark to the National Rifle Association (NRA):

"Sounds like the president's been watching `Dr. Phil' too much, that's who he wants on the Supreme Court."

This, of course, was in reference to Obama’s desire for empathetic justices who understand the impact of rulings on individuals.

In a sudden epiphany, Mr. Steele tells the MTP audience what he and his party expect of the High Court:

“I need a judge who's going to take the Constitution, apply the facts, apply the law and come to a reasoned, sound judgment. I don't need a judge to look at an African-American standing before him and go off on some, you know, liberal tangent about, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder what his life was like as a child.’ I'm concerned about getting fair adjudication and jurisprudence under the law.

“And, the reality of it is this: this is an opportunity for the president to, to break this cycle that we've been in, this back and forth between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to judicial nominations. The Constitution must stand for something, it must mean something, and I think this is the appropriate time for this president to show that it has value and importance other than being empathetic.”

So, here’s the big weekend headline:

Republican Party discovers U.S. Constitution.


For extra credit, I recommend a couple of books by two of the keenest legal minds in America:

“The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President” by Vincent Bugliosi –as he would say, “That’s boo-lee-O-see.” Bugliosi, prosecutor in the Charles Manson trial, also authored “Helter Skelter.”

“Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000” by Alan M. Dershowitz, whose defense of Claus von Bulow was the bssis for the film, "Reversal of Fortune."

Yeah, Steele, that Constitution.


Judge delays Maserati crash bond ruling

A judge has delayed ruling on bond for John Gilbert Ludwig, Jr., of Greenville, S.C., charged with murder in the death of William Frederick “Bill” Bardsley, 62, of Travelers Rest.

In a bond hearing at 9 a.m. Friday, some new facts came out:

* Ludwig had $10,000 cash in his possession when arrested at his sister’s Georgia home. The solicitor said Ludwig is a “flight risk.”
* According to the solicitor the Maserati “traveled 135 feet on the road and 342 feet onto grass in a field before there was any sign of braking.” (He did not indicate whether this information came from the vehicle's black box.)

* Reports say the car went airborne over a nine-foot embankment and was traveling at 65 mph when it crashed into the rear of the victim’s home.

Via closed-circuit television, Ludwig made the following statement, which, in my opinion, was strange and could be interpreted as offensive, but I’ll let the reader make that determination:

"For those who truly know me, they know that I'd give nothing short of my own life to bring Mr. Bardsley back. I hear his family's not there (at the bond hearing), but were they there, I want to say I'd give my full sorrows to them. I'm a man of action, and I'm not just going to have him in my thoughts and prayers, but he's going to live through the acts of me through the rest of my life. I can't say how sorry I am. Thank you."

“He’s going to live through the acts of me” is probably not an appropriate statement under the circumstances.

During the week DemWit was following this case, there was a great deal of interest. Some 500 visitors, not just from South Carolina, but from all over the country and as far away as China and Australia googled their way to this site. Ludwig owns a successful computer-related business with offices across the Southeast.

To read my previous posts on this case, use the “search blog” window above and put in “John Gilbert Ludwig.”

For the latest details in this case, here are two local articles:




A token Savage

Long before there were the liberal voices of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, some of us remember the cable news network’s march to war in Iraq.

We were getting reports from embedded journalists, placed with invading U.S. troops by the late Jerry Nachman, then MSNBC’s editor-in-chief.

Just some of the media cheerleading exposed in Bill Moyers’ outstanding program, “Buying the War” – interviews with media executives and personalities who readily admit to such unquestioning support of the Iraq invasion. (Watch Moyers’ PBS program HERE.)

Back in those days, MSNBC fired Phil Donahue, whose voice was too liberal, and canned its rising star Ashleigh Banfiled for daring to speak out against the war before a college audience.

Then, the cable network hired Michael Savage to spew his radical-right venom. Granted, Savage’s MSNBC stint didn’t last long, which only showed the lack of vetting by network suits. Were they really shocked to find one of the vilest shock jocks on air was offending viewers?

It didn’t come as a surprise a few days ago, when I caught Petrie Hosken’s “London Comment” (LINK) on CBS’ early morning news show, “Up to the Minute.”

Seems British Government Minister Jacqui Smith has compiled a new list of persons banned from entering her country – a list which includes Michael Savage.

The ever acerbic and downright delightful Petrie had this to say about the government minister’s manifesto:

“His views are disgusting, his conspiracy theories are ridiculous, his talent is non-existent and frankly why anyone would listen to him is totally beyond me. But Michael Savage, one of your so-called shock-jocks, is no threat to me or the rest of the free thinking, intelligent Britons who inhabit my country.

“So why has the British government minister charged with our homeland security banned him from ever travelling to our shores? This woman, Jacqui Smith, has just produced a list of vile, dangerous and hate-filled people who are not welcome here. Your Michael Savage is on that list.

“I can't help thinking that there is a hidden story here. That Jacqui Smith is being duplicitous with this list of the damned. If Michael and the homophobic American Fred Walron Phelps, Sr., and his daughter Shirley were not on that list, would Britain be exposed as mainly having an Islamic fundamentalist banning order? The fact that Michael Savage spouts ill-informed, ignorant and basically stupid bile on the American airwaves is only an issue if you listen to it.

“Britain is well used to stupidity - we have a plethora of hate-filled ignoramuses already here, and most of us simply choose to ignore them. Those who choose to give these idiots some credibility will do so anyway, using the Internet to fuel their extremist views. Savage is nothing to us - he is the ignorant dirt on our free walking shoes. We are clever enough to see his conspiracies for what they are and his pathetic views expose an uncontrolled fear that we would just laugh at.

“At best, Jacqui Smith has displayed a total disrespect and disregard for our ability to accept free speech for the good and the evil it brings. At worst, she is just stupid enough to think we can be fooled by a list with a few token white, non-Islamic idiots on it.

“There are probably hundreds of people we should be banning from this country. Not least a few of our own radical citizens, but to ban a man as ridiculous and pointless as America's Michael Savage is, well, both ridiculous and pointless.”

Oh, that we could all marginalize these vapid, vile and vicious voices of the radical right with such British pluck and aplomb.


BONUS: View Bill Moyers’ “Buying the War” HERE.


Time's '100 Most Influential'

Time’s “100 Most Influential Persons” issue is on the stands and as intriguing as ever. Since I could find no actual LIST of the 100, I decided to compile one for you, dear reader.

What can I say? I’m a list lover. So, who are these people Time believes most influence the lives of others?

Of the 100, I recognized only 33 – or one-third.

I don’t know about you, but if these people are influencing my life, I want to know who they are. So, over the last few days I’ve read each of the 100 profiles online. They are brief enough and often the writer is as interesting as the designee. Imagine Michael Moore writing about Bernie Madoff. Or, J. K. Rowling profiling the British prime minister!

One on the list, David Sheff, would never have rung a bell, except that I had just listened to his book, “Beautiful Boy,” picked by Entertainment Weekly as best nonfiction book of 2008. Having read his book, I fully understand Sheff’s influence on a tragically growing segment of society.

In many instances, I knew the designee’s (or the profile writer’s) influence without having known his or her name.

The list of 100 follows. There is a link at the bottom which will take you to the first profile – Teddy Kennedy. To access individual names, without going through the entire list, here’s a trick:

Google the designee’s name, thusly, “Boris Johnson, Time’s 100 Most Influential” and that will link you to each individual’s profile.

Feeling a little more informed and without further ado:



1 – Edward Kennedy by Arnold Swartzenegger
2 – Gordon Brown by J.K. Rowling
3 – Christine Legarde by Timothy Geithner
4 – Thomas Dart by Judge Abner Mikya
5 – Avigdor Liebermann by Bennie Morris
6 – Joaquin Guzman by Tim Padgett
7 – Nouri al-Maliki by Zalmay Khalilzad
8 – Hillary Clinton by Madeleine K. Albright
9 - Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by Anwar Ibrahim
10- Boris Johnson by Conrad Black
11 – Norah al-Faiz by Liz Cheney
12 – Elizabeth Warren by Josh Marshall
13 – Paul Kagame by Rick Warren
14 - Nicolas Sarkozy by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
15 – Angela Merkel by Michael Elliott
16 – Wang Qishan by Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
17 - Xi Jinping by Joshua Cooper Ramo
18 David McKiernan by General Wesley K. Clark
19 – Ashfan Kayani by Admiral Mike Mullen
20 – Barack Obama by Gordon Brown


21 – The Twitter Guys by Ashton Kutcher
22 – T. Boone Pickens by Ted Turner
23 – Ted Turner by T. Boone Pickens
24 – Tessa Ross by Danny Boyle
25 – Carlos Slim by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
26 – Brad Pitt by James Carville and Mary Matalin
27 – Meredith Whitney by Henry Blodget
28 – Suze Orman by Suzy Welch
29 – Lauren Zalaznick by Martha Stewart
30 - Timothy Geithner by Massimo Calabresi
31 - Nandan Nilekani by Vikas Swarup
32 – Stella McCartney by Gwyneth Paltrow
33 - Jamie Dimon by Dylan Ratigan
34 – Sheila Bair by Patricia Sellers
35 – moot by Rick Astley
36 - Alexander Medvedev by Dmitri Trenin
37 – Alan Mulally by Steve Ballmer
38 – Robin Chase by Craig Newmark
39 – Jack Ma by Adi Ignatius
40 – Bernie Madoff by Michael Moore


41 – Rush Limbaugh by Glenn Beck
42 – M.I.A. by Spike Jonze
43 – Sam and Dan Houser by Matt Selman
44 – Kate Winslet by Peter Jackson
45 – Warner Herzog by Roger Ebert
46 – William Kentridge by Lou Reed
47 – Penelope Cruz by Sir Ben Kingsley
48 – Lang Lang by Herbie Hancock
49 – John Legend by Quincy Jones
50 - Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio by David Rockwell
51 - Gustavo Dudamel by Peter Gelb
52 – Jeff Kinney by Forrest Simpson
53 – Tavis Smiley by Charlie Rose
54 – The View by Michael Bloomberg
55 – Zac Efron by Claire Danes
56 – Tina Fey by Alec Baldwin
57 – Tom Hanks by Meg Ryan
58 – Jay Leno by Jimmy Fallon
59 - A.R. Rahman by Padma Lakshmi
60 - Judith Jamison by S. Epatha Merkerson


61 – Michelle Obama by Oprah Winfrey
62 – Chesley B. Sullenberger by Gen. Chuck Yeager
63 – Richard Phillips by Chesley B. Sullenberger
64 – Seth Barkley by Sergey Brin
65 – Michael Eavis by Chris Martin
66 – Leonard Abess by Jeb Bush
67 - Hadizatou Mani by Zainab Salbi
68 – Rick Warren by Nancy Gibbs
69 – Van Jones by Leonardo DiCaprio
70 – Somaly Mam by Angelina Jolie
71 – Rafael Nadal by Serena Williams
72 - Suraya Pakzad by Khaled Hosseini
73 – Jeff Bezos by Bill Gates
74 – Tiger Woods by Roger Federer
75 – George Clooney by Bono
76 – Brady Gustafson by Mark Thompson
77 – Sister Mary Scullion by Elizabeth Gilbert
78 – Oprah Winfrey by Diane Sawyer
79 – Sarah Palin by Ann Coulter
80 - Manny Pacquiao by Lennox Lewis


81 - Nouriel Roubini by Paul Krugman
82 – Amory Lovins by Carl Pope
83 – Jon Favreau by Ted Sorensen
84 – Dambisa Moyo by Paul Wolfowitz
85 – Dan Barber by Ferran Adria
86 – Yoichiro Nambu by Walter Isaacson
87 – Roland Fryer by Michelle Rhee
88 – Martin Lindstrom by Chris Anderson
89 – Barbara Hogan by Sharon Stone
90 – David Sheff by Dr. Nora Volkow
91 – Steven Chu by Bill McKibben
92 – Paul Krugman by Mark Zandi
93 - Connie Hedegaard by Eileen Claussen
94 – Daniel Nocera by Fred Krupp
95 - Stephan Schuster and Webb Miller by J. Craig Venter
96 - Nicholas Christakis by Dan Ariely
97 – Doug Melton by Orrin Hatch
98 – Paul Ekman by Jill Bolte Taylor
99 – Shai Agassi by Alan Salzman
100 – Nate Silver by Bill James

To read all the profiles, start HERE and click “next” after each.


Just curious, how many designees did you recognize?


Cheney's 'truth'

“Cheney only sees his truth.” – Comment by “airth10” on “A guide to truth,” 10 May 2009.

As I watched former Vice President Dick Cheney on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, it all came flooding back - what so many of us fought so hard for – and against – for the last eight years.

If we needed a reminder that the fight is not over – this was it.

As Bob Schieffer welcomed him to the show, Cheney began the interview with “it’s nice to know you’re still loved.” That pretty much determined the level of truth – Cheney’s “truth” – throughout the interview.

With the clipped staccato of a tobacco auctioneer, Cheney let loose on the Obama administration, continually mentioning 9/11 and declaring the nation under Obama is less safe.

In justifying everything “we did,” he gave up the same neocon manatras of fearmongering, “There was the possibility of Al Qaeda terrorists in the midst of one of our own cities with a nuclear weapon or a biological agent.”

Cheney extolled the “very good programs” put into place by the Bush administration after 9/11 – “terrorist surveillance programs” and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He claimed the Obama administration is keeping from the media and the American public memos which would prove the effectiveness of the Bush policies. However, when pressed by Schieffer for details of the memos, which Cheney says he vividly recollects, the former veep hid behind “they’re still classified.”

He defended torture – while denying the techniques he endorsed really are torture – and claimed that a great deal of intelligence was gathered from several high Al Qaeda leaders.

If only somebody would just come up with those dang memos.

When pressed by Schieffer, Cheney said Bush had “signed off on it,” referring to the surveillance and torture techniques, which now have been exposed.

Schieffer asked if Cheney had any regrets about the methods used under the Bush administration. “No regrets,” he replied. “I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.”

And, this is Cheney’s “truth” – what, in the mind of a neocon, he really believes:

“I think if you look at this intelligence program that when things are quieter, 20 or 30 years from now, you’ll be able to look back on this and say this is one of the great success stories of American intelligence. I think, in fact, what the men and women in the intelligence community and the lawyers in the Justice Department and the senior officials who approved this program did exactly the right thing. I think the charge that somehow there was something wrong done here or that this was torture in violation of U.S. statutes is just absolutely false. … I think it’s very, very important that we have a clear understanding that what happened here was an honorable approach to defending the nation, that there was nothing devious or deceitful or dishonest or illegal about what was done.”

Schieffer asked Cheney about Pakistan, Afghanistan and the future of the Republican Party. You may read the full transcript of the interview HERE.

Then, came the pièce de résistance:

SCHIEFFER: Colin Powell, Rush Limbaugh said the other day that the party would probably be better off if Colin Powell left and just became a Democrat. Colin Powell said Republicans would be better off if they didn’t have Rush Limbaugh out speaking for them. Where do you come down?

CHENEY: Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.

SCHIEFFER: So you think that he’s not a Republican?

CHENEY: I just noted he endorsed the Democratic candidate for president this time, Barack Obama. I assumed that that is some indication of his loyalty and his interest.

SCHIEFFER: And you said you would take Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell?

CHENEY: I would. … Politically.


“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only The Shadow knows.” Well, The Shadow and the millions of us who have followed the blatant lies this despicable person has spoken for the last eight years.

There were a lot of creepy persons in the Bush administration and in the neoconservative cabal which surrounded the former president, but Cheney, in my opinion, is the most chilling.


A guide to truth

“I have no power to make other men see the truth.” – Professor Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” J. K. Rowling.


At times, in efforts to impart truth, each of us has felt the great wizard’s impotence

From time to time I bring this up. I suppose because it perplexes me so.

Throughout my 10 years with Internet access, I have been forwarded those political “truths,” either by persons who believe them or by friends whose intention is to share what’s being circulated.

These formula emails are more than likely written by political hired guns with great propaganda skills, then put into perpetual motion.

I simply don’t understand why any person with an intelligence level above a garden slug’s cannot see through them.

The identifying factor is that these emails all follow the same formula:

1. The original author is never identified, and they never offer any reliable sources for the information they impart.

2. They are filled with words which appeal to the readers’ emotions rather than to intellect.

3. They insist the reader pass the email along to others, for not to do so will result in dire consequences for God and country.

4. They often proclaim, falsely, that snopes.com says the information within is “truth.”

5. They are, in fact, full of lies.

Snopes.com is THE source for verifying that such emails are “false.” Another reliable source to check the proffered information is factcheck.org.

After 10 years – maybe more – of receiving this crap, then passing it along to others, you would think people would pick up on the pattern, would realize they are being used as conduits to spread misinformation, aka lies.

Not so.

Which brings me to what I feel is the most important post ever to appear on DemWit. It is gratifying that a number of Web sites have linked to the post.

A friend typed the featured essay for me from an old book I’ve kept through the years. Before that, the essay was nowhere to be found online. Now, it seems a number of sites and blogs have lifted it. That’s great, as long as it’s being read.

And being read it is. With great contentment, I note that I have a number of visitors every day – via links or Google - who come looking for the essay’s content.

Read it, my friend, and let it affect your life and your thinking. Let it guide you to truth:

“Detecting propaganda”


Ludwig charged with murder

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) officials have arrested John Gilbert Ludwig of Greenville and charged him with murder in the Maserati crash which took the life of Frederick William “Bill” Bardsley, 62, also of Greenville. Solicitor Bob Ariail in a noon news conference said, “The elements of murder are present in this case,” noting speed and the total disregard of the safety of others were factors in the murder charge. Ariail said no blood alcohol test was given at the scene of the crash, because there was no evidence that Ludwig had been drinking – “no articulable reason for the test.”

For background on this story, read the following DemWit posts:

“Lowdown on the Upstate,” 2 May 2009: LINK

“Maserati crash update,” 4 May 2009: LINK

“John Gilbert Ludwig update,” 5 May 2009: LINK


DemWit's post for today follows.

A tabloid trilogy


The blogosphere is always anxious to point out bias. Ha, ha, ha!

Seems Sean Hannity’s latest claim is making the blog rounds, not to mention YouTube.

On Friday, May 1, I was listening to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ briefing on C-SPAN. Gibbs had repeatedly fielded questions regarding whether Supreme Court Justice David Souter had contacted President Obama about his resignation. Gibbs repeatedly told the reporters that as of his briefing, the answer was “no.”

I was amused when Obama walked in to let reporters know he had just heard from Souter, and laughed out loud when Gibbs continued the briefing by saying, “before I was so rudely interrupted.” I could not see that reporters had stood when Obama entered the room.

Hannity, with his usual pouty indignation, has shown videoclips of reporters remaining seated when Bush made similar appearances. Of course, he’s claiming disrespect for Bush and media support of the Democratic Party.

Sean, my boy, has it occurred to you that George W. Bush did very little during his administration to command respect? And, if you are just now realizing the media likes Obama, you’d better crawl back under your rock.

Further, can you unequivocally tell your audience that Fox News was NOT biased in favor of Bush?


Elizabeth Edwards can be seen in a “no-holds-barred” interview about her husband’s infidelity on “Oprah,” Thursday, May 7. (Check local listings for time.)

From what I’ve heard of the Oprah promos, Elizabeth is willing to reveal just enough salacious insight guaranteed to sell a million copies of her tell-all book, “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities” – being released the same day.

Faithful readers here will tell you DemWit never trusted John Edwards. Back in the early days of this blog I stated that I wouldn’t spit on Edwards if he were on fire. I admitted that was harsh. This was during the early days of his 2008 campaign and long before he confessed to an extramarital affair.

At the time, I wrote:

John Edwards is worth $54.7 million, and if I hear one more of his "I'm po’ folks like you" ads here in South Carolina, I am going to throw up! He made a dig at Hillary's emotional moment yesterday, then denied it was a dig on Morning Joke this morning. He knew he was lying, and they knew he was lying. As my mother used to say, "I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him." –END-

Remember when this jerk paraded his wife out and used her recurring cancer to announce his presidential run? Same guy who never missed an opportunity to mention his own son’s tragic death.

I can pretty much trust my gut instinct about folks, and with John Edwards, I was dead on.

Is there a pattern in this family of using adversity as a selling point?

If you just can’t wait for all this on Oprah, you can read about the interview in The New York Times: HERE


Sally Quinn, noted Washington hostess and wife of former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (my journalism hero), is taking fire across the Internet.

Ms. Quinn, in a recent “Our Faith” blog post, dared to ask readers whether Elizabeth Edwards’ forgiveness - like Hillary Clinton before her - might be “enabling” men like her husband.

Mrs. Edwards claim that this is a “private matter is not a private matter at all,” Ms. Quinn writes. She claims Mrs. Edwards encouraged her husband to run for the presidency knowing he had lied and could be found out and could hurt his supporters and the Democratic Party and, if elected, the country. “This man was running for President of the United States on a lie, and she knew it,” Ms. Quinn writes. “She stood by and let him lie and lie and lie.”

If you are interested, you can read Ms. Quinn’s post, “Forgiving or Enabling Immoral Behavior,” HERE.

All this reminds me: don’t forget to wash your hands often.


John Gilbert Ludwig update

The Greenville County, S.C., solicitor’s office will meet with highway patrol officials tonight regarding the Maserati crash on April 25, which resulted in the death of Frederick William “Bill” Bardsley, 62, of Greenville, according to local news reports.

Charges are expected tomorrow, according to WYFF-TV in Greenville.

Concerned citizens have protested that no arrest has been made in the incident. Investigators say they are waiting to get information obtained by the Maserati’s “black box,” similar to those in aircraft.

The driver of the car, John Gilbert Ludwig, 36, of Greenville, “was not drinking when the accident occurred,” according to his attorney.

An earlier report indicated Ludwig had “given up ownership of his business,” SDI Networks, a computer networking and solutions company. That report gave no further details. WYFF-TV reported today at 5 p.m. that Ludwig is taking a “leave of absence from his job” to be with his family.

According to news reports, the family of the victim does not wish to make a public statement at this time, but wishes to thank friends, neighbors and community for support. The family asks that memorial gifts be made to Habitat for Humanity or the Special Olympics.

Bill Bardsley was a retired basketball coach who did volunteer work coaching boys on a local church team.

Check DemWit for further developments. A description of the primary thrust of this blog can be found under “DemWit” in my left sidebar.

Previous DemWit posts:

“Lowdown on the Upstate,” 2 May 2009: LINK

“Maserati crash update, 4 May 2009: LINK


Maserati crash update

Update on my post of May 2, "Lowdown on the Upstate."


At noon today WYFF-TV in Greenville, S.C., covered a protest in front of the Greenville County Courthouse where concerned citizens are gathering to demand the arrest of John Gilbert Ludwig in the death of Frederick William “Bill” Bardsley. The protest is a result of the Facebook entry, “Indict John Ludwig Now!” The site now has 1,377 members.

The unusual circumstances surrounding this death can be found in my previous post. Ludwig has hired three prominent Greenville attorneys, who say their client is being unjustly tried by public opinion.

Local law enforcement officials and the county prosecutor, Solicitor Bob Ariail, continue to say they are waiting for the full investigation report on the incident, which occurred on April 25.


An attorney for Gary Burgess, Sr., appeared in court this morning in Anderson, S.C. Burgess, a former Anderson County District 4 schools superintendent and high school principal, pleaded “not guilty” to a charge of “soliciting an immoral act.” According to the police report, Burgess approached an undercover policeman in a local park.

Burgess had been hired as superintendent of District 2 schools in Hampton County, S.C. That county now has hired another applicant.

According to WYFF-TV, Burgess has been pastor of Universal Body of Christ church at Inman, S.C., for more than 25 years.

Demwit will keep readers informed of any updates.


Please read on. An important post follows.

Unpleasant surprise

Comes the announcement this weekend that, for the first time in more than three decades, there will be no COLA raise for “at least” the next two years.

Anyone on Social Security or disability knows that COLA is not a soft drink. Believe it or not, there are people, like me, who depend on it.

COLA is the “cost of living allowance,” the small monthly raise that recipients get in their checks each year. While the raise is never sufficient to touch the real increase in the cost of living from year to year – it usually covers the raise in postage rates and doesn’t even come close to helping with skyrocketing grocery prices – it does have the effect of eventually increasing one’s income over a period of years.

People with money cannot even imagine what this will do to the poor, who barely keep their heads above water anyway.

Over at “Democratic Underground” (LINK), a commenter has this to say:

“Billions for banks, no cost of living raise for Social Security for at least 2 years.

“That is a sure way to start losing support very quickly. Talk about getting priorities out of order.

“Not good news on top of the defeat of the bill that would have helped several million rework their mortgages to avoid foreclosure. It was 12 Democrats who brought that bill down to defeat.

“The passion for a party will die quickly if this is going to be the path we choose.”

Isn’t the Democatic Party the party of the people, the champion of the underdog, the conscience of the county? I am through the looking glass.

What the hell is going on?

But wait.

Getting past the emotional upheaval of such a seemingly unconscionable decision, do the lesser lights among our lawmakers really think this is going to save money?

In reality, there are millions of Americans on the cusp, making just a little too much each year to qualify for any number of government assistance programs. I am one of them. For four years, I made $8 a year – a year! – too much to get healthcare help through Medicaid.

The COLA cut is going to put millions of Americans – hey, maybe even me – in a position to receive such assistance.

Is this something lawmakers have not figured out yet? Or, was this the plan all along?

Cut out that few extra dollars per month and, in the end, spend so much more as millions get the assistance which has evaded them?

Food stamps? Sounds good to me.


Lowdown on the Upstate

Here’s one for the grocery-store rags.

Lots going on here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, otherwise known as Upstate South Carolina.

Darwin Wright Park is a lovely wooded retreat here in Anderson, with paths opening onto a sunny beach beside Lake Hartwell.

Gary Burgess, Sr., retired Anderson County School District 4 superintendent and former high school principal, has just been hired as superintendent of District 2 schools in the Low Country county of Hampton.

So, what’s the connection? Burgess, 51, married and the father of one child, has been charged with “soliciting an immoral act” after approaching an undercover cop in Darwin Wright Park.

IMHO, it’s a real tragedy when a person has to live life in secrecy as though facing the Gestapo or the Spanish Inquisition.


A week ago tonight, in Greenville, S.C., just to the east of me as the crow flies, a Maserati went airborne, slicing through a house and killing Frederick William "Bill" Bardsley, 62, who had just sat down in his living room to watch a ballgame. According to the police report, the car left the highway, flew above a field, through some trees and over a 6-foot fence before going through the rear of the house, exiting the front and coming to a stop on the front lawn. Neither the victim’s wife, who had just left her husband’s side and gone upstairs, nor the driver of the car was injured.

Furman University in Greenville is a Baptist liberal arts college which boasts, to its credit, that it “has always valued particular religious commitments while insisting not only on the freedom of the individual to believe as he or she sees fit but also on respect for a diversity of religious perspectives, including the perspective of the non-religious person. This heritage has always maintained that the religious journey has both a private and public dimension and is a lifelong undertaking that cannot be tied to doctrinal propositions.” (LINK)

John Gilbert Ludwig, 36, is a prominent Greenville businessman, owner and CEO of SDI Networks, a computer networking and solutions company. Ludwig, “with close ties to Furman University,” is a 1994 graduate and played football for the university’s Paladins. SDI Networks is an award-winning business, based in Greenville, S.C., with locations in Columbia and Charleston, S.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; and Charlotte, N.C. The company is a contributor to Greenville charities and community projects. (LINK)

The connection? John Gilbert Ludwig was driving the Maserati.

For days local law enforcement would not release the name of the driver, then when pressured to do so, stated there was some question as to whether Ludwig was alone in the car. He was.

After Ludwig’s name was release, records show no charges filed to date and no ticket issued. Then, came the disclosure that he is already “out on bond” for previous arrests for burglary, resisting arrest and domestic violence.

Citizens of this area are demanding that Ludwig be indicted for vehicular homicide. A Facebook page titled “Indict John Ludwig Now!" is calling for action by the local prosecutor. On Wednesday, Solicitor Bob Ariail said his office is closely following the investigation. Let’s hope so.

As of the local news at 11 Friday night, no charges have been filed against Ludwig.


EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all the details:

The Burgess bust, Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail: LINK

Maserati driver identified, WYFF4: LINK

Ludwig’s rap sheet, WYFF4, LINK

“Indict John Ludwig Now!", Facebook: LINK